Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Reading

Another random book recommendation: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff. It's a memoir by a father whose son is a crystal meth addict. He talks a lot about the neurobiology of addiction; how addiction is an illness with genetic roots that gets activated by environmental factors—sound familiar?

Sheff writes: "[My son] admitted that he sometimes wished that he had any other illness, because no one would blame him. And yet cancer patients, for example, would be justifiably disgusted by this. All an addict or alcoholic has to do is stop drinking, stop using!" JUST EAT. Right?


I think anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder has felt stigmatized, guilty, ashamed, etc. at some point or another. It's hard not to. On one hand, you get endless praise for how skinny and awesome at dieting you are—and the next minute, your dad is crying next to you because he can't understand why you won't just eat. If you're lucky enough to have a family with resources, those resources get sucked down the drain pretty quickly to therapy, treatment centers, medications, and Boost. Even the clinicians themselves can succeed in making you feel pretty crappy. Why aren't you better yet?? It's damn near impossible for people to understand that sufferers of addiction or EDs aren't in control of their behaviors most of the time. They're completely out of control. They're not themselves. They're sick. That's the whole point.

I've never had a drug or alcohol problem, but it seems like there is a lot of overlap with eating disorders in terms of stigmatization, theories of etiology, and The Blame Game. Nothing but sympathy here for those suffering and their families.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

College Nostalgia, Summer Employment, Drug Updates

Hi everyone—I'm just chilling out at my kitchen table not working on my final papers after a semi-eventful week. Completed my last college class EVER on Thursday (well, until I start graduate school, I suppose). I texted my dad about this momentous occasion as I was heading into the classroom that afternoon, and his response was: "Cut." Anyways, I did not, which was wise because the professor brought snacks from Trader Joe's and we had class outside, so that was lovely.

We had our big end-of-semester outdoor concert on campus yesterday—it has a tendency to turn into a rip-roaring shit show most years, but that's mostly because of the freshmen who start drinking at 9 in the morning and then wonder why they're puking by noon. Being the classy and sophisticated seniors that we are, my friends and I made sangria from a mixture of red wine, bood orange juice, triple sec, apples and oranges, which was fruity and delicious albeit a smidge strong.


I had been feeling lame and un-festive ahead of time, and thought about skipping the whole thing, but then decided to suck it up and go. Good thing, too, because it was so much fun. Towards the end of the night, I found myself sitting on some steps with a group of friends, still kind of tipsy but very much lucid and self-aware, watching the sky turn beautiful colors over the campus, and thought to myself, I'm really happy right now. Totally worth it, just for that moment.

Other news from the past week: I got hired as a research assistant for a project through my graduate program, which is AWESOME. Really looking forward to the work, which should be fascinating. This particularly study probably won't extend much beyond the summer, but it's still a great way to get my foot in the door for future positions.

I saw my psychiatrist earlier this week for the first time since December, when I was a miserable sobbing mess. She works in the same clinic as my ex-therapist R and I was positively TERRIFIED of running into him, but luckily that didn't happen. Anyway, it was nice to talk with Dr. L about how much better I'm doing overall. We discussed some of my fears over graduating, moving out on my own, and handling the potential for increased anxiety/depression that might result. Ultimately we decided to leave my meds alone for now and talk again in 3 months. Unless things start to spiral downward again, I think my current dose is probably fine for the time being. Not sure what the protocol is for staying on SSRIs longterm—I don't particularly want to be medicated forever, but things seem to be working and I have zero desire to come off my meds anytime soon. It would seem ill-advised to mess with a good thing right on the cusp of some major life changes.

Okay, I guess I should probably/maybe/ehh start thinking about my finals. I GUESS.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Feeling kind of down tonight, in a really weird way. I'm sitting here reading the news and working on my anthropology paper and realizing that there is so much need in the world, and I've got every privilege and intention in the world that would allow me to help. But instead of feeling inspired and empowered, I'm feeling defeated.

