child of God, wife, mother, recovering anorexic who longs to see the beauty in herself that she sees in the world around her

Monday, January 30, 2012

it's like a really bad cold

Have you ever had a cold that you just can't shake.  Day after day the coughing, sniffling, headache keep coming.  There are days that the cold saps every ounce of energy you could possibly have and you lie in a heap on your couch with a box of tissue and try to will yourself up to do ANYTHING.  There are days you have a burst of energy and grocery shop, clean the kitchen and tackle the laundry.  At the end of the day you're exhausted and realize that maybe it was a bit much to try to handle with an impaired immune system but you DID it, you tackled your day.  Some days it just slows you down.  You still accomplish a bit but have to sit often to recoup or to cough up a lung. 

Sometimes you feel the cold coming on and you start getting extra rest and extra vitamin c in your system.  Sometimes those preventive measures help and you don't get knock down, drag out sick.  Sometimes it doesn't matter how much prevention you have done, you still get hit with the full force of the bug and it incapacitates you for any length of time. 

A couple of years ago I got swine flu.  Talk about a NASTY sickness.  It came on so suddenly.  I went from a scratchy throat to a raging fever and aching body in less than 12 hours.  The fever hit quickly.  I was in the waiting room at the hospital to hear how my dad-in-laws surgery had gone when I realized I felt like I was on fire and my head was feeling heavy.  Hubby confirmed that I needed to leave the hospital and not see dad because I was definitely running a fever.  No amount of prep could have stopped the sickness that raged in my body during that time.  After the fever and aches had gone, they left my body with a deep, consistent and painful cough.  The doctor told me it could take 12 weeks for the cough to leave.  Twelve weeks?  That is THREE MONTHS!  I was coughing for about 9 weeks.  I was weaker than normal and easily tired.  And do you know what?  Not one person told me to just get over it.

Depression is a lot like having a cold that just won't go away.  There are days that it kicks my butt and I lie on my couch willing myself to get up and do something but I can't.  There are days when I feel good.  I'm motivated and get a bunch done but go to bed so completely exhausted and wonder if maybe I overdid it.  There are days that it slows me down but I can push through it.  Unless you have dealt with the depths of depression, you will never fully understand how crippling it can be.  Yet I hear so often that someone struggling should just get over it.  If it were that easy, those of us who deal with depression would leap for joy and never be under its crushing weight again!

No one has ever told someone to just get over a cold.  No one says just get over diabetes, cystic fibrosis or cancer.  Why are unseen diseases different?  Why are depression and chronic fatigue diseases that that people should just get over?  The truth is that though the medication I'm on right now helps more than any of the others I've tried, it doesn't cure depression.  Thinking positive thoughts doesn't cure depression.  Wanting to be no longer depressed doesn't cure depression. And while there are things that help make it more bearable, and times that it isn't crushing my body and soul, I have never seen an actual cure for depression. 

This weekend my depression has manifest in sheer exhaustion.  Even thinking about doing something had me longing for a nap.  I don't feel sad.  It isn't an emotion right now, it is a physical sensation much equivalent to the exhaustion I experienced while my body recovered from swine flu.  My whole body feels heavy.  I just want to sleep for days upon end.  And believe me, I do want to "just get over it" but it doesn't work that way. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

narrator in my head

I have had so much on my mind lately and even though I narrate it in my head, I haven't had the attention span or energy to write.  **on a side note, does anyone else narrate their day in their head as if it were a novel to be read?  That's how I always know it's time to write, when my head sounds like sentences, paragraphs and chapters.**

There have been some good days and bad days since the funeral last week.  Hubby called me out one day on not eating.  I thought he hadn't noticed but he had.  Apparently no matter how much I think I can hide it, my body still gives off cues that things are not right.  Like I guess my breath gets sour when I haven't eaten.  Now who would know that but the one who kisses you every day?  Deep down, I think I'm glad he notices those things.  Sometimes it just ticks me off though.  Sometimes I wish there were no one to care enough to save me from myself.  It was so much easier to destroy myself before there was love. 

