Self-Allowed Food Freedom

One of my food goals involves a “challenge meal” in which I basically allow myself to eat whatever I want, without planning it out in advance. This week, my challenge meal needed to involve pizza. At my last nutrition appointment, I spent a while telling a story about my friend eating pizza in the dining hall. I had wanted some so badly, but I couldn’t let myself have it. I hadn’t planned to eat pizza at that meal.

Even though I wanted it, I knew it wasn’t worth it. The sheer amount of anxiety caused by a single slice of pizza was going to ruin the entire rest of my night. It was better for me not to eat it.

Tonight was my challenge dinner. My dad was driving past my college on a business trip, and he stopped to eat with me. We went out to dinner, and I had pizza, frozen yogurt (chocolate!), and a chai tea latte. So many things that I love.

I have come out of the meal amazingly full. It is one of the first meals in way too long that I actually ate until I was completely full (and yet still not too full. Just normal.) and didn’t restrict anything about my meal.

On top of that, it was coupled with the love and support of someone who cares enough about me to stop by even for just an hour and a half. I think him being here was the reason I could do what I did without anxiety. I doubt he will ever understand how much this dinner meant to me.

I am back in my dorm now, finishing my chai tea. I am overly aware that as I finish my tea, my self-allowed food freedom is coming to an end. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about that. But, for now, I feel full and I feel happy and I will just let that soak in.Image

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I wish I could tell you how much you’ve hurt me.

What do you do when the person you normally trust with things suddenly becomes the problem? When the person you love most becomes the person you need help dealing with?

It happens over and over. For me, two of the big ones:

Breaking up with my boyfriend.
My first reaction was to call him and tell him some jerk guy broke my heart. Then I remembered that it was him.

My anorexic best friend.
I usually talk to her about everything. She knows all my secrets and I know hers. But now, just looking at her makes me feel sick. It makes me so sad and it makes me feel angry. Angry at the world, angry at her parents, angry at everyone who has ever hurt her– now they’ve hurt me, too.

Time heals. With those two, my best friend is in recovery and we’re now as close as ever before. With my ex, we don’t talk anymore, but I’m okay with that. I’ve moved on.

But how long does it take to heal? And what do you do in the meantime?

This past weekend another relationship has broken for me. To simplify a complicated situation, I spent a very long night taking care of a very drunk best friend. She is okay, but it took more out of me both physically and mentally than I had. I’ve now shut down and am trying to recover and find my life again. I’m really hurt by the way things happened, and I’m really angry.

I hate being angry with her– I still love her so much. But right now I am not okay.

I have other friends who I’m talking to. I am taking care of myself. Everything will heal in time.

How long will it take? What do I need to do? I’m an impatient person.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Food Goals

My nutrition appointment actually went really well! I like our school’s nutritionist a lot. I talked to her for an hour about my history, where I am right now eating-wise, and where I want to be:

I have struggled with depression/suicide/self-injury/etc. I am restricting. I want to be able to eat without feeling overwhelmed.

I liked talking to her because I never felt like she was judging me. It is so refreshing to be in a safe space like that– where you can admit that you self-harm, take meds, aren’t eating … and the other person doesn’t stare at you like you’re a sick puppy. She asks what has helped me cope in the past, and how can we apply those methods to this new problem?

We came up with three goals for me to work on this week. They are easy. Right now she is not asking me to change the way I eat my meals, which I appreciate because honestly I don’t think I am capable of that at this point. My big goal is basically to stop being hungry all the time. I want to do that. I think I can.

