Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Recovering Grace, One Meal at a Time

For tonight, back to the present for a bit. I had a Very Good Thing happen tonight and I'm proud of me!

First, I have been obsessing less and less over food as time has gone by. I don't exactly forget to eat, but I don't actively think about it constantly so I am occasionally surprised by hunger, sometimes intense hunger. (Um, and while that sounds good, it isn't necessarily good - intense hunger can lead to some intense eating, if one isn't prepared to slow down and think before consumption.) Today was one of those days, but I managed to take a moment and figure out what I wanted vs. what I had on hand to make, and didn't binge or overeat from it.

But second, and even more surprising, was what happened after dinner tonight. I had my meal and I was fairly full, not uncomfortably so, but full. Beloved husband wanted to go out for ice cream and I agreed. I got two scoops of something yummy and it was truly blissful, but... I scraped my way through the first couple of layers and then - well, I was just done. It was delicious and I might have kept going but it occurred to me that I didn't want to be overstuffed and miserable. That I was content with what I had already had and that I didn't have to finish it. It wasn't guilt or the shoulda/wouldas or getting to the state that I call "stuffed stupid." I made a choice to not be unhappy.

It has taken me so long to have this moment, to have this moment and realize that I was having it. That I have come this far and that I can keep going, and that I'm really going to be okay.

These moments rock.

And would you believe that it actually gets better? Because, yeah, it really does...

I have just come off of a really rough week. Three dentist visits, three days in a row, two separate root canals, hours of pain and then pain meds which made me sick and anxious and which have apparently hampered the effects of my antidepressant. (That's why you try to avoid taking NSAIDs on these kinds of meds.) I have been deeply depressed since last week. Like, not being able to sleep depressed, not wanting to get off of the couch depressed. And on top of that I was experimenting with reducing my dose by half a pill for the past couple of weeks anyway. Oh, so depressed...

I have been craving comfort food. I have prepared it, too, and gone out for it sometimes, and kept it to sane portions. I have not binged. It hasn't really even occurred to me to do so. Today I spent the first half of the day staring off into space and wondering why I can't cry and when faced with two giant scoops of chocolate peanut butter buckeye, I chose to not be (physically) miserable.

Can you be both depressed and proud at the same time? Apparently, yes you can.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

If You're Happy and You Know It, Share Your Meds

I haven’t done this in a while, there’s been so much to talk about, but today I’m going to take another retro look back at my first year in recovery and a journal entry from back then. I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about depression or anxiety medications and how ambivalent I have always been about taking them. Once upon a time my firm opinion was that depression meds were over-prescribed and that most people didn’t need them. My thought was that “people aren’t meant to be happy ALL of the time.” I still think that both of those things are true, but now I also realize that people aren’t meant to be sad and frightened all of the time either.

I started on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety med about a year and a half ago, and it has made a huge difference in my life. I do still have down days and angry days and even anxious days, but now I have more happy and calm days than I do bad ones. And when I have bad days, I can handle them, and I understand that it’s temporary and that I won’t feel like this forever. That’s a huge reversal of what my life used to be like.

Starting anti-depressants is different for everyone, because everyone has unique body chemistry (even if they’re related). The first brand I tried was wrong for me; it actually increased my anxiety and I had a very scary panic attack after just a few days on it. The second brand I tried worked much better, but left me feeling a little off kilter; I was happier, but I was careening back and forth from happy to sad to mad and back and forth again all day. So it was back to my doctor again, and she upped my dose by just a little, and suddenly I was good. I’ve been on that brand ever since. Lately we’re beginning to consider whether or not I can begin to cut back on the dose, but that’s a story for another day...

Also, that all sounds like it happened pretty fast, but in reality it was over a period of several weeks. For most people, it takes a number of weeks or even a few months for the effects of the pills to take hold. If you (and your doctor) should determine that an anti-depressant is the way to go, you probably won’t start feeling better on the next day, or even the next week. You have to give it time! And remember that it’s different for everyone. For me, it took a few weeks to feel better. For someone I know, the effects were almost immediate. Someone else I know takes that first med that made me worse, and it works just fine for her.

So, here’s the takeaway... IF you need meds, don’t be afraid or ashamed. You don’t deserve to feel bad all the time. IF you need meds, do talk to your doctor and please please please WORK with that doctor to get on the one that’s right for you. Don’t just take the first thing you are given and then quit because you don’t feel different, or because you feel worse. Talk to your doctor about how it makes you feel. If you don’t feel better, give it time; if you feel worse, you can try something else; if you don’t feel better enough, you can try something else.

Journal Entry #14

Well, today I guess I was paying a bit more attention, but I let the moment of “finished” just roll right by and kept on eating anyway. And I don’t really even know why. Once again, I’m not really feeling anything. Just empty - and tired.

I can’t tell if the anti-depressant is changing much. I do think I’m less anxious, but emotionally.... well, I’m not sure that this is better. Before the meds I would get depressed and it would go on for two or three weeks, then I would have a phase of feeling good for a week or two before I would return to anger and depression. Now I feel completely erratic. I’m up, I’m down, I’m empty, I’m angry, all in one day. I’m all over the place.

The only consistent thing is that I’m tired. I can’t seem to sleep enough. I don’t always let myself nap during the day, but I always want to.

Fourteen days. It’s only been fourteen days on the meds. Give it time. It has to get better, it couldn’t get much worse, right?


