Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year End Reflections

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on my last post; I've got more to say on the subject but not enough time or brainpower at the moment. So for now, I just want to wish everyone a very happy New Year's Eve. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that another whole year is gone. It's true what they say—the older you get, the faster the years fly by. I guess I'm not OLD-old, but still! You guys! Twenty-three is getting up there. It's almost twenty-four, which is almost my quarter-life crisis. Which basically means it's all downhill from here, right?

Okay but for real—tt was a rough year in a lot of ways, but it's also been a wonderful year. My pain is incredibly and blissfully manageable. Not true at this time last year. Or two years ago. I don't really believe in God, but every day I thank some higher spiritual power (and Dr. A) for making that happen. I am happy more often than not. For the first time in a LONG time, I am actually excited about the future; anyone who has suffered from depression knows how amazing and rare that feeling can be.

Still some nagging issues, like the aforementioned food/exercise stuff and some non-ED-related anxiety, but overall I am pretty content with the way things are going. This year took me from a really dark place to a much brighter place, and I am totally psyched for what 2014 may bring.

Happy New Year's and much love to you all.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking Back and Taking Inventory

Ugh I KNOW, I'm the WORST. Sorry for no blogging about anything remotely interesting. I'm still home, still being lazy and spoiled, still reading excessively, still navigating this whole food-and-exercise-outside-my-comfort-zone-and-with-parental-supervision thing, but doing okay and feeling pretty good.

I came across some old photographs on my dad's camera from this trip almost two years ago. Back then, I weighed double digits less than I do now and at the time, was positively mortified by how fat I looked. In fact, that trip (ahem food poisoning) was the tipping point that sent me from semi-subclinical-restricting to full-on Sorry Everyone I'm Done With this Shit, Not Gonna Eat. I lost an additional XX after that trip, which nearly got my butt stuck in inpatient by May. Looking back, I can't believe how nuts I was.

Anyway. Did I have a point? I guess what I meant to say was, my body image now is a hundred million times better than it was back then, even though my weight is much higher. I just feel healthier and nourished and satisfied. I struggle with snacks when I'm home and my days always tend to be bottom-heavy (eating more late in the day as opposed to spreading calories out evenly throughout the day....CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THE HECK I DO THIS???) but overall I am doing very well with getting in enough calories.

I've been thinking a lot about how I got here. "Here" meaning my current status of having a relatively okay body image at a perfectly healthy weight, being okay with eating a healthy amount of calories, eating cookies and white bread and cheese and candy and all that without freaking out, and not thinking about food every second of the day. I don't see a dietitian anymore, and never found them very helpful anyway, but it feels like I've gotten myself to a place—through cobbling together various sources of knowledge and inspiration, through trying and messing up and trying again, through experimenting with different ingredients and combinations—where I feel like my diet is pretty solidly healthy and robust and I am okay with eating the way I do. My weight has been rock-solid for almost six months now and my periods come every thirty days like clockwork, so it seems pretty clear that things are falling into place. I didn't get here by accident, but by a lot of research and experimentation, trial-and-error, and obsessing.

Obviously there are still snags. I still count calories. I still weigh myself. I stil run pretty compulsively. I still base my intake more on caloric content rather than hunger or preference, although I am getting better at that. And I'm hopeful that time will help.

It's hard to imagine that the person in those old vacation photos was still fully entrenched in an eating disorder. I was also still stuck in treatment three times a week, between my therapist and dietitian. Even just a year ago, I was still getting formal ED treatment and came home each Wednesday afternoon with an updated meal plan and those stupid dietary worksheets. Maybe I'm just a freak, but I've never been successful in treatment. Recovery has only clicked for me when I made the decision for myself, committed myself, and never looked back. I know this probably sounds kind of snotty and ungrateful, but I really feel like the months and years of therapy didn't really do squat for my anorexia. I'm sure the process took much longer than it needed to—and obviously I'm not totally done yet— because I flat-out refused to engage with my team 90 percent of the time, but the only thing that has kept me moving forward has been my own internal motivation. Largely inspired by my physical health problems, but still primarily from within. No one makes me eat, you know?

I've still got a lot to work on, but my head is in the right place. And up until about a year ago, my head was in a totally awful place regarding the eating disorder, and no amount of therapy would have pulled me out. I'm not bashing therapy because I know that it is a crucial piece of the puzzle in ED treatment and I absolutely ADORE my current therapist....but for me, for the anorexia, it just never seemed to click. Can't decide if that's depressing or empowering. Maybe a little of both.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a big Merry Christmas! Hope you all are having a happy and beautiful holiday.

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I am absolutely loving the time at home with my family: eating my mom's delicious food, playing Scrabble with my dad, and hanging out with my big brother—who is, as far as I'm concerned, the hands-down coolest person on the planet.

Our sink is full of dirty dishes and our living room is a disaster zone of wrapping paper and boxes, but none of us really mind. My dad and I went for a long walk with his camera a couple of hours ago, taking pictures of the sunset and newly fallen snow.

Presents aren't a hugely important part of the holiday anymore now that my brother and I are older, although I did get a beautiful pair of boots and, best of all, a $100 Amazon gift card which will be spent on books and more books. Since getting home last Friday, I've been averaging about a book a day:

The Racketeer by John Grisham
The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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I am in book heaven. The Goldfinch is pretty long and might keep me occupied a bit longer, but my wish list is still a mile long. Hard to express the joys of not having deadlines looming over my head.

Anyways. Merry Christmas and much love to you all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pseudo-Vacation and a Calorie-Burning Crisis

Well, my relaxing post-finals week turned out to be less delightfully boring than I had anticipated. I've been working a lot, plus my research advisor has me working on this HUGE project that is taking much longer than we thought...and I am killing myself to finish it before I leave town tomorrow. So I've spent the past four days running back and forth between the two campuses trying to put in hours at each job. Then I've gone out with friends each of the past three nights, so I usually get home around 10 or 11 totally wiped, and collapse on the couch. The dishes are piling up in my sink, I am running out of clean clothes, I haven't even thought about packing...and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to save my Christmas shopping/reuniting with a college friend for tonight, when my plane leaves early tomorrow morning. Poor planning, on my part. But it's all good stuff and overall, I am very happy with the way things are going. I do need to get some sleep, though.

I am still struggling a little with the running. Instead of cutting back on my mileage like I was planning, I actually somehow upped it again. Still scratching my head on how that even happened. Last week we had a bunch of snow and my usual trails were impassable, so I had to alter my route, ended up getting lost, and extending my usual distance. Since then, I've been stuck at the new longer distance. On the plus side, I AM doing better with upping my calories (even on the days I don't run), but the running has turned into this semi-consuming force that is starting to feel outside my control. Part of the problem is that I am simply in better shape now, so I CAN run much farther without wanting to die. Over the summer and early fall, my overexercising abilities were limited by my lack of conditioning after having gone over a year with no cardio; now, it often feels like I could run all day if I wanted to. And sometimes, I want to.

I love that I am able to run. I love that the pain has dwindled down to a whisper most of the time. I love that I am feeling happy after being so miserable for so long. But in all honesty, I also love that running burns a million calories, and I love that I'm not actually embracing the spirit of recovery because I'm still counting and tallying everything I eat. I'm doing well, but sometimes I worry that I'm not doing as well as I think I am. And I'm scared that I'm going to mess it all up. I know that you guys must be totally sick of hearing me complain about something that is so clearly within my control...but I've had the eating disorder for much longer than I've been recovering from it, and some of these irrational tendencies are simply second-nature.

My goals for my 10 days at home are (1) back off on the running - which should be a little easier, because Home City has a lot more hills than College City, so running is a LOT more tiring there, and (2) loosening up on the food stuff. This should also be a little easier given that I won't be preparing my own meals and there is always a ton of food at my house around the holidays. Maybe I'll even try to give up counting while I'm there! We'll see. No promises.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kicking Off Vacation the Literary Way

Ahh, the joys of vacation. I am SO relaxed. Well, that's relative, I suppose, because I am incredibly uptight, rigid, and anxious to begin with so my "relaxed" state is probably pretty wound up for a normal  person. But still! The relief of not having a million papers due in the next 60 seconds is like heaven.

After all the festivities last week, I had a superbly quiet weekend. I spent Sunday running, cleaning my apartment, folding laundry, napping, talking on the phone with an old friend, and READING. You guys, my reading is actually out of control. I'm on my third book since Thursday. Now that I have my Kindle, I'm a total snob and don't go to the public library anymore and just buy all my books "with 1 click!" on Amazon, so this is getting to be kind of expensive. Maybe I'll ask for for cashmoney for my Book Fund for Christmas.

