Tag Archives: depression

“Pregnancy Scare”…but really just Scared

If you are having lots of anxiety with or around pregnancy or sex, check in with yourself to see if you’re having it anywhere else. Sometimes, anxiety disorders are at the root of pregnancy scares, especially if they’re happening a lot and even when there have not really or likely been risks.– Scarleteen, Pregnancy Scared?

I made it through a pregnancy scare in December. It was horrible.

When the scare began, I had just returned to my parents house in the States after a semester abroad in Budapest, Hungary. I had just left the place which I felt was my home, and with it, my (now-ex) boyfriend. Even after being back for three weeks, I still feel like I left half of my heart in that apartment in Hungary.

I had been having sex with my boyfriend in Budapest. Really safe and responsible sex. Of course, sex always comes with some level of pregnancy risk, but the risks we were taking were small. Logically I knew this, yet when I returned to the States, all of a sudden there was nothing that could ease my anxiety, my fear that I was growing a child inside of me.

I prayed to God over and over and over: Please, God, don’t let me be pregnant. And… if I am, can I miscarry? Kill it, God. Kill it, kill it, kill it. 

This “pregnancy” was eating away at me. Would I get an abortion? How would I tell my parents? What would my sister think?

I’ve heard that the power of thought is really effective at healing. That if your ankle is sprained, spending time every night imagining the ankle fibres meshing back together can actually speed up the healing process. I wondered if maybe this method worked for miscarriages, too. I spent every night hating myself: sending negative thoughts to my abdomen trying to kill off whatever bundle of cells I was convinced *must* be growing inside of me.

The rational part of my brain was constantly trying to quell the anxiety– The chances of you being pregnant are minuscule. You’re being ridiculous. And, at the least, chill out until you can get a pregnancy test. There’s literally nothing you can do at this point.

Yet I couldn’t ignore my missed period or my horribly painful breasts which has been that way for over two weeks.

As soon as I’d waited long enough for a home pregnancy test to have some measure of accuracy, I took one. Negative. Yay! The wave of relief only lasted a few days until I still hadn’t gotten my period. I convinced myself the result must have been faulty.

I felt so scared, so distressed, so alone. But… none of these feelings were actually about the pregnancy. I knew I wasn’t pregnant. And even if I was, so what? I’ve handled worse before.

I was scared, distressed, and alone, but… scared I wouldn’t be able to find another place which really felt like home, distressed over breaking up with someone I wanted to spend my life with, and alone alone because I’d just left a huge group of friends I’d travelled with, learned with, and grown up with– likely to never see again.

I honestly believe the fear of pregnancy was easier for my mind to wrap itself around when compared with the fear of my future. I was so happy last semester, and I worry I will never feel that kind of joy, love, and HOME ever again. That’s a lot.

I got my period. It was late, but it came. And why wouldn’t it have been late, after the stress of moving, international travel, final exams, and a breakup?

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The Best and the Worst (Sexual Assault TW)

I’ve taken a break from blogging on this site for the semester– I’ve been blogging about math (my major at college) instead for a bit of a change.

What have I been doing? I’ve had both some of the best and some of the worst times of my life in the past six months.

The Worst:

It seems almost comical to have to add this to my list of problems. I was sexually harassed this summer by my boss at work. It took me over a month to realise what was happening, and to realise that my being so uncomfortable with what was going on was not okay. I’ve spent every bi-weekly counselling session this semester dealing with the emotional consequences of my summer “relationship.”

I wrote a poem in August when I was just starting to get out of the mess. At the time I felt SO GUILTY about what had happened– there was so much hurt existing between me and my boss, and between my friends and family who I’d been lying to. I felt completely responsible. The poem includes the line:

I wish I could erase
me
from your memory
I had thought closing my world off from you
was to protect me
but really
it was to protect you.

It makes me sick to read that I ever felt that way. It was to protect me. If I could go back to the beginning of the summer I would change everything.

I have the loving support of friends and family now, it’s not a secret anymore, and I’m okay. I’m so grateful for that. I need the support, as even though I changed my phone number and have blocked numerous people from my facebook, the memories still come up at random times and take over. I still have nightmares. I still think about how things were left with me being emailed “I knew you were an unstable crazy girl, but now I see you’re a pathological liar too.” No. Just no.

There is so much I want to share about this sexual harassment experience. I’m still processing, and I think it will continue to be a long journey for me. I’m finally able to see myself as a victim and not as the problem, but that took months of therapy. There’s still a ways to go.

The Best

Maybe because of my experience with depression, I was able to do a really good job of compartmentalising the bad summer during this semester. Thoughts pop up out of my control and I discuss the problems during therapy, but I’m so lucky I’ve been able to have a normal life in between that.