But I have people who love me.  And I have people I love.  I have been so shaken that Cousin left a widow and 3 not even school age kids behind.  They need him but he isn't there.  It will be Grandpa who teaches the boys how to shave and build and camp.  It will be Mamma who teaches the girl what to look for in a husband and how to be treated by a boy.  It makes me realize how much my own little family needs me.  It makes me realize how selfish my desire to just fade away and become nothing really is.  When slapped with the reality of what having a parent gone looks like, I am thankful that I have people to bring me back down to earth to be here for my family.

I still have plenty of thoughts swirling around in my brain but this is as much as I can articulate right now.  It has been a battle to not let the depression enclose me.  It is there, right on the edge of my consciousness, but hasn't completely overtaken me.  I have to keep fighting.  But I am tired.  Tired of fighting to feel normal, whatever that is.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

finding strength

Grief is draining.  I feel physically and emotionally exhausted, as though I have nothing left to give.

But I know that isn't true.  Today, I gave my husband comfort, even though I knew I had nothing to give.  Tonight I gave my friend advice when she stopped by my work for a little bit, even though I knew I had nothing left to give.  Right now I am giving my youngest attention because he woke up and can't fall back asleep, even though I'm exhausted and have nothing more to give.

I feel like I have nothing in my reservoir to dip from.  And yet I know that somewhere deep inside, there is strength.  There is strength to wake up in the morning.  There is strength to fix my kids breakfast and get them to school.  There is strength to be there for my Hubby as he grieves.  There is strength that let me eat this week, even though it hasn't been quite enough or at all what I've wanted to do.

My cup still needs to be filled but I'm finding unknown strength in the midst of grief.  I had dreams all night about the casket being lowered into the ground.  Some of the dreams it was cousin's casket, some of them it was Hubby, some of them it was my dad-in-law and some of them I wasn't sure who was being lowered into the ground.  The finality of watching the casket of someone as it drops into the ground is disheartening and devastating.  It feels in that moment that you will drop to your knees in the weakness of grief and never be able to stand.  And yet somehow I found the strength to hold Aunt's shaking hand and walk her back to the limo.  Somehow I found the strength to hug Cousin's widow and apologize for letting the distance of 45 minutes be an excuse for letting our relationship with family slide to a back burner.

My body feels heavy with the weight of exhaustion and grief.  I am amazed at how tiring crying really is.  And emotionally, I'm spent!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

allowing sad

I woke up sad today.  I did what I usually do, I tried to tell myself that it was stupid for me to be sad.  I thought about all the blessings in my life and thought about how many I know who would trade places with me in a heartbeat.  I thought about people who have it much worse than me and told myself I don't deserve to be sad. 

But the truth of the matter is that it is ok that I woke up sad.  Tomorrow we lay to rest a man who died long before his time (at least on our timeline).  Tomorrow we lay to rest a man who was part of our family, long before we are ready to.  And I'd be dead inside if that didn't affect me in some way. 

It is hard to give myself permission to be sad.  Hubby told me it is good to feel my feelings.  I know he is right but being allowed to be sad feels very unnatural still.  Accepting my sadness feels like a betrayal of all that I have ever known.  This is such a strange thing to say, especially since I suffer from depression and wake up sad often.  Even on those days though, I still berate myself for feeling down.

I guess I thought if I wrote it, then it would be easier to accept.  I'm sad.  I am sad for our loss.  I am sad for the loss for Hubby's uncle and aunt.  I am sad for the loss for Cousin's wife and 3 little ones.  I am sad and it is ok and natural for me to feel sad.  And all that said, it still makes me feel a little anxious and ill at ease to try to accept my own feelings instead of burying them.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

i can do hard things

 Several of my friends on Facebook have been linking this blog recently.  It really is wonderful.  Tonight I was browsing the blog and in the stores section I saw a sign that said, "we can do hard things."  It's true.  And I have to remember that now. 

Right now I have to do something hard.  I have to learn new coping skills, and quickly!  My old coping skills are knocking at my door, tissue in hand ready to comfort me.  We had a family tragedy this week.  Hubby's cousin fell 18 feet at work and landed on a concrete floor.  The doctors removed two parts of his brain in effort to stop the swelling and hopefully save his life.  The swelling never stopped and yesterday Cousin passed away.