Books of the week:
—A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout—This was riveting and heartbreaking and tough to read, but I couldn't put it down. Amanda was a twenty-something cocktail waitress/budding journalist with a serious case of wanderlust who got kidnapped by Islamic extremist thugs in Somalia. She and her traveling partner survived over a year in captivity, which included all of the horrible things you can probably imagine. Although marketed as a memoir, the book has a co-author listed...which is probably why it's so well-written! Not that I really care who wrote it, because the story is so powerful.

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—Sycamore Row by John Grisham—Another from my favorite lawyer-turned-legal-thriller-factory. Gosh, this guy is prolific. Fine with me! Like most of his others, this one wasn't particularly life-changing, but it was a perfectly competent page-turner.
—The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer—Gotta admit, this one only made the cut because it has been on a bunch of "Must-Reads of 2013" lists and such. I am about halfway done and I'm not IN LOVE with it, but it's fine. The writing is good, but kind of wordy. It's just so novelly, if that makes sense. I wish she were a little more straightforward and a little less "I'm a writer, WATCH ME WORK."

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All right, duty (aka my book, dinner, sitting on my couch, drinking hot chocolate, and playing Words with Frieds) calls. Peace, everyone.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Finishing the Semester, Being a Nerd, and Accepting Invitations

Well, I'm done with finals so hopefully my neglectful blogger ways are over for a while. I handed in my last paper yesterday and am officially DONE with my first semester of graduate school. Thank goodness. It has been kind of a crazy week, between finishing up all my final papers and presentations, holiday parties, work, etc. but thankfully things should calm down a little. I am staying in College City for one more week to work and catch up on some research stuff. I spent about five hours in my advisor's office yesterday working with some new data (I needed his computer) and then trying to figure out how to work this new software that he had downloaded but didn't yet know how to use...and I was probably not the best person to ask for help with this nerdy tech task, but I did my best! Google was no help, believe it or not.

Aside from all the school stuff, it was an oddly packed and stressful week. A bunch of unexpected social-ish things popped up, to both of which my immediate reaction was NO I CAN'T GO but I actually ended up going to both. One was dinner at the apartment of a PhD student who does research in the same area as me—she invited me, a few other students, and our advisors. After brainstorming ways to get out of it, I realized that I am DONE letting food paranoia control my social life. So I hurried up and accepted/promised to bring a dessert before second-guessing myself. And, you know what? I had a great time. Last night was the office holiday party; the professor who runs the research center where I work is married to another professor at the school, so they host a huge party every December for all the staff and affiliated faculty and students at their house. I brought a friend from undergrad because I was shy about going alone, and we had a lot of fun mingling (but mostly hanging out by ourselves/the little kids). Then this afternoon, one of my friends texted saying she and a couple others were going to have an earlyish happy hour, and did I want to join? I even had my decline text typed out when I abruptly changed my mind. So I went.

It's hard to figure out why my mind automatically screams NO whenever invites come. Part of it is the food thing, and I guess part is just the spontaneity of it; I am not spontaneous, and I hate being put on the spot. Especially when food is involved. Anyway, more and more I've been feeling like part of having a full life is pushing myself and getting out and meeting people and having fun, even when it feels safer to stay home and eat my typical x, y, or z.

For now I'm looking forward to four weeks of no class and no urgent responsibilities (other than studying for the GRE...more on that in a minute). One of the first things I did this morning was download a new book to my Kindle and start reading. Many more to come, hopefully.

So I signed up to take the GRE at the end of January. Doesn't seem like much time, now that I mention it. I didn't need it to get into my master's program but I will need for PhD programs if/when I decide to apply, so I was told to do it sooner rather than later and just get the damn thing over with. I bought a review book today and have been frantically relearning middle school math. Study tips welcome.

Okey doke, laundry is calling. For all my waxing poetic about the beauty of socializing etc., I am SO looking forward to a quiet night at home. Take care, everyone.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Final Week Fun Facts

Sometimes I write things I've already done on my to-do list, just so I can cross them off.

I am obsessive about my electric bill and have been trying to avoid using the heat in my apartment...it's been a losing battle this week. When did it get so cold??

I went on a crocheting rampage over the summer, and now I can finally wear the 12 scarves I made! (I don't know how to make anything else.)

I did indeed see the Hunger Games on Friday. JLaw is such a badass. Kinda makes me want to take up archery.

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I bite my nails when I'm stressed.

Painting them doesn't help.

My reading list for winter break is a mile long. I am SO excited to actually have free time again.

Although I did just read a great book: Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell. It's about the whole Lance Armstrong doping scandal - a really good read! It reads like a thriller; I couldn't put it down.

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I can't read about the upcoming Newtown shooting anniversary without crying.

Yesterday, I spent four hours interviewing high school kids for my university's admissions office. Maybe it's just been a while, but gosh I was impressed. There are some smart kids out there! Unfortunately I don't get a say in the actual admissions process, but I would've let them all in.

I am about to submit a 30-page paper on health care reform. Ask me anything about the ACA, I dare you.

Anyone have any good music recommendations? I'm in need of some new tunes.

I am realizing that these aren't really facts so much as musings. Clearly I've been staring at my computer for too long. Hope everyone has a nice Sunday night, stay warm.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The End is in Sight

Slowly making my way through the final weeks of the semester...I am about halfway through (two papers and one presentation to go) and am feeling surprisingly unstressed. Hopefully, my classes in the spring will be a smidge more enlightening. I've been pretty bored/unchallenged by the material so far, and am counting on things perking up a bit next semester.

I had a great talk with my advisor today while spending THREE hours in his office working on our paper. He had some interesting things to say about me, my program, and where I should go from here. I've been feeling pretty stressed about getting perfect grades and researching and publishing and doing everything right so that I have a shot at getting into the best doctoral programs, but he helped me put things in perspective a little more. Sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself that I don't have to have the rest of my life planned out by 23. Although it would be nice.

I am in another total food rut with dinners. YOU GUYS. I HATE COOKING. I just can't do it. I wish I were a sophisticated foodie/Whole Foods shopper with advanced knowledge of squash and kale and steel cut oats and quinoa and other such wholesome things. Aside the fact that Whole Foods is categorically out of my budget and that squash makes me gag, it would be nice to be someone who gets excited about cooking and can get creative in the kitchen. I'm sick of everything I eat, but have no desire/inclination/capacity to think of doing things any differently. They say some people with EDs get obsessed with food, but for me it feels like the opposite; these days, food bores me to tears. If anyone has some spare time and would like a side job as a personal chef, hit me up. As for compensation....let's call it an unpaid internship.

Maybe slightly ironic transition: one of my bffs and I are going to see the new Hunger Games movie tonight. Shut up! I'm excited! I think Jennifer Lawrence is awesome. And Liam Hemsworth is adorable, minus Miley.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Review

Well, November wasn't a great posting month for me, apparently! Time has just been getting away from me these past few weeks. I am busier than I have been in a LONG time—maybe ever. Thankfully after this upcoming week, things should slow down a bit. I have three papers due and a presentation next week, then BIG papers due the following Monday and Friday, and then I think I'm done. I am also somehow supposed to be putting in 60 hours of work at my two jobs between now and then... Anyone else feeling like the 24-hour day just isn't cutting it anymore? Also, does anyone have any get-rich-fast tips that might alleviate the need for those aforementioned two jobs?? I am very much looking forward to next semester when I can cut my schedule down to four classes instead of five.

I just got back to College City a few hours ago after a lovely few days at home. Aside from a Turkey Trot on Thursday morning and an outing with some old high school friends on Friday, my vacation was primarily split between family time and homework. It was just the four of us (mom, dad, brother, me) for Thanksgiving dinner, which was fine by me. I love quiet, cozy holidays.  Plus, I think I might be at the point where I'm able to actually enjoy food a bit rather than stress about it. My mom cooked up a storm and we had an awesome array: turkey (obviously), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, curried cauliflower, carrots, cranberry chutney, rolls, and pumpkin AND apple pie (although the apple was only for my dad's benefit—he's picky).