My body is broken. I'm in pain. I am not living life the way I want and I'm not accomplishing the things I want because I physically can't do it. Things have improved some—my pain levels are vastly lower than they were even just two or three months ago. So things are looking up and I have no reason to believe that things won't continue to improve...but, you know. For the most part, I'm past the point of worrying that this nerve pain will last forever, but I'm also sick and tired of waiting for it to end.

I'm not depressed, just frustrated. And so, so tired. I want to do good things in the world. I have so much to give. Just wish this damn body would give me the chance.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wisdom Teeth and Things

Well, it looks like I'm going to get my wisdom teeth out ASAP. I finally caved and went to the dentist yesterday afternoon and she told me my gum was "alarmingly swollen." Whoops. Trying to decide how to fit this in—I'll be done with classes/papers/exams in about two weeks, and then have two weeks free before graduation, so I suppose I should try to schedule the surgery then. Hopefully there won't be any complications and I'll still have plenty of time for senior year festivities, packing up my stuff, and moving into my new place on May 15.

I went for a run this morning, and am still taken aback by how out of shape I am. I used to run forever without getting tired, and now I can barely make it 10-15 minutes without my chest burning and feeling like I've done a full-out sprint and might literally DIE. I suppose that's to be expected, since I've gone basically cardio-less for over a year, but it's still pretty humbling. That being said, it's probably good that my body opts out before I'm able to get too much intense exercise in, since I'm not really supposed to be doing much cardio to begin with. My homework from Dr. P was to check out Pilates this week—one of my friends and I used to take a class occasionally at the gym at home one summer and I really liked it, but haven't done it since.


Anyway, I swear I'm not overdoing the exercise. I've also pretty much stopped weighing myself, which is HUGE for me. I have a Word doc on my computer documenting my daily weight (sometimes twice daily) since 2009, but have weighed myself maybe three times in the past month. And yes, this is partly because my weight is currently higher than it was for most of the past four years and I hate seeing the numbers, but also because I've accepted that this is simply the way things need to be. I know that I'm not overeating, I'm taking care of myself, putting my health first, and whatever my weight decides to do cannot be a deterrent. YOU GUYS, WHO AM I? Look at me, being all rational.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

In Which My Colorful Post Title Comes Back to Bite Me

Oh lord, someone found my blog by searching "images of boobs." I'm gonna go out on a limb here and assume that this was not exactly what Mr. Perv was expecting... Sorry to disappoint! But I hope you learned a valuable lesson about healthy body image!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pre-Therapy Update

Ouchies, I have a sore throat AND a sore wisdom tooth. Advil's helping some, but swallowing cereal this morning was no fun. Is this retroactive mono? I don't think I have a fever or anything, and don't really feel sick other than the sore throat and sleepiness. Anyway, what's really weird is that I didn't have a cold for several years while underweight and restricting in ED Land. But now that I am weight restored and eating a complete, balanced diet, I've had three major colds in the last six months. WEIRD. My dad has a theory that your body knows not to get sick during times of stress, and then once the high-stress period has passed, your immune system lets down its guard. Papa is no doctor (well, he has  Ph.D. so I suppose he's technically Dr. Papa but in a very un-medical field) but backs up his cockamamie theories with anecdotes about how he used to always get sick the week after exams in high school and college.

Anyway, just popped some more ibuprofen so hopefully this burning throat will ease up soon. And I promise not to spread any mono germs through the keyboard.

Holy hell this semester is going by quickly. Graduation is a month from today. It's kind of hard to grasp how much my life has changed over the last year, and will continue to change over the coming months—hopefully for the better. One of my professors sent me the sweetest e-mail ever the other night saying how much she loved having me in class and how excited she was for me to be going into my chosen field (not the same field as my undergrad major, but related). So that totally made my night and got me even more pumped to get out there and do things.

