Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Intentional Acting

14358754_10101428559527125_201134823500979566_nThis time of year is always difficult for me.  I have come to accept that life in general will be  . . . interesting during the winter months.  This year, however, I made some changes to my routine to make sure this would be a successful winter.

DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and I agree on most things, but not so much on a few things.  I have learned a significant amount about taking care of myself, however.  A relatively new concept if you look at my life as a whole.  This year, I decided that, above all else, I would make sure I went to bed and woke up on a regular schedule.  This meant saying “the world won’t end if I don’t finish grading these papers tonight” and asking “you already know how to stay in bed for 24 consecutive hours, so how about we try something new?”  I’m not saying it was easy to maintain a regular sleep schedule; it took a hell of a lot of self-talk/self-lectures on a daily basis, and I certainly didn’t have a 100% success rate.  But I tried another new concept out this year by not shaming myself with negative self-talk when my day was less than perfect.

Not feeling guilty is actually more difficult for me than maintaining a good sleep schedule.

Healthy sleep habits definitely helped, but so did healthy exercise habits.  I said at the beginning of the winter that I wasn’t even going to go into the season with the intention of walking every day.  I hate the cold.  I hate the cold wind.  And I hate snow.  Going out for a slow walk was just not going to happen in upstate New York.  It was easier when I was able to run.  Then, just knowing the endorphin high was coming was enough to get me outside and exercising.

This year, I told myself I would try to maintain a regular yoga practice, along with my regular meditation practice.  My daily sitting practice went by unscathed.  However, there were many many many days when I just couldn’t make myself do yoga, or even do some simple stretches while watching television.  But–this winter I didn’t lecture myself about how bad it is not to exercise.  Turns out, guilt isn’t such a great motivator.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I found myself thinking, “It’s winter.  Just chill out and watch more Bones reruns.”  It was the end of winter and I didn’t feel like showing up at work, let alone exercising by myself at home.  And I’d just continue to sit there and read or knit.  And even without any self-lectures, I’d feel worse.  Mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Then I remembered another DBT skill: Acting Opposite.  I wanted to curl up in bed after going to work, not because I was enjoying a good nap that would be refreshing, but because I didn’t feel like dealing with the world.  Or my mind.  So I intentionally (a big mindfulness concept) decided to start (restart? revisit?  continue?) a daily yoga practice–with gentleness.  I started off with a few slow sun salutations–they only took a few minutes.  But I was okay with “just” doing a few minutes of yoga.  Each day, I added one more pose to my sequence.  I didn’t automatically just add on the next pose in the ashtanga series; I thought about what would feel good for my body and went with it.

So for part of the winter, I let myself sit and do nothing, exercise-wise.  For the rest of the season, I chose to challenge my depressive habits.  But in each case, I had to do so in a balanced fashion.  I had to listen to what was right for me in that given moment.  And I had to learn how to forgive myself.  These concepts of acceptance and forgiveness and gentleness are still new habits for me, and don’t come naturally.  But–I am discovering that, overall, I feel better when I choose to practice them.  My body and my mind thank me.

March 16, 2017 Posted by | bipolar disorder, Body Image, Communication, coping, depression, Eating Disorders, faith, feelings, guilt, health, heart, mindfulness, progress, recovery, shame, therapy, treatment | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crocodile Scuba Leggings

I now own a pair of crocodile embossed scuba leggings.  Why they are “scuba” leggings I don’t know, because I’m pretty sure I can’t scuba dive with these pants.  In fact, I don’t really want to go scuba diving at all.

But.  There is an actual point to crocodile pants.

I remember growing up and purposefully not wearing clothes that would draw any attention to my body.  I loved competing growing up, but I dreaded the moment when I had to step up on the starting block in my bathing suit.  Or take off my warm-ups and warmup for the long and triple jump.  This only got worse when I went to college and the uniforms were made of even less material.  Once I actually stepped on the runway for an actual jump, all fears and thoughts drained from my head as I focused on the take-off line.  At that point, nothing else in the world mattered.

So, I was not one to go out to clubs in skirts that barely covered my underwear or shirts that showed off  my midsection whenever I raised my hands. I even felt uncomfortable wearing boot cut jeans, since they were too tight.  I wore baggy jeans, and I felt most comfortable with a long-sleeved shirt that I could pull down around my hands.  This new trend of clothes that have thumb holes is like a dream come true.