I’ve been living and studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary for the past four months. I love it here so much. It feels like home. I love my friends, I love my professors, I love my apartment, I love this city and all the things in it. I fell in love with a new boyfriend. I’ve been having the best semester of my life.

And not because the semester was easy and full of partying. Not at all. I’m taking four math classes in addition to Hungarian. I worked on a bioinformatics research project about neural networks in the brain. We had three days off the entire semester, of which I made up every single class! It was a lot. But it was fantastic.

I’m getting ready to go home now, and I’m not really looking forward to it. I’m excited about seeing my family and friends from my home school, but I am going to miss all the people and things here, and I’m afraid to return to my hometown where I know I will be overwhelmed by memories of my harassment. It’s going to be a tough readjustment.

Hopefully with Christmas and the business of the holidays there will be enough to distract me and keep me feeling happy.

All my love,
–gb

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A Love Letter to My Friend, Who is Suffering:

December 28, 2013

I want to tell you in writing how much I love you. I need to tell you this way, because I know you don’t believe me when I tell you in person– you can’t, your illness doesn’t let you. You told me that yourself.

You are so amazing at finding the good in other people, at finding their strengths and beauty, yet you can’t see it in yourself. You think you are worthless. I wish I could hold up a mirror in a way that would allow you to see yourself the way you see everyone else– beautiful, and perfect in their imperfections.

I want you to see yourself the way I see you. When I look at you, I see a girl who is strong, physically and mentally. I see someone who can finish workouts, homework assignments, exams, take care of friends, and lead a “normal” life all while on the verge of mental breakdown. You put up a good front. You’re a fighter. Never let them see you sweat. Or cry.

I wish I could take away some of your suffering. I wish you didn’t feel the need to take out your emotional pains by cutting into your skin or drowning them with alcohol. But I am so thankful you have let me in to this part of your life: because I understand, because I don’t judge you in the least, because I care about you and you mean so much to me. 

I don’t know why my meds have worked for me and yours haven’t worked for you. I don’t understand. Maybe you just haven’t found the right one yet. Maybe you just need a different therapist. Maybe this just isn’t the right year. Hang on, my love, hang on. I have seen the other side of this pain and it is worth the wait. The world really is amazing.

Please be careful. Please ask for help when you need it. Do it for me, or your sister, or the moon, or your younger self. Anyone. I’m here for you. I love you, and so do so many people around you.

It will get better. You know the emotional intensities pass. And I believe, truly and deeply so, that there will come a time for you as it has come for me when “good” days are not just “not-as-bad” days.

xoxo

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No, You’re Not Okay

I broke this week.

I crashed this week.

I drowned this week.

Whatever you want to call it, my depression came back. I think I probably just didn’t take care of myself as much as I needed to. I’m not sure. I wasn’t exercising or sleeping enough, and was very stressed and overwhelmed by the amount and difficulty of the homework I needed to do. It was too much. College can be too much.

I ended up crying and having “depressive attacks” four days in a row. Wednesday I had a migraine, took a nap, started self-medicating with Benedryl and Advil, and slept a lot. Thursday and Friday I was so far behind on homework that I worked for 8+ hours straight through, both days, stopping only to eat. And to go to class. It’s not really surprising that I couldn’t stop crying.

I don’t know if anyone else has a name for what I call my “depressive attacks.” They must. Any ideas? For me, they’re very similar to panic attacks, but there is not feeling of panic or anxiety. Instead it is grief. There is this intense feeling of deep inner sadness that starts in the gut, and can only work its way out through crying.

It is a wave of grief that washes over me which can only let itself out by crying the disgustingly intense kind of crying. The kind that should only be cried when someone you love has died. The attack sneaks up on you, hits hard, then passes as quietly as it came.

When I have my depressive attacks is when I feel the most vulnerable, embarrassed, and ashamed. I do not like people to see me in that state. It is terrifying for them– they feel helpless and afraid of the monster, my illness, which has stolen me right out of my body. I know it will pass– they don’t know it will pass. It’s not fair to them.

Friday night I had one of my depressive attacks with one of my best friends around. She’d never seen it before.

One of the things I do when I am in that state is tell myself that I’m okay. I find it calming. And I need to remind myself that the feelings will pass.

I’m okay.

I’m okay.

I’m going to be okay.

I wish so much that she hadn’t been around when it hit. I hurt her– I scared her. And at one point she responded to me:

No, you’re not okay.

No, you’re not. That cut through. Because there was so much truth to it– I wasn’t okay. I was just telling myself that.

