Well it sure has been a ride, hasn't it? This year I had some of my highest highs and lowest lows, and just about everything in between. Entered my first (mostly) pain-free year since 2011, finished my first year of graduate school, dated for the first time since college, came off my medication, made some new friends, kicked some ass, got my ass kicked a little, and whatdyaknow, I'm still here.
I think it gives a really interesting, knowledgable, sensitive, nuanced perspective.
Depression has been on my mind more lately. I don't just mean I feel depressed, although that may be the case. I mean it's been on my mind in that I've been mulling over the nature of depression. Like, how much of it can I really control? How much is triggered by life happening around me, and how much is "just in my head"? How much of my constant ruminating about random shiz can be explained by wonky brain chemicals? How much of me is irrevocably fucked up at a chemical level? How much has this dark monster changed my actual personality? My ability to think clearly and form relationships and experience joy?
Oopsie daisies, didn't mean for this get quite so philosophical. Just been thinking a lot. I'll try to do a happier post soon. Much love, all.
Please? So I can stalk you on Facebook?
My Facebook page is private. Nice try. You may call me Kaylee, Kay, K, K-Lee, Oh-Kay-Doe-Kay, or K-doodle-bops. Take your pick.
How old are you now?
I am 24 and feeling insecure about getting old so leave me alone. The first thing my mom said when she called me up on my birthday last month was, "So, does this mean you're in your mid-twenties now?" EW BOO SHRIEK NO SHUT UP YOU ARE THE WORST MOTHER EVER I HATE YOU AND I NEVER ASKED TO BE BORN.
Are your feet really that weirdly big?
I mean, sort of. I'm 5'3" and I wear a size 8, which is just one size down from my mom, who is 5'5". Is that weird? Now you guys are making me insecure again.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Oh, you mean when I finish my never-ending education? When I have accumulated so many letters after my name that they won't fit on business cards and people start to assume I'm overcompensating for something? I probably want to either go into academia or do research for a think-tank.
Oh my God, so many. Bad breath, bad grammar, bad spelling, bad manners, bad drivers, stupidity, know-it-alls, hipsters, girls who wear leggings all the time instead of real pants, dudes who don't know how to tuck in a shirt, people who don't know how to recycle, people who pop their gum......should I go on? I realize these are not so much pet peeves as just me being judgmental, but sorry. This is what you get.
Biting my nails, weighing myself, being a freak.
Two in each earlobe and one in my left cartilage.
The obvious ones are school-related: my senior thesis, my college GPA, my current research.
But honestly? I'm more proud of this stuff: Ditching the scale. Gaining XX pounds and dealing. Surviving the last five years. It hasn't been easy.
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
Employed doing something I love, married with one or two kiddos, skinny at a healthy weight, no therapy, no medication, happy. A girl can dream, right?
I keep finding myself writing that things are "weird" or I feel "off" or "not right." I'm not doing great, but I can't decide if it's depression or anxiety or a combination or just a strange stress response that needs some time to work itself out. Right now it's mostly manifested as worrying about my weight; I'm so stressed out and frustrated and confused about it, I don't know what to do. Dr. P has been begging me to make at appointment at my campus health center for months to get bloodwork done, which I finally did the other day. Results came back yesterday morning: normal, normal, normal. The only exceptions were: elevated AST (liver enzyme), which for some reason is ALWAYS high, no idea why and no one'e ever been concerned about it, and a slightly low free T4 (e.g. right on the bottom number of the reference range). The doctor's only suggestion for my tiredness and constant hungriness was to do a sleep study. Um, no. Dr. P wanted me to push for a referral to an endocrinologist, but I chickened out.
Sometimes I dip into a deep valley of depression—like two nights ago, when the fear and anxiety and despair over my weight left me sobbing so hard I couldn't fall asleep for hours. And sometimes I settle into a place of okay-ness, like "this is what my body needs, things will normalize," etc etc etc; at those moments, my earlier meltdowns seem ridiculous. But most of the time, I'm stuck in this weird limbo phase that's hard to describe. I'm not full-on panicking or falling apart, but I'm not great either. If I let myself think about my weight too much I'll start to cry.