It’s been a relatively recent development for me to wear clothes that actually attract attention to my body.  When I taught yoga, I wore boot cut leggings and a tanktop because people did look at me to demonstrate certain poses.  But I figured people didn’t really come to yoga class to stare at me in lust.  (I really hope that’s true!)  In the early stages of recovery, I still wore clothes that either hid my shape entirely or only suggested there were curves underneath the clothes.  Maybe.

When I began teaching, I was nervous as hell.  Professional clothes, while not purposefully sexy, were not all that baggy and loose.  But as I began to teach more, I realized the students probably didn’t give a damn about my outfits, especially at 8 am.  I bet some of them didn’t give a damn about writing, either.

And now?  I’ll wear bootcut slimming jeans and a slightly form fitting top.  And then all of these leggings and jeggings and skinny jeans lit up the fashion scene.  I have to admit, leggings are quite comfortable, especially on those days I curl up and read and write all day.  I began wearing them to the grocery store to pick up milk–but I put a big baggy sweatshirt over them.  Gradually, I have tapered that big sweatshirt to nice slightly form fitting shirts.  (Still long enough to cover my midsection, however.  And no shirts with sexual innuendos splayed across my chest.)

For Christmas, my sister-in-law got me these scuba leggings, a tanktop and a sweater to match–an outfit that does not scream “Come have sex with me” but  does invite people to look at me.  My initial reaction was that I could never wear the entire outfit at once.  Then, I tried everything on.  And looked in the mirror.  And liked what I saw.  I looked good. I turned and looked at myself from various angles.  And thought, “people might look at me.”  And then thought, “I’m okay with this.”

My form being seen by other people.  Because of my own choices.

I may not go to some hot club with loud music and bodies bumping into each other while wearing this outfit (because I can’t stand crowded places or loud noises or lots of strangers around me).  But, I can wear this out when I meet friends for coffee or lunch or dinner.

And if people look in my direction?  I probably won’t notice, because I never notice.  But I can still go up to the counter and get a refill and go back to my table without attempting to pull my top down to my knees.

It has taken 37 years, but I can now honestly say that I am okay with my body, and I’m okay with people seeing said body. All those Body Image Art Therapy sessions at SP that I used to dread and try to skip–they’ve finally paid off.  Yes.  I’m admitting the benefits of doing a body tracing.  I am larger, softer, and healthier than I have ever been, and I’m proud of this, and if someone doesn’t approve of my shape?  Well, I’m not hear to get their approval.  I’m here to get my own approval.  I’ve worked hard and long to get my approval, and it doesn’t matter what I wear, I will still have that approval.

December 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everyday choices

Everyday by Toby Lightman

A friend posted on FB that recovery is harder than the eating disorder.

I completely agree.

While I was sick, I avoided life by starving myself into a shell of a human being.  Emotions?  Starved them away, too.  Stress, anxiety–gone.  My eating disorder was an automatic barrier between me and almost any other being since it can be awkward to know what to say to someone with an eating disorder; it’s easier to not say anything at all.  I avoided people; people avoided me.  I didn’t really have to make choices while I was sick.  All choices revolved around whether or not I should eat something.  Not eating allowed me to numb out, and life scared the shit out of me.  So my choice seemed rather obvious at the time.

Then there was that day that someone entered my life and made me realize I could not die.  So I had to find a way to live, if not for me, then for him.  Then came the day that I decided if I was going to stay alive, I was going to live and not just survive or ‘get by.’  So I chose recovery.  And I thought that would be it.  Recovery would appear, or happen.  I don’t know.  Something magical would transform me if I followed the right meal plan and really stuck with it.

The initial step of choosing recovery was only the beginning step.  A necessary step, a scary step, and a small step–but it was the step that changed my life.  Except it threw me into life in a way I hadn’t expected.  All of a sudden, I didn’t have the eating disorder to fall back on, to keep me safe.  I had to deal with emotions as they flooded into my system.  I had to communicate with people I had tried to avoid for so long.  Daily choices completely overwhelmed me.  Obvious decisions were the “do I eat this?” or “do I weigh myself today?” or “do I go on a two-hour run today?” questions.  Then there were these smaller, more subtle questions that came along.  “How does this person make me feel about myself?”  “Is it worth it–going to this party?”  “I like this outfit, but should I wear it?”  “Do I need a two-hour run or do I just want the endorphin rush that makes me numb?”  “Do I really feel like feeling?”  “Wouldn’t it be easier just to not eat?