My three nutrition goals for this week:

  1. Snacks. I am adding in 2 snacks to my regular 3 meals. One at 3pm and one at 9:30pm. Something that has helped me cope with stress in the past is having a very specific schedule that includes self-care on it (eat, shower, go to the gym, watch TV). I am able to follow my self-care schedule, even though I struggle to do those things otherwise.
  2. Challenge Day. Right now, my eating involves obsessive pre-planning of all my meals. I look at the menus for our dining halls before I go, and decide what and how much of it I will eat. I might plan all three of my meals for a day the night before. I don’t like doing it, either– it stresses me out. I want to stop. I am attempting to have one challenge day this week where I don’t look at the menus or pre-plan my meal.
  3. Read. She gave me a reading list of some books relating to disordered eating and body image. The one she recommended to me was Eating in the Light of the Moon. I’ve started it– it’s about women reclaiming their feminine body and improving their relationship with food. As a women’s college & gender studies student, I’m not sure how I feel about the whole femininity thing, but I’ll give it a shot. I take all of these mental illness books “with salt” anyway.
    Has anyone read it? What do you think?

So far this week, I have been doing pretty well. I am taking my snacks, and eating them, and it’s nice not feeling hungry. I have more energy.

However, I wasn’t as good today: It’s 5:00, and I’m really hungry. I have a headache and my stomach hurts because I haven’t eaten enough. I missed my afternoon snack because I forgot to put it in my backpack when I left this morning (I’m still trying to get used to having nutrition goals), so I haven’t eaten anything in 5 hours. And even so I can’t make myself eat.

This just proves to me how important my scheduled meals and snacks are right now. One would think I would be able to eat my snack now since I missed it, but my brain won’t let me. It’s not 3:30. I physically cannot do it, even though choosing not to do it (as if it’s a choice) is making me feel sick.

But, overall, I feel positive about where I am emotionally right now.

Tagged , , , , ,

“…loved your baby feet.”

I have not been doing well.

Depression-wise, I’m fine. I’m not depressed. But my disordered eating has taken itself to a new level.

I’ve now lost 15 pounds since a year ago this time, and I’ve stopped eating enough food. I eat small meals, and close to nothing in between. I’m not eating enough, I know I’m not eating enough, I’m always trying to convince myself I’m not hungry–but I don’t want to stop. I want to keep losing weight.

As I said in an earlier post, the idea of disordered eating is nothing new to me. I have writings and journal entries from the past 2-3 years about my struggles with food:

I told her that what I wanted most for my birthday was to be able to eat my birthday cake without feeling sick, nauseous, and guilty for doing so.

Before I can fall asleep, I have to make a mental list of everything I ate that day.

I can’t look at anyone without judging if I think they’re thinner than me or about my size, and then spending time deciding if I’m okay with that.

But I have hit a new low now. I am still very much within a healthy weight range for my height, but I now weigh less than I did in high school, even when I was an athlete.

My best friend from high school suffers from anorexia. I talk to her about everything, and when I told her how I am doing eating-wise, she made me promise her I would go see our school’s nutritionist. I have an appointment, and I don’t want it, but I’ll keep it for her.

 I think I don’t know how not to be emotionally sick.

As a side-note, one of my friends showed me Mary Lambert the other day.
I really connect with her poem Body Love.

“Love your body like your mother loved your baby feet.”

Tagged , , , ,

Sick enough?

One of my friends posted a link to this article on her Facebook wall:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/12/soft-grunge/

It’s an article about Millennials and this new “style” called soft-grunge, which at its core makes intense emotion, depression, and mental illness appear beautiful. The article argues that this beautification of mental illness by young adults who may not have or understand mental illness leads to “erasure” of the experiences of those who really are suffering, thus worsening the stigma of mental illness.

The part of the article I really connected with, however, had little to do with the “soft grunge” stream of thought. What hit me was about halfway down, where the author writes, If you can selectively channel an emotion at will, it’s not mental illness.”

For me, that really resonates as an accurate way to describe mental illness, even though it defines mental illness by way of saying what it is not.

Mental illness is not having control over your emotions.

I have always struggled with defining mental illness– how do I know something is wrong with me? How do I know that I’m different? How do I justify, unfortunately even to myself, that I have a problem? That I am sick enough, and thus worthy of, my meds and all that expensive psychotherapy? It seems like a silly thing, a side point, but I am constantly trying to reassure myself that I need all of it.

I started my meds because I no longer felt safe with myself. I was too suicidal, and I couldn’t control my feelings. Using the article’s definition, I was suffering from mental illness because I didn’t have control over my thoughts or emotions. I was scared to be left alone with myself. 