He was young, early thirties.  He had a wife and three very young children.  He had so much life ahead of him and now he has left so much behind.  Hubby grew up with Cousin.  They saw each other all the time growing up.  They played Star Wars together.  They started collecting sports cards together.  They talked about girls together.  Hubby is devastated.  I am in shock.

I really never felt hungry today.  I had a Cliff bar simply because I knew I should.  As the day wore on, reality started sinking in.  I didn't want to eat.  I wasn't trying to numb or shut down.  I know that not eating will lead me to that, but today it was different.  It just feels so dang good, especially at the beginning.  I wasn't trying to feel nothing, I was enjoying my body feeling euphoric when my mind was begging for the new reality to not be true.  When my circumstances are informing me that nothing can feel good, my body said, "But this does."  And it did.  It felt really, really good.

But as my dear Southern Belle reminded me, not eating is only prolonging the hurt.  Numbing myself says that Cousin's memory is not worth feeling over.  Right now, Hubby needs me.  He needs ALL of me.  He needs to know that I will comfort, not give him more to worry about.  And I desperately want to give him that.  He has given me so much, the least I could do is give him all of me, to give him the best of me.  I have to eat to be my best me.  I have to be my best me right now because that is what spouses do for each other, we hold each other up when the other can't stand.

Against the voices in my head and the endorphins in my body, I had cereal when I came home from work.  And I'm going to start by honoring Cousins memory by feeling every feeling of grief that comes up.  This is life.  This is hard.  Life is hard.  But that doesn't mean it's impossible.

I can do hard things.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

body appreciation day 1 - my hands

I'm specifically looking for things my body does well.  I choose to dishonor my body in so many ways, punishing it for not being a certain way, for not responding a certain way or for responding in any way against what my mind desires.  But in the spirit of the new year and having a desire to get past this once and for all, I want to honor my body.  I'm not sure what that looks like for future posts but for today, it looks like this.....

I am so grateful that I have two functional thumbs!  You don't know how much you use your thumbs until you cannot use one of them for two weeks.  For the first of those weeks, I couldn't even use my right hand at all.  So today, what I appreciate about this temple that God gave me is my thumbs.  The right one is still tingling when touched on one side and doesn't have full strength back yet, but still, I can use my hands. 

My hands have held my husband.  My hands have comforted my children.  My hands have wiped away tears.  My hands have cradled my newborn children.  My hands have helped to teach my children to write.  My hands let me express my feelings on paper or on the computer.  Today my hands will shovel my in-laws sidewalk to keep them from having to go outside in the cold.  My hands have offered kindness to many.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

voice free

I know the voices aren't gone forever.  I know sometimes they will still try to exercise their power.  But for now they are quiet and I am grateful.  The change happened so quickly that I don't know what happened or even when.  I just know there is no voice accusing me, no voice berating me, no voice torturing me, no voice gripping me with ice hooks demanding that I abuse my body.  It has been so long since I have felt this kind of contentment that I don't remember when I last felt it.  There is peace, contentment and joy I had long forgotten.

And I am so very thankful, no matter how long or short it may last!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

beyond resolutions

I don't make resolutions.  I used to.  When I stopped making them, it was because I never kept them and then felt the shame and guilt of not keeping my promises to myself.  Honestly now, it just doesn't cross my mind until someone brings it up.  But I do have goals for my recovery/mental health for the year.  See, my goals involve changing the way I think about things. Behaviors don't change unless thoughts change first.  I want to change my thinking.

