Friday, October 30, 2015

Gotta Get Down on Friday

Strange few days here. I had an appointment with a GP at the campus health center the other day. I was in the middle of asking for a routine referral for my ophthalmologist when I promptly burst into tears and told her how freaking ANXIOUS and IRRATIONAL and HORRIBLE I've been feeling lately, and how overwhelmed I feel about having to wait so long for my appointment with the psychiatrist. Poor Dr. L took it like a champ, said all the right things, did her quick due diligence to make sure there wasn't any underlying medical issue causing it (doctors are obsessed with checking my thyroid function, it seems) and sent me on my way with prescriptions for Celexa and Ativan. I filled them right away and now have both pill bottles sitting in my bathroom cabinet. I haven't actually taken either of them yet, but somehow feel a little better just knowing they're there. Especially the Ativan, even though it scares the crap out of me a little.

Dr. P and I are back to weekly appointments after experimenting with every other week for a while over the summer. It's definitely what I need right now, since she is such a stabilizing/sane/supportive force for me. This morning I was definitely weepy/sniffly throughout my appointment but did—as I almost always do—feel better better afterward.

School stuff: I've randomly been interviewed by two different reporters in the past week. One was writing about some research I did last year, and another was asking me to comment on someone else's study as an "outside expert.". LOL. I was like: Hi sure okay but I think you're using the term 'expert' a tad loosely. I've also joined two new professional societies and registered for two conferences in the next six months. Very strange to have this academic/professional persona out there when it feels like my insides are crumbling.

The Boy and I have Date #4 tonight—it's our first meal, which feels like a milestone. Everyone pray for me.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Habitual Illness, Revisited

This column does a much better job of summarizing the study's findings than that New York Times article I posted last week. Thanks to everyone who provided feedback.

"Steinglass emphasizes that calling anorexia a "habit," such as a headline did in the New York Times, doesn’t capture the full story. It’s not just a habit, like biting your nails. Instead, she likes to think of the disorder as being supported by these entrenched routines that must be changed for recovery to occur."

Friday, October 23, 2015

More Anxiety, Weight Thoughts, and the Dating Game

The anxiety lifted a tad for a day or two, then re-descended again last night so, here I am again. Because my old psychiatrist no longer takes my insurance, I finally contacted the campus health center about seeing one of their psychiatrists....and unfortunately there are no openings until December. Which frankly does me no good, considering there's no way I can keep this up for another six weeks. They provided me a list of outside providers, which I'm going to send to Dr. P for a recommendation. And hope that one of them takes my insurance and has something sooner. In the meantime, I am debating starting to taper up on a leftover bottle of Celexa (when I e-mailed my old psychiatrist, she said this was perfectly safe), assuming it will take a few weeks to kick in anyway, but I want to make sure I have enough to last until my first appointment so I don't have to stop cold-turkey and experience the HORROR of SSRI-withdrawal brain zaps.

Anyway, Dr. P and I had another conversation about medication today—her assuring me that weight gain is extremely unlikely, me freaking out about weight-gain/everything, and both of us agreeing on the fact that there is something really screwy going on in my head right now.

Mostly unrelated: I had a doctor's appointment the other day (needed a referral to my ophthalmologist) and got weighed for the first time in a LONG time. *******Okay, so actually I just went back and checked—I stopped weighing myself in April 2014, a year and a half ago (interestingly, right around the same time I started to consider tapering off Celexa). Now, body image is not as horrible and urgent a problem as it used to be, though I do still worry about my weight. I just always assume I'm gaining (because how the heck could I not be getting unbelievably fat by eating healthfully and not restricting, right???). But whaddya know, my weight was basically the same as it was eighteen months ago, maybe even a couple pounds lower. And I just had this overwhelming sense of wow, maybe I don't have to be afraid of this anymore. Hard to describe. Also hard to believe that I feel this way about a weight double digits over what used to be my own self-imposed "highest weight I could ever tolerate without jumping off a cliff." Just for reference: I am currently at a BMI smack in the middle of the 'normal' range. Funny how that works out.

