Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Recovery… While Wedding Planning: An Update
Frustrated is my word of choice.
I am overwhelmingly frustrated.
I’ve read every blog post about hypothalamic amenorrhea.
I’ve spent months eating as much as my insides could take without exploding and remaining sedentary. Then I’ve tried adding in light exercise, eating high high fat contents without restricting other food groups.
Here is what I ate yesterday (As much as I remember, any way):
Whole goat’s milk yogurt with oatmeal, berries, and peanut butter
Fried eggs with white toast, hash browns, and bacon
Spicy Turkey sausages with rice and oily tomato sauce
Tons of crackers & bread with goat cheese, peanut butter, and jam
More oatmeal with brown sugar, full fat goat yogurt, peanut butter, and berries
Dairy-free chocolate ice cream with cherries and peanut butter
Today, I am stuffed. Painfully stuffed. TMI, but even the thought of food makes me want to barf.
I eat as much as I can and am hungry for one day, and suffer painful and debilitating consequences the next. I’m told I need to “eat more and exercise less,” and I am truly doing that to the best of my ability. But it constantly feels as if people don’t believe me, or think I’m not well.
I’ve experienced the extreme hunger noted by specialists, but also extreme fullness. I experience horrible digestion problems pretty much whenever I eat processed foods. And I truly believe that the more I eat these things, the better my body will be able to process them, but, if I’m honest, I’m frustrated with this physical recovery process. I’m frustrated with not having proper hormonal function, with feeling unwell, and with feeling as though my doctors don’t believe me. That I’m trying.
The number of times that I have been *certain* I’d gained weight, only to have lost half a pound or something on the doctor’s scale… it’s discouraging. It’s hard to know how to go about recovery.
And, to be honest… it’s even harder in the midst of planning for my wedding, especially when my dress has gotten tighter and tighter with each fitting.
The world says your dress should be getting “looser.” The message to brides is to take up less space, to lose pounds, and to look thin. And when you’re like me, and your most consuming battle in life was years spent in a restrictive eating disorder… these messages can easily be triggers.
But rather than allowing them to permeate me, I have focused on some key things that have shifted my thinking:
- What do I want my relationship with food to look like as a full time writer, wife, and, one day, mother?
- What do I want my relationship with food to look like at my bridal shower, bachelorette party, and wedding?
- What do I want to be consumed with leading up to my wedding – and for the rest of my life?
Here’s the thing: I weigh more than I have in months and months, and there were voices that told me I just couldn’t let that happen.
But it’s happened… and I’m okay with it. I’m really okay with it.
I’m finally realizing that my body wasn’t meant to be underweight – that this probably makes sense, too, haha. That in order to have a child one day, my body has been screaming at my slightly messed up mind for some time now that, hey, can you help me out a bit with some stability in order to maybe house a human being one day?
I’d heard all the things eating disorder patients hear:
-Your body wasn’t meant to be this low weight
-You need to eat and eat and eat. You will not get fat. You will heal.
-You will feel out of control for a bit. But it will become normal.
And I have to tell you, friend-who-is-reading-this who is where I once was, and doesn’t believe it either:
It is all TRUE.
It is wonderful to eat without measuring and counting. But it took YEARS, literally years for me, in order for it to be wonderful.
Triggers have made it un-wonderful again at times. But, overall, the not-being-consumed by food thoughts has been magical. Worth it BECAUSE I’m convinced of the truth of it. Fully and completely convinced by the Word of God that the food rules were not in alignment with how He calls me to live.
My knowledge about nutrition is most definitely a God-given tool, accompanied by a lot of Truth. But if that knowledge is seen as THE ULTIMATE TRUTH, it isn’t Truth anymore, because it is accompanied by untruths.
Here is what I mean.
My nutrition knowledge says that refined sugar isn’t healthful. This knowledge has equipped me to be in tune with my body’s cravings for natural sugars, healthful sugars, ie. fruit, etc.
My Biblical knowledge says that I am free from rules, including ones of abstaining from foods. It also says that I am called to eat what I am served, focusing on the people and the conversation rather than the food itself. And so, if someone goes out of their way to make a delicious dessert, or buys me dairy-free ice cream, you bet I’m going to eat it if I want it (which – I usually do).
THIS is the place I want you to get, my friend. But if you are in the trenches of restriction, know this, too –
Your hunger signals are out of whack. They simply are. You WILL NEED to eat more than your friends and family, than you perceive to be “normal,” in order to repair the damage. It is just the way it goes.
I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as bingeing in amenorrhea or anorexia or restrictive eating disorder recovery.
Believing this doesn’t mean that allowing my extreme hunger to actually run its course was always easy. It was not. I fought it for years. But allowing it to operate is the SWEETEST thing. You WILL stop feeling afraid all of the time. You WILL begin to feel “normal” once again. You just have to keep going.
Another HUGE lie that I have had to bring to the light was this: (I see you, Friend):
As long as your BMI isn’t any higher than 18.5, you’re okay.
Well, guess what?
I don’t get my period at BMI 18.5. Which means that, for MY body, that is underweight.
There are women who get a regular period at this BMI, because that is how their body was made. Their bone structures are probably much smaller than mine. But I have wide hips and a naturally larger frame that requires more weight. And – I could cry – I am FINALLY okay with this. Happy about it, even. Excited to see where my natural body wants to land.
It takes speaking these things that you’re so afraid to speak, for fear of shame or embarrassment or even being made to believe differently, in order to see the Truth. Each time I’ve spoken what the devil has tried to keep me from speaking, I have been nothing but amazed by the results produced.
What lies are you believing that you are called to bring to the light?