Things I'm currently working on shifting my perspective about.....

food. Specifically, whole foods.  I have been contemplating for months that our ancestors lived off the land.  They ate potatoes and did not become diabetic.  They ate corn and wheat and other grains without fear of carbs.  Most were farmers and they ate the chicken, cows, pigs and sheep that they raised. They even sometimes had sugar, not agave but real white sugar.  And it didn't make them fat.

fat.  I mean seriously.  I just said that living off of the land didn't make our ancestors fat.  The problem is that with today's standards, they would be overweight.  My Grandfather used to lovingly tell my Grandma that she was "pleasingly plump."  She was never fat or overweight in any way, but she had the curves of a woman.  She had hips, thighs, breasts, healthy curves.  If I could be half the beauty my Grandmother was in her prime...... Oh wait, to be that I'd have to accept that curves are beautiful.

beauty.  Today beauty is defined with a thin and trim body.  Women in general have body fat percentages that have fallen far below what is truly healthy for a woman. We have learned to despise curves.  Either we fear their power, oh so many of us do. ( I know I'm guilty there.  Curves bring attentions.  Attentions sometimes end in violation.)  Or we fear the numbers on the scale.  Or we fear the BMI or the fat percentage.  Or we fear the way we may be perceived by all the other curve haters we are surrounded by.  Beauty used to be femininity, now beauty is strength.  How does one reclaim the beauty of femininity?

love.  I have never earned my husband's love.  I have never earned my children's love.  I have never earned my friends love.  I have never earned God's love.  Simply because that isn't the way love works.  I don't have to earn it.  I don't have to be deserving of it.  I may not feel like I deserve to be loved but whether I believe I'm deserving or not, I am still loved. My perspective needs to be in learning to accept that love rather than to keep trying to earn it.  I cannot earn what has already been given freely.

There you go.  That is a glimpse into my brain.  That is a glimpse of areas that have been deep on my heart recently.  Those are areas that I am changing my perspective about, one truth at a time.  It may take a while but I'm still going to speak the truth.  Maybe someday soon I will believe the truth is for me too not just for everyone else I love.

Monday, January 2, 2012

cooking help

Ok, all.  I have to cook for my family.  It is just a fact of life.  A fact I have been running from for far too long.  I prefer homemade food.  There is a better chance of me eating it if I know what is in it.  And yet I tend to shortcut far too often just to escape the kitchen.  Then I'm overwhelmed with what I'm serving and don't eat it.  I end up nearly in tears and usually settling for carrots and hummus (if caught by Hubby).   So I need help. 

I cannot/will not do hydrogenated or hydrolyzed oils or proteins.  I panic about HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and artificial colorings, specifically Red 40 and Yellows.  Sometimes I can handle bread, preferably homemade so I know none of the above culprits are involved.  Often times potatoes and other starchy foods freak me out.  I refuse to use artificial sweeteners, they are worse for your body than sugar is!  Those are my biggest rules.  Of course any given day a certain food or type of food or foods high on the glycemic index etc will freak me out.  But I'm working on being able to appreciate foods that have previously been taboo, like for instance a fully ripe banana or (on rare occasions) mashed potatoes. 

I can't guarantee the foods I make will not panic me once they are on my plate but I cope with the panic much more constructively when I can analyze that I am eating a meal that I made that is healthy.  That is where ya'll come into my recovery.  I need help planning meals!  I need family friendly dinners.  I have no idea how to cook anymore.  I used to be a pretty good cook.  I can't remember what I used to make, which meals my family raved over or why I used to enjoy cooking.  I have to get that back.  Otherwise I continue to perpetuate this illness.  Oh, I also am needing to slim my grocery budget a little.  It is costing me too much to to not be able to cook for my family.

So go for it.  Send them in.  Send me some family friendly, budget friendly dinner meals you love!  Please help me reclaim a love for cooking, or at minimum a tolerance of it!

exercise, bulima and a girl I love

Thumb better?  Not quite but not throbbing anymore either. I'll take my chances with it hurting tomorrow from typing because I have a lot on my mind tonight.

I have a friend who is a Beach Body coach.  Hubby has been wanting to do P90X so I had asked her if we buy it off of her website if she would get a commission.  (See?  I'm cool like that.  Help out a friend while I buy what we are going to buy anyway.) Long story short, she sent me an email saying she had an opening in her 90 day boot camp that she is doing and asked if I wanted it.  Then later that day she sent an email saying given my history that maybe right now is not the time to engage in this type of exercise.  I am grateful for someone being honest and getting in my face about it.  Orange, however, is PISSED OFF that people around me who love me are keeping me accountable.

