Edema and Joint Pain and Night Sweats, Oh My!: The Signs of True Physical Recovery No One Talks About
Cold all the time? I used to be known for it. Also for genuinely never sweating, never turning red when I worked out, and having dryer than dry skin, especially in the winter.
Well, guess what?
I typically sweat easily now (the underboob sweat I never related to is real), actually LOOK like I went to the gym when I finish a tough workout, and my don’t suffer from bloody hands after a few minutes in the cold.
And it’s all thanks to genuine eating disorder recovery.
By genuine, here is what I mean:
-Multiple days without a single vegetable, and being okay with it.
-Eating a muffin that I knew full well had well over the daily recommended intake for added sugar, on TOP of other sweets, and being okay with it.
-Going to my office Christmas party and eating a delicious, fluffy scone for breakfast, a full course meal lunch with wine and sangria and hot chocolate, AND a big chicken dinner with the fiance in the evening plus still dessert and snacks. 20 days before my wedding.
“Man, having your wedding right after Christmas is risky. You have to have so much will power with all the food!”
The number of comments I have heard akin to this is overwhelmingly confirming of the diet culture that has permeated Western culture.
I’m well aware that the obesity epidemic is a far greater problem than the eating disorder prevalence.
For those who need it, here is a wonderful article that explains the need for normalized, non-restrictive eating patterns for EVERYONE – including “overweight” people. Tabitha Farrar is one of the leading writers, researchers, and recovered anorexia-sufferers herself within the literature.
And an incredible video by recovered anorexia-sufferer Becky Freestone about why non-restrictive eating is so critical:
Here are a couple of – very vulnerable things, I’ll say – that I do know:
- The growing pains I’m experiencing all over my body are painful, mentally and physically. Body dysmorphia is something I have struggled with in the past, but this time, the scale and the fact that most of my clothes don’t fit confirms what I’m seeing. And for some reason all of these shifts have occurred in the last approx. 4 weeks.
- I’ve been sweating, a lot. I’m practically NEVER cold, even outside – and that is foreign to me. It’s scary.
- Like Stephanie Buttermore, I’m struggling to love, even like this new body, as it’s been a very quick change. I’m particularly struggling with my arms, which is hard every day, because I’m reminded of their new size every time I try to put on long-sleeve shirts that used to be loose.
- The thing I hate more than anything is the fact that others’ comments can trigger me. If my stomach is hurting and I’m feeling really full, it’s the prime time to be triggered. One of the biggest possible triggers would come from any external person relating food consumption with the wedding day. Because the old voices had once been so loud in making it clear that – of course I would have the lowest amount of weight on my body on my wedding day – it is as if I have to grieve those thoughts as I adjust to a me that weighs over 30 pounds, almost 40 pounds, more than that girl.
- And NO ONE likes to talk about edema, which is the term given to the swelling of limbs and stomach due to water retention and other fluctuations. My ankles, stomach, and thighs constantly ache from it.
The above symptoms are enough to make me want to give up recovery – to eat smaller portions.
I would stop feeling symptoms. I’m sure the aching would stop, and those old messages wouldn’t persist.
But I cannot give up, and I will not.
Not to fit into my wedding dress, or any of my clothes, for that matter.
Giving up halfway – as I have done before – would mean that I would give up fertility, presence with my husband, and hope of ever being fully healed from this.
It would mean that this would all need to happen again. And while “Ed” says it’s the easiest solution, I know not to listen to that old hag. I know a voice whose love is deep and permanent, for me and not against me, and CREATED the earth and sky and my body. His name is Jesus. And He wants me to have a fully functioning body.
So when vegan donuts come to the office, I eat them. When panic attacks arise, I ask Jesus to calm them. And when my body hurts, I remind myself of what it’s been through before these days, and that it’s healing.
Yes, I’m gaining fat *right* before my wedding day. But what I’m really gaining is LIFE, and life to the full.
*If you are suffering from an eating disorder, please seek medical help. The above resources, as well as my own findings, are not to replace professional medical attention.