Daisy loped and pranced like a deer in a spring meadow, her pink tongue darting from her mouth like a minnow, her breath rising in snowy puffs from the dainty black nose at the tip of her muzzle. Beside her, Benny - my beloved, faithful old Benny - moved somewhat less vivaciously across the frost-covered plain.
Watching them brought a smile to my face, warm prickly tears to the corners of my eyes. So happy and carefree; so blissfully unaware of all the pain and evil and suffering that lurks in a world far removed from the beauty of this isolated countryside. The Slieve Blooms rise like shields to the west; as if guarding this place in which I and my two furry friends have found our home.
Now Daisy tears after Benny as he breaks into a shambling run, probably after some disturbed mouse or wandering rabbit. I laugh as they go, and my heart feels like it is going to burst from my chest. Because it is a moment of sheer joy, and intense and bitter pain. Because I yearn more than anything to run after them, to sprint like a galloping hare. But, I cannot.
The past few weeks or so, my right foot has been bothering again. No way as bad as it was, two years ago now: that injury that compelled me to finally approach a doctor, a visit which then in turn led me to be officially diagnosed with an eating disorder. No, no way near as bad. But there is still something there that I cannot quite put my finger on.
I'm guessing that it's something to do with my osteoporosis. My fragile, brittle bones; the bones of a woman three, four times my age. Anything could break them. Even just walking along and tripping over a tree stump; or maybe just twisting something in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Now, from what I have read (and been preached to, during my time as an inpatient in St. Pat's), exercise, no matter what type or form , is something which should NOT be engaged in during the weight restoration phase of anorexia recovery. And no, I am NOT saying that I disagree with that, at all. It makes perfect sense to me, in all honesty. And if I could make myself do it "their" way, well, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I would.
But what I am saying right now is that I don't think people can appreciate just how difficult it is; to do just what the experts say, and eliminate physical activity during weight gain. For me, cutting out exercise has always been the hardest,toughest thing: yep, even more than eating more, increasing the meal plan and kicking long established bad eating habits. Alongside bloating, I'd say it's quite possibly one of the most difficult aspects of this phase of recovery; and one, I readily confess, I have never quite succeeded in "managing" correctly.
When I was an inpatient and confined to the ward at St. Pat's, this issue or problem or call-it-what-you-will, was automatically removed as my freedom was just taken away from me: I couldn't exercise, and we were watched all day to make sure we didn't do anything which even slightly resembled it. I'm not going to go on here about how awful it was: for someone who, even prior to the tender age at which my eating disorder initially developed, had always loved being outdoors and just being active in general, this side of inpatient treatment proved to be one of the most intensely difficult. I hated it. When I came home at the weekends, against the advice of my consultant and her team, I still would go out with my family for idyllic walks with Benny; unable to face the thought of being left behind, alone and miserable, at home.
Was I wrong in what I was doing? Quite possibly. Anyhow, about 3 months and many exerciseless days later, I was let go: away from that closeted environment where everything was, literally, handed to me on a plate.
But now, of course, things are very, very different.
I am at home, not in hospital. I am a student, trying to struggle her way through the final year of her degree. I am, in every respect, completely in control of my own recovery. I am the one who has to make the decisions; I am the one who has to tackle all the various different recovery issues, alone. And with this one, I have hit a rock hard. I don't know what to do; and it is the not knowingness of it all which is getting to me.
I guess what makes this "dilemma" of mine that bit more tricky and problematical is the fact that I am not severely underweight (I only have about 2 kg to gain before I reach a minimally acceptable" healtny bmi.) I can move freely and without pain or difficulty (for now, that is..). And then, of course, there is that one indisputable fact. To eliminate my current exercise - that being, walking the doggies, and cycling - would be equal to, essentially, eliminating something which I truly love. Walking Ben and Daisy, cycling, physical activity in general - it is something which I love, which relaxes me, which provides me - for a short space of time, at least - with a sense of well-being, joy, and pleasure.
But to say that there is not one part of me..
which recoils, with fear, at the thought of giving up, or reducing that one bit more...
would be a lie.
These thoughts.. these fears, these lingering anxieties surrounding weight gain, of letting go of this rigidness, this control over every single gram of food I eat; every single minute of exercise I take...oh, if only I could just pluck them right out of my head; toss them over my shoulder and cast them to the winds, watch them float away like grains of dust caught in a sandstorm...
Every day, the same burning question which revolves in endless spinning circles in my head.
Am I doing this right?
Is it ok just to "reduce", for now...?
I have about 2, 3 kgs to gain. Not much, but...is it time to do this properly, seriously..?
I do not know. I do not know. And so, every day, I continue on, still wondering, f anyone has any advice on this topic, I would be so, so grateful.
I guess, for now, I just have to be as careful as I can manage. For this path of recovery is a slippery one; one upon which I know I have to tread carefully.