Yes.  It would have been easier to just not eat or to over-exercise to the point of pain.

Yes, eight years later I still have days when I think, “It would be easier if I didn’t have to go through this.”

Life is harder than the eating disorder.  Life is not black and white (do I eat or don’t I eat?) but is filled with greys.  Issues that must be faced like body image, childhood trauma, self-worth, the purpose of life, faith, relationships.  These are things that every single person must deal with on a daily basis, even if they never had an eating disorder.  These are things that will come up multiple times in a person’s life.  And emotions?  Those annoying things we tried to avoid with the eating disorder?  They come up a zillion times every single day.  Day after day after day.  They get overwhelming, and need to be handled in safe ways that help us heal.

Hurting ourselves as a way to deal is simply not an option anymore.  With recovery comes the journey of finding new coping skills, which is a trial and error process and can be frustrating.

But even on the days when I am crying on my bed (which happens to normal people), nothing could ever convince me to go back to the eating disorder.  Life has pain.  But life also has joy.  Great big joys and small joys and everything in between.  To go back to the eating disorder would mean giving up all of those joys, and I refuse to do that.  This living fully thing that used to terrify me?  I actually like it.

In a previous entry  I challenged myself to write out 100 things that I have to live for.  Reasons to pull me through my next depressive episode.  Do you want another challenge?  How about 100 Things I’d Have To Give Up If I Chose The Eating Disorder?

It is a choice.  A choice that you can control.  A choice that only you can make.  I made my choice eight years ago, and it has been worth every step along the way.  I have pain, yes.  But I also have joy.

December 6, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

100 Things

Quick entry before I leave for my brother’s for Thanksgiving.  I’ve read a lot of my friends’ statuses doing the 26 Days of Thankfulness.  And I’ve been listening to Jars of Clay, and there’s a lyric that goes “and when you need it most, I have a hundred reasons why I love you.”

I didn’t do the 26 Day Challenge, and I’m not going to ask someone to write out 100 reasons why they love me.

I am challenging myself to write a list of 100 Reasons to Keep Fighting.

During a depressive cycle, when things start getting bad, my therapist asks me to write a list of reasons I don’t want to commit suicide.  But that’s a hard task when you look around and see nothing worth living for.  But now?  Now that I’m 90% of the way out of this depressive episode, now would be a good time to write a list of things I am thankful for, things I am passionate about, people I love, and random inspirational items.

The truth is, I am Bipolar.  I am going to completely beat this episode of depression, and hopefully I will stay well for a good length of time.  But I will eventually go through another depressive episode; it’s a kind of given with this illness.  Honestly, I am more terrified of future depressive episodes than I am of my terminal heart disease.  Because during a depression, my mind is truly not my own.  Maybe if I have a lengthy list already written out, I can pull that list out during the hard times–and it won’t require me to come up with nice happy thoughts when I’m in the hell of depression.  I’ll already have that list as a reminder.

Please have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving and make sure you take care of yourself.

And maybe think of 100 reasons why you want to do so.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Upbeat Playlist

First off, sorry I haven’t been around lately.  I went to visit my aunt and uncle in NC for a week and then my parents came to visit me for a week.  Yesterday was my first day of quiet and solitude in two weeks.  A very long time for a very strong introvert!

But now I’m back, and one of the things waiting for me in my mailbox was a mix-CD from a friend, and it got me thinking.  When I was growing up, the term “playlist” had yet to be thrown about as a common noun.  But now with all the digital music players and all the fancy phones, almost everyone has a few playlists on standby.  I now have 33 on my iPod, and knowing me, I’ll probably have 34 by the end of the week.

I’ve noticed something about my playlists, though.  I’ve got a few that I’ve made for friends, and they tend to be on the more inspirational/encouraging side, but are still on the empathetic-I-fee-your-pain side as well.  I tend to make playlists when I’m feeling down, lonely, frustrated, and depressed as hell.  And the music I choose is sad and slow.  My playlists are definitely in the “let’s keep you stuck in your current mindset” camp rather than “let’s pull you out of the dump” camp.  I’m beginning to think this is not such a great thing.  Don’t get me wrong–I am a firm believer that we need to acknowledge our own pain, name it, and express it.  But if that is the only thing we do, we tend to get stuck there.  And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time stuck in depression and it’s not a very fun place to be.

