Thursday, March 26, 2015

Decision Angst Part 2, Pumping Iron, and Books

Well shit, life is happening. Just got another piece of the puzzle that has made my PhD decision infinitely harder, and I'm right back here again. The stakes are higher this time, given that it's 4-5 years instead of just 2 like my masters, and that once I'm done I'll be, you know, a grown up and have to actually go on the job market.

So, obsessing about that has taken up the past 24 hours, but I had good conversations with Dr. P, advisor J, and Mama Bear the Wise that all helped. Will try to refrain from filling this blog with decision angst for the next two weeks.

In other news: I've gotten back into strength training lately. I had a minor minor pain scare a couple weeks ago and gave myself a firm talking-to about the running cannot get out of control again, and how wouldn't it be exciting to see if I could actually get strong? Not running-for-miles-on-no-food-look-how-stoic-I-am strong, but actually literally feel-my-biceps strong? So I've been swallowing my pride and pumping away on the baby dumbbells at the gym, doing my best to ignore the meatheads who try to intimidate me with their swagger. RAWR

And this is random but I have started reading novels again. I went probably a year at least without reading fiction; I would only read current events, history, pop-science/psych, or cultural commentary-type stuff. Given my grad program and the topic of my research, fiction just started to seem kind of trivial and stupid. (Yes, this is coming from a former English literature major....). Anyway, I recently got back into reading novels and OHMYGOD what was I thinking?!??! I love fiction. I've read three books in the past week and a half or so (it averages to something like a hundred pages a day). Highly recommend both of these:

- Americanah by Chimamandah Ngozi Adichie (took me three tries to spell that right...) - Smart, funny, timely, awesome. I know it's fiction but I want to be friends with this girl! So cool.

- Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston - This one made me cry. Books never make me cry! Except The Fault in Our Stars but that one cheated because cancer.

Otherwise I'm working my tail off in school, work, and research. Still keepin' on keepin' on. Much love to you all.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Takeaways and the Time Factor

You guys are AMAZING. I don't know why I suddenly felt so alone and so desperate for some perspective, but this has helped tremendously. I have lots of thoughts about your many wonderful suggestions and inspiration and not a ton of time to get it all down, but I guess the main takeaways for me were:

1) Mixing it up - in food choices, exercise, routines, etc. to break out of those disordered "ruts"

2) Having a really strong support system, and actually using it


4) Maybe I should get a dog

And ultimately, that this shit takes TIME. One of you (Hi E!) wrote: "I am still actively figuring all this out (despite having been weight-restored for >3 years!!!)" I know Laura worked with her dietitian for 8 years, and one reader e-mailed me that she started counting calories in elementary school (probably 20-ish years ago?), has been out of formal treatment for a few years now, and YET: "I am wholly un-disordered in my behaviors, but I have in the past weeks acutely missed being thin." It's scary how that statement can sound 100 percent nuts to me but somehow also make perfect sense.

I am feeling this weird combo of relief that I'm not alone/there is not something fundamentally fucked and un-recoverable about me, mixed with total deflation about the fact that there are so many of us smart, grown-up, insightful women fumbling through this.

Anyway. Still mulling it all over, but many many thanks to those who shared. Much love to you all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tell Me

I am in need of some anti-ED inspiration right now. I want to know your recovery stories - what you tried, what worked, what didn't work, what set you back, what sucked ballz but ended up helping in the end. Is anyone else addicted to calorie [or insert: fat, protein, carb] counting? Or was addicted but managed to quit? Did people exercise in recovery? Did you find a way to feel "healthy" without exercise? Did you weigh yourself? Did you discover something new about food/weight/scales/calories/working out/life? Something new about yourself? Did you "outgrow" your eating disorder, or did it take grasping and clawing and blood, sweat, and tears? Was it a BIG MOMENT or a slow unfolding?

Literally anything. I do not care if your recovery took six weeks or six years or sixteen years or if you're still in the thick of it. E-mail me if you don't want to post. I just want to not feel as stuck and bored and alone as I do with this beast right now.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Appetite Musings, Take 2

My appetite is puzzling me (again) lately - I seem to be randomly starving all the time, even with upping my calories a little bit and trying to eat more meat. My meat intake had unintentionally gotten really low—mostly because it's expensive and I hate touching raw meat, not for any ED reasons. But I've been consciously trying to eat more of it lately because I think it fills me up better... Anyway, that was a tangent but my point, in spite of deliberately upping my protein, I'm still so hungry all the time. This morning I woke up to my stomach growling....made myself go running anyway, ate my usual breakfast, and then was starving within two hours. Like, legitimately starving, with my stomach growling and my mind getting fuzzy. So I ate lunch (scrambled eggs with cheese and a side of roasted cauliflower - not typical, but I'm on spring break) and now, about half an hour later, my stomach is still rumbling! I am on my period, which sometimes seems to increase my appetite, but not consistently and not usually this intensely. I've also started weight lifting again in the past few weeks, and I do notice that my appetite is OUTTA CONTROL on the days I lift, even though I always assume weight training burns far fewer calories than running or biking. Yet somehow on the days I lift for 20 minutes (and I do not lift particularly heavy....) my usual intake leaves me weak and dizzy with my stomach roaring ferociously. It's a bit of a mindfuck.