The only explanation I can think of is that my body is still, after over two years of eating a more normal amount of calories (though never a "weight gain" amount), regulating itself. My weight had started to settle in the summer/fall of 2013, but then the period of excessive running that winter/spring seemed to trigger another few pounds. I don't really know if that's the case, but it's the only explanation that really makes sense in my head. I've been driving myself nuts trying to figure out how to unify all the conflicting things I've heard and read and experienced. Sometimes I freak out that exercise will make me gain weight, and other times I freak out that I'm not exercising enough. Sometimes I think I'm eating too much, or too littler, or too many carbs, or not enough protein, or too few vegetables, or too much salt, or not enough water....and on and on and on.
Clearly there's nothing glaringly wrong, since my bloodwork is consistently normal. We've ruled out all the big scary stuff, which is good. That means there's nothing incurable. Right? I don't have an autoimmune disease, I don't have a thyroid disorder, and I don't have cancer. In the moments when I'm being rational and mature and thoughtful about this, I remember that I was underweight for a long long time and my body didn't know which way is up. That my body has survived anorexia, hormone deficiencies, chronic pain, and the eye saga. My body is traumatized. I am only 24. In the grand scheme of things, this has been a blip. A major, life-altering, incredibly difficult blip, but a blip all the same.
So the best things I can do are:
1) Eat healthfully
2) Exercise moderately
3) Don't obsess.
All easier said than done, right? Not promising it will happen. But I'm going to try. And this is all I have to go on.
Getting ready to head home to my parents' house for two weeks. I'm furiously folding laundry and shoving stuff into my suitcase tonight, plus calculating out how little sleep I'm actually going to get by setting my alarm for—wait for it—3:45 IN THE MORNING. My flight is at six, but the cab's coming at 4:30. I am counting on no lines at security that early.....because normal people fly during the daylight hours, right?
Ugh, I SO hate packing. Probably why I'm blogging right now instead of, you know, actually packing. Can I also add how much harder is it to pack in the winter? Like, how am I supposed to fit all my layers and sweaters and scarves and wool socks and boots and gloves into a carry-on? Because after six years of making this trip home, I refuse to check a bag at the airport.
Apparently I'm back to my clipartting ways
Anyways. This post is blatant procrastination/complaining. Sorry to be boring. I had a weird/frustrating/interesting day today, but no energy or time to get into it now. Let's just say it involved: therapy, my weight, me being a freak, a doctor's appointment, me driving in circles for hours, getting lost in downtown College City, me being a freak again, and a lot of pouring rain. Hope to update more tomorrow!
Sandwiches are totally bumming me out lately. I have probably eaten a sandwich for lunch every day for the past five years, and I'm over it. I had some time yesterday and decided to be a little creative (and anyone who knows me knows this is monumental....I hate cooking, food stresses me out, and I am the least creative cooker/eater in the world). Anyway, what I did was roast a bunch of veggies (brussels sprouts, onions, red peppers) and mixed them with chickpeas and some spices into a salad-type concoction. Verdict: not bad! I really do wish I could be a little more adventurous, and get my shit together enough to plan actual meals for lunch instead of the same ole same old all the time. So, maybe a positive first step.
Sleep. Or, more specifically, my magical hippie drug Somnapure. I've only ever been able to find it at CVS (I usually shop at Walgreens because it's closer, and that's where I fill all my prescriptions) but lately, they've been out of stock. I still think the Somnapure has helped with sleep, but lately I've been trying to ration it (it's expensive) by taking half a dose plus valerian root, which didn't seem to do much on its own but seems to work okay in this combination. Anyway, I recently ran out of Somnapure and haven't been able to find it at CVS so I switched to a different brand of "natural, drug-free" sleep aids - can't tell if it works yet. Hopefully yes, because it costs a little less!
Spring schedule. My schedule is going to be significantly different next semester. I'm only taking three classes instead of five (well, four classes plus two labs, which I rounded to five), but working more hours at my internship and doing more research. I think it should be a little less stressful, especially without the doctoral apps to worry about. Well, I suppose in the spring the rejections will start rolling in, so that will probably be pretty stressful...