So a couple of weeks ago, I challenged myself to make a playlist that would help lift my spirits and help pull me out of the hell hole called depression.  I now have on my iPod “An Upbeat Mix” (original title, huh?).  Some of the songs, if you listen closely to the words, aren’t all that cheery, but the beat is catchy and makes me want to move.  Most of the songs are dance-able, if you’re like me and like to dance without any regard to what is considered “good” or “cool” dancing.  I’m more of a bouncer and twister when it comes to dancing to pick up my mood.  Some people may look at my list and not be cheered up at all.  And that’s perfectly fine.  Some people may want some heavy metal-head banging music on their upbeat list, and that would make me want to claw my skin off.

Here’s my challenge to all of you:  make your own upbeat playlist.  You may want to make it on a day when you’re not already in the depressive pit of despair.  keep that list on standby for the next time you enter that pit and then see what happens when you listen to it.

Some of us may not have a large reserve of upbeat or cheery music in our libraries.  So please leave a comment with the name of a song and the artist of a song that when you listen to it, you can’t help but smile.  Who knows, maybe I’ll eventually get two upbeat playlists on my iPod this way?

May 22, 2011 Posted by | coping, depression, feelings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Trance of Unworthiness

my meditation beads

I thought I had escaped from the trance of unworthiness when I recovered from my eating disorder, but a certain event on Thursday reawakened all those issues of “not good enough” that I’ve been plagued with my entire remembered life.

A good friend recommended that I read the book Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach (Copyright 2004), from which the following guided reflection comes:

Do I accept my body as it is? / Do I blame myself when I get sick? / Do I feel I am not attractive enough? / Am I dissatisfied with how my hair looks? / Am I embarrassed about how my face and body are aging?  / Do I judge myself for being too heavy? Underweight? Not physically fit?

Do I accept my mind as it is? / Do I judge myself for not being intelligent enough? Humorous? Interesting? / Am I critical of myself for having obsessive thoughts? For having a repetitive, boring mind? / Am I ashamed of myself for having bad thoughts–mean, judgmental or lusty thoughts? / Do I consider myself a bad meditator because my mind is so busy?

Do I accept my emotions and moods as they are? / Is it okay for me to cry? To feel insecure and vulnerable? / Do I condemn myself for getting depressed? / Am I ashamed of feeling jealous? / Am I critical of myself for being impatient? Irritable? Intolerant? / Do I feel that my anger or anxiety is a sign that I am not progressing on the spiritual path?

Do I feel I’m a bad person because of ways I behave? / Do I hate myself when I act in a self-centered or hurtful way? / Am I ashamed of my outbursts of anger? / Do I feel disgusted with  myself when I eat compulsively? When I smoke cigarettes or drink too much alcohol? / Do I feel that because I am selfish and often do not put others first, I am not spiritually evolved? / Do I feel as if I am always falling short in how I relate to my family and friends? / Do I feel something is wrong with me because I am not capable of intimacy? / Am I down on myself for not accomplishing enough–for not standing out or being special in my work?”

When I read this this morning, all I had to say was, “Wow.” I admit I am embarrassed to claim how many “yeses” I answered to these questions.  And I thought, “well, some of these things I should feel bad about.” But Tara had an answer to that as well: The point is not to work on changing ourselves, but to accept ourselves in the present moment. We are doing the best we can right now.  Tomorrow, that’s another story.  But right now–we can’t change the present moment.  So why drag ourselves down with blame and guilt and shame?  Try to do better tomorrow, or the next moment, but remember that we are who we are right now.  And we can’t change what happened one second ago.  So accept it, learn from it and take what self-knowledge we can from it, and, ultimately, accept ourselves.  As is.  Right now.  Not how we could be.  But how we are.

I know I get caught up in how I could be.  What I should have done.  What I will do next time.  I need to learn how to be content with where I am in the present moment and not judge myself for the right now.  I need to learn from the right now, but not get so caught up in it that I can’t appreciate the present moment as it is.

The picture above is of my meditation beads.  I have a very eclectic spirituality.  I am Christian, but I also find value in other spiritual disciplines because they lead me closer to God.  And myself, a lot of times.  My meditation beads are made of Rose Quartz, a gemstone that is said to open the heart’s center and aid in healing emotions as well as the physical heart itself.  Rose Quartz represent unconditional self-love and self-forgiveness.