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I got a Food Talk from my mom yesterday, which was kind of weird. It's been a while. I feel like I've been eating pretty well, and my weight is the highest it's been in several years. I think she noticed that I'm running a lot more these days, and is freaked out that I'm going to set myself back healthwise—basically the same fear I've been having myself. Six months ago, I would've sworn to give up all exercise in a heartbeat if it meant the pain would get better; now that the pain is actually starting to get better, I've WAY upped my exercise and I'm reluctant to even think about cutting back. Even though I know that only terrible things will come from me falling back into those old compulsions, it's so hard to logic myself out of it. It's also weird because I'm doing well with food, so it sort of seems like I've started swapping one compulsion (restricting) for another (running). At least it's not both at once like it used to be, right? Like, I'm okay with increasing my calories and eating poptarts and pumpkin pie and all that, but can still only really justify it because I'm working out. Ugh, I want these thoughts out of my head.

Okay, off to work on some of these papers and get psyched for the insane week ahead. Hope everyone had a great holiday, take care.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Feeling Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Technically I'm a day late, but I thought it would still be worth sharing my overwhelming gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life. As you guys know, it has been a rough couple of years and I was certainly not feeling very festive at this time last year, but things have really started to turn around in the last month or two and for that, I am tremendously thankful.

So here are, in no particular order, the blessings for which I am most grateful this Thanksgiving:

My health — It's not perfect by any means and I still have some pain here and there, but overall I am majorly better than I've been in a long time. And along those lines, I am super grateful for Dr. A, who was the only one to figure out what was wrong with me and FINALLY found something that seems to be working. Plus, my eyes are doing great.

My parents — They are a couple of the goofiest loons I've ever met, but gosh darn it they make me feel loved. I've never seen my dad cry so hard as the day I almost died, and I don't think I even realized how much my pain was hurting them until then. I talk to my mom on the phone about every other day, and my dad about once a week or so, and they continue to put up with my crap.

My friends — Obviously my best friends, like my college roommate K and my high school bff P, but also my new school friends, my undergrad friends, and the one special guy I've been hanging out with recently who treats me like a princess (No we're not dating and I'm not totally up for a Relationship right now, but it's still nice to be spoiled!).

My masters program— The intellectual caliber of my cohort is definitely a step down from my undergrad, but I am learning to appreciate qualities other than pure book smarts in people. Plus I have gotten to meet some fantastic people and professors and read some great materials. So, definitely still a worthwhile experience.

My therapist, Dr. P — After putting up with a less-than-stellar therapy situation for about 18 months, I finally found the guts to pull the plug and seek out somebody who has turned out to be an awesome fit. Even though I pretty much hate being in therapy and feel dumb for having to go, she manages to make me see things in a whole new light.

All the basics — meaning food, shelter, clean water, heat, my cell phone, computer, clothes, a job, etc. and everything else that I take for granted but that pretty much guarantee that my quality of life is vastly better than millions of others' out there.

In an unrelated note: I DIED laughing at the comments on my last post. Who knew a bunch of anorexics could be such poptart connoisseurs?? You guys are funny.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Clearly I Don't Think in Straight Lines

Happy Sunday, all! Just two classes, eight hours at work, and one paper left until I am officially out of here for the holiday! (At least until everything starts up again next Monday...) My school is one of those lame-o ones that only gives three days off instead of the full week for Thanksgiving which is kind of a bummer, but I've been in such a good mood these days that I don't really mind. Of course I am totally stressed out about school and money and my future and all that, but GOSH it's wonderful to not be in pain all the time. furiouslyknockingonwood. Hope all of the healthy people out there are enjoying their health for what it is: a privilege and a miracle.

I think my feet are doing better and I was able to run this morning with almost no arch pain except for the very end—like the last half-mile or so. (Thanks for the tennis ball tip, Alie!) This morning, I headed out at around 7:30 as usual even though it was approximately 10 degrees and my quads are still mega-sore from squats and lunges and such at the gym a few days ago. I was wearing leggings, sweatpants, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, fleece, hat, gloves, and two pairs of socks and it only took about 10 minutes for my face to go numb. After that it was smooth sailing! Of course the cold did nothing for my poor, stiff, sore legs and now I can barely walk.

My college roommate was passing through town on her way home for Thanksgiving, so we got lunch and then I drove her to the airport. We went to this cafe near campus and spent about an hour catching up, and I happily scarfed down my sandwich because running X miles per day can make a girl HUNGRY. Then, even though I had just skipping buying coffee for myself because this place is a rip-off and charges like 4 bucks for a cup, I ended up buying coffee and a bagel for the homeless guy outside because I am a bleeding heart and seeing homeless people makes me cry. So for all my efforts at being frugal, the rip-off cafe got my damn money anyway.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working/reading the New York Times/doing (but not folding) my laundry. As I've explained to you guys before, MY LIFE IS VERY EXCITING. I am currently drinking Swiss Miss and deciding whether I should eat a Poptart or a Clif bar for my snack. Input is welcome.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Post-Meeting Recap and Updates

Update on the Evil Girl Incident: This past Wednesday morning was the meeting with the two of us, our professor, and my academic advisor (who I met with last Friday about the whole thing). Essentially, Evil Girl made a fool of herself, talked herself into a corner, and demonstrated to our professor that she HAS ISSUES. In class afterwards, she refused to look at or speak to me, which pretty much exemplified maturity and grace and manners. Professor A e-mailed me afterwards asking me to stop by and chat, which I did, and she basically told me (in not these exact words) that some people suck, I'm doing fine, and to just let the shitstorm roll off my back. Which I am proud to say that I am doing just fine.

I mentioned in my last post that I was running too much and starting to feel the effects of overdoing it without enough rest. After taking several days off, I went for another run this morning; although I wasn't feeling as dead energy-wise, I'm still having problems with my feet - they're pretty sore along my arches and on the top inside. Anyone know what that is? And please don't tell me it's serious and that I need to take more time off, okay? Just let me know it's gonna be fine by about 7:30 tomorrow morning, if that works for you. THANKS GUYS

Earlier today, I had an appointment with this awesome doctor. I last saw him about a year ago when I was still in a lot of pain and REALLY struggling. This time, I just went as kind of a check-up—I haven't really had anyone local, since Dr. A is back in Home City several states away and the other doctors I've seen for pain here majorly suck. Just as I remembered, Dr. Awesome was funny and sweet and gave me a huge boost of optimism. Can't even tell you how nice it is to have an uncomplicated, stress-free doctor's appointment.

In upcoming news: I am totally excited to head home for Thanksgiving. Earlier in the semester I was thinking about just staying here in College City (since I was home for a weekend in October), but my mom was not having that. And now that it's here, I'm glad to be going back again. I am way overdue for some home-cooked food.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Busy/Lazy Sunday, Food Musings, and the Week Ahead

You guys all rock—I am feeling 100 times better about the Evil Girl Incident last week. I met with my advisor on Friday who was extremely supportive and basically said: "I'll handle it." She is going to have a chat with my professor first, and then with Evil Girl, and hopefully that will resolve things. Gonna be suuuuuper awkward to finish the project with her, though....

Otherwise, things are chaotic but good. It appears that the final push of papers, projects, and presentations has arrived. I probably have over 100 pages of writing to do between now and the end of the semester. It really hit me this morning—I panicked, bolted out of bed at about 6:30, and hit the books. And....now I'm blogging.

Actually, I also had time for a long run and a two-hour nap this afternoon, so don't feel TOO sorry for me. I've been totally exhausted, and I think the running might be to blame; I've upped my mileage over the past couple of weeks and although at first I was feeling invincible, I now realize that I haven't really been taking any breaks. And the constant exertion is starting to catch up with me. Today while I was running my usual route, my legs were like lead and my chest was burning from start to finish. I've had this low-grade headache all day and also think I'm coming down with a cold....so, long story short, I need to take it easy for a few days.

On the plus side, I am doing a little better with my food goals. I've eaten more calories on each of the past two days than I have in a LONG time. And there was no guilt, no regret, no "OMGWHYDIDIDOTHAT???" whatsoever. I call that progress! It's hard to say whether or not I've only been able to do that because of the increased running, and I'm still having a hard time with my non-running days, but overall it is getting easier and easier to "justify" eating. I know that I shouldn't have to, but old habits die hard.

Last full week of school before Thanksgiving is coming up, and it looks like it's gonna be a doozy:
Monday - class, work, tutoring
Tuesday - work, therapy, class, dinner out
Wednesday - meeting, class, work, class
Thursday - tutoring, class, work
Friday - eye doctor, gyn, work, out.

