Saturday, March 29, 2014

Back to Baseline

Hi guys—so glad it's Saturday. I needed a weekend sooo bad. I have so much work to do, it's crazy! And it's all my advisor's fault! He gave me this giant-but-super-duper interesting project on Thursday, which means that it's all I want to work on and have totally neglected everything else. I have all this other boring stuff to do! Lame! It didn't help that I had planned to come home from clinic last night and work work work but obviously that didn't happen because apparently this kid needs her Friday night naps. I watched The Wire for like three hours, meaning I turned on The Wire and promptly conked out for three hours, got up, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. I've been working all day today but then I have plans later, so it will be another unproductive evening. Oh well! There's always Sunday.

I am feeling wayyyy better. I spent about three days full-on panicking about the nerve pain coming back, but then it kind of eased off and now I seem to back to baseline. Thank goodness. I am still in this kind of PTSD-y, shaky, anxious, ohmygodwhatifwhatifwhatif kind of place, but that little spike in pain seems to have been short-lived. I'm still really nervous about the exercise piece, and have backed way off this past week. I haven't run since last Saturday and I've only been doing really light biking and walking. I also did a Pilates For Beginners video that my friend recommended, but my abs were sore for six full days after. SOME FRIEND SHE IS.

Therapy this week was kind of hard. I had gone in feeling really crummy and sorry for myself, and just wanted to sit around and moan and wail about how unfair my life was. I did NOT want to talk about food or weight or exercise or eating; I just wanted to cry and be heard and get some sympathy. Well, Dr. P was sweet and lovely as always, and she let me cry and complain for a bit, but then she kept steering me back to what she calls the "underlying problem"—namely, the anorexia. Basically she would not let me talk about the nerve pain without making me talk about the ED. And it was like pulling teeth, let me tell you, because I was NOT interested. But in the end she made her point, and I have since been pretty faithful to limiting my exercise and upping my calories. And to be honest, it has been kind of freeing. I guess I forgot how horrible it is to be in pain, and how comparably UN-horrible it is to feel kind of chunky and full.

I did leave another message for Dr. A., my miracle pain doctor, who was out of the country at the time but hopefully will be calling me back sometime next week. I was supposed to call him six weeks after my last appointment, which I never got around to because I had been feeling SO good and it just didn't seem important. But Dr. P convinced me to get back in touch (even if it has been more like six months) and have a chat about this most recent scare, the changes in my period, and his thoughts on exercise and weight. So, stay tuned for that.

Happy Saturday, everyone.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Revised Commitments

I guess it's do-or-die time. Or at least do-or-hurt-again time. I started having pain last Friday or so, which continued through the weekend. I called my mom an absolute wreck on Monday afternoon because the pain had persisted and I was so scared of going through that again. It brought me right back.

Things have eased up a bit since then. I'm still having some pain, but much less. And it's still nothing like it was before October when I started using my miracle fire cream. And what has changed?

I stopped running.

No, I'm not happy about it. Yes, I feel fat and gross and lazy. But yes, ultimately, if it keeps my periods coming and the pain at bay, it will be totally worth it.

On the phone the other day, in between me crying and hyperventilating, my mom said something I needed to hear: "Your body is still fragile." I didn't want to hear it, because I wanted to hear that I'm cured of the nerve pain, of the hormonal deficiencies, and of the anorexia. I wanted to hear that all the running has been good for me; that the muscles in my legs and abs and heart are powerful and strong. But the truth is, I am still fragile. I haven't let my body recover and just be; I am constantly fighting it, abusing it, forcing it to perform over and over again until it inevitably gives out on me.

My body can't handle running that much. Not now, maybe not ever. I've committed to taking a full week (maybe two) off, or at least until my pain levels get back to baseline. Then I'll think about incorporating it back, slowly, and definitely not back up to the mileage I was at before. For whoever's keeping track, you can revise my commitments accordingly.

It's going to suck. I love running and I hate not running. I love flying down those trails, hearing my sneakers hit the gravel and the wind whipping past my ears. I love that it gets my heart pumping like nothing else does. I love that my legs get wobbly and stiff afterwards. But I hate being in pain more. Actually, it's not even that I hate the pain; it's that I simply cannot take it again. I cannot be the person I want to be when I'm in that degree of pain. I won't go so far as to say that this wakeup call was a good thing, but I will say that it's hard for me to understand the need for moderation until something knocks me back down in my place.