It's a bit demoralizing that still, after this long, I cannot figure out my appetite, cannot follow hunger cues to save my life, do not even really trust my own hunger cues, and have to find a million reasons to "justify" eating instead of just fucking EATING.

Bizarre, shameful, and a bit surreal that I am writing a blog post about how I can't feed myself as I am sitting here at my kitchen table, putting the finishing touches on my master's thesis.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Feeling Validated (and the N is out)

I know I've been quiet lately. No real reason for it—things are mostly pretty good. I'm busy, tired, excited, confused, and life is complicated. Such is being 24, no? I've gotten more good news about PhD stuff, which is wonderful and exciting and validating, but also makes this decision immensely more complicated. I think I do know in my heart where I will most likely end up, but I have no doubts that my mind will have to go a few brutal rounds in the ring before it gets there.

The weather is finally turning nice around here and it seems to have had a pretty positive effect on my mood. I just feel okay these days. Not freaking out (too much) about stuff, and looking forward to what's ahead. Probably because the end of my masters is in sight (along with the ridiculous work schedule and unsatisfying internship placement), and I've got some really promising things in my future.

I had a follow-up conversation with the N last week. Remember how our last conversation was pretty useful and informative and made me feel good about things? Well, this one took a total 180 - it was as DISASTER. As in, unhelpful to the point of being upsetting. I've handled it better than expected, but this has unfortunately only served to confirm my general belief that dietitians know a lot less than they think they do and are generally useless. My lifetime dietitian count is now up to four, and only one of them (the first one, interestingly) has been remotely helpful. At least two (counting this most recent one) have been actively harmful. I know some people have found dietary appointments to be life-saving in their ED recoveries, but my experiences have turned out to be almost universally negative. So, count me out.

But despite that little fiasco, I really doing pretty well. Maybe al the good news on the academic front is really making it sink in that the food/weight stuff truly DOES NOT MATTER, and is totally not worth my time anymore. It's nice to get some validation for all the hard work I've put in these past two years, and to feel like it was really worth something. As I said, I've got an agonizing decision to make, but in the end I know I'll end up in the right place and have the chance to be successful.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"All the Space in My Brain"

I am not diagnosing this woman with an eating disorder.....but damn this is what it looks like inside my head sometimes.

                                                  Yann Kebbi

"I know how cloying it is to hear a thin person grumble about the roll in her stomach. But my relationship to my body remains fraught: I still find fullness depressing, hunger uplifting, weight-gain depressing, weight-loss uplifting. The more of me there is, the worse I feel. [...] Here’s a longstanding habit of mine: In response to depression, I diet. I starve out the darkness, replace it with numbers — calories, pounds, sizes, inches. Those numbers keep me busy. They occupy all the space in my brain."

P.S. Don't read the comments. Most are remarkably ignorant.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Updates and Tidbits

Getting back into the swing of things since wrapping up my PhD visits. I have one more phone interview with a professor next week and then possibly a campus visit to that school if I get in, but it'll be lower-pressure/less formal. I'm still feeling pretty wiped out, which is inconvenient more than anything else, as I have SO much to catch up on. I am juggling about five different projects for my advisor right now (seriously, we don't hear anything about our journal submissions for six months and then ALL OF A SUDDEN everyone sends out revisions at the same time, with a three-week turnaround). Plus, we are giving a talk in an undergrad class this afternoon on a project I presented at a conference last fall. Oh and I  have an exam tonight. Next week is our spring break, which doesn't mean a whole lot for my schedule (most of my time is spent in work/research rather than class) but is still a nice change of pace.

Other tidbits:

- I saw Fifty Shades of Grey a couple weeks ago. It was extremely poor. And boring. Yet somehow also disturbing. And offensive. It's complicated.

- I'll be following up with the N in a couple hours. There haven't been any major changes in my hunger levels, energy, weight etc. but I do think it has helped my mindset to focus more on expanding variety rather than my typical calorie-related tunnel-vision. Turns out I really love hamburgers. And Raisin Bran. And cashews. And that pairing an apple with a cheese stick makes it actually worth it, because it doesn't leave my stomach twisting and churning with hunger after ten minutes.

- Can you guys believe it's March? I can't. 

- My typical sleep schedule is about midnight to 6:30-6:45 a.m., but lately I've been doing more like 10:30 p.m. to 7:30 or 8 a.m. On Saturday morning I slept until 9, which is unheard of for me. But apparently I'm tired, and I'm not gonna fight it.

- Carly Ray Jepson has a new song. It's no Call Me Maybe, but I can get on board.

- College City is going to be 50 degrees and rainy today, and 20 degrees and snowy tomorrow. Why?

- I had my nails painted Toasted Almond for about a month, and then abruptly peeled it all off in a moment of pre-interview anxiety. So my nails have been naked ever since and I can't decide what color I want them to be next. #problemz

- I am graduating in two months. I AM SO READY.