Snapchat. I might be twelve years old. But I love Snapchat. I only really use it with a couple of my friends, and we literally can carry on these ridiculous snap conversations all day long. At the risk of trying to make Snapchat into something poetic, I feel like it makes me look at things differently. It's not just enough to send a little message, but I have to send a wacky face with it, or a shot of something to illustrate the point or be ironic or funny or whatever. And knowing the picture disappears makes me braver and more creative and less cautious (I mean not in a weird naked-pictures kind of way, get your minds out of the gutter. You guys are gross). Am I putting too much thought into this? Probably. But I do love Snapchat. Kids these days have all the fun. Shoes. I love clothes and shopping, but 1) I have no money and 2) I have crap body image, so clothes shopping gets complicated. But shoes are another story. I LOVE SHOES. For my birthday back in November, I asked my brother for a pair of flats to replace the pair he'd gotten me a couple years ago. I sent him links for two options, and told him to pick whichever. Well, he forgot and I never got a birthday present from him—until last night, that is. To make up for being six weeks late, he bought me both.
You guys like?
SERIAL.I AM OBSESSED. I've never listened to podcasts before, and this was an amazing introduction. From the first minutes of the first episode, I was totally hooked. I am a total newbie to this podcast thing—are there other series like this out there? Must investigate. This could be life-changing.
You guys like my pics? It is a new thing I'm trying - Kaylee the Photographer instead of Kaylee the Clipart Finder. But if you are worried this will turn into a food blog, ha. That will not happen.
The number one sign that I'm struggling is that I isolate. I've always been more of a homebody than not, but when I'm doing well and feeling good about myself, that shifts: I go out more, I want to be around friends constantly, I get adventurous and excited and eager to do things outside the norm. And when things are rough, I hide out at home. I cry. I watch a lot of TV to get away from my thoughts. I listen to a lot of music to drown out the bad stuff. And then I close my laptop, take out the headphones, and realize how alone I am. The fact that my lonely/depressed cycle is self-perpetuating is not lost on me.
So, I am trying. I went out with friends last night. Last weekend when I was feeling so horrible, I forced myself to go to the office holiday party on Friday night and invited some friends over Saturday night. When another friend texted me with a spontaneous dinner invite yesterday, I went despite feeling fat and stressed. Tonight my college bestie is coming into town to get dinner and hang and keep me company for a night on her way home for Christmas. I've already started lining up stuff to do this weekend, although a lot of people have left town. Basically it feels like my brain needs major stimulation and uplifting right now, and too much alone time would not be good.
Dr. P and I talked a lot about depression today. About how it comes and goes, and is affected by external factors but also has biochemical causes that we don't really understand. About how medication might need to be back on the table.
Right now I am 100% resistant to meds. I still don't trust that Celexa didn't have something to do with my weight gain (although that was not the only reason I came off) and am totally spooked to go back on something. True, I have been in a major rut lately - one that has lasted longer than my usual PMS-related bouts of moodiness. True, depression has chemical underpinnings. True, Celexa was helpful with anxiety in the past. But it was never super helpful for depression, and I went through some of my absolute darkest moments while on medication. So, definitely not ready to try again.
Instead, I'm trying the old-fashioned way. I'm making plans with friends left and right. although it feels completely counter-intuitive. I am trying to have as many positive interactions with people as possible; I had a long conversation with a woman in my office who I don't know very well. I struck up a conversation with the cashier at the coffee shop I visit every day. I have been texting and Snapchatting and e-mailing nonstop, just to keep myself from feeling alone. And now I'm blogging.
Anyway, I guess the point of this was to say that I am still really struggling, but I also feel like I'm doing everything in my power to keep my head above water, to stay social and engaged and busy in the hopes that maybe I can pull myself out of this one. Totally white-knuckling it right now. It doesn't come naturally to me to reach out and try to have fun when I'm feeling down, and I'm pretty proud of myself for trying. I'm also consistently amazed at how much it can help.
The grouchiness has subsided a tad. I was feeling really down and sad this weekend....I had no plans Saturday night, but decided that was a recipe for even more sadness and loneliness, so I had a few girlfriends over to open a bottle of wine and complain - which was EXACTLY what I needed. Then on Sunday I did a big apartment cleaning, two loads of laundry, and worked on campus with one my best friends for a few hours in the evening. So, I'm feeling a little better I guess.
I just turned in my final paper and gave my final presentation for my last remaining class of the semester - which means I am DONE with schoolwork until January, and officially have just ONE semester left of my Masters. I am trying to take a moment and reflect on what a freaking HUGE accomplishment it has been to survive this semester, which was by far my busiest, craziest, most demanding and stressful semester of graduate school - maybe even ever. Trying to focus on that, and to be really proud of myself rather than just moving on to worrying about the next thing.