I'm seeing Dr. P later this morning, and really want to talk about some of the fears I've been having. Hopefully on the agenda:
— geting myself in the best possible headspace for moving out on my own
— setting up the right kind of support/social system
— staying the course with eating/weight (my body image is...not so good right now)

So, I'll keep you all posted on how it goes. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Thoughts Are in Boston

I am in shock and horror over the marathon bombing. If there is a hell, I hope the hottest fieriest corner is reserved for whoever did this. Best wishes to anyone in that part of the country, hope you all kept safe and no one close to you was hurt. I have a ton of friends who go to school in Boston and some family who live there, and everyone I've talked to seems to be shaken up but okay.

Seems kind of trivial to talk about anything else with this hanging over our heads, but I suppose the most productive, uplifting way to respond is by keeping our heads high and remembering what matters, and what's going to matter in 10 or 20 or 50 years. Not our weights, not what we had for breakfast, not how many calories we burned at the gym, not whether or not our butts looked kind of chunky in skinny jeans. What's going to matter is how we invested our time and our intelligence and our love. How we helped people just because. How we tried as hard as we could to make the world a happier, safer, more tolerant place. How we drank the damn Boost even though it sucked, and put up with the pain and the ickiness and the tears because what good are we doing by hurting ourselves? How we hurt ourselves because we were sick, and then came out on the other side and STILL wanted to invest our time and our intelligence and our love in others. 

That's what will matter, and that's all I can see worth taking away from something like this. Because something like this should never happen, it just shouldn't.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Medical Mysteries and Culinary Adventures

So I guess there really was a reason for all that fatigue and fogginess I've been having...just got my blood work back from the campus health center and apparently I tested positive for the Epstein-Barr virus—a.k.a. MONO. The nurse told me it indicated a "past infection," which is apparently quite common, so the virus is supposed to no longer be active. But then why the heck am I still so damn tired? When I was talking with the nurse about all the other crazy health issues I've been having, she recommended seeing a rheumatologist...not sure if I'm ready to add another doctor to my team, but we'll see. I've already tested negative for lupus and Sjogren's, I'm not anemic, and my thyroid is fine. So for now, the mystery continues.

Other doctor news: Dr. A finally called me back the other day, thank goodness. He said to stay on the steroid for another 2-3 weeks and if I'm not "90% better" by then, I should go back to see him. Hopefully that won't be the case, since there's really no feasible way I can get back to Home City for an appointment until after graduation at the end of May, which is about 6 weeks away. Not gonna stress about it yet...

YOU GUYS. I am so freaking checked out of schoolwork, it's really not funny. Can I blame the mono for this? I have three major papers left and I just literally cannot bring myself to do anything on them. It's getting bad. I love school, love my classes, don't want it all to end...but somehow, senioritis is still majorly kicking my butt. I can't help it; it is a force beyond my control. On the other hand, I'm making steady progress in my The West Wing-watching endeavor and my apartment is very clean. What? I like to clean!

So, I threw caution to the wind at the grocery store yesterday and bought kale instead of my usual broccoli. Anyone know how to cook it? I was quite proud of myself for being so adventurous, but now I don't know wtf to do with this bunch of greenery in my fridge.

A bunch of us are going out to dinner tonight for a friend's birthday, and I'm actually looking forward to the change of pace. Who am I? Plus, I weighed myself this morning for the first time in several days and the number barely phased me. Well, it phased me a smidge, but I'm over it. Mostly.

Happy Saturday, everyone. Hope it's a great weekend.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Living Alone

Another big week in terms of Life Milestones: I signed a lease yesterday for my very first solo apartment. I've lived with friends in student housing throughout all of college (well, except for the semester I got yoinked out of school for treatment and was stuck at my parents' house but Idon'twannatalkaboutit), so this will be the first time I've lived by myself. No parents, no roommate, no crew of friends down the hall, nothing. And although I'm excited, I'm also scared. Not so much about the actual living alone part—I really like having my own space and am fairly (fairly) competent at cooking, cleaning, toilet-plunging, lightbulb-changing, etc. for myself. But I'm not so good at distracting myself from dark spells, or rationalizing away the fear when those old horrible nagging anxieties creep in. I'm scared of being alone and depressed and having no one there.

