Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I've Got the Power

Happy to say that I think I've mostly pulled myself out of the blue spell that was coming on earlier in the week. It was just scary to realize how fragile I still am, and easily things could topple over.

I have some wise, wise readers (Hi Cammy! Hi Laura!) whose comments got me thinking about this stuff. First, Cammy asked: Can you think of any reason you might have felt like this today? Anything from gray weather to something that happened in class, or something else? Looking back, I think the issue was that I had just come from PT where my therapist was having me do all kinds of stretches and different kinds of walking and stuff, and she was asking if anything made my pain any less, and nothing really did. So then I started thinking about how much pain I still have on a regular basis, and how I never really know how good/bad I'm going to feel on a daily basis, and how that really sucks. And once my brain got going on that negative loop, it was hard to break out of the cycle. 

And then Laura asked: Do you know of things in the past that have helped when you've felt like this? This is a little trickier, and that's the part that scares me. I have no idea how to pull myself out of a depression that feels 100% controlled by my physical condition. I don't know how to stop the pain; thus, I don't know how to stop the depression. True, I've been in a vastly better mood for the past month or so, ever since being home for winter break—but I'm not exactly sure how I got there, how I'm staying there, and how to keep from going backwards.

While it feels like I'm totally powerless over my own feelings and outlook, I suppose that's not totally true. If I'm being really honest with myself, I could list a few things that helped turn the emotional tides over the past 4-6 weeks: (1) I saw Dr. A, who promised that the hip/pelvic pain is curable and outlined a treatment plan for me. (2) Dr. Q is an ophthalmic genius and found a solution for my horribly dry (and apparently nerve-damaged) eyes. (3) I started planning for graduation and applying to graduate schools. (4) I spent an amazingly relaxing and wonderful month at home with Mama and Papa and Big Brother, and then College Roomie came to visit and see my house and got to meet High School BFF. So all in all, a lot has changed, even though it sometimes doesn't feel like it. And it took time, but all those changes managed to pull me out of the worst depression of my life, and turn things around enough so that I am able to have a relatively positive mindset. I'm still scared that things could change back in a heartbeat, but at least I feel a bit stronger and better equipped to handle them. At the very least, I am not being entirely controlled by an all-powerful force of negativity anymore.

In other news: 

— I've discovered weight lifting! More on this later, but my body LOVES being active again, even if it's not in the typical cardio sweat-till-you drop type way that I've always preferred. Also, I'M SORE.
— After talking to my mom and doing some research, I've set up a consultation with a new therapist next week. Not sure if it will end up working out with her, but this feels like an important step.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sinking Feeling

I guess I can't expect every day to be a good one, but it really felt like I was getting past the scary dark depression that had me down for so many months. Today I had to fight tears for the first time since early December. (All fall, I was crying multiple times a day, every day.) Things have been a LOT better lately, and it felt like I had finally shaken off the worst of it. But today I got that familiar lump in my throat and that yucky horrible feeling in my head and my stomach, and pleaseGodplease don't let me be falling down this hole again.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thesis, Therapy, and Thoughts

Happy Sunday everyone, hope you're having nicer weather than we are. I'm just so darn sick of being cold and shivery and wearing six layers. There was a sheet of ice on the street this morning and I almost broke my damn neck getting to my car.

On the school front, the semester is getting started and deadlines are mounting. I have a big thesis milestone in about two weeks, and then the final draft is due about two weeks after that. Then we go on spring break, and I'll defend the week we get back. Can't believe how fast things are going.

Random book recommendation: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. It's quite illuminating and thought-provoking. Especially as I'm coming from a patient's perspective, it gave me a lot to mull over regarding clinicians, quality of care, medical ethics, etc.


In other news: the more I think about it, the more confident I am about my decision to stop seeing R. Although I don't feel great about the whole situation, it really is time. My only question now is whether or not to try to find someone new for the rest of the semester. There's a chance that I will be leaving College City for good in mid-May, which would mean that I'd only have 3-4 months max with the new person. Given how long it takes me to warm up to someone, I'm not sure if that would be at all productive. I am feeling much more emotionally stable and functional compared to most of last year, so I could conceivably be fine without therapy; plus, the ED stuff is vastly more under control that it's ever been, so I would feel comfortable getting some distance from College City's Major ED Treatment Clinic, which is where I go now, and potentially seeing someone who doesn't necessarily specialize in EDs. But regardless, it still scares me a little not to have any safety net in place.