This dating thing is a rollercoaster, amiright ladies?? After the boy (he may get an initial soon...) and I had a great time last Saturday, we texted a couple times but then it dropped off so I was all like I MUST BE TOO UGLY FOR LOVE. But then on Wednesday night, he called. Like on the phone. I KNOW. Anyway, we're going out again on Saturday night. BE STILL, MY HEART.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Anxiety/Life Updates

Very grateful for all the anxiety advice. I'm still not doing great in that regard, but do feel a bit better about being able to name it for what it is, acknowledge the fact that I am not okay, and somewhat have a plan for moving forward. Dr. P is supposed to call me with a recommendation for a new psychiatrist, and in the meantime I am gong to e-mail my old one (she no longer takes my insurance, unfortunately) about either possibly seeing her on a sliding scale or getting a recommendation for someone new. I do like that she is so easy to contact via e-mail and is always willing to toss around ideas, go back over my records, and do some research on my behalf. Back a couple years ago when I was juggling several different doctors/medications, she actually got on the phone with another doctor who was giving me bad advice and told that loser what was up. I have a long memory for someone who goes to bat for me like that.

Anyway. I think the thing that is wearing on me the most about the anxiety right now is that things are going great. I love school, my classes are tough but engaging, I like my professors and my classmates, my advisor and I are tight as ever, we got two papers published in the last month, I just got accepted to present at a big conference in a couple months, and there's a new boy. And with all that, I just hate wasting all this time and energy feeling miserable. Yes I am paranoid about gaining weight on a medication, but I am more motivated to take this thing by the horns and get back to my old self. Life should be really good right now.

So yeah.....there's a boy! We've gone out twice now—both involving coffee, long walks, and talking for about five hours straight without coming up for air. He's a little shy which created major internal anguish, i.e. he didn't text me after the first date and I was feeling very insecure...I agonized for three days then decided to be brave and text him, which was all the prompting he needed to ask me out the second time! We are still taking our time and getting to know each other, but I am definitely in a place where I like hanging out with him, we get along great, and I can't wait to see him again :) Those are all good signs, right?

Alrighty folks, hope everyone has a great week. More soon.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Anxiety Breaking Point

So, I need to talk about anxiety. It is out of control. It is dominating my thoughts, my moods, my every decision, it's keeping me up at night, it's making me burst into tears ten times a day, it's screwing with my self esteem and future plans and whole life perspective. This is not okay. 

It is a very strange feeling to know that you are suffering from a wonky brain, to recognize fully and clearly that your thought patterns are insane, to understand the fact that this is a cognitive short-circuit.........and to still have fears and obsessions that feel one hundred percent real

At the moment it's mostly little health/body-related stuff (not weight, more like eye/skin/nerve pain/injury/etc.). I freak out anew about the same things every single day, even though nothing bad ever really happens and I can almost perceive these freak-outs as if watching from outside my own head. Very very bizarre. Yet still terrifying.

I have to assume some of this is latent school-/life changes-related stress manifesting as obsessions about physical stuff. But I truly don't feel that stressed about school. I feel a little lonely—just missing old friends, having a regular crew, and a roomie—and am wondering if that is maybe having a bigger impact on my mental health than I realize. No one to distract me when I get home at night and commence obsessing; it's just me and the four walls. Maybe that's taking a toll.

But man oh man this is anxiety like nothing I've ever experienced before. More persistent, more intense, and almost scarier in a way because it feels purely internal; I can sense that there is something very, very wrong in my head, and that terrifies me. And I just feel totally wrecked all.the.damn.time. For the past couple weeks I've had a constantly upset tummy, and sometimes my hands shake. And although I've never been a great sleeper, my current level of insomnia is OFF THE CHAIN. By Tuesday of this past week, I had probably not slept more than 3 hours since Friday, and was semi-nonfunctional (still somehow gave a presentation, took a quiz, and went on a date* though....). Since then I've been taking OTC sleeping pills and doing a little better, but definitely would not be able to do without them. So yeah, basically I feel like crap.