A big issue is losing my roommate. She has been SUCH a huge source of support for me over the past two years. Last fall when I hit absolute rock-bottom, she would basically drop everything anytime and let me cry to her. Not sure I would have made it through the semester without her, to be honest. Luckily she's only moving a few hours away so weekend trips will be easy, but it obviously won't be the same.

Some of you guys might be wondering if my parents are absolutely fucking insane for letting me move out on my own after the year I've had. I think sometimes, they wonder that too. Physical issues alone, I'm not exactly in tip-top shape. The pain is still a major problem (although getting better... knock on wood). I got a bunch of blood work done at the campus health center to see if we can figure out what's causing the constant fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath I've been having for the past few months. My weight and eating are pretty stable, but fighting the urge to restrict is still always a battle.

And on top of that, my mood is still shaky. I've been feeling a lot better for most of this semester—very little crying, minimal anxiety, and absolutely none of those horrible dark scary thoughts I was having back in the fall...but overall, my baseline mood is still relatively low. I'm nowhere near my old bubbly, energetic, happy self. I still worry a lot. I still get super down about the physical stuff.

That being said, I have so much hope. The pain is ever-so-slightly improving, just not as quickly as Dr. A had promised. I truly do believe that my body just needs time to heal—time at this weight, time on a high-fat diet, time to build up my hormone levels, and time to undo all the damage I've spent years accruing. I have absolutely zero.none.zilch desire to restrict and lose weight. Not worth it anymore. I've never been more confident in my ability to fully recover from the eating disorder, and that's further than I've ever come in my life. At this time last year, I weighed XX lbs less and was plotting ways to restrict any chance I got.

But still, I think that I need to get my moods as stable as possible before heading into this next chapter of my life. I certainly hope that things never again get as bad as they did last summer and fall, but I want to be smart about this. Yesterday, Dr. P and I talked a bit about the possibility of increasing my meds, just as a safeguard. I've been on the same dose for almost a year, and it has been remarkably effective for my anxiety, but is apparently still lower than the recommended clinical dose. And I've noticed no effect on depression. At my psych appointment in a couple weeks, I'm going to ask Dr. L what she thinks about bumping up the dosage a bit. Can't hurt to take an extra precaution, right?

And super important for me will be getting comfortable reaching out and surrounding myself with friends. One of my best friends from college will be living with her parents in a suburb of College City, and my cousin is a junior at Other University about 15 minutes from me. Plus, my mom's older brother lives just down the road from me—like, literally five minutes away. So I have the makings of a solid support system, and I need to be ready to take advantage of that.

I want to be independent, but that first means recognizing all the ways that I'm not.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Assorted TMI and Life

Note to self: blog readers like boobs. My last post got more pageviews than I've had in a while. Good to know...

I am officially being a Needy Patient and leaving a second message for Dr. A today, since it's been almost two weeks since my last one. The voicemail message clearly says "Do NOT leave multiple messages" but I think it's safe to say I've waited a courteous length of time, no?

Gross question: has anyone ever gotten chafing on their legs after gaining weight? It's the weirdest thing, never had it before in my life, but suddenly wearing shorts feels like it's rubbing the insides of my thighs raw. I've been using lotion and stuff, but ew. Sometimes bodies really suck.

So, with all that TMI out of the way, you know how I've been all like woo weight gain is good, my body is all womanly and smokin'? Well, that's still true, mostly, but let's just say that trying on my old shorts this week majorly tested my resolve. Let's also just say that I need to do some shopping.