On Christmas Eve, my niece (yes, the same one I blogged about recently) confessed what I have suspected for some time now.  She is bulimic.  While in the mental hospital, she was caught purging and her parents were told.  Her dad's response is oh so helpful, "Well just don't throw up."  Ugh!  If only it were that easy!  If it were that easy, it wouldn't be called a disorder

I took her out last week for coffee and then a trip to the mall.  She ate, an average amount or slightly above average (I'm not sure now that I say that what an average 17 yr old girl portion would be) in a very quick manner.  When we got to the mall she asked if we could stop by the restroom.  I didn't think much of it, after all, we had been together for over an hour and had just had coffee.  I stood at the sinks with the coffees.  When she reappeared she was pale and shaky (more so than she usually is) and her eyes were watering.  It didn't take an expert to realize she had just purged.  I didn't say anything.  I didn't know what to say.  I just ached for her and wished I could make it better and make this stupid disease go away.

She knows I have dealt with eating disorder but she doesn't know in what way or that I still battle my eating disorder.  As far as my husbands family is concerned, I have dealt with an eating disorder but I'm sure no one has ever really thought it was serious.  Maybe my mom in law because she was too observant when I was relapsing but she does think that it is behind me now that I am weight restored.

Now take all of that information and intro tonight's conversation with Niece:
Will you go running with me?
Running like errands or running like exercising?
No.  I won't.  I don't run.  I'm not a runner, nor do I wish to become one.
Well, will you at least exercise with me?
Maybe, what are you thinking?
I don't care.  I have gained 7 lbs this week and I have to lose it.  Please exercise with me!  Would you go on walks with me?
I don't know.  Maybe.  I'll have to figure out what to do with the kids (my easy out when I don't know what to say to her) but I'll get back to you on that.

I seriously want to cry.  Here I am doing what is right and taking care of me even though it is rather annoying right now and not engaging in the kind of exercise that I am desiring.  I know my motives are not to get fit but to burn calories.  I know my intentions wouldn't be pure.  And then Niece goes and asks me to exercise with her, to fuel her own disease.  I can't.  It would hurt us both.  It would further the disordered voices in both of our heads.  And it makes me want to cry.

I'm not at a place that I want to share the current stage of my journey with her.  I don't mind telling her that I've struggled with an eating disorder.  I don't feel safe enough with her to tell her I'm still struggling.  Besides, she has an emotionally overloaded plate.  She needs to know there is some kind of stability in this world and right now, we are the only stability she has ever known.  She has so little hope, so little joy.  She doesn't need the weight of my journey resting on her right now.  Right now, I think it would be more triggering than helpful.

I don't know what to say though.  My demons are different than hers.  I have tried to purge but as I have mentioned, I can't.  And for me purging is a last resort.  It is what I reach for when nothing else will make the voices shut up.  I would be lying if I said that I understood what she is going through.  I understand the viciousness of ed.  I understand the berating voice that insists you will never be good enough.  I understand the force that pushes her, but I don't understand the method in which she indulges that force.  And I feel lost.  She wants me to give her answers but I don't have them. 

Her parents don't believe she is sick.  Though I cannot imagine why!  The girl shakes like a leaf and the shaking has gotten significantly worse in the past 6 months.  She has circles under her eyes.  She just shaved her head.  At EVERY meal she runs to the bathroom before she is even finished eating and then again when she is done.  She comes back to the table pale and shaking uncontrollably.  But she is not sick, no she is just playing the victim.  I want to shake them.  I want them to wake up and see the little girl who is killing herself to get them to say they are proud of her.  I want them to see the devastation that she is causing to her body through this eating disorder and burning and cutting.  But I want them to do more than see it.  I want them to do something about it and they never will.

I am even more angry about my eating disorder tonight.  I see what Niece's bulimia is robbing her of and I'm tired of being robbed myself.  I'm tired of the abuse that orange puts me through. I'm tired of living my life for a tyrant of a mistress instead of for myself.  And I'm tired of seeing those I love get robbed of being able to fully live as well.