I know that medication needs to be back on the table. I know. And I'm at a point where I'm almost relieved to have the choice taken away from me; it's clear that I probably can't manage this the old fashioned way anymore.

Would love to hear any experiences dealing with anxiety. I am a disaster.

* More on the date later!

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Habitual Illness

I can't tell you how many times I've described my screwy, counterintuitive eating patterns as "habit" rather than straight up disorder, and apparently that's not uncommon among anorexics. Can anyone relate?

Anorexia May Be Habit, Not Willpower

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Real Updates, For Once

I realize it's been a while since I wrote a "real" post, like with actual details and updates on the happenings of my life. I am halfway through my first semester of PhD school and thus far I am enjoying my classes, hitting it off with my other cohort members, and working my butt off but feeling inspired. I'm glad to be getting down to the nitty-gritty of it—we had a proposal due this week and I'm giving a heavy duty theory presentation next week, so those are occupying the majority of my brainpower right now.

Mood- and sanity-wise I am getting about back to my baseline after a few rough weeks. My anxiety was extremely high for much of August and September, and it got interspersed with pockets of depression where I was crying constantly, totally low energy, buckling under a vague feeling of stress but not quite seeing the point of anything. It is a strange sensation to be entering this amazing, life-altering opportunity (a top doctoral program) surrounded by celebrity faculty and planning my future career while simultaneously feeling like life is a black hole. Anyway, just over the past couple weeks I've started feeling my moods stabilize, my mind center, and normal excitement/inspiration kick in.

I did muster up the will to call my old psychiatrist for an appointment only to discover that she no longer takes my insurance, and each visit would cost me $175 out of pocket. So, it looks like I'm in the market. But then almost as quickly as that all unfolded, I convinced myself I didn't need medication anymore. Will happily listen to alternate opinions on that.

YOU GUYS I HAVE A DATE. I met this guy a few weeks ago at some graduate student happy hour even thing and we totally hit it off, and then he friended me on Facebook and I WAITED AND WAITED AND WAITED for him to send me a message.* He finally did on Thursday—so we started chatting, and then I WAITED AND WAITED AND WAITED some more for him to ask me out. He was playing it so cool! He was like a stone-cold cucumber!! Literally I was sitting at home alone waiting for a boy to call.** But then he finally did!

Other randomness:
- Keep my mama bear in your thoughts! She's getting icky cataract surgery.
- Speaking of my badass mom, she sent me a Wonder Woman card in the mail with the message: "You are my Wonder Woman!" written inside. Everyone deserves a mother like that.
- I think, knock on wood, my stress fractured foot may finally be totally healed. Hasn't bothered me at all recently, despite abusing it a bit with too much walking.
- College City temperatures ranged from 48 to 86 degrees over the course of four days this week. I need more stability in my life.

Have a great weekend everyone, much love to you all.

*Yes, I know I could have messaged him first. I'm old-fashioned. SUE ME. 

**My mother is a strong, brave, badass feminist woman and raised me better than this.

Monday, October 5, 2015

"There is No Self"

"You are never the same once you have acquired the 
knowledge that there is no self that will not crumble."

- Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon

This is the most beautiful book. I've been up late devouring it the past two nights and I can't recommend it highly enough—whether you have experienced mental illness firsthand or know someone who has. Beautifully written, beautifully clear, beautifully compassionate.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Lots floating around in my head these days.
- what my ED status is
- what my weight is
- whether I should go back on an SSRI
- whether I am legitimately insane
- what my PhD research agenda will end up looking like
- whether my beloved advisor will get tenure
- how strapped financially I'll be this year/the next four years
- why I am about to turn 25 and it still feels like I have absolutely nothing figured out