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Actually, now that I think about it, this is what my week generally looks like. Only thing out of the ordinary are the doctors' appointments on Friday. Remember when I used to have multiple doctors' visits EVERY week? I haven't seen my ophthalmologist since July; think that might be a record. My appointments are fun these days because all he really does is take a peek in both eyes and give me free samples of various drops and tell me to clean my contacts more often. And it's fun for him because I just like rave about his medical brilliance and worship him and kiss his shoes and things like that. So really, it's a win-win.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Interpersonal Conflict

Hey guys—thank you all SO MUCH for the love and support I got on my last post. I know that everyone has been subjected to my bitching and moaning about this issue for a long time, and I am so happy to be able to share improvement with you. I am trying to really see this as a huge opportunity to take inventory of what is important, what needs to be shrugged off, and what problems are really worth my attention and emotion.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. The first semester of my graduate program is known for its emphasis on group work. At the moment, I am part of four different groups at various stages of progress for different classes. None of those groups have had arguments or tension or anything, except for one.

One girl in one group seems to have targeted me...why? I am not really sure. She sent me a nasty e-mail a couple of weeks ago, cursed at me in class yesterday, and then sent an e-mail of epically horrible proportions: it was about five paragraphs long basically about how I am disrespectful, aggressive, mean, and that she has disliked me since the first day of class.

I immediately went to talk with the three other members of my group, who assured me that she is off her rocker and that I have not in any way been rude or disrespectful to her. I was too upset to handle it, so a guy in my group stepped up and went to the professor, who now wants to meet with Evil Girl and me in her office next week before class.

Logically, I know that I have not really done anything wrong. I've agonized over every interaction I've had with this girl, and still can't figure out what she's so angry about. I'm a nice person, I swear!! She claims that I have interrupted her, ignored her, excluded her, and insulted her—and I genuinely don't know what she is talking about.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon in tears. I talked about it with my other group members, my mom,  and members of another group that I met with yesterday evening. A couple of my friends even took me out for drinks later to get my mind off of it, but I can't stop thinking about it. I have this sick, twisting feeling in my stomach—butterflies times 1,000. I have tried talking myself down, reminding myself that I have been through so much worse and that this is small potatoes compared to all my health problems, that this girl isn't worth getting upset over, that my professor will help me sort it out...but I'm still freaking out!

Unfortunately I am just an incredibly sensitive person who feels everything deeply and cannot stand the thought of people being mad at me. Even if it is someone about whom I couldn't care less. The only good part of all this is that I have gotten an overwhelming amount of support from my other friends; everyone else in the group backs me up, everyone in my other group (who unfortunately had to witness me crying) responded with nothing but love and kindness. One of my friends brought me chocolate, another bought me a drink, and my mom was justifiably outraged on my behalf at this girl. So overall I am feeling very loved and supported, and I am trying to focus on the positive rather than getting swept up in the anxiety and negativity. But goddamn it, that stupid girl totally ruined my week.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Finally, Some Relief

I think this is really the first time that I can say with confidence that I feel better. Not sure if it's the capsaicin working already, since I've only been on it for two weeks, or if this is just natural improvement with time - but my pain has been greatly reduced for the past couple of weeks. I'm superstitious about even typing that because I keep expecting things to go south again, but knock on wood - I am feeling so much better. 

I'm not pain-free, but often I come pretty close. Often, in fact, the pain is not at the forefront of my mind. Of course I am totally paranoid that this is a random fluke thing, but it feels different. I haven't felt this consistently good in almost two years. It hasn't been a flip switching - more of a gradual downgrade to the point where I now have more good days than bad. Hard to imagine I'm here. And I am so grateful.

At the same time, this all puts me in a bit of a conundrum because I pretty much want to be out running and skipping and jump roping and what-have-you every second of the day...but apparently, I still have major problems eating enough to fuel all that joyful movement. I have done a little better the past couple days with eating more as suggested/ordered by Dr. P., but still not exactly where she wanted me. Plus the fact that I recently upped my running volume, so I really should be going beyond the planned caloric increase...

source

Gosh, I hate thinking about food! Didn't realize this, but it's been a while since I really rocked the ED boat in my head in terms of adding calories, shaking up timings, and adjusting for exercise and all that. Even though I know how much damage I did to myself in the past through undereating and overexercising, I still can't seem to make that connection in my head when I'm deciding what to eat for dinner.

I'm grateful, but I'm also scared. I've gotten used to feeling miserable all the time; to expecting the worse; to assuming that I won't ever get to enjoy things the way other people do. I'm happy, but it's a tentative, anxious happiness. I am trying to remember back to the first couple of times I saw Dr. A when he insisted over and over again that the anorexia is what screwed me; that losing my period for so many years was not harmless, but rather a sign that things beneath the surface were going horribly wrong. I keep trying to remind myself how good things are when I'm not hurting all the time, and how easily I could mess that up. I even bought a box of POP-TARTS, so there's really no excuse for me not hitting my calorie goals.

yum
Okey doke, lots to ponder. I've got an hour left at work, then tutoring, then pharmacy to pick up my drugs, then home. Then Pop-tarts.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Back to Food Goals

Still feeling weirdly nervous and stressed out, but thanks for all the suggestions. I am going to do my best to just CHILL.

Moving on: Well, it's been a while since this kid got a food-related therapy assignment. Ugh. Since my pain has been a lot more tolerable and I'm in generally good spirits, the content of my appointments is pretty ED-centric these days. Like I mentioned in another post, I'm not so good about hitting my calories every day—sometimes because I'm simply busy and forget snacks, but mostly because restricting is easy and familiar and feels right. I never set out to restrict, but if I miss a snack—I'm certainly not going to make it up. The timing issue is still big; like if I miss my 3:00 snack, I won't eat it at 4:30 because that's too close to dinner... you know? That kind of thinking.

Starting a couple of weeks ago, Dr. P wanted me to just focus on getting back on track with my usual meal plan, and I did. Not a huge deal, really. But NOW she wants me to add stuff because she still thinks I don't eat enough and I'm running more and my weight is stable and lalalala. So the current goal is to tack on an extra XXX calories (more than 100 and less than 500 #that'sallI'msaying) per day for the whole week. I can tell you right now that it hasn't happened the past two days, but I'm really going to try starting today. Or maybe tomorrow. SHUT UP. You guys are the worst.

Oh! An update on the hot pepper cream: it hurts like hell when I first use it, but then slowly wears off. And my pain has been pretty significantly reduced in the past couple weeks. Too soon to say if the cream is working or I'm just having a random good couple of weeks, but I'll take it for now! Thanks for all the good wishes on this.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Butterflies

I've been getting this weird nervous butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling a lot lately; it's not anxiety really, or at least it doesn't feel like anxiety in the usual sick, sinking feeling of dread. I feel physically nervous, even when my mind is mostly pretty chill. Very strange. I guess I've been pretty stressed out and wound up about school stuff lately, but for the most part I have been pretty freaking happy. So why the nerves all of a sudden?

We read an article in one of my classes last week about young adulthood - that period from age 18 to about 26-27 or so when your whole life is in flux pretty much all the time, and you move every six months, and you can never pay your bills, and you're stuck somewhere between being a grown-up with responsibilities and being a student with assignments due every week...anyone know the feeling? Even without the added specter or mental illness lurking in the background, it's a pretty stressful, unstable, chaotic time for anyone. Reading about this made me feel a little better - more normal - but it also made me realize that this might be my life for the next several years, and I need to figure out how to handle the pressure.

Running helps a ton, but I don't want to rely on that too much for obvious reasons. I used to crochet a lot, or read, or watch TV shows, but it often feels like I just don't have time anymore. Hence the stress, I suppose.

I am trying to be smart about this and not let these fleeting nerves spiral out of control into the debilitating anxiety I had a year or two ago. But it's hard to stay on top of it when I'm otherwise doing pretty well, you know? More and more often, I find myself thinking: I'm happy. But somehow, at the same time, those butterflies in my stomach are going a mile a minute.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Festive Weekend Recap

Happy November! Can't believe Thanksgiving is coming up in just a few weeks, and then just a couple weeks after that this semester will be DONE.

I am buried in work this weekend, but I have still managed to go out three nights in a row. That is, like, unheard of for me—for at least that last two years or so. I used to be much more of a social butterfly, but now I'm generally a homebody. Must be my old age. That's right people, this kid hit the big 2-3 yesterday! Which means I'm almost 24, which is almost 25, which is my mid-twenties. So it's pretty much all downhill from here.