Well, I started off this post planning for it to be a relatively cheerful one, but now I don't know. I can't explain why I'm feeling so weirdly down and mopey these days. Maybe it's a bit of a letdown after the high of working so hard and going full-throttle for so long. It just seems like the little stuff is getting to me more. I'm ruminating on several things that have either happened or been said recently. I feel off and unsettled and not, like, content or at peace or comfortable at all. Basically I could burst into tears at any moment, and there's nothing really specific abut it other than a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and in the end it all adds up and is weighing so heavily on me that I can't manage.
I do not want to admit to myself that maybe this is just depression creeping back in. That it is a relapsing condition and maybe I'm just due for another crash. That maybe I really do need to be on medication, and there's nothing I can do about it.
This isn't making sense at all. Sorry. I'm going to cry for a little bit, and maybe then I'll be able to think more clearly.
I didn't expect this to affect me so much, but I am still super upset about the conversation my mom and I had a few days ago. I had just gotten through updating her on a bunch of school/research-related stuff, and then I mentioned some of the conflict I've been having about guys recently. Basically she made a few comments implying that (1) I'm being too picky and should stop "stringing guys along" and (2) I would be better off with a boyfriend.
I'm fairly certain she didn't it that harshly, but that's how it came across. Can you say INVALIDATING? I have been working my butt off trying to hack the school/work/research/life/recovery thing, and all she cares about is my love life? I tried to be subtly firm about the fact that having a boyfriend is not a priority at the moment, and while it would be nice, I'm doing a-okay on my own right now. After the several years of total physical and emotional turmoil, that in itself is a pretty huge accomplishment.
So, I'm not really sure what she thought her comments would accomplish other than to make me feel bad about myself. Yes of course it would be nice to have someone. And I'm already kind of insecure that I don't, and sometimes I am super lonely and wish I had a better support system. But I'm also doing okay.
I think my mom still just doesn't quite get how busy and stressful and complicated my life actually is. I think she also doesn't quite get how hard some of the simple stuff still is for me: eating three square meals, balancing the exercise piece, coping with my weight and the constant anxiety about pain and my eyes and other health issues. I mean, I am literally still obsessing and worrying about this stuff constantly. And you know what, that is a huge energy drain. I don't feel like a normal twenty-something; I still feel a little shell-shocked by all that has happened over the past 4-5 years, like I'm still dusting myself off and getting back on my feet.
It just hurts my feelings to think that she can't acknowledge how hard I'm working. For me, getting through each day with my health and emotionally state intact is enough. I'm doing consistently well, after several years of being unequivocally unwell. For now, that has to be enough.
My mom and I are super close and we NEVER fight, so this stung pretty bad. I've responded the mature way by refusing to call or text her since. And now I'm just feeing more lonely and lost than ever.
Not sure why this hit so hard, but I'm struggling.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the beautiful words on my last post. I've been having a rough go of it recently, feeling really defeated and lonely—but I literally cried reading your comments because I felt so loved and supported. This is why I blog. You are all the wonderful, wise big sisters I never had.
I told you I was feeling grouchy. I don't know if it's the culmination of a lot of niggling little things that have happened lately eating away at me, or if I'm just going through something weird, or the conversation with my mom that just happened in which she managed to make me feel 100% horrible about myself, but ugh. I am totally frustrated and angry and sad right now. Lotsa tears. These are the times when I really feel like my support system is lacking, because there is really no one I feel okay talking to about the stuff going through my head right now. These are also the times when I wonder, Am I totally fucked up? Or are these normal emotions? Sometimes I worry that because I've spent the last several years ill with an eating disorder, my brain hasn't caught up with the changes that happen to normal people between the ages of 19 and 24. And sometimes I worry that I worry too much, and that is why I can't just be normal and happy and okay.
Ugh, I am SO CRANKY. Having one of those days/weeks where everything and everyone is totally getting on my nerves. My friends, my mom, my classes, my job, my co-workers, EVERYTHING. Maybe this is just the culmination of a long, horribly stressful, exhausting, crazy semester finally coming to a head. I have a few things left for my classes, but then I'm just taking advantage of not having class to put in long hours at both my jobs. So as usual, my vacation is not really a vacation. Basically I am just stressed and frustrated and everyone around me is driving me insane and I don't know what I want except to be left alone. I feel like I can't relate to anyone around me and everyone is on a mission to irritate and demoralize me. At this point I just want to burrow under my covers with a book and a cup of coffee and have zero responsibilities for a long long time.
