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The problem now, however, is emphatically not the same as when I was young. For one thing, to have anorexia nervosa, you have to feel fat when you are thin, and I feel quite thin, thank you very much. In fact, I probably feel thinner than I actually am, which is the weirdest thing. And the other requirement is that in anorexia you do have an appetite, you feel terrible hunger, you just deny it so you won’t have to eat. Those tiny little girls you see walking around, bundled up in their sweats even in summer because they are so cold, are starving, aching to eat, but won’t because they know they can stay in control and refuse to let themselves.
For myself, I eat at the first feelings of hunger; the slightest sensation that I might be hungry sends me scurrying to the refrigerator for at least a little something. But I rarely feel hungry at all. I have little appetite and food therefore is mostly unappealing. I do make myself eat something, but mostly because I’m afraid I could die of a heart attack if I don’t eat anything at all, though I suppose that only happens when a person binges and purges...And I’m certainly not thin enough to die of starvation! I just get scared of where this lack of appetite could take me.
But to be perfectly honest, though I have no more need to be invisible, don’t feel either fat or hungry, something else keeps me from taking the necessary measures to gain some weight, something that started out bizarrely.
The bizarre thing is that when I weighed 160-180lbs I felt thin! I did not feel like the fat person I was. This was probably due to having been thin most of my life and having developed a body image as a thin person. But whatever the case, I did not know I was fat by the ordinary measures. Even sizes of clothes didn’t affect this. When I wore an extra-large or size 18, I felt that that was actually small, somehow, don’t ask me the reasoning! I even saw myself in the mirror as small. The only times I knew I was fat was in photographs, and by the numbers on the scale, neither of which lied. I avoided both, because they caused me so much anguish, but I couldn’t avoid them forever, especially since I was in and out of the hospital, where the first thing they do was weigh and measure you!
So I feel thin now, I feel too thin, though I’m only slightly underweight by the body-mass index. Yet those numbers, 102lbs, mean a lot to me, they mean, well, what do they mean? They mean that I am indeed thin again, not that I just feel it, though I have to remind myself daily it’s something real. They mean that though the weight came off easily, gradually, though faster and faster towards the lowest point, I lost a lot. They represent safety. They represent acceptability. They mean all sorts of things. BUT, and here’s the rub, I don’t know that even lower numbers might not be better, just the numbers somehow, more safety, more acceptability, NOT the thinness...but I can’t get the lower numbers out of my head. That in a nutshell is the problem and I’ll be darned if I know the solution. Until I find it, though, Paula K’s kind and sage suggestions will fall on stubbornly deaf ears.