Anyway, it's been a fun few days—Halloween and then my birthday. My boss got me a card signed by everyone in the office, which was a huge surprise and super nice of her. One friend took me out on Thursday and got me a Groupon for a massage, and then another friend took me out last night! Both boys, and they both paid.... In related news, I have a bit of a dilemma and am going to need some girl talk pretty soon.

Today I went for a run (in Under Armour tights, ski socks, long-sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, and gloves) then hit up Trader Joe's at Dr. P's suggestion. After I complained to her about how bored I was with food and how much I hated cooking, she recommended the frozen meals at TJ. I found a few Indian dishes that look really good. I also picked up a couple of Lara bars; I've had them before but never buy them, probably because I usually shop at a cheap-o grocery store in a slummy neighborhood where you are more likely to find ham hock, ribs, and beer.

What was my point? Oh, that I have new food to try and am almost looking forward to making (ahem microwaving) my dinner tomorrow!

Books of the week (well, more like past three months):
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Food Issues and Thinking Ahead

At my appointment yesterday, Dr. P and I spent most of the time talking about food, the unconscious-but-not-totally-unconscious restricting that has been happening, and some of the eating disordered tendencies I've still been having DESPITE doing pretty amazingly re food for the past 6 months to a year or so. While I was talking to her, I realized that I still have so many weird quirks about food—always eating at the same time, always eating the same things, only eating certain things at certain times, (usually) only eating things for which I know the nutritional content, eating a larger portion of my calories later in the day even though I'm usually starving between breakfast and lunch, and saving up calories in anticipation of....what? I don't even know. So yeah, still got some things to work on.

Something that kept coming up over and over again in therapy was that I HATE talking about food and calories and meal plans. HATE. IT. I am so freaking sick of food and eating disorders and all that, and I hate that it's taking up space in my head. Eating disorders are boring and exhausting and I just want to be done. Though of course, I can't be done with all these weird food rules and obsessions; I have to deal with them. You know? But I'm SICK OF IT. It doesn't help that I also despise cooking, baking, grocery shopping, preparing food, packing food, choosing food...you name it. A housewife, I am not. (Hear that, future husband? You best brush up on your cooking skills, honey!) 

This has been on my mind because a friend and I were moaning and commiserating about schoolwork, and she said something like: "If I could drop out of school tomorrow and be married with kids, I'd do it." And part of me was all like YES I LOVE BABIES ME TOO! But then I realized, wait, no. There is so much I want to accomplish, and yes it is exhausting and overwhelming, but there is something so exciting and satisfying and fulfilling about working towards something that has nothing to do with food or weight or calories—or even about myself, really. It's all about the work, and it doesn't really matter what I look like or came from, and no one knows about my history, and I'm not responsible for anything except doing the work. And I feel like I need the chance to shed all this ED crap and experience that for a while before I pour myself into Wife and Mommy mode—but of course I can't do any of it unless I'm healthy and sane and reasonably happy.

Well sheesh, that was a word-puke for you! Hope everyone's having a great week.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Perspective, Stress, and Updates

Thanks for everyone's comments about my therapy dilemma. I mean it's not really a dilemma—just more that I don't particularly feel like going to therapy much anymore, since it feels like I'm doing well most of the time. In fact, it almost feels kind of nice to be stressing about school and friends and errands and money—normal stuff instead of horrible freak medical stuff or sick twisted anorexic stuff. And I feel dumb going to therapy to talk about normal stuff, or trying to rack my brain for problems that feel worth talking about.

Speaking of this aforementioned normal stuff: ugh I am totally drowning in school work. Is it bad to be already counting down the weeks until winter break? A week of no responsibilities sounds like a little glimpse of heaven right about now. There's just no such thing as down-time anymore, you know? I'm either in class, at work, running from class to work or vice versa, in meetings,  in therapy,  in my car, or tutoring. And when I'm at home, I'm working. I had a really fun time going out with friends Thursday and Friday, but gosh the constant going is just exhausting. I can't even describe how nice it was to come home after a long day yesterday, curl up in my pajamas, make a pb&j, and watch the baseball game. (Anyone but Boston!!!)

I've been trying really really hard to keep it all in perspective and not let the little stuff get me down. It seems kind of pointless to get worked up about papers and exams when I'm just grateful to be alive and functioning and okay. But unfortunately I will probably always be one of those people who lives in a constant state of slight anxiety. I'm getting better about it, and I'm not entirely convinced that living with a sense of urgency is necessarily always a bad thing, but it would be nice to give my brain a break once in a while.

Um, what was my point? Oh yeah, that I'm stressed but not TOO stressed, and that I'm working on the Big Picture thing. I've started (meaning, I've done it once in the past two weeks but am planning to improve upon that) writing down things I am grateful for or happy about or whatever positive thing I feel like each night, just to keep my head in a good place. And the truth is, there are A LOT of things for me to be grateful for and happy about right now, and I think it's important to acknowledge them.

Okay, some other random updates:
— Even with all the school stress, I had a really nice weekend. For several hours yesterday, I volunteered with a research group in College City that was administering surveys in a low-income neighborhood. Kind of amazing how gracious and resilient people can be. It was nice to get off campus and meet people, plus hang out with a couple guys from my program outside the classroom. The beautiful weather didn't hurt either!!
— Still working on eating more regularly, not cutting snacks, etc. I gave myself a stern talking-to the other day about how not eating is not okay and not worth it. My goal of the week is to hit a certain calorie minimum every day, even if that means chowing on poptarts at midnight to get the numbers in. You guys can hold me to that.
— I've only used the capsaicin once so far and it wasn't nearly as painful as I had expected. We'll see how it goes from here...

Take care everyone, hope you all had a great weekend.

UPDATE: Okay I spoke too soon because the capsaicin cream was majorly painful on Night #2. Hopefully this means it's working....

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mental Health/ED Ramblings

Hi there,

Sorry for the inconsistent posting lately. I am totally swamped as per usual and sometimes feel like there isn't a whole lot to say beyond 1) school 2) work. I've also had a lot of unexpected outings/social things over the past couple of weeks, plus traveling last week, so I am pretty much going all the time. As mentioned, I skipped therapy this week...I still don't have a good reason for why, other than that I just didn't really feel like going. I am doing pretty well mentally/emotionally lately, and part of me feels like therapy forces me to dredge up problems that aren't really there. Anyway. I should talk about this with Dr. P.

I've been thinking a lot about my "mental health" lately - specifically, is anything even wrong with me anymore? What should I be "fixing" in therapy? I eat pretty well (not perfectly, but pretty well); my body image is fine (not great, but fine), and I am no longer depressed/angry/frustrated/miserable. I'm not sunshine and rainbows all the time, but I'm fine. I go to work and school and hang out with my friends and eat in restaurants and all that. It doesn't really feel like the eating disorder, anxiety, or depression interfere with my overall health or daily lifestyle in any significant way. Eating out still makes me anxious and I probably still worry about food and exercise more than the average person, but overall I think I'm going well. So. I don't know - do I continue to identify myself as a sick person and go to therapy indefinitely? Or do I take a break and go back when I need it? Is therapy something that confers cumulative benefits over time, or something that I should only use on an as-needed basis?

I've got a good-enough handle on my everyday life that hashing out the same old hard parts week after week in therapy just seems to bring me down. Can anyone relate? I still adore my therapist and would like to maintain a relationship with her, but I'm not sure how to proceed.

In related news, I've been doing way better with spontaneous eating lately. I've been out to eat with a friend of mine twice in the past two weeks. Last night, he found this crazy Brazilian restaurant (I did NOT know where we were going ahead of time) that served samples of about 10 different cuts of meat: lamb, pork, filet mignon, sirloin, chicken, turkey, etc. Impossible to know how many calories I ate (of course I still tried to estimate) but I was absolutely fine with tasting everything. Then again, I had cut way down on my snack earlier in the day, soo... Yeah. I guess I'm still in a weird limbo-place regarding food. I am going out with another friend tonight, and the plan is to NOT restrict my snack beforehand. Will see how that goes.