Not the way I had envisioned starting my post-grad savings account, but oh well. Girl's gotta have clothes. Speaking of savings, I am hoping to get a paid research position at one of the centers run by my graduate program this summer, fingers crossed it works out and so that I'll actually have a paycheck lined up! Hopefully I'll hear about that within the next week or so, along with signing a lease, and submitting my grad school deposit. I'd really like to start planning my summer in terms of where I'll be living, working, and NOT being sick.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Body Image: The Boobs Edition

Okay wow, I'm totally wiped. The epic weekend certainly delivered in terms of craziness, but everything went well and the chaos was completely worth it. I did a lot of driving in circles, running around in heels, texting/e-mailing/shouting into my phone, etc. At one point yesterday, as I was rushing from First Big Event to Second Big Event, I remember thinking to myself, This is what college is supposed to be about. Attending to a million activities and listening to smart, interesting people talk about exciting projects and scarfing down Subway sandwiches on the go. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22.

And a huge part of what allowed the weekend to be a success was the body image piece. Or lack thereof, I should say. Meaning, I ate what I was supposed to, when I was supposed to, and didn't really give it much thought. I put on clothes, noticed that they fit differently than they used to, and got over it. You guys, I don't know how to describe it—because I certainly don't love the way my body looks right now—but it just doesn't seem important. I'm okay with my body. Not in love, but okay. Really, really okay. Sometimes I get uncomfortable with the way my clothes fit now, but mostly I just sort of shrug it off like Well, my body has changed. This is the way I am now. It's actually quite remarkable how much my thinking has changed. Does this mean I'm at my set point? It's about X (more than 3, less than 10—that's all I'm saying) pounds more than the minimum target weight that my treatment team set for me last year, and almost exactly what I weighed as a junior in high school when my ED was essentially a non-issue. In fact, the dress I wore to the formal on Friday night was the same dress I wore to a formal dance when I was 17, and it fit perfectly.

Funny/ironic issue: not only have I gained weight, but my body has totally changed in terms of proportions. I used to be pretty flat-chested, no matter my weight. But sometime over the past few months, during which I started having regular periods and upping my fat intake, I grew boobs. The bra size (32A) I've worn since middle school is getting too small. Maybe this is just part of getting older? Maybe the pseudo-second puberty I went through with getting my period back and firing up all those hormones again changed something about my body chemistry? Who knows? But my point is, sometimes I'll look down at myself in a shirt and will be like: Whoa, where did these bad boys come from? And again, I'm totally fine with it. I used to always like having small boobs, but now I kinda like having a little more to work with. Sometimes they make me feel fat, but not really. I feel more like a woman. Like an adult. Do I still get a sort of vague longing when I see someone super skinny? Sometimes. But for the most part, I have no desire to go back.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Busy Weekend Preview

Randomly big exciting weekend coming up. Tomorrow morning I'm meeting with a realtor to look at apartments for next year (can't stay in my current apartment because it is university-owned and designated for undergrads)—holy smokes, this future thing is getting real. Then I have work, tutoring, phone call with Grad School Professor, and then the opening session of a major national conference that my school is hosting this weekend. My editor from last summer asked me to write up a summary post for the web, so I get to take a press pass and tape recorder to go hear smart people talk about important things. After that I'm supposed to go to a sorority formal downtown with a bunch of my friends. I'm not actually in the sorority, but have been adopted as a sort of unofficial honorary member, and thus attend lots of their events without paying dues. WHADDUP MOOCHING. Saturday I have the second part of the conference before meeting up with a friend to see a show on campus. Then I am coming home to write up Part II of my summary. Good thing I have very little schoolwork and finished my laundry this morning.

I'm taking it as a really positive sign that I am actually excited for most of this stuff instead of anxious and dreading it. True, I'm feeling a little stressed about fitting everything in tomorrow, but the conference is a super exciting opportunity that I would never get to experience outside a college campus. Hopefully everything pans out well.