I think that's most of what's on my mind today. Take care, everyone!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thinking About a Change

Got some stuff on my mind right now. Nothing bad or particularly stressful or scary, just stuff going on that needs to be handled.

I'm about ready to call it quits with R. It's just not working. I've waffled on this for a long, long time (sorry!) but now I don't really feel like there's much of a choice anymore. My thoughts aren't organized enough for me to give a full explanation yet, but I will soon, and will keep you posted on what's happening in that regard.

Our session today was going okay, until we got to a point in our conversation when I had to stop him and say: "Please don't laugh. I don't think that's funny." Not getting into specifics at the moment, but suffice it to say that I was terribly offended by the way he reacted to something that I said. Something that was honest, and real, and not in any way comical.

It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to start shopping around for a new therapist when I'm only going to be in College City for a few more months (probably, depending on the Grad School situation, which is yet to be determined...) but I'm also not exactly confident enough in my emotional stability to go therapy-less until next fall, or whenever I get settled in whichever city I end up. So, my only reluctance is related to giving up the stability of current Treatment Center for the remainder of my time here.

Lots to think about, I guess. Stay tuned.

And to everyone who read my last post and made me feel like a champion at life, YOU ROCK.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Weight Cure

You guys, I hate to admit it, but everyone was right. Gaining weight is fixing my brain. I loathe being this weight, but even I can tell that I'm more rational here. Looking back, I now realize how bat shit crazy I used to be. R and J have been telling me over and over for months that getting out of the underweight category would do wonders for my mindset, and goddammit if they weren't spot on. Here's what I've noticed since gaining XX pounds over the past six months:

- I am worlds more relaxed about food than I've been in a long, long, long time. Am I a totally carefree and intuitive eater? No, definitely not. But I eat a tremendously more varied diet than I used to. I've been buying lunch on campus with friends instead of packing my own safe boring sandwich every day. I ate a freaking burger and fries in Home City. I ate cookies almost nightly (in a normal way, not a weird binge-y way or anything). Even my roommate mentioned that I seem more chill about food than she's ever seen.

- My body image is glacially improving and no, I have not lost weight. Do I love my new bod? No, I despise it most of the time. But I don't get nauseous at the sight of myself in the mirror, and I don't cry every morning about how fat I am, and I don't have constant irrational fears about runaway weight gain. I'm certainly not in love with my body, but I'm becoming okay with it. Begrudgingly. And if it helps to keep me pain-free in the future like Dr. A predicted, then I'll become much more okay with it.

- I'm happier. Now, a lot of this has to do with the fact that my physical health is improving in other areas (e.g. eyes, hopefully soon hip/pelvic pain) but I also just feel more settled and comfortable. I don't wake up in the morning and commence FREAKING OUT about what/when/how/how much/why/why not I should eat.

Don't get me wrong, my body image still sucks. A lot. Ew. just feels different now. Like, not the end of the world. The thought of gaining weight doesn't send me into an emotional tailspin. I certainly don't want to gain more weight, and I would certainly be pissed and unhappy if I did, but I wouldn't go back to starving and I would still find life worth living.

Surprise Chinese Boost

I like to think of myself as a smart, rational, un-superstitious person, but please. I knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, and read my horoscopes. So when this came in my fortune cookie after dinner last night, I was all like YES YES THAT'S ME! THIS IS THE FUTURE:

Um, heck yes I will. Just need to get over this damn eating disorder and then THE WORLD IS MINE.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Therapy Rehash and an Etiquette Question

I saw R for the first time this morning since before winter break. Immediately, he could tell that I was in a better place mentally, physically, and emotionally. For one, I did not cry. I haven't made it through a therapy session without crying in, oh I don't know, probably at least three or four months. It was a nice change of pace to have good news for him—I told him about Dr. A (who I saw in Home City over break), and how he gave me the first comprehensive diagnosis and optimistic prognosis for my pain since this all started over a year ago. And because of the simple fact that I wasn't crying through the whole appointment, R and I were able to have a reasonable, productive conversation.

Topics on the agenda:
- Breakthroughs in my health dilemmas—my eyes are amazingly better than they were the last time we met, and I have also since seen Dr. A, who mapped out a new treatment plan for my pelvic pain. It was nice to share all that optimism with R, since he's been listening to me complain about it all for months.
- My slowly-improving food habits and weight maintenance throughout the holiday. I have a more detailed blog post in mind about this, but suffice it to say that I am maintaining right around the minimum goal R set for me back in September 2011 (same goal from my old team in Home City), and I have noticed some pretty dramatic changes over the past month in my attitudes towards food, body image, rigidity, etc. Maybe weight gain really does fix the brain? Who knew?! Oh yeah, R did...
- Our last appointment—my roommate came and we discussed some semi-uncomfortable stuff, but ultimately it helped clear up some miscommunications between R and me, and allowed Roommate to express her concerns/fears/anxieties about me. Have I mentioned that Roommate is a saint and the best friend I've ever had?