Yes, I think that is “sick enough.”

Why do I need to keep reassuring myself of that?

Tagged , , , , , ,

I love food. But it sucks.

One thing that is frustrating me right now is my weight. Well, actually, my weight is fine (I weigh 10 pounds less than I did a year ago at this time, and am very healthy). I’m frustrated with my worry over my weight.

I was doing pretty well when I was at college. I was controlling my eating more, as much as you can in a dining hall situation, and exercising a lot. Almost every day. At home, I just don’t get to exercise as much. Somehow, there’s no time.

I need to exercise at home, though. Not doing to makes me feel anxious. When I do exercise, I can go about the rest of my day without any worry over food or what I have eaten. But if I don’t, thoughts of food and of my body pre-occupy me and take over my mind. I start to resent the people who take me away from my workout time, and get angry at the food I’ve eaten. I plan my meals– what I am going to eat and when, and struggle to restrain myself from eating anything else.

I went to a Christmas party tonight. Of course, I ate more than I needed, and I didn’t work out today. Had I worked out, I know there would have been no issue. But since I didn’t, now I am left hating my body.

I don’t understand– It’s f*ing (sorry) Christmas. You’re supposed to eat lots of Christmas cookies! I keep trying to tell myself that it’s okay, that I’m beautiful and thin (which logically I know I am!), but it doesn’t always work.

My mom brought up my weight today. She asked me if I’d lost weight (I haven’t since summer), and told me I looked thinner (I was secretly pleased). I am worried about my worry over my weight. I have talked to my counselor before about disordered eating, and will continue to do so.

Underneath all this mess, there is a healthy desire to just be physically strong and to love my body. That exists. If I can keep that frame of mind, I’ll be okay. But I have been skating on the edge of an eating disorder for over two years now.

Tagged , , ,

Who is in control?

We take drugs in order to give us more control over our lives.

I think about this a lot, and wonder about it. It’s ironic, really.

My Lexapro changes who I am. It directly affects my personality and my emotions. It controls my feelings, and makes me feel stable. It takes away my suicidal feelings and my panic attacks. It allows me to live a life where I don’t spend hours crying in my room or in the middle of class for no apparent reason.

But, it also gives me more control over my own life. Since I don’t have panic attacks, suicidal attacks, random crying attacks (if you will let me call them all “attacks”–as that is how I perceive my mental illness. It is just that, an illness, and one that sneaks up from behind when you least expect it and in an instant changes how you are feeling and functioning), I can make choices about my own life. I can choose what I want to do, when I want to do it, and I don’t need to spend as much time catering to the illness.

With my meds:

I can stay up later without having to worry that I will be depressed for the next week because of it.

I can make it through exams without crying from test anxiety.

I can listen to my friends and give advice without having to worry that it will trigger me.

I now have the emotional capacity to love, and live, and do what I want to do.

The very first thing I do every morning when I wake up is take my meds. Before I even put my feet on the floor, I take my meds. Any time I am going anywhere overnight, I have to pack my meds.

They control me, but at the same time give me my freedom back. It’s confusing.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life Update

So, clearly I failed at this whole blogging thing. But what’s new? (; I am an ideas person, and I think of all these great/cool/helpful/super awesome things I could do, then I start them, and then… nothing. Although I’m blogging now, aren’t I? So that counts for something? And my depressive journey will never actually be over; I know it is something I will be living with for the rest of my life, so I don’t have to worry about missing the opportunity, I guess.

In general, to be totally honest, things have been going really well. I am happy– truly, consistently happy– for the first time in years. The meds are working! I realize my last blog post was while I was still on 5mgs, and still trying to get over the initial sickness that often occurs when you are starting psych meds, but a lot has changed since then. My side effect sickness only lasted about 3-4 days, then went away completely. Immediately, I stopped having suicidal feelings (before I started the meds, I was feeling suicidal ~ 3 days a week! It was terrifying, and I wasn’t okay with that. Since I have started, I have only felt suicidal once. I literally never would have thought that would be a possibility for me.)