Okay, this was all over the place. More coherence coming soon.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to the Daily Grind

Back in College City after a great weekend at home. After the doctor's appointment, my mom and I got lunch with my brother and spent the rest of the day in Big City. On Saturday, my mom and I walked over to see a new nature preserve that opened up by my parents' house, went shopping, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon doing work. That night, we went back into Big City to get dinner with my brother. Sunday, I went for a run, packed, finished some schoolwork, and then my dad took me to the airport. I had the typical post-trip blues last night, which was spent unpacking, grocery shopping, doing laundry, and finishing homework. Ugh.

Now I'm sitting in my office at work after three hours of class this morning, wishing this damn school sold Starbucks instead of that crap they call coffee. SUE ME I'M A COFFEE SNOB. Also my period is late and my uterus hurts.

I cancelled my appointment with Dr. P tomorrow; just feeling kind of apathetic about therapy lately, and needed a break. Also, I am still processing how I feel about my appointment with Dr. A (the evil hot pepper cream hasn't come yet, so I can't say for sure how that will go), and don't feel up to rehashing it just yet.

Thinking positive, thinking positive...

Food went pretty well at home, in that I ate lots of delicious healthy things that are usually outside of my comfort zone (white bread, anyone?? Rice? Chocolate cake? Well, just a bite). BUT in reality when I sat down and added things up, it turned out that I ate fewer calories than normal, so hmph. My appetite has been pretty sucky lately - not sure what's up with that.

Okay, my boss is back from lunch and I should probably pretend to be doing something. Peace, everyone.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chile Pepper Cure

Hey everyone—I'm hanging out doing homework (well, now blogging...) in my parents house on a cloudy, cozy fall afternoon. Feeling pretty good at the moment. My appointment with Dr. A went okay yesterday; I was a little put off because he was super behind schedule (who gets that behind by 10:00 in the morning??) although I think it was partly because he was trying to juggle two patients at once for the first part, and we could overhear him having a heart-to-heart with the person in the next room. The other patient sounded pretty upset, so I'll forgive him.

Anyway, he was kind of flustered and kept coming in and out of the room to talk, then find the right records since his secretary had printed the wrong ones, and then to let me change into a gown, and then to let me change back, etc. But the great thing about him is that no matter how off-schedule he is, Dr. A NEVER rushes and lets me have as much time with him as I need. I think he must get a ton of miserable, desperate patients in his office and knows they need that. So, it's nice to feel respected in that way.

On to the actual appointment—if you recall from last time, he was kind of stumped about why I was having pain despite everything looking pretty healed. He had predicted that the pain would ease off after a few months, but it's been about six with no real significant change. So he did another exam where he checked all the muscles and trigger points, and concluded that it is most likely neuropathic pain at this point—in other words, surface pain caused by the nervous system for no real physiological reason. I had been on drugs for this before (gabapentin and amitriptyline) but couldn't get up to a high enough dose for them to be effective due to side effects (dry eyes, tiredness, weight gain, etc.). So the new treatment is—wait for it—capsaicin cream. For those of you who don't know, capsaicin comes from chile peppers. In fact, it is the compound that makes chile peppers spicy. So as you can imagine, I am thrilled to be rubbing it on my skin.

It comes OTC, but mine's prescription because it's
stronger and has a different base or something

The idea is that it somehow deactivates nerves by depleting Substance P, which is a neuropeptide of some sort that you can research on your own because this is about where my understanding of the mechanism ends. Anyway, you rub the capsaicin cream into the skin wherever you have pain—for me, my lower back, space where my hipbones meet my legs, and someplace else that I don't want to write on the Internet. Over time, as the Substance P is depleted from the hyper-reactive areas, the nerves are desensitized and the pain decreases.

As you can probably imagine, the cream is supposed to burn like crazy when first applied. You rub it in, leave it on for 20 minutes, wash it off, and repeat nightly. I am supposed to do this for six weeks, and then call Dr. A back to let him know how I'm doing. I'm nervous as heck for it, but the success rate is supposed to be enormous. Apparently capsaicin is quite commonly used for diabetic neuropathy, various neuralgias, and arthritis. Which makes me feel a little better about rubbing fire cream onto my poor skin. A LITTLE. Still waiting for my script to come in the mail, so let's hope this thing works.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Appointment Anticipation

Eek, probably should have started packing for my trip home yesterday, or over the weekend, or anytime...I'm not getting home until about 10pm tonight, and am leaving for the airport by about 8am tomorrow morning. So, that was wise on my part.

I am both excited for and dreading my appointment with Dr. A on Friday. Still kind of wishing he has some magical treatment up his sleeve that will cure me once and for all. At the same time, I'm bracing myself for the worst—bad news, no news, no cure, live with it, etc.

I was just telling Alie about this in an e-mail, but what the heck, let's share the indignity with everyone! Dr. P asked me yesterday about how I've been doing pain-wise and how I'm feeling about the upcoming appointment, and instead of answering with, you know, words—I promptly burst into tears. This stuff is still incredibly hard for me to talk about without getting emotional because I am SO frustrated and SO OVER being in pain all the time. I'm just so damn sick of it, you know? Dr. P reminded me to plan for all the questions I need to ask Dr. A and make sure I cover all my bases, but I just know that it will be hard in the moment for me to think of everything and be articulate. But, I'll try. Good thing Mama Bear is coming with.

In other news, we had a great lab meeting earlier today. I am super excited about my research, and my first ever research article will be ready for publication in a couple of weeks. My advisor (Have I given him a letter yet? I have zero recollection, sorry) is aiming for Big Journal, so we'll see if that happens. Additionally, we watched an hour-long movie in class this morning so really, how could it be anything but a great day?

Take care everyone, and keep your fingers crossed for me this Friday!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Insomnia Part II and Teensy Tiny Confession

I mentioned in my last post that I've been having trouble sleeping, which I think I can safely attribute to the following three factors:

1) horrible sleep hygiene
2) stress
3) poor eating

The first couple are pretty straightforward; I often stay on my computer or phone until the wee hours, and I've heard over and over again that the artificial backlight can mess with your natural sleep rhythms of whatever. Plus I have a teeny bladder but guzzle water pretty much up until I get into bed, which means that I not-infrequently have to get up to pee a couple times before I actually fall asleep. PLUS I am a worrier, and use my me-time after I turn the lights out to contemplate all the possible scenarios in which things might go wrong in the near or distant future.

But the eating thing has stayed under my radar because it's pretty subtle, and it wasn't until the wise, wise JS reminded me that under-eating wreaks havoc on my sleep that I realized, huh. I haven't been eating that well lately.

It's little stuff, like skipping a snack here and there. Actually, that has happened at least three or four times in the past couple weeks that I can remember - where my afternoon snack got delayed for some reason (work, meetings, etc.) and by the time I remembered it, my brain latched onto that old habit of: How about I just don't? And as soon as that thought crosses my mind, it's pretty much guaranteed that I'm going to skip it.

This is a weird position for me because on the surface, I am completely uninterested in active restriction and going all hard core Weight Loss. And when I do skip the snack, I'm STARVING. My body is used to getting fed regularly these days, and going without those XXX calories between lunch and dinner (usually a LONG time due to my class schedule) is rough. But even when my stomach is twisting and aching with hunger, the old compulsion still wins out.

I cannot emphasize how irrational this is. I'm not trying to restrict. I have a target number of calories that I aim to eat per day, and skipping the snack puts me significantly under. I repeat all those reasons that Food is Good and Restricting is Bad over and over again, but that doesn't seem to change much in the moment.

Anyway, I suppose it's a good thing that I find this unintentional restriction to be frustrating rather than satisfying, although that's really no excuse for continuing to let it happen. I know better.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Short Post, Random Updates

Whoopsies, another week got away from me. Hope everyone is doing fantastically. College City is having some uncharacteristically lovely weather (e.g. it is neither 95 degrees with 95% humidity, nor is it 20 degrees with a layer of ice coating the streets, nor is it raining) which definitely has a positive effect on my mood.

Tonight, I am heading out to see one of my best friends from college - dinner with her family, watching a baseball game, playing with her puppy, etc. I realized when we made the plans that I still got pretty worked up about anticipating the food situation...to her credit, my friend knows I have Issues and asked if I had any preferences, but I couldn't really think of what to say. So basically I just said "No! I'm fine! I eat anything! Yay food!" or something like that. Still feeling a little anxious, but also happy to be seeing her and breaking out of my boring food routine. I try to motivate myself in these situations by reminding myself how healthy variety is, and that my usual diet is SO unvaried that any change is good.