Okay, now I have a strange/uncomfortable/awkward problem that I'm not sure how to address. Let me preface this by saying that although I do not follow any religion, I have no problem whatsoever with people who do as long as they don't encroach on my personal rights, associate their religiosity with moral superiority, or try to convert me.

That being said, R is quite religious. It's not usually an issue, and I only know about it because he occasionally mentions church activities that he's involved with, or tells me about publishing an article in a religious journal or something. Oh, and once he told me about an iPhone app that sends him a daily Bible verse every morning. Which is all fine and good—he usually only brings up his religion when we're making small talk, not doing hardcore therapy stuff, so it's not like he's promoting his faith as a treatment tool or anything like that.

But today, I took major issue with the direction of our conversation. Without being TOO specific, we were talking about birth control and the various risks that come from using artificial hormones and messing with your body's natural chemistry and all that. R mentioned that he and his family, for religious reasons, don't believe in birth control. With which, of course, I have no problem; I am very aware that certain religions are opposed to birth control, and that's their prerogative. Not my business, and not my place to judge. And I'm familiar with R's religion, so his position on birth control was no surprise to me.

BUT THEN, our discussion took a weird turn. R made some comments implying that an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy was preferable to/safer/healthier than the use of contraception. When I tried to change the subject, it almost felt like he wanted to emphasize his position before letting it go. Again, I have no problem with him having beliefs, and I understand if his personal religion dictates that particular position on BC, but am I wrong to want it left out of my therapy session? Especially when I do not share the same beliefs?

So, my etiquette question: Is it okay for me to tell R that I don't want any discussion of religion during my sessions? I am usually fine with speaking my mind about this stuff, but it feels kind of weird in therapy, and I don't want him to feel like I'm being judgmental or rejecting his beliefs or anything. And I would feel kind of weird bringing it up after all this time. R and I are getting along and communicating much better than we have in the past, and I don't want to throw another wedge between  us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Semester Stuff

I've been meaning to post for the past couple days but have been super busy with getting back into the swing of things at school. Spring semester started yesterday but I've been back in College City since Saturday evening. I have PT tomorrow, and I'm excited to tell her about all the new stuff I heard from Dr. A over break. Oh, and I saw my eye doctor yesterday morning and he said: "Whatever we're doing, it's working." Which I could have told you, but it was nice to hear his professional opinion on things. And yes, my eyes are still doing great. Someday, having pain-free eyes won't be notable enough for me to mention in EVERY SINGLE POST, but right now it still is. Hope you can deal.

The three classes I've had so far have been really good, and I'm gearing up for an intense-but-stimulating last semester of college. Oh, God. It's my last semester of college.

I'm seeing Zero Dark Thirty tonight, the movie about capturing bin Laden. Since I heard there were some torture scenes, I had decided a while ago against seeing this movie because those kinds of scenes are just too awful and stomach-turning for me to handle. But my friends are going and I've heard that the movie is otherwise worth seeing. So, will get back to you on that. Really hoping the violence isn't gratuitous.

Some tidbits from my first day of school:
- I met with my thesis adviser about a bunch of stuff and he asked me to be a STUDENT AMBASSADOR for some department event. I'll have my business cards ready soon, let me know if you'd like yours autographed. Those babies are gonna be worth something someday.
- My mom made me get a flu shot when I was home, and I'm so glad I did. There are all these articles coming out about how the flu is reaching epidemic proportions, and my school health center keeps sending e-mail notices about how severe it's supposed to be this year. UGH.

Sorry that all my updates are spastic and random lately, things are busy. I'll post something more substantial soon!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Carry On

This song is really speaking to me lately. I've been a huge fan of this band since "We Are Young" came out, and have since only fallen more in love with their music. I would also recommend "The Gambler"—gorgeous ballad from their old album. 

"Carry On"

Happy Friday, everyone. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Winter Break Randoms

- I am totally addicted to the show Suits. Anyone else watch? My friend and brother got me hooked. Harvey Specter is such an effing badass. I'm having to pace myself so I don't just plop down and watch episodes back-to-back all day long.