Speaking of hoping for things...I left a message with Dr. A several days ago, and am STILL waiting for him to call me back. I know the guy's busy, but sheesh. Last time I left him a message, he called me back at like 9 p.m. on a Friday night when I had a carful of friends, so I've had my phone glued to my side this past week, expecting to hear from him at any random time. I just want to know how much longer to stay on the steroids and why I'm still feeling crappy and what the hell is up with my body, yet again. Sorry, I'll cut the whining now...

Much more positive note: I saw my therapist Dr. P yesterday and gosh darn it, I think she is just fantastic. Really, I love her more and more every week. We talked a lot about that tough conversation with my dad, how I'm coping with the physical pain, and how to deal with the residual anxiety/depression I still have from all the health scares. We also talked a little bit about R, and why therapy with him ended up being a total fail. Can't even express how different my sessions with Dr. P are than they used to be with R—I actually talk openly and honestly, and I feel understood/validated/empowered all at once.

Hope everyone's having a great week, take care!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Decision Made

Well, I've made my decision: I'm going with School #2. Which means, actually, that I'm staying put in College City. Everything about the program is a good fit for me, and academically the choice just makes sense. Despite the fact that School #1 is a big-name fancy schmancy university, the graduate program I want isn't on the same level as School #2.

The hardest part was telling my dad, who really really really wanted me to come back closer to home. In not so many words, he basically said that he is uneasy about letting me stay out here by myself, and isn't convinced I'll be able to swing it. He also succeeded in making me feel pretty terrible about the money part, reminding me that even though tuition and cost of living is much cheaper out here, we've poured thousands into doctors' bills and plane trips back and forth. Plus the fact that my mom took time off from work two years ago when I was really sick, so we had to go with one less income for a while. So, hearing all that from him hurt, but I think it was partly my dad's way of expressing I'm worried about you but don't know how to come out and say it.

But, the decision part is done. And I'm incredibly relieved. Now I can start looking at apartments, contacting professors about research positions, and planning my summer. Of course I'm nervous and stressed about the transitions ahead, but I am SO ready to move onto this next chapter in my life.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Unexpected Road Trip

At the last minute on Friday afternoon, I got an invite from some relatives to come spend the Easter weekend with them. I'd been having a crappy week, not feeling great, antsy and sick of everyone—so I decided, Why not? The next morning, I threw some clothes in a bag, hopped in my car, put on some country music, and drove six hours up to my aunt and uncle's house. And guess what? I had a great time. It was the perfect escape to hang out with my cousins, dye Easter eggs, have an Easter egg hunt in the backyard (What? You're never too old...), and get away from school for a while.


Food was tricky, not gonna sugarcoat it. See what I did there? I had only eaten a teeny tiny breakfast before leaving early Saturday morning, and for some reason kept pushing through the drive without stopping for lunch even though my tummy was a-rumbling. By the time I got to my aunt and uncle's house around 2pm, I was starving. I pretty much marched in, dropped my bag, and announced I NEED FOOD. My cousin and I went out for sandwiches and then I was able to think a little more clearly.

It was weird. I haven't had one of those episodes in a long time—where I patently decide that I'm going to put off eating as long as possible just 'cause. I wasn't trying to restrict, I wasn't trying to lose weight, and I wasn't even pre-restricting in anticipation of a big meal or anything. I just didn't want to eat, and I got this creepy satisfaction out of the sick, empty, hungry feeling. Yuck.

Anyway, my aunt had a big Easter meal planned for Sunday afternoon before I left. I did a pretty good job of loading a fairly balanced meal onto my plate while managing to avoid most of the scary stuff, but I still felt stuffed and icky afterwards. Then of course, I had to get back in the car and spend the rest of the day on my butt driving 350 miles south back to College City. I got home around 9, hungry again, and spent the next two hours agonizing over what to eat.

So there were positives and negatives, I suppose. I had a wonderful time with my family. Plus, it was a big deal for me to make such a spontaneous trip, especially when I knew there'd be a big Easter meal on Sunday. But I dealt with it, ate what was put in front of me, and tried to remember that weekends like these are about more than food.