Will keep you all posted. Take care.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Between A Rock and A Hard Place

Thanks everyone for all the kind words on my last post. I am having kind of a rough few days worrying and obsessing and figuring out how to proceed from here. This is the first time since last fall, when things really improved for me physically, that I've been seriously concerned about the nerve pain coming back. I don't know if it's just on my mind because of my conversation with Dr. P about excessive exercise and my brain decided to panic about it, but it feels like the pain has been a tad worse the past few days. The timing is sort of suspect in terms of lining up perfectly with my increased anxiety, so it's entirely possible that this is my mind playing tricks on me, but still. I'm worried.

It's so hard to describe the conflict going on in my head right now. I am scared beyond scared about shooting myself in the foot by ignoring all the signs, all my history, and everything I've learned over the past two years by continuing to overdo the running and undereating and exacerbating the nerve pain condition again, especially since the capsaicin cream was a pretty late-line agent that finally worked. At the same time, I am scared beyond scared of gaining any more weight. I know this is an old, boring, stupid fear. I KNOW. But apparently the anorexic thinking is alive and well. And, in all honesty, I should not have to gain any more weight to be healthy. My weight is very solidly in the "healthy" range, and is the highest weight I've ever been. So I'm totally freaked about going up any more, which keeps me running obsessively, but I'm also freaked that the running is going to undo all the progress I've made with my health.

Contemplating changes to my exercise routine has me obsessing about weight stuff way more than usual. I know that every anorexic probably claims this, but I think I have a pretty slow metabolism. Or maybe I've slowed it down with all the abuse, or maybe I'm just getting old, because at my first go-around in recovery I was eating substantially more than I do now and maintained a weight double-digits less than my current weight. So clearly, my current routine with all the running is not actually doing me any favors with my weight. Plus, despite my stable weight, my period has been slowly disappearing over the past few months, which is always a bad sign. All of this indicates that the running probably doing more harm than good. But I haven't found anything else that comes close to managing my anxiety to the degree that running does. So I feel stuck.

Part of me is convinced that I need to give up every intuition I have and (1) cut way down on the running, and (2) up my calories because clearly, my body and brain cannot handle being on the edge like this. But I'm scared, and stuck, and I feel like there are no good or easy options—only an array of hard ones.

UPDATE: Ugh. I have been panicky and teary all day. I need to get this under control.

I cannot do this again.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Making a Commitment

Today I got really really scared. Not of weight gain or the scale or any of that crap (well, I mean, I am scared of those, but that's not what I'm talking about...), but of going backwards. Of undoing all the months of relearning to eat, and relearning to go about my day without having to burn XXX calories first.

The running is getting out of control. I used to go five days a week, which has become seven. I used to run 4 miles at a time max, which has become...more than that. I'm skipping snacks, and not just occasionally or accidentally either. My weight is still pretty stable—actually it has bumped up a tad, which scares the crap out of me, but I do honestly think it is a matter of my body FREAKING OUT at this return to old habits—but my period has gone from 5 days long to about 3.5, and comes at weird and erratic intervals as opposed to the perfect 30 cycle I was on for about a year.

So I got really really scared because I had laced up my sneakers and hit the trails in Big City Park as usual, when I realized that my legs were heavy and tired, and I needed a day off because I hadn't had one in two weeks. And then I realized despite that, I couldn't stop.

Luckily I had therapy right after and managed to hash this all out with Dr. P. Because she is a beautiful and perfect human being, she calmed me down and reminded me that I used to say I would do anything—gain weight, give up exercise, stand on my head for three hours a day—if it meant that my eyes would heal and that I would no longer be in pain. But now that I've been doing okay, I find myself sliding right back down the hole. I'm not necessarily trying to lose weight, but I am certainly trying to see how far I can push myself....until what? Until the nerve pain comes back and I go right back to being suicidally depressed? Until I do lose weight and realize, again, that it doesn't solve anything? What the hell am I doing?

For a while I thought I was over the eating disorder, and in a lot of ways I am. My weight is solidly in the "healthy" range and lines up pretty well with where my natural growth curve should have landed me. My eyes still feel great and I'm not having pain yet. But the vanishing periods seems like the potential first step down a long and miserable path. I've already been there, and I don't want to go back. I can't go back. I cannot do that again.

So, here is my commitment to you.

I will not skip snacks.
I will eat a minimum of XXXX calories per day.
I will not run more than 5 days per week.
I will not run more than 30 miles per week.
I will not forget how horrible this day was. I will not do that to my parents again.

I can't promise that I'll do it perfectly, but I am going to try. This is my commitment.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Break Concluding Notes

Made it home after a whirlwind trip too see my best friend K from college. I really wish we had planned the visit better so I could have stayed a little longer instead of having to rush back home to finish up some work for tomorrow, but it was still awesome to see her. We talk on the phone, text, and e-mail all the time, but there's something about staying on late talking on her bedroom floor. In fact, I think we talked for about 24 hours straight. And I don't think I even realized how much I missed her until I was getting ready to leave and started to cry. Also my period came five days early and I was feeling a tad emotional. Seriously, I cried for like an hour in the car after leaving her. I think I've just missed having such a best friend around all the time—I mean, I have friends at school now, but no one that close. Obviously that makes sense because K and I lived together for three years, but still. She is the best.

Ugh. Now my spring break is over and I have SCHOOL tomorrow. GROSS. I really tried to have a relaxing week and not spend every free second doing work, but maybe that was a mistake because now I feel behind! I have a huge paper due tomorrow, quiz Wednesday, paper Thursday, exam Friday. This is the most stressed I've gotten about schoolwork all semester, and I am doing my best to keep my head above water. Hopefully this next week will go smoothly!

For some reason, lately my body image has been...not good. I don't know why. I am trying to stop weighing myself so frequently because it's messing with my head more than usual. But those damn wall-to-wall mirrors at the gym are driving me nuts! I have been slowly upping my running mileage again after having cut way back for the last couple months (polar vortex + injuries). I may do another post about this sometime because it's been on my mind a lot, but running is such a tricky thing for me these days. I love it and want to do more and more of it and it makes eating much (mentally) easier, but I also recognize the risks of overdoing it (overuse injuries, hormone issues, aggravating the nerve pain, losing weight, igniting old anorexia thoughts, etc.) and that scares the crap out of me. So, lots of thoughts happening around that.

I am really looking forward to seeing my beautiful and amazing therapist Dr. P this week. Isn't that weird? How I actually look forward to therapy now? I used to DREAD IT for days ahead of time (with my old therapist), and then even with Dr. P I used to feel pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. But now, I go into each session with Things To Discuss, and I actually engage and, in the end, I get something out of it. We have been talking about the exercise stuff a lot lately, and how maybe I'm not as fantastically recovered from my eating disorder as I thought.

YOU GUYS. I AM FEELING REALLY EMOTIONAL. I think it's my period. It must be. Maybe I just miss K again. Also I am sleep deprived. Sorry this is so random! I'm having a lot of thoughts and feelings right now! Is this what a non-starved brain is like? Still getting used to that.

Anyways, I should put a stop to this nonsense. Take care everyone—I'm going to pop some ibuprofen for these icky cramps and go to bed early tonight.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pre-Road Trip Frenzy

Sorry long time no blog! I am just popping in to say HEY before I head to work and then hit the road for a weekend with my college (and life) bestie!


On my to-do list in the next hour: finish a quick project for my advisor, shower and blow-dry my hair, make lunch, pack, and take out the garbage. Wish me luck! Happy Friday (and Pi Day, you math nerds). Peace out and have a fantastic weekend.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Feeling A Lil Lonely

Ugh. Is it time for my period again already? I think the weird PMS weepy mood swings may be hitting, because for some reason last night I started to get really down on myself. It was pretty random because I was having a nice, relaxing-albeit-a-tad-lonely kind of day. A good friend and I were supposed to meet up for coffee and a stroll outside in the gorgeous weather, but then he had to back out because something came up (he's a law student and stress is a way of life). So I was feeling sort of antsy, like I really wanted to hang out and talk with somebody, but most people are out of town this week. Then I got an e-mail from one of my best friends from high school telling me about how she has a new boyfriend, and then I saw Facebook pictures from another former classmate's wedding, and suddenly I just started to cry because, I don't know, I was just lonely. I haven't dated anyone in about two years and generally feel like I'm too busy and wrapped up in myself to worry about it, but now and then I get hit with this sense that everyone in the world has someone except for me.

I hate when I start comparing myself to others, because everyone else always comes out on top. I keep trying to remind myself that I've been through a unique kind of hell the past two years, and that it's a huge deal just for me to be here and okay and feeling relatively good about myself. Usually, that's enough. But occasionally I start feel like I need something more. Maybe this a good sign? That I'm no longer so caught up in my own medical/emotional/ED crap that I'm hankering for connections and support and companionship? I have put my heart and soul into school and work and research, because I feel like at 23 years old, that's what the point of graduate school is. But how the heck am I supposed to get out there and expand my network and meet new people and try new things when I'm giving everything to my education? Anyone else feeling this way? Is there life after graduate school? And am I going to be over the hill at 24?

I'm really not boy-crazy, I promise. I just find myself wishing that (1) I felt more adept at meeting people and expanding my social circle beyond my (mostly female) classmates, and (2) I had enough confidence in myself to know that things will someday work themselves out, that the right person is worth waiting for, and that I am enough without him.

That is all. Sorry to be whiny and pensive. In the grand scheme of things, considering where I was for most of the past couple years, this is not a terrible problem to have.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Vacation Files: Napping and Books

I think my body and brain must know that I'm on spring break this week. Friday night, I got home from clinic, ate dinner, curled up on the couch to watch an episode of The Wire, woke up three hours later, brushed my teeth, went to bed, and slept for another eight hours. Yesterday, I napped in the afternoon, went out with some friends but ducked out early because I was getting a headache/couldn't stay awake, and slept for NINE FULL HOURS last night. This is UNHEARD OF for me. I generally get about five or six hours of sleep a night and bound out of bed by 6 or 7 in the morning, but both yesterday and today I didn't drag myself up until past 9. Guess that's what vacation is for...

It's actually not much of a vacation since I'm working four out of five days, but just having a break from classes for the week is nice. I also tried to give myself a break from schoolwork this weekend, although I do have quite a bit to get through this week. I am planning to drive up to Other City next weekend to see my college roomie, who I miss very much and can't wait to see.

And, anyone who has been reading this blog knows what my favorite part of any vacation is: BOOKS.

Books of the week:
Getting Played by Jody Miller—Academic but readable and very powerful, especially for anyone interested in violence against women and the urban poor.

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson—Beautiful and heartbreaking.

We Are Water by Wally Lamb—Ehhhh...I feel like this guy is overrated. Nothing really compared to his first novel (She's Come Undone). Too wordy and too political.

Okay. Off to eat lunch, and probably take another nap, because I've been awake for over five hours and that is MUCH TOO LONG.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Challenging that Old Fear

Figured I should update since I just blog-puked my weight fears on here last night but have since spent a super productive hour with my beloved and beautiful therapist Dr. P, who has yet again helped me realize all the ways that I can make things better for myself.

The "Day-to-Day Perspective"
Otherwise known as "Failing to See the Big Picture." We talked a lot about how I am not good at evaluating things broadly over time. Instead, I tend to fixate on minute, discrete periods of time: this would look like me ruminating all day Wednesday about not exercising that one day, instead of stepping back to realize that I worked out 6 out of 7 days that week, or 24 out of 30 days that month, or five times per week for a year, or whatever unit you want to look at. This would look like me cutting XXX calories from dinner because of missing a workout that morning, instead of remembering that rest days are part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Another example of this short-term, short-sighted viewpoint is me obsessing about a X-lb uptick on the scale rather than seeing the larger trend of having maintained my weight within a XX-lb (healthy) range for several months—for the first time since I was in high school.

Challenging My Values
The other big thing we talked about was really questioning that basic assumption that weight gain = bad and weight loss = good. Or, in another iteration, eating = bad and not eating = good; or rest = bad, and exercise = good. When I was really really sick and deep in my anorexia, that was about all the nuance my malnourished brain could handle. Restricting, overexercising, and losing weight really were the most important things in the world to me. There wasn't time or energy or brain space for anything else.

But now? Now I have so much more at play. I have interests and goals and preferences and wants, and having all of that is not compatible with wasting the majority of my brainpower on calorie-counting and scale-induced freak-outs. It's just not feasible to waste all that brainpower while trying to maintain my (insanely) busy lifestyle, succeed in school, impress my professors and advisors and boss, stay in touch with my parents and my friends, and everything else that was simply not available or important to me before. I mean, it all technically was, but not really because, at the end of the day, the ED came first. It doesn't make sense to me anymore to put the ED above everything else. It just isn't that important to be anymore.