It took about a month for it to really affect my personality, so to speak, but the effects have fully set in now. It is weird in a way, but I finally feel like myself again. I feel like the girl I used to be before all this started, before 8th grade, before my first major depressive episode. I feel more outgoing, and a bit crazier in the “I want to do things and try new things” sense, and excuse my language, but I don’t give much of a s**t about what people think of me again. I feel so much more comfortable in my skin, I feel so much freer, but most importantly, I feel like my “old self,” my pre-depression self, pre-high school self that I had been missing so much.

My psychiatrist and I decided to up my dose, so now I am taking 10mg Lexapro every morning, and still have “check-up” counseling appointments. But I no longer feel like I need my appointments. They make me feel safer right now, since I am still trying to figure myself out, but I don’t spend my time counting the days down until appointments, trying to convince myself that I can hang on for “just 3 more days…”

All this being said, please don’t think I am trying to sell the idea of meds to anyone. They have worked for me. I don’t know how long they will continue to work, or what kind of biological effects they will have on my body and brain, or what the past few months would have been like for me without my meds. All I can say, and all I feel comfortable saying, is that they have helped me and they were the right choice for me at this point in my life. Everyone is different, and everyone is at a unique spot in their journey.

Sometimes I joke with my friends something to the effect of, “I won’t let anyone take my meds away from me! They’re mine!” … Except I’m only half-joking. I am terrified of what is going to happen when/if my meds stop working. But for now I am just trying to live in the moment, and soak in the good feelings.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hard to Swallow

I finally did it. I finally called the psychiatrist back and got my prescription filled. I’ve been on 5mg of Lexapro for four days now. It’s not going that great.

I knew starting medication was going to be difficult, but it’s much different when you’re in the middle of it than when you’re thinking about it before. You can’t really prepare yourself for it.

Now it’s 6:00 in the morning. I literally didn’t slept at all last night. I had been taking the Lexapro in the morning, but it was making me sleepy. I was so tired I would have to stop what I was doing and sit down to rest during the day. So, I tried taking it before bed. Big mistake. I’m so confused, though: is it possible that the medication would make me tired when taken in the morning, but still give me insomnia when taken at night?

I wish someone could give me all the answers, and tell me when I’ll feel better, if I’ll ever feel better, if this is the wrong drug for me, and what to do.

I think the thing that’s just so hard for me to really come to terms with, is the concept that we deliberately take these medications that make us sick, in hopes that they will ultimately make us feel better.

It’s counter-intuitive, and scary when you’re in it for the first time.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Through the Looking Glass: An 8th Grader’s Perspective On Depression

6/14/08:

I always thought depression was simply an ADULT problem. That was who the depression medecine [sic] ADs on TV were for! Boy was I wrong. … 

Another thing, when I hear about someone who is going through it, I just want to go up to them and hug them and tell them that people DO care. Even if I can’t do that, which makes me sad.

I’ve been journaling since I was in elementary school. But the above snippet from my 8th grade diary is one of the first entries I have to look back at. I used to write, then when I would go back to read it months or years later and would rip up my old entries because I thought they were stupid and immature.

I wrote this one soon after I had recovered from my first major depressive episode. I was confused about what I’d been through, and terrified that the illness would come back. I had never felt such extreme pain and sadness before in my life, and suddenly had a huge empathy for others who were going through what I had gone through. I felt sad for them, and wanted to help them. To tell them that they weren’t alone.

And to warn the rest of the world, because no one had warned me.

At this time in my life, I was angry. I felt like my childhood had been stolen from me in one fell swoop. And in a way, it kind of was.

I have most of my journal entries from eighth grade on, and I think some of them are worth sharing. I remember that I used to be so frustrated that nobody would ask me what I thought of things. When you are growing up, you spend a lot of time thinking about your world and trying to make sense of it.

Kids should have a voice. Even if their ideas can’t be heard until five years later, by way of saved writings. A time capsule of sorts.

Paper Cranes

Tagged , , , , , ,