I wrote sometime last week about how my sleep habits were totally out of whack. It was becoming a major issue, so I finally caved and bought some Tylenol PM - it's a miracle for my insomnia, which has been a problem on and off for as long as I can remember. Anyways, I've slept like a baby (drugged) the past two nights, and as usual I'm reluctant to stop taking the sleep aid because it always takes several nights of tossing and turning to get back to normal. Any ideas for sleep problems?

And finally:  here's a kind of interesting article, although I'm not really sure how I feel about the way EDs are presented: Fat and Thin Find Common Ground. I have zero experience with binge eating or bulimia, so it's hard for me to say how much they have in common with anorexia, and whether or not all eating disorders are just simply different forms of the same beast. I am interested to hear any thoughts.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

No Jealousy

I've gotten friendly with this girl from school. She is very thin. I try not to notice/pay attention to that kind of thing, but unfortunately it still stands out to me. I also try not to project my own neuroses onto other people, but I had suspected from early on that this girl was not, um, naturally that thin. It's hard to describe or articulate, but she just has that kind of sick, sunken-in look, you know?

Anyways, she recently friended me on Facebook and I just got around to gettin' my creep on and looking through her old pictures this morning and......yeah. Up until about 2010 or so, she looks like a completely different person. Full face, bright eyes, glowing skin, curvy, and healthy. Sometime that year she took up running—lots of pictures of her posing in a singlet, number clipped to her chest, Nike shorts, hair pulled back. And then her body starts melting away.

I was starting to drive myself crazy by looking at her pictures, so I decided to head out for a short run to clear my mind. And guess who I passed doing her own run? Yeah.

Not very long ago, I would have been sick with jealousy over this girl. I would have spent the morning sobbing in front of the mirror, swearing to start restricting again, trying on and ripping off clothes, agonizing over how the hell I let myself get so fat. I would have thought: If she can do it, I can too.

But instead, today, it didn't make me jealous at all. It made me incredibly depressed. This poor girl. She is beautiful and smart and sweet, and she must be absolutely miserable. She has been obviously struggling for about three years, but who knows how long before then, before it showed up in her appearance? She is a couple of years older than me, and I wonder how long she will be stuck in this thing. I feel myself pulled in two directions: wanting to give her a hug and tell her that it's okay, and that it's not worth it, and that she can beat this; and on the other hand, wanting to run as far away from her as possible.

I find myself thinking: If I could get better, she can too. Why won't she?

Knowing me, I'll just continue to be friendly with her and not go near the ED stuff with a 10-foot pole. Not my style to insert myself like that. I don't talk about it, especially with people I've just met, and I wouldn't know what to say anyway.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Geeking Out, Lacking Sleep, and Hopping Back on the Medication Train

I am going cross-eyed from staring at spreadsheets, so...time for a blogging break. Things are going relatively well these days; my life currently revolves around class, work, and research. I've decided that I only officially hate one of my classes, meaning four out of five are pretty darn good! And the one hateful class isn't straight-up awful so much as it just doesn't really apply to my interests or future goals, but is just one of those required core classes that I have to survive until December. LET THE COUNTDOWN COMMENCE.

Aside from that, my research is going swimmingly and my advisor is superb. I sent him a bunch of work last weekend and he took a few days to get back to me (he almost always answers within hours), which of course sent me into a tailspin of ohmygod what did I do wrong he must be speechless at my stupidity but then he finally e-mailed back and explained that the delay was due to him having a two-week-old baby at home. And then he basically just lavished me with praise and made me feel like a million bucks. So, that made my week. We had our first lab meeting with another research team that is working on similar material just to share results and talk about academic-y things, and my advisor let me take the lead in presenting our stuff. So from now on, how about you guys just call me DOCTA K, EXPERT.

Today was kind of crazy—gym and meetings in the morning, lecture, class, tutoring. Even with all the scheduled stuff I have going on, it's surprising how often I find myself wrapped up in looooong chit-chats with other students. Everyone is just super smart and motivated and grateful to be here, which is nice. However, I am totally wiped and probably need to figure out a way to catch up on sleep, because the 6-7 hours per night (down from about 11-12 per night plus naps over the summer) is NOT cutting it. Still scratching my head on how to make that one work. I don't feel super stressed out or spent or anything, but I have a feeling that the pace of the past six weeks might start catching up with me.

I almost didn't bring up my recent freak-out with Dr. P at therapy this week, but I'm glad that I did. She helped to put a lot of things in perspective for me, and to point out that shit happens and life goes on. I mean, she said it more eloquently, but that was the gist. Anxiety sucks A LOT, but I almost think this most recent episode might have been a good wake-up call for me, since I've been toying with the idea of cutting down on my meds and have even been skipping my pill on and off for the past few weeks. I've gotten this idea into my head that the drug might be causing the tiredness and weight gain, and just want to be off of it. Plus, anxiety hasn't really been a major problem for me at all for over a year so I started thinking: "All better!"

Obviously not. Clearly, my brain still tips over the edge into crazy-Kaylee-mode pretty easily. And even though I'm not on a very high dose, I can still tell if I skip more than one day in a row because I get that spinning, groggy, withdrawal feeling. So maybe I'll stick to taking my meds as prescribed for now.

Final funny anecdote: We were talking about the government shutdown in one of my classes yesterday. There are a few international students in that class, so the professor was trying to explain how our inane system works (I know, I know, checks and balances whatever) and how we ended up in this mess. One of the girls from Beijing was just sitting there shaking her head, totally horrified, and blurted out: "This would NEVER happen in China."

Monday, September 30, 2013

Grumpity Grumps

Yuck. What a Monday. Not sure why this is, but I'm feeling sleepy and headachey and icky. It's too early for winter colds, isn't it? Maybe the school stress is starting to catch up with my body - I've been going NONSTOP for the past six weeks, so my bod may have just decided to take a break and be Grumpy McGrumpsters for a while.

This is how I feel.

Speaking of grumpsters, DAMN ALL THE POLITICIANS. I was sitting in for my boss on a conference call with the CDC earlier today, and the main topic of conversation was how the fuck are people supposed to do their jobs and make a living if the government shuts down? I think everyone in Congress needs to take a course in conflict resolution or something, or Compromise 101, or How Not to Lose Your Temper and Throw a Tantrum Whenever You Don't Get Your Way 101.

That aside, we need health care reform. Desperately. Just sayin'.

Anyways, as there was no purpose for this post beyond whining, I thought I would end on a happy note. The weather is beautiful, next week should be a lot calmer than this week, and the week after that I get to go home and hang with my mom and pop.

Most importantly, there is a new episode of Homeland waiting for me when I get home. So really, life can't be all that bad.

Okey doke, now I'm off to find some coffee. Three hours of work to go...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunny Sunday

Happy Sunday! Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. Mine was all right—my college roommate was here, which I had expected to be tough but it actually went okay. A little stressful/irritating/triggering, but okay. Ack, the situation is so emotionally and psychologically complicated I can't even get into it.

That being said, I didn't even see that much of her because she was busy with a sports alumni thingy (which was the reason she came back into town) and I was busy with meetings and work. Last night I did happy hour and dinner with school friends, and then came home and tried to finish some work before literally passing out. I hadn't slept well the night before and totally crashed by eleven.

Today I had a lovely run in the morning, grocery shopped, paid some bills, spent a few hours doing work in a coffee shop, and then decided that it was too pretty outside to go home, so I spent about an hour walking in Big College City Public Park. Walking is usually pretty hard for me because of the nerve pain, but I felt okay today and was mostly able to enjoy the weather instead of obsessing about how much I was hurting. Little things, you know? Just being able to go for a walk and not want to cry out of frustration.

Anyways, it's days like these when I sort of almost believe that maybe I won't be in pain forever. It's hard to see on a daily basis when I'm generally pretty uncomfortable, but every now and then I take a second and realize how much things have improved over the past year. I'm still glad to be seeing Dr. A again next month because I am definitely far from perfect, but the positive trend seems like a good omen.

Have a great week, everyone.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Inexplicable Anxiety

I suppose my anxiety isn't exactly inexplicable, since my life is currently very stressful and there are LOTS of things that could be causing my anxiety. Still, it feels like this icky, sick, nervous, fluttery feeling came out of nowhere. The other night, I couldn't get to sleep because my mind was preoccupied by a million different things, and I ended up bursting into tears alone in the dark. Obviously, I didn't sleep very well, and was a tired cranky wreck the next day. Last night, I slept for about nine hours and woke up feeling much more refreshed, but still have that nagging sense that something bad is going to happen.