I think I deserve this HATE, but I don’t.
I give myself permission to be patient.
I deserve good things as much as anyone else.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Nothing Ever Seemed So Hard

So, I guess I never did make it back to regular posting last week (or so) as I had planned. Unfortunately, I still haven’t quite worked out my need for perfection, so when I’m not doing it all right I tend to not want to talk (or write) about it. Well, there’s always something to work on, I suppose.

The good news is that I haven’t binged in weeks, so that’s not it. I haven’t really even overeaten, at least not for emotional reasons - I’m pretty sure I overdid it once or twice on foods that I just can’t lay off of (certain Chinese options, Indian Makhani, or Thai Red Curry). I don’t quite want to call them trigger foods, they aren’t quite like Doritos for me in that regard, but I just can’t resist eating until the plate is practically licked clean.

What I’ve really been feeling out of sorts about is my complete and total lack of interest in movement. I want to WANT to move, maybe that’s a start, but I can’t just sit around waiting to want to do it. The completely sedentary lifestyle is not healthy at any size. On the other hand, I don’t want to force myself to do something I hate because I “have to do it.” I have enjoyed some forms of exercise before and I know that if I can begin I will find pleasure in them again. But getting to the beginning.... “All I need’s a starting place, and nothing ever seemed so hard!” (Remember that video I posted, from Toad the Wet Sprocket?)

And so here’s my bit on starting from nothing...

I had been trying to make myself use our home treadmill, get on it at least two or three days a week for half an hour and walk at a comfortable pace. I succeeded about once per week, if that. Then I remembered something some friends of mine do when they are starting new goals: they begin with ridiculously easy goals for the first week. And then, if you find you can’t even manage that, cut the goal in half and try again. And maybe even once again, if it’s necessary. Make it SO ridiculous that it would be ridiculous to skip it. Then do that for a week. Next week, up your challenge just a little.

I started with the simplest thing I could think of - just get dressed out and stretch my calves. Today was Day One, and so far, so good. I got dressed out and did a bit of stretching, and then a bit more, and then hit the floor to get some good leg and back stretches (there’s one that feels so good for the sciatica). When I got up, I was feeling pretty fine so I did some funky little air-punches to the left and right. Yeah, I looked like an idiot, but only the cat noticed. Then for some reason I finished up by running in place for a count of 100. When that was done I stretched out those calves again and whaddya know, it had been half an hour.

Stretching is a great place to start, especially if you have spent your entire life ignoring or hating your body. Once upon a time I would wake up in the morning and do stretches and light calisthenics for nearly an hour every day - like everything else, I let it go in the depression. Like a precursor to yoga, simple stretching allows you to get to know your body, bit by bit, and learn what it is capable of. You learn what muscles feel like and how they move and connect. You figure out how far you can bend and what parts get in your way.

By the way, it’s okay to grab hold of that pooch and move it up or down or otherwise out of the way as you bend and flex. It’s a part of you. Quit pretending it doesn’t exist. Get to know it. Touch yourself and accept the fact that it is there. The embarrassment will fade with time.

Stretch everything. Head to toe. And I mean literally, fingers and toes, the arch of your foot, inner thighs, your neck and shoulder muscles, and the good old gluteus maximus. Eventually you learn your own body and you will discover that it is capable of more than you think. It moves, it supports; it’s graceful and it’s beautiful.

You will get better. In time you’ll find that you can reach to tie your own shoes again or that you don’t get that pinchy feeling in your hip or back when you’re walking or standing for a long time. Some hygienic necessities become easier to perform. Even better, eventually you might even want to walk more, because it doesn’t hurt so damn much. And besides, you’re already up and dressed out, right?

As I am not an exercise professional, I can’t tell you what to do or how to do it. Like everything else I talk about, do your research. Don’t just jump into it because you think stretching is so easy. Done improperly, you CAN hurt yourself. Some sources recommend against stretching first thing in the morning, like I used to do. You need to warm up your muscles, you need to breathe, and you need to know how to not stretch too far. Check the internet or the library, check with your doctor, or find a trainer if you can. When I started stretching seriously for the first time, many years ago, I picked up a book that I would still recommend: Stretching by Bob Anderson. It has been out for decades, so it should be easy to get at the library, too.

A last word about stretching... it can be very meditative too. You are focusing on your breath, counting slowly, moving gently. I haven’t tried this myself, but after taking a couple of yoga classes a while back, I can see the appeal of putting on some soothing music and adding some kind of aromatherapy to the session. That way you could meditate and move at the same time. Just a thought.

So that’s it. That’s what I’m doing to begin being healthy at my size - stand up, get dressed, stretch a little. It’s a ridiculously easy goal, and I can do that. So let’s move!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whatever I Fear

I'm also sharing a video of a song that has been on my mind lately. To quote Toad the West Sprocket: "We expect these things to change by waking up and suddenly there they are. And all I need is a starting place, but nothing ever seemed so hard."

My friend Cassie shared an article recently that I'd like to post here. Thanks, Cassie!
We'll Look Back and Laugh
As with most web articles, keep in mind that the comments are probably best not to be read. Some are positive, but some are filled with the usual "fat blaming" stuff that is harmful to us all. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back from Vacation!

We just got back late last night from a 10 day or so vacation in New York State. I'll post some info and pictures, as it was the most fabulous time I've ever had. I never felt self-conscious or "less-than" for the whole trip, and I applaud the people of New York for not being the stereotypes that we all seem to think that they are - the folks in Western NY and the Finger Lakes area were good, happy, wonderful folks and I hated to leave. Thank you for a great stay!