This post is not so much about living with chronic pain as it is about dealing with the unhealthy ways some of us use to try to cope. It’s also about recognizing what you’re doing and facing it head on...
As I’ve mentioned in a few previous blog posts, dealing with my chronic pain lead to depression and ultimately to several years of anorexia. It took intense therapy and incredible force of will to finally recover. However, I am always worried that my eating disorder thinking will sneak back in. So, to this day I prefer not to know what my actual weight is, lest it trigger a relapse. When I must be weighed, I always turn my back to the scale and ask not to be told what the number is.
Last week as I was leaving a doctor’s appointment, the physician’s assistant gave me a sheet of paper as a record of my visit. There it was... my weight was listed.
"There are seeds of self-destruction in all of us
that will bear only unhappiness if allowed to grow."
At first, I wasn’t quite sure what I felt when I saw the number. It took a moment to process. Was it too high? Too low? Right where I should be according to my doctor? Did it make me want to skip dinner and start fretting about being fat?
I was surprised to find that I was actually feeling quite complacent. It wasn’t setting off alarm bells in my head. This wasn’t the big terrifying reveal I was afraid it would be. I continued to think about it, but not in a negative way.
It reminded of one of my poems I rediscovered recently in an old filing cabinet, something I’d written during therapy to help me get past the eating disorder and take a more realistic view of my health.
I’ve often thought that this poem would be incredibly helpful to others, especially some women I see at my gym who get on the scale and obsess very vocally about the numbers. Maybe this poem will speak to you or someone else you know, and help you face a truth you haven’t seen before.
~* Stepping on the Scale *~
The number you see on the scale
does not show if you’ve won or failed.
Remember it does not reveal
if you ate too much at your last meal.
The digits don’t break down to show
your muscle - fat - bone - water ratio.
It easy to forget, your see,
fat’s lighter than the other three.
If you eat well and exercise
you might be caught by a surprise:
The muscle and bone which you gain
might cause the sum to rise, not wane.
And it would be a good result
not something that is an insult.
Don’t be misled by myths and diets.
Some CAN be harmful if you try it.
And taking weight loss to extreme
can totally destroy your dreams.
You may not see what underneath
is damaged when you do not eat...
a balanced plan of healthy food
with exercise and positive mood...
and ask your Doc if what you plan
is best, and that you understand...
exactly how to plot your trail,
and how to face that scary scale.
Just to be thin, does not assure
your happiness; it's not a cure.
If that is all you strive to get
you’ll find disappointment and regret.
Problems aren’t solved by being skinny
do not believe in that fallacy.
Your goal in life, it ought to be
a HEALTHY body full of chi.*
To make your body strong and fit
plan good meals and exercise it,
see your Doc, care for your soul.
Your life will be much more joyful.
But if you obsess about your weight
Your life will be inadequate.
So when you step upon the scale
remind yourself the choice of trail.
THIN or HEALTHY? There's a huge gap
between them; Please beware the trap.
by Shannon Walker
11 / 6 / 2002
* chi = energy