- For the past week or so, I've been sleeping an insane amount—like, 9-10 hours a night. (Well, sometimes that includes an afternoon nap.) I never sleep this much. Usually I'm lucky to get 5-6 hours a night, so it must have something to do with my current cocktail of medications, but I'm certainly not complaining. There's nothing better than waking up after a full night of deep, uninterrupted sleep. Gah, this is making me tired.

- Yesterday I baked banana oatmeal raisin muffins. We had about six rotten bananas lying around and something needed to be done. I haven't tried one of the muffins yet because I'm being wimpy, but my mother assures me they are delicious.


- Can't believe the gauntlet of school/work/doctors is starting up again in less than five days from now. I am going to try really hard to keep things low-stress (as much as possible, that is) for myself this semester, and focus on the bigger picture. I got my first non-A ever in college this past semester, and it was surprisingly liberating. Having a B+ on my transcript suddenly lifted all this pressure of having to maintain the perfect GPA, and now I feel way more relaxed about grades and school in general. This is my last semester as an undergrad, which is mind-blowing in and of itself, but it's also crazy considering how much I've gone through in the past four years. So, the point of all this was, I'm in it to make the most of my last few months at school, enjoy it, and hopefully come out a better person than when I went in.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Post-Visit Update

Hi all—just saw my friend off at the airport this morning after a wonderful visit. We spent a couple days in Big City to sightsee and visit my daddy's office, went to the aquarium and the zoo, ate Thai food with my other bff from high school, baked bread, and watched the Bachelor premiere last night. Of course I am now woefully behind on my thesis, but whatever. It was totally worth it.

I did absolutely fucking fantastic with food, if I do say so myself. Some culinary highlights of the past week: shrimp gumbo, shortbread cookies, a burger and fries, a tuna salad sandwich, and several slices of the aforementioned home-baked bread. I don't know if it's being home or just getting more comfortable with this weight and diet or whatever, but I feel way more relaxed about food than I have in a long time. My friend even mentioned that she'd noticed it, especially after witnessing me struggle through the obsessive phases for so long.

Just in case you all think my life is roses and rainbows, I suppose I should mention that the pain is still a pretty major and debilitating and disheartening issue, but I have so much more hope that things will get better and I'm super motivated to take care of myself and stay healthy. Even if it means staying (shiver) at this weight... I think. Also my eyes still feel great, which has had a HUGELY positive impact on my mood and overall outlook on life.

I can't believe this is my last week of break. The vacation has flown by this year, maybe because I'm having such a wonderfully relaxing time. My dad and I totally bonded over the past couple weeks, which is nice as we've always butted heads in the past. Oh! And I also got my period for the sixth consecutive month, right on schedule, so that was pretty exciting. Especially with it being right after Dr. A stressed the importance of maintaining my cycle.

I haven't really made any New Year's resolutions yet. Things are going pretty darn well overall compared to most of the past year, so I'd just be happy to keep that up for a while. I suppose my major goals would be to keep up the kick-ass eating habits, maintain my weight, be a nicer and less selfish person, and finish this darn thesis.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Impending Visit and Related Issues

Well, I think the Holiday Season is officially over, as both my parents went back to work today and I have the house to myself for the first time since I've been back in Home City. It won't stay like that for long, since my roommate is coming tonight to stay for about a week—about which I am simultaneously excited, nervous, and stressed. My roommate is great and has been my rock throughout the past year at school when I hit some of my lowest points ever both physically and emotionally (she's the friend who came to therapy with me a couple weeks ago), but when it comes to losing my alone time and sharing my space, I got ISSUES.

Of course I'm uneasy about how the next week will go down in terms of meals, snacks, treats, drinks, unexpected outings, etc., but Roommate knows ALL about my ED and food-related neuroticism, and is extremely sensitive and nonjudgmental or pressuring about it, so I really shouldn't be concerned. And overall, I feel like things are going pretty well anyway. I'm eating about what I should be, and my weight is holding pretty steady. Of course, it's holding steady at a number way higher than I would like, but if that's what it takes to keep the rest of me healthy, then I think I can learn to be okay with it. My gut instinct is still always to restrict and consider it a bonus if I get to end of the day short on calories, but I'm getting better at consciously making them up, even if I'm not very hungry or interested. Roomie is a great role model for me in terms of eating, as she has a healthy appetite and zero pickiness issues whatsoever, so I'm looking forward to having her around and continuing to work on variety.

Oh, and I thought you guys might find it interesting/amusing/depressing/whatever to learn that not only anorexics have an absurd fear of fat.