Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Adjusting to a New Body

Over the years of illness and recovery, my body has gone through many changes.  I still remember the fear of gaining weight during the refeeding process.  I remember the terror I felt the first time I did a body tracing and faced my own image on paper, rather than the distorted view in the mirror.

I thought I was beyond body image problems.  Over time, I really have made peace with being at a healthy weight.  I now appreciate the strength from my muscles and how this body allows me to walk in the park in the morning sun, to lie on my bed with my two cats nestled up next to me, to run around the playground with my nephew and niece, and to knit peacefully in the evenings.  All of these varied activities were difficult at one point in time, but now they’re just my normal life.

This previous winter and spring were especially difficult.  I experienced what was the worst depressive episode I’ve had up until now.  I was hospitalized twice because although I really do know that I don’t want to die, waves of suicidal thoughts would wash over me and I’d feel like I was drowning and I didn’t trust myself to not act on those thoughts.  ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) was increased to twice a week, my doctor worked at finding a good combination of meds, I sat in front of my sun lamp every morning, and my therapist and I met twice a week.  

Because of this depressive episode, two things happened.  First, I stopped walking, one of the two times in my life I have gone without any type of exercise.  Second, my meds changed.  I went off two meds, increased the dose of another, and started a new medication. 

These two things combined have resulted in weight gain.  Probably the fact that I’m getting older doesn’t help, either!  Today at the doctor’s, stepping on the scale brought back a lot of the same anxiety I used to feel at my weigh-ins.  Without getting specific, I have gained weight and am now at a place I have never been before. 

Logically, I am fully aware that I am within a healthy range for my own personal body type and fitness level and given my heart condition.  But this is still new territory for me, and my way of coping is, by necessity and sanity, different than the past.  I am not increasing the amount I walk, although I have added in some light strength training moves.  I am not cutting back on my diet at all, although I have made some conscious decisions to eat better.  I am not going to change my medications; this current state of no depression is too precious to risk losing.  I am not hiding in baggy clothing. 

I sit with it.  Literally and figuratively.  I practice insight meditation every morning.  I literally sit on my cushion and consciously relax my stomach muscles so I can breath deeply.  I always feel a little distaste at that, a little unhappiness with my body.  But I let myself sit with it.  I let myself feel the negative emotions and I let myself hear the negative thoughts.  And then I let them go. 

This is still something I am learning.  I am not *totally at peace* with this new weight and shape.  But neither am I freaking out about it.  It’s somewhere in the middle, leaning a little closer to the “being okay with it” side of things.  Not doing anything to change the situation is a new state of affairs and feels a little weird.  I let myself feel the weirdness, too. 

 

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment