Thursday, July 31, 2014

Body Image Potty Image

Yep, this post is about what you might expect. My body image is literally in the toilet right now. It's to the point where I not only feel badly about how I look, but that it's affecting how I view myself and the world and my purpose in life. I feel like this awful, icky, ugly, worthless blob. I've always had relatively negative body image, regardless of my weight, but rarely has it so thoroughly permeated every aspect of my worldview. And I'm ashamed of that, because it is such a stupid and shallow way to go through life.

I'm feeling really old these days. I know that technically that isn't true, but when I think back on how many years I've spent being sick and tired and frustrated and unhappy and depressed, and how far I still am from being really and truly okay, it feels like my whole life will be tainted in one way or another by all the illness and hurt. Like, imagine how differently things could have gone if I hadn't spent my entire adolescence hating myself and intent on self-destruction. Imagine how much better off I'd be now. It feels like my life hasn't even really gotten started because I've been derailed so many times.

Ugh. Just one of those days.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Random Bucket List

In therapy this week, I spent the entire hour crying about the nerve pain. I told Dr. P that my biggest fear is being in pain forever. When she asked me what that would mean to me, I said that I would probably want to kill myself.

And it's true. I can't imagine any life for myself involving this pain. I can't imagine being happy with it, knowing that this is as good as it gets. And Dr. P seemed kind of incredulous at that response; that there is nothing in my life worth living for with this pain. And it sounds crazy, but I swore to her and I'm swearing to you that that is truly how I feel.

So I started thinking about all the things in my life that I want to do. To be honest, sometimes it feels like I would be A-Okay to have nothing exciting happen, nothing big or important to accomplish, just so long as I weren't in pain. I think to a certain extent that would be true. Life would be boring but bearable. But I know it wouldn't last. I would always want more. And I started thinking about all the things I want to accomplish, and would make my life worth living.

And in no particular order:

1) Write a book. As a kid my dream was to write a novel, and I've written fiction for fun before, but I think my strengths probably lie in nonfiction. I used to do a lot of work in journalism and have tons and tons of experience writing for newspapers, magazines, and websites. My reading list is currently stuffed with long-form, investigative journalism-type stuff (much of which I've critiqued on this blog), and I think my ultimate goal would be to write something based on my own research someday.

2) Learn Spanish. I studied it from age 5-18, aced the AP exam, and spent a summer in Mexico where I was able to understand basically everything and speak plenty to get by. Then in college I promptly dropped the language entirely and haven't really used it since except for a couple times (with difficulty, and only when a translator wasn't available) with a few Latin American patients at the clinic this past year. My mom speaks Spanish (and my dad speaks some Portuguese), and I think it would be a real shame if I wasted all those opportunities. So, no idea how to go about doing it, and no free time whatsoever for this impulsive project, but I would like to start relearning Spanish.

3) Fall in love, get married, and have kids. No, not anytime soon. I probably wouldn't want to get married—and definitely not have kids—before 30. But I definitely want to someday, and having my own family is one of the most important things in the world to me. And I've fallen hard in crushes and dated some really great guys, but I don't think I've ever been in love. Is it something like 'when you know, you know'? Either way, I hear it's great.

4) Do work that I love. Based on the course of study I'm in now, I have a good idea of the focus of work I'd like to do, but not the exact setting or logistics. My dad has always taught us that work is one of the most important aspects of life, and that you should always be proud of and fulfilled by the work that you do; that you should strive to make yourself indispensable in your job, and contribute to the world and to your family in some tangible and meaningful way.

Right now the only thing that gets me through the rough times is telling myself it's temporary. But I think I also need goals and aspirations and excitement about the future, because surviving is simply not enough.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Socially-Minded Tangent

This is unrelated to anything anyone is probably hoping to read about on this blog, but I find it interesting so, too bad.

photo credit: Yana Paskova for The New York Times


The gist of it is that an old hotel in Elmhurst (Queens, NYC) has been converted into temporary housing for homeless families. The neighborhood is primarily populated by Chinese immigrants, who are seriously displeased about having a bunch of homeless black and Latino people around. The Chinese residents of Elmhurst have launched racially-tinged protests against the shelter residents, and the shelter residents are hurling racial and xenophobic epithets right back.

I don't live in NYC but this conflict hits close to home for a few reasons, and is tangentially related to some of the work I'm doing here.

A few things that stood out to me:

1) Racism (on both sides) between Chinese and blacks runs deeper and more fierce than many other Americans realize. Because virtually everyone in China belongs to the same race/ethnicity, many immigrants' only exposure to African Americans comes through word-of-mouth, media, etc. which tend to bias them against blacks. So when Chinese immigrants come to the US, they have these incredibly prejudicial ideas about African Americans: guns n' gangs, drugs, hookers, etc. My own neighborhood in College City is actually majority black with a substantial Chinese minority, and the street crime (muggings, shootings, car thefts) between these two groups is not insignificant. And anecdotally, given I have a lot of contact with Chinese immigrants (at an elite, hard-science-focused university), many of them truly are terrified of blacks. So it doesn't surprise me that this particular situation in Elmhurst has gotten so inflamed.

2) We have NO feasible, reliable solution for homelessness in the United States other than public and subsidized housing. NONE. If everyone in the country were able to go out and get a good job and put a down payment on a house in a safe neighborhood with good public schools and still have money left over for groceries and gas and utilities and clothes, they would do it. Homelessness is more complicated than that. So the rest of society doesn't have to like it, but they will have to put up with having shelters and housing projects in their cities, because that's all we've got. Nobody wants to live in a shelter, but they would rather live there than on the streets, especially when there are kids involved. And the fastest growing segment of the homeless population by far is families with kids, now comprising something like 40 percent of the entire homeless population. It's not all single male vets with schizophrenia. And these kids need roofs over their heads.

3) That being said, it is entirely possible that the government did target a predominantly immigrant neighborhood to put a relatively undesirable institution. That is also not fair, and the residents of Elmhurst should have had more say in the timing and design of this particular project. It is unlikely, for example, that you would see a homeless shelter open in a more affluent, primarily white neighborhood.

Ahem. Okay I'm done. Back to your regularly-scheduled programming.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cravings and Frustration

My craving for exercise has hit fast and hard this week. I don't know what changed, but it's killing me. I feel like I can't be a full person without pushing myself that way, breaking a sweat, getting stronger. I hate that I'm still having pain, this seemingly never-ending flare that started in late April after almost 6 pain-free months. I hate that I can't push my body to be what it could be; I don't mean in a sick, anorexic way, but in a healthy and strong way. I hate that I have the energy and the desire to push myself in a way that is healthy for 90% of the world, but not for me. I hate this.

I want to run and jump and pedal as hard as I can. Not to lose weight, just to feel. Don't know why it's hitting me so bad right now. Maybe I just need an outlet for all these powerful emotions I've been having off my meds. I'm sick of seeing other people run. I'm sick of sitting. I'm sick of pretending that walking or lifting or Pilates are enough. I'm sick of feeling sick and broken.

UGH. Hope this wasn't triggering. But it's truly killing me.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thawing

I've been off my antidepressant completely for a little over two weeks now. I know that many of you think that was ridiculously stupid and irresponsible, but it was my choice and I made it. Things may go to hell and I may spend the next however-many months regretting this, and if that's the case you are all free to point and laugh and say I TOLDJA SO, YOU BIG DUMB LOSER. But for now I've made my choice and that's that.

I don't want to make this a post about the pros/cons of psych meds. I think medication is a miraculous thing. My psychiatrist made a believer out of me after months and years of me refusing to take anything (see this post and this post). And in many ways, Celexa made me functional after crippling anxiety had turned me into this unstable, miserable, unrecognizable shell of myself. But I do want to write about some of the things I've noticed since the drug has gotten out of my system.

I've always heard people say that they felt "numb" on antidepressants, or couldn't feel anything, or were totally zoned out to their emotions. That was never my experience. What Celexa did for me was cause the underlying hum of panicky/obsessive thoughts to ease off. And that hum has reemerged a tad, although not unmanageably so. But what I've really noticed since coming off the drug is that I am feeling more. Not in a bad way; just deeply and more viscerally.

I find myself welling up with emotion more frequently. Again, not in a bad way. Mostly in a good way. Just intensely and meaningfully. Like I have so much capacity for emotion inside of me that has suddenly been awakened and needs an object.

For example: one of my old friends recently sent me a link to a violin recital I performed in high school, and I was completely overwhelmed. I forgot what it was like to have this purely artistic outlet. I forgot how much I loved it. There are videos of me playing all over YouTube so this wasn't anything new, and this particular performance wasn't anything special (intonation was a tad off...) but it struck me somewhere deep in my heart and my gut, and suddenly I couldn't imagine how I had survived the past four years without playing music. I forgot what it was like to have this creative, passionate pursuit that had no purpose other than providing beauty and joy.

Also: watching the World Cup, I couldn't make it through the national anthems (no matter who was playing....) without my eyes welling up and a giant lump forming in my throat. I couldn't watch teammates celebrate and hug and cry without instinctively wanting to reach out and hug them myself To put this in context, I DO NOT FOLLOW SOCCER. I pretty much had no idea who was who, which color went with which country, which players were stars, what counted as a foul, anything. In fact, I didn't even know the World Cup had started until about two weeks in. More importantly, I did not care. I had no skin in the game, no money on the outcome, no particular sense of national pride in the US team (although I did develop a liking for Brazil). But just seeing how much those guys cared made me care, and deeply. I realized that I wanted to care; I wanted to want something that badly, because that sense of intense, motivating emotion felt new and important and meaningful.

I had never thought Celexa made me numb, but now I'm wondering if it did. That's not to say it wasn't worth it, because that drug probably saved my life. But suddenly everything around me seems to have more meaning, and my emotions seem more powerful and physical.

Maybe I'm just bored. Maybe this is just what it is to be 23 and single and needing a hug, my whole adult life ahead of me without a clear idea of where I'm going. But something seems to have shifted in the past few weeks, and suddenly I feel awake, like I've remembered what it is to feel, and what it is to care. And now I want something to care about. I am realizing it's been a long time since I've felt truly passionate about something, and have been able to pour my emotions fully into something. For so long I've been thrashing and kicking just to keep my head above water; just to survive the day-to-day. I feel like this deeper, emotional part of me has been lying dormant, and I want it back.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Post-Anorexia Life

On my way home tonight I remembered I had nothing to make for dinner, so I stopped at the grocery store to pick something up. OH THE CHOICES! Plain baked chicken breast with naked veggies? Fat-free salt-free vegetarian soup? Low-cal Lean Cuisine???!?!

Nope. I left with a frozen pizza and a bottle of wine.

#progress

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fun Facts Redux

Because blogging is feeling kind of like a chore these days (it's not you, it's me!!!), I'm bringing back fun facts.

- My birthday is the day after Halloween, which is less fun than it sounds. When I was a kid, it inevitably meant dragging myself to school with a candy hangover.

- This just reminded me that I missed my blog's birthday for the third year in a row. My bad x 3. Happy belated birthday, blog.

source

- My parents are different races. This was a topic of minor consternation in the Catholic Church where they got married, but screw the haters, I say! Thirty years later and neither of them goes to church anymore but the marriage is rock-solid.

- To give you a further idea of how far from the church my parents have strayed, I had to ask my mom in 5th grade if the pope was Catholic because I had no clue. And my brother still thinks a Hail Mary is just a random name for a football play.

source

- Speaking of Big Bro B, we discovered this year that he paid more in income taxes than I earned from three jobs combined. At least I got all my taxes back while Big Bro paid close the maximum rate. SUCKER.

- I drink approximately 80-100 oz of water of day. Not sure if that is good or bad, but I am always thirsty and never feel right with less.

- I also drink 3 cups of coffee a day. Don't even try to stop me.

source

- I've explained to you my internal conflict over country music, and it is still a minor source of angst for me. Some of it is fun and cute, like Zac Brown Band and Keith Urban and some of Dierks Bentley. But I'm sorry, about 85% of the country songs on the radio sound exactly the same to me. Tan blue-eyed girls with some version of tight jeans/jean shorts/painted on jeans/cut-off jeans riding around in pickup trucks. Anyone have any good music suggestions? I'm more of a rock/alternative/folksy type. That being said, I'd listen to Taylor Swift all day long if that were socially acceptable at my age. And I'm ashamed of this from a feminist/progressive/human decency perspective, but I can't turn off "Talk Dirty to Me."

- I never watch soccer except during the World Cup. I got the fever! And this time around I was all FORÇA BRASIL!! I so wanted them to win!! Mostly because they were the hosts and the crowds were super fun, and I just loved Neymar, even with his stupid haircut. And then when he got hurt they were the underdogs, and I love a good underdog story! But alas. It's been a rough week.

the blonde curse
- Most mornings I wake up between 6:45-7 a.m. without an alarm. And then maybe once every couple of months, I'll randomly sleep until 9 or 10 and it is GLORIOUS.

And finally, a few of my current obsessions:
- Jimmy Fallon
- Jimmy Buffett
- cranberry juice (and I've never even had a UTI.... TMI? You decide)
- 2048
- the Bachelorette (again, I am ashamed. Feminists everywhere groaned collectively when she quit her job as a lawyer to "find love." But damn that show is addicting. #TeamNick)
- Denim shirts. I know, I just ragged on country singers for their jeans obsessions, but I got a new denim shirt earlier this year and I AM IN LOVE. It goes with everything. But at least I don't sing about it.

Wow, just went back to read my first Fun Facts post from over THREE years ago. I was such a spring chicken back then! Young and fresh and witty and delightful! And clearly I've only gotten better. KAYLEE OUT.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Midweek Updates

Busy busy busy. I think it's starting to catch up with me because I have been SO TIRED the last few days. Or maybe the holiday weekend just did me in, but I've been napping like crazy and just generally feeling exhausted. I also did come off my medication (AMA, I know..) and those weird brain zaps are totally killing me. I had a similar experience when I came off Effexor about 2.5 years ago, so at least I knew what to expect. And the Effexor withdrawal was way worse. Re the med issue - Dr. P is pushing me to get an appointment with my psychiatrist to try something else, but I'm feeling pretty spooked/slightly apathetic about meds right now and I keep putting it off. Dr. P pulled out her giant book of drugs last week and recommended I ask my psych about trying either a different SSRI (I've been on Zoloft already, so maybe Prozac) or Buspar. I wish I were less freaked out about this, but alas such is my brain. (Probably why I need to be medicated.)

PDR
I think - knockonwood - that my schedule should slow down a little after this week. My class ends tomorrow (THREE CHEERS) and I'll be finishing up my clinic hours by the end of next week. I'll still be working at my research job, and working independently on research with my advisor J, but overall my schedule should be a LOT more flexible. Although of course I'll be starting my next internship placement in early August. To the other graduate students out there: anyone remember when summer vacation was a thing? ME NEITHER.

Tonight is the first week night in about 3 weeks that I haven't been interviewing for the study I'm working on with J's colleague. Instead I have a group meeting for our class presentation tomorrow. Ugh boo gross I hate group projects. Yours truly does not work well with others. That being said, this project has been a slight joke so I'm not that worried, and I have two good friends in the group so mostly we just use Group Time to socialize.

obviously we wear lbds and drink cocktails during class

I'm reading another great book. You guys remember the Duke lacrosse rape scandal a few years ago? I was in high school at the time and didn't pay much attention, but I was definitely aware and definitely biased in terms of "OMG THOSE MONSTERS THAT POOR WOMAN #GUILTY #MENSUCK" based on what I read in the newspapers. Turns out there was much much more to the story. Any, the book below is incredibly well-researched and delves into the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that led to the case totally blowing up.

source

I'm only about 150 pages in so far (it's a big fat book) but it's intriguing.

Well, hope everyone's week is going well! More soon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tummy Toubles and Doctor Anxiety

Welp, I am lame and am currently out $125 for the key fiasco yesterday. They charged me for EVERYTHING - getting back in the building, replacement key, changed locks. I've really gotta stop doing dumb things, because that shiz is expensive. I promise you guys, I am so organized and I never lose stuff, especially not my keys. So, that sucked. Luckily I am getting paid on Friday, thank goodness because my bank account is totally in the red right now.

I think I need to see a doctor...tummy issues, ugh. BUT I am having major insecurity and anxiety issues about it. I used to see doctors all the time, likely probably at least twice a week between ED stuff, pain stuff, and eye stuff. Plus the occasional check-in with my psychiatrist (2-3 times per year) and gynecologist (1-2 times per year). But I really haven't seen many doctors at all lately, or at least not much in the past 6-7 months. And for some reason, I'm really super stressed out about it, like they're going to think I'm crazy and won't take me seriously. Also, I want to ask about the weight gain but I KNOW they're going to see the old anorexia diagnosis and just roll their eyes at me.

I scheduled an appointment at my campus health center for next week, after my class ends and things slow down a bit. And that gives me some time to cancel if I change my mind, which I shouldn't do, but I might. In the meantime, anyone got advice for an upset stomach? I've been having issues for over a year now, and my mom has been begging me to get checked out for a while, but somehow this got swept under the rug with everything else that was going on.

Hope everyone is getting back into the swing of things after a long weekend! Much love.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 4th Recap

Hope everyone had a wonderful July 4th weekend! Mine has been relatively great, which was a nice change given that my past two Independence Day weekends pretty much sucked due to pain and depression and general poor health. This year one of my old college friends invited me to a pool party at her grandmother's house, so I went there for a few hours before coming back into the city for festivities and fireworks with some of my friends. College City was a MADHOUSE Friday evening; they had concerts all day, and then the fireworks display at around 10pm. Luckily we could walk there from my apartment, because driving/parking would have been a nightmare. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I am SO GRATEFUL that even though I'm having some pain and have been pretty down about it these past couple months, I am still vastly better than I used to be, and was still able to walk there and back (a couple miles) with very little pain.

Happy 4th!

Yesterday I kept it pretty quiet - slept in, skipped working out because I was tired (this was HUGE for me), went grocery shopping, did some work, watched a lot of TV, and took a nap. It was kind of incredibly how relaxed I was about having such a relaxing day; normally that kind of thing would have stressed me out ("I'm not burning enough calories!" "I'm wasting time!" "I'm not accomplishing anything!") but I actually had an amazing, quiet, simple day. 

This was me, minus the hammock and beach

Today ended up being kind of stressful for unexpected reasons, but it was entirely my own fault and can't blame anyone else. My friend and I were going to meet up and walk/hang in the park near campus, but I somehow managed to lose my keys there. Yes, ALL my keys: car key, apartment building AND individual unit keys, and even my mailbox key. How did this happen, you ask? Well, the answer is that I have no fuckin' clue...I must have dropped them in the grass somewhere without noticing, although we scoured that park for about 2.5 hours looking (and I got a tad sunburnt in the process) but no such luck. So, I called my leasing company and had to have someone let me in = $25, and then tomorrow I'll have to go into the office get a new set of keys = $50. JOY. But like I said, it was me being a careless idiot and can blame no one but myself. I suppose on the bright side, I had my friend with me for moral support/entertainment so the entire ordeal was much less painful than it might have been.

So....that was my weekend. Mostly good with a random bout of panic thrown in. Hope everyone had a lovely holiday, and hope everyone outside the US had a lovely weekend!