I knew I was going to be okay. I am okay– good, even– now. But I wasn’t then. And I’m ashamed of the person she saw on Friday night. Of that person who wasn’t okay.

I want this blog to have an air of hope against the stigma of mental illness. But I also want it to be honest. And that is the truth.

I am ashamed of the person she saw on Friday night.

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Power Naps and 5-Minute Workouts

Saturday, I was feeling really sad.

Honestly, I’m not sure what was going on. Probably a mix of being tired, nervous for a play I was acting in that day, overwhelmed by schoolwork, and all the usual other college-related stressors.

One of my good friends asked if I was okay, and if I wanted to talk. I didn’t. I didn’t have anything that needed to be said, nothing was really wrong. When I realized that, I knew I needed to do something to shake the clouded feeling that had taken over me.

In my years of struggling with depression, I know that when you have the cloud feeling but nothing is wrong, the only way to fix it is to stop whatever it is you are doing and take a moment for yourself. You can try to power through the feeling, but it won’t go away. I promise.

Saturday, I stopped, took a 20 minute nap, then woke my body up right after with one of the videos from the 5-Minute Workout Anywhere series (click for link–they’re pretty funny).

After doing those two things, which only took a half hour of my day, I was feeling exponentially better. Good, even! Excited! Ready to continue with everything I needed to do!

Yes, doing those two things took a half hour from what I had been planning on doing. But I know the increased productivity and happiness that came from my nap and “workout” were absolutely worth that half hour.

For me, Saturday was a good reminder that taking care of yourself is worth every minute.

Easier said than done? Yes, of course. But I am going to try.

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I like to pretend…

“I guess I like to pretend I don’t have this problem.”

I’ll be studying abroad in Hungary in the fall, and was discussing logistics about it during my psychiatry check-in this morning. I was feeling really good and comfortable with the plan we were working out–we figured out how I will get my prescriptions–but then she said to me:

“Yes. But what will you do if you are all the way in Eastern Europe on your own and you become symptomatic again?”

Oh.

I have no clue how, but that concept had completely slipped my mind. I had literally given no thought to what I would do if I was abroad and wasn’t okay anymore. I guess I like to pretend I don’t have this problem.

Even with my disordered eating habits, I have been doing so much better this year than ever before in my adult life. I feel so stable, so good, so in control of myself right now. I take my meds when I wake up, I go to nutrition and counseling check-ups, exercise, write in my diary, keep my food logs– I’ve found a self-care routine that’s working.

For the first time in my adult life, I know what it feels like to not live in constant fear of my illness.

I know I am so blessed and lucky to be able to say that. I never thought I would. But my appointment today gave me the necessary reminder that I will always, always have this part of me.

I will never outgrow my mental illness.

I will never be cured of my mental illness.

My mental illness will always be a part of who I am, and something I will always carry with me– even as far away as Hungary.

I’ve already had six years to try to reconcile myself with my illness, and even so, I’m still trying not to be angry about it.

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Food Logs

I am doing a lot better. From the beginning of this semester, I met with our college nutritionist every week for about a month, then every other week, and have now “graduated” to once a month.

I have been keeping a food log this entire time, recording specifics of what I eat as well as my feelings and reactions to food. It makes nutrition appointments really easy– every meeting we start out by looking at my log. She can see what I consumed and how I felt about it in “real-time.” There’s no forgetting what happened since the last appointment, and no hiding certain meals/lack of meals.

My food log is helping me transition my obsession with food from an unhealthy restriction of what I will allow myself to put into my body towards a healthy awareness of what I am eating and why.

I have been using my food log as a crutch–but honestly I think that’s okay. In the beginning, I needed it. I needed my food log to give me something to obsess over as I tried to increase my food intake. Now I just like it. Sometimes I even forget to log, and that doesn’t bother me anymore. That’s one of the ways I know I’m doing better. But I like having someplace to reflect on food and notice how my emotions impact what I eat. My log is helping me to enjoy food again.

For anyone who has kept a food log: Were you forced to use it? Was it helpful? Do you continue to use it?

One of my recent food log reflections:
I have really not been concerned much with food, exercise, and weight recently. I feel happy and calm and comfortable with my body. I have accomplished one of my goals– to feel less anxiety surrounding food. It is still there sometimes, it still exists, but I feel that I now have enough knowledge about myself and healthy eating habits as well as tools to be okay. I fear that this might not be the case tomorrow or next week or in six months, but I can deal with that when it happens. My food choices and habits are definitely different now than ‘before,’ but I think that it okay. I think I am okay.

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My Food Log

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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

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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.

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“…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.”

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