I have lots to vent about, but most of it is too convoluted to explain so I'll just skip it. I mentioned that I was reading this great book about cancer - even though I don't really have any particular vested interest, it is a really amazing read. I'm not done yet because I got busy and stopped reading for a couple weeks, but I'm getting back into it. You would think it'd be kind of dry for a non-medical person - the history of cancer research - but it's actually fascinating and once I start reading, I can't put it down. My winter break reading list is already a mile long and I cannot WAIT to have free time again.
Anyway speaking of cancer - I stopped by J's office to chat this morning, and found out that his own mentor from graduate school is very very sick, basically dying of colon cancer that had metastasized. So that's really sad.
Random example of people SUCKING: Someone left a post-it on my car in our building lot asking me to "park in the right place." Ha, um, we don't have assigned spots sooo...not sure wtf that is about. Upon receiving said note, I have continued to park wherever the fuck I want.
I need coffee. Or maybe some alcohol. And a punching bag.
I had therapy this morning after having last week off for Thanksgiving. Have I mentioned how much I love my therapist? I came close to giving up on therapy a couple of years ago after things with Dr. R came to a moderatelydisastrous end, and then I almost got stuck with this meanie, and then I found my beloved Dr. P. Sometimes I find myself questioning the value or purpose of therapy, and then Dr. P goes and does her amazing thing and I can't imagine not having her around.
Anyway, today we talked about some of my appetite frustrations. Aside from just being a sympathetic ear, she had a few suggestions and overall managed to make me feel a little better about the whole thing. Basically it comes down to challenging some of my food rules and rituals: experimenting with truly eating according to hunger instead of waiting two hours with a growly stomach until my self-appointed "dinner time," mixing up my portions and food choices, and allowing myself to incorporate extra, unlimited amounts of "free foods" that I don't normally include in my calorie count—stuff like celery sticks, baby carrots, blueberries, etc. The idea being that maybe if I really try honoring my hunger whenever it emerges, my body will get better at trusting me. I haven't one hundred percent committed to any big changes just yet, but I'll keep ya posted.
Besides all that, I got one of my final presentations out of the way this afternoon. And guess who got an A? OH JUST ME. Although it was kind of expected, because the professor is my advisor J and we're tight. It's nice to cross that off my list thought. Plus, I always appreciate the opportunity to practice public speaking and giving presentations; it is definitely a skill I will need for my future school/life plans, and I'm not great at it.
So, a great Thursday all around. I am off to pour myself a glass of wine and curl up in front of Homeland.
Back in College City after a nice Thanksgiving weekend at home. Still frustrated with myself and my body, but feeling a little better about stuff. It is Day 3 of my period (tmi? sorry) so I'm past the worst of the crampy part but still hella emotional. Lots of random bursting into tears. I cry when I read anything about Ferguson. I cried (discreetly) when someone in my class gave a presentation on child abuse. I'm reading a book about cancer by an oncologist, and I cry whenever one of his patients dies. #tearsfordays
Anyways. Other than that I'm fine. My semester is starting to wind down - at least in terms of classes. I still have two presentation and two papers to get through, but surprisingly feel pretty okay about them. My presentation for tomorrow is basically done, I just need to do a few practice runs. My paper due next Monday is mostly done. My paper due next Thursday is not started, but I'm not too worried about it. My other paper and presentation are due the following Monday, so I haven't really thought about them yet...
Most importantly, all my PhD applications are submitted! My advisor tested my anxiety-management skills by waiting until THE DAY BEFORE THE DEADLINE to submit his letter of recommendation, but he did indeed submit it and all is well. I can't believe that December 1 deadline, which had been hanging over my head for SO long, has finally passed.
This semester was unbelievably stressful and I'm definitely happy it's ending, but I also think I've learned and grown a lot since August. I am trying to reflect a little bit on that, and be proud and happy with myself rather than just trucking along, never feeling quite adequate. My spring semester should be substantially lighter in terms of coursework, although my research project will probably intensify and I'll be spending more hours at my internship, so I will probably stay about as busy as I am now. Eventually (assuming I get accepted anywhere.....) I'll also have to do some traveling to visit other schools and make a decision about where to head next, but I can't worry about all that just yet.
I just booked planed tickets home for a full two weeks starting December 23, which is the longest vacation I've taken in a few years. I am planning to eat and sleep a lot, not overexercise, and enjoy my family as much as possible.