Trying to be rational about things. A couple things going on:

1) I have tons and tons of work - both school work and work work, and I'm having a hard time feeling on top of everything. I'm also grappling with that sense of wanting to volunteer for everything and throw myself in headfirst, but knowing that neither my physical nor mental health are anywhere near robust enough for that.

2) I saw a huge bug in my apartment the other night. Don't laugh. It's incredible how freaked out this made me. I'm embarrassed and baffled and disgusted by how much it scares me, and how much I'm still worrying about it. I am constantly catastrophizing about a roach infestation. Suddenly it feels like my apartment isn't a safe, clean place anymore. Then I started thinking about all the things that could go wrong in an apartment, or a house, and how am I ever going to be a functional grown-up who is responsible for these things?

3) I have no money.

Doing my best to stay okay and hope this is just a random fluke period of insanity. My college roommate is coming to stay this weekend and at first I was stressed about having to host her, but now I'm glad she'll be here to keep me company.

Take care, everyone.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Body Image: The Jeans Edition

I bought a new pair of jeans for the first time in a long while yesterday afternoon. Add oddly enough, it wasn't even that traumatic. In case you somehow missed this in the many many posts I've devoted to the topic, I've gained a significant amount of weight over the past year so naturally, my old jeans don't fit very well anymore. Some people see the disposal of skinny clothes as a majorly symbolic milestone and all that, but for me it was never really a huge deal. Maybe because I am the opposite of a fashionista and generally don't get too excited about clothes to begin with. Plus, the Clothes Cleanse happened kind of gradually over the past several months as most of my jeans are a few years old and pretty worn out anyway. Plus with moving so often, I am perpetually trying to downsize my wardrobe and regularly go through my closet to donate/throw things away.

But in the past couple weeks, as the weather has cooled off enough to wear jeans again, it occurred to me that I really only had maybe one or two pairs that fit and were appropriate to wear in public. So after procrastinating for a while because I hate shopping and I especially hate shopping for clothes in bigger sizes, I decided that a trip to the mall was desperately in order. Had to give myself a little pep talk on the drive over about how you've probably gone up a size and brand-new store clothes are usually kind of stiff/unstretched out so don't freak when stuff feels tight etc. Additionally, I told myself that I was not allowed to leave without trying on at least three pairs and buying at least one. And whaddaya know, I got through it just fine. I ended up trying on several pairs; there were at least two or three that fit and that I would've been okay buying. I ended up only getting one because the prices were freaking me out but still, it felt like a victory.

so much swag

I'm aware that this is a lame post about something dumb and insignificant, but the important part was this: even though I wasn't super happy with my body and definitely had moments of EWW GROSS LOOK AT ME in the dressing room, I was mostly able to remember that I have a grown-up, healthy-sized body now and really, no one cares what it looks like. Pretty incredible to me how unimportant body image is to me now compared with the majority of my life.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday De-Stressing

Thank you to everyone for making me feel better after my mini-panic session the other night. You guys are literally the nicest and the best.

I had another one of those Epic Days yesterday: work for a few hours in the morning, meeting with my advisor, big important networking/schmooze event that required resumes and high heels, and two hours of tutoring in the evening. Plus it was pouring rain all day, so of course that made things infinitely simpler, let me tell you (especially the high heels part).

But in all seriousness, things went well and I came out of the day feeling way better than I did beforehand. For one, my advisor is fantastic. His wife just had a baby about two weeks ago, so he spent the first few minutes of the meeting being a proud papa and showing me pictures of the new lil guy on his iPhone. Then he took some time to ask about classes, how I'm doing with the transition to graduate school, am I too busy, etc. THEN we got to the actual research, which gets more fascinating and complex every time we go over it. I mentioned to him that his work is more interesting to me than a lot of my classes, and that I often work on his stuff before homework, and he was like "Good! That's how it's supposed to be." And he reminded me that grades are simply not as important any more, at least compared to undergrad. So that made me feel a whole lot less panicked about everything on my plate, and kind of helped put things in perspective.

One thing causing me major stress is the Money Issue—it seems like no matter how hard I try to keep track of my budget and account for all the bills, there are always unexpected expenses. Medications, co-pays, eye-drops, shampoo, coffee beans, gas...it all adds up and I'm barely breaking even. For now, I've just been trying to tell myself that I'm already working two jobs, and there's only so much I can do.

I've also developed irrational fears that either 1) my car will break down, or 2) my computer will break down. Those are probably the two items on which I am most dependent in my every day life, and knockonwood they've served me pretty well until now. But still, I sometimes find myself bargaining with a higher power: If you must take something, take my phone instead! Take my microwave or my toaster or my Kindle! And then I realize that these are First World Problems to the extreme and that I should shut my mouth and be grateful for what I have.

I guess the moral of the story is that I'm overwhelmed by the volume of responsibilities required by graduate school and life and being a grown-up, but this is actually a full and exciting and rewarding time. So, don't feel too badly for me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Feeling Stressed

...I may have bitten off more than I can chew. And that pun was not intentional and not even remotely anorexia-related.

help

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Happier But Wanting More

Hi all—I've been having a pretty nice, almost relaxing weekend! I had a bunch of papers due between Wednesday and Friday, plus I turned in another big project to my advisor yesterday morning, so I had more of a chance to kick back compared to last weekend when I was totally snowed under with work. Yesterday I went running in a beautiful park near campus, then spent a few hours in the library. In the afternoon, my friend met me at my place and we then headed back over to the park with a blanket and snacks and books. We pretended to read but mostly just goofed off and soaked up the sun. Today, I went for another run before a phone date with my college roommate. I spent the afternoon working, then came home and took a nice long nap. So yeah, this life ain't so bad.

Given how tough the last couple years have been, I am—by many accounts—doing very well. After  many months of feeling extremely low and hopeless, I now cry very rarely and would not consider myself at all Depressed. In fact, lots of the time, I'm pretty happy.

But. Sometimes I feel like there's something missing. I don't know what it is. I partly feel like I can't fully engage and fully throw myself into enjoying life and embracing opportunities because who knows when things will take a turn for the worse again? The pain is better but still a pretty significant Quality of Life issue. The fatigue is somewhat better but I still feel like I could use an extra 4 hours of sleep per day. My mood is WAY better but sometimes I get lonely.

I've been reading this book about introverts and extroverts:

Quiet

It is making me think a lot about how I live and socialize. I love being around people and I'm not shy, but I am hugely introverted. Socializing is exhausting for me. I have friends, although I'm definitely more of a few-close-friends than huge-crew type. I can't really tease out how much is truly my personality, how much is natural aging/maturity, and how much was altered by the anorexia, depression, anxiety, and medical problems, but I am very different now than I was in high school or even the early part of college. I am quieter, more withdrawn, less spontaneous and less willing to try new things. Not exactly conducive to meeting new people and starting new relationships, you know?

And this is dumb, but I've suddenly developed a fear of never finding That Someone—I haven't dated since breaking up with my ex almost two years ago, and it is suddenly hitting me how many of my new classmates came out of college with a boyfriend or girlfriend. The rational part of my head keeps trying to remind me that I'm only 22 and that most people haven't exactly settled down yet, but the other part of me feels like I missed my chance. It's hard to hear about my old roommate talk about her new boyfriend and going hiking with new grad school friends while I'm just happy to make it through the day on an even keel. I feel like I've lost so much of myself this past year, and have missed so many opportunities to connect with people.

Anyways, this post turned into kind of a downer, sorry. I really am doing okay, just thinking a lot and wanting to make the most of things.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Supplement Quandary

Hi all—I've been wondering if anyone has any advice/insight/actual scientific knowledge about what types of supplements are worth taking. It seems like there is a study out there supporting/refuting the benefits of every possible formulation and I'd rather not waste my money.

The ones I currently take:
—fish oil—at the request of my eye doctor
—probiotics—at the request of my GI doc
—calcium—for the bones thing (I had borderline osteoporosis at my last DEXA scan about 3 years ago, and I don't drink milk)
—multivitamin—just cuz.

i pop bottles

I did have a  B complex in my cabinet for a while and would take it intermittently, although it seemed like overkill since there's vitamin B in my multivitamin. I'm also not super consistent about the probiotics, since they are damn expensive and I am currently poorer than I have ever been in my life. Also, they seem kind of trendy and I'm not totally convinced they do much. Any thoughts about what I should add/ditch? Is the whole vitamin craze just a scam?