Changing my Habits
Yet. Those pesky compulsions are just so ingrained in my head that it's hard to realign my thinking. To establish that yes, rest days are not just okay but good. That skipping one day of exercise doesn't make the day a waste; it makes the week a success. That weighing myself twice a day does nothing but ratchet up my anxiety. Dr. P wants me to cut down the weighing to twice, if not once, per week, and I think I might actually follow through on it this time. It's gotten to the point where I freak out about my weight because I'm used to freaking out about my weight; not because I'm inherently bothered by the number that much, if that makes sense.

As I told Dr. P this morning: if I weren't so used to worrying about seeing that number, I would consider this the absolutely perfect weight for me. I'm eating well, exercising regularly, I have energy, my hair is luscious and thick after YEARS of falling out in clumps, my skin isn't dry and itchy, my eyes feel great, and I have essentially NO pain. So, I can't continue to let three little red numbers ruin another of my mornings.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An Old Fear Resurfaces

It's been a while since this has been much of an issue and I really hate to admit it, but lately I've been scared of the scale. In that old, consuming, irrational-but-so-real way that sits like a bucketful of dread in the pit of my stomach. The number has inched up, like, literally an inch in the past couple of weeks and now all of a sudden I'm on high alert: am I eating too many pretzels? Too much peanut butter? Not enough carrots? Not enough water? Is it sodium-induced weight? Strength-training induced weight? ARRRRRRGHHH I hate that I am obsessing like this. I still weigh myself a lot, but usually it's just a routine check with not much anxiety involved, especially since my weight has been rock solid within the same 2ish-pound range for the past several months. Then about a week or two ago my weight crept up a tiny bit which freaked me out but not too because because I was also on my period...but now my period's over and my weight is still sort of higher than normal and now I'm REALLY freaked out and I DON'T LIKE FEELING LIKE THIS.

Eating disorders are stupid. I've got an hour left at work and will NOT spend it worrying about dinner. Peace, everyone.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Post-Nap Panic, Avoiding Homework, and Anxiety Management

I just had the most BIZARRE experience... I got home from the library after working for a few hours, chatted on the phone with my mom for a while, cleaned the apartment, and then decided to curl up in my comfy chair under a blanket and rest my eyes for a while. Now, I'm not the best napper in that sometimes I just kind of doze on and off but don't really sleep, and plus today I wasn't even super tired so I wasn't really expecting to conk out. Well...conk out I did, and woke up about two hours later SO CONFUSED. I literally had no clue where I was or what day it was. Obviously I checked the time on my phone, but was convinced that it was wrong because I was POSITIVE that it was Saturday so I was like, how the heck could it be 6pm on Sunday, because that would mean that I slept for like 24 hours straight??? It took me forever to figure out that yes, indeed it was Sunday, and that apparently I really needed that nap.


But seriously. My sleep has been so screwed up lately, it's no wonder I'm dropping off in the middle of the day. I usually can fall asleep fine at night, but then wake up a bunch of times. Then I'm usually up for good by 6ish not feeling very rested and refreshed. Over the summer I was taking naps almost every day, which was lovely, but I don't really have time for that anymore. I am generally ready to call it a night by 10 or 11 but fight really to stay up later...although of course I'm useless after that anyway so I might as well just go to sleep. Dr. P recommended valerian root, which I am kind of skeptical of but may give it a try. A friend of mine once gave me melatonin, which I didn't find effective but I also didn't stick with it very long. And as I think I've written about before, I have awful "sleep hygiene" so a lot of my sleep issues could probably be addressed through improving that.

Anyways. I'm sitting here trying to work on my midterm paper, but obviously I'm not trying that hard because I'm blogging. I really like this class and want the professor to think I'm a smarty pants so I really really want to do well on this paper, but damn it's boring. Good thing I still have two weeks...

too cool for school

Update on that scary moment from a couple weeks ago: I am generally feeling much better, but humbled. I am doing my best to take my medication every day, although am not at 100% yet. I still haven't figured out the best ways to make Anxiety Prevention a priority even when I'm not feeling anxious, but at least it's on my radar. On the plus side, I am still essentially pain free, my school work is kind of a breeze, I'm getting the hang of working in the clinic, and I've made a lot more close friends this semester. So, trying to keep the big picture in mind.

Hope everyone has a great week coming up—take care.