My therapist taught me a meditation that I have found to be extremely useful, and after reading the section of Radical Acceptance this morning, I find it all the more relevant.  It’s a meditation that exists out there in variations.  But this is the one I learned:

“Breathing in, I calm my body (breathe in) / Breathing out, I smile. (breathe out) / Dwelling in the present moment (breathe in) / I know it is the only moment. (breathe out)”

I had already decided my Easter Sunday would contain no work, but be a time of knitting, artwork, relaxation, maybe a nap.  Now, after reading this section of the book, I’ve decided today is the perfect day to use the meditation my teacher taught me.

The present moment is what we have.  The past is in the past.  The future has yet to happen.  We dwell in the present moment, a perfect time for acceptance.

April 24, 2011 Posted by | Body Image, coping, depression, Eating Disorders, faith, feelings, mindfulness | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

chronic illness

a heart necklace in place of my literal heart.

I have a lot of coming to terms to do, as far as this chronic illness is concerned.  Yes, I’ve finally started using that phrase with consistency: chronic illness.  There is no denying it.  Today I was exhausted, and I spiked a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And at first I was confused.  I mean, a runny nose won’t make my fever spike that high.  Then I remembered my cardiologist telling me not to be overly concerned about sudden fevers–they are a sign my body is beyond tired.  (As long as all the flu symptoms and other illness symptoms aren’t present, of course.)

I was reading from this book: Dancing at the River’s Edge: A Patient and her Doctor Negotiate Life with Chronic Illness. (And yup, it’s available on Kindle, too)  And this one quote came up that explained today perfectly:

“The life threatening times come, and then they go away, and then you must brace yourself.  You do not brace yourself for the next horrific death-defying moment.  Instead, what you much brace yourself for is the day-in-day-out wear and tear of it. What really hallmarks a life successfully lived with chronic disease is your ability to keep soldiering through.  The bitter pill is that it is always just a little there, or a great deal there, but the unpleasant taste remains, in your mouth, in your routines, in your soul, and that is the fight we are engaged in for the long haul.  We must not become overwhelmed by the exhaustion of it and the fear of the possible next grave crisis.” ~Alida Brill, patient

This does not contradict my earlier post.  She does not say she has to keep soldiering on by herself.  She has surrounded herself with friends and professionals to help her at any moment, any day.

What resonates for me a lot is the day-in-day-out nature of chronic illness, more than the grave crises.  But at no point does she say that the chronic illness dictates how you life your life.

My life is still just that: MY life.

 

April 9, 2011 Posted by | coping, health, heart, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Self Love Letter Challenge (from ViR)

my current journal

I’ve kept a journal since I was five, and I have every single one (except one, which I have no idea where it is) in a giant rubbermaid container.  I think my current journal is Number 28 in the chronological sequence.  I also have several topical journals that were kept for creative writing classes or english classes.  Those are in a separate box.  I’m almost done with my current journal, and I’m at that point where I’m tempted to just leave the last few pages blank so I can start a fresh one and start decorating that one.

I doubt I am alone in the content of my journals.  Very very rarely do I have an entry celebrating something I did or, heaven forbid, simply celebrating my existence.  Nope.  My journals are filled with bitching and moaning and questioning life and trying to solve existential dilemmas.

The purple card lying on top of my journal is my “Mantra for Living” that my therapist had me write.  It acknowledges the terrifying aspects of life and then goes on to remind myself that I must dwell on the things that make life worth living and lists those things.  At the bottom of the card is the line *I have a worthwhile life and a life I can be proud of.*

And then on Facebook, I came across a Voice in Recovery’s suggestion/plan: dedicating the month of April to stopping self-hate. And she gives us a very concrete exercise, which I linked to on my Facebook page: Writing a Self Love Letter.  That’s right–a letter proclaiming self-love.  What better way to start loving yourself?  Sure, you might tell me that there is nothing about you to love.  My response: MAKE SOMETHING UP.  A) There IS something there to love.  B) If you can’t see it, write something down that you want to love about yourself.  C) Ask your friends for suggestions.  D) Read that letter every single day.  Twice a day.  Read it until you believe what you wrote.  The more you read it, the more you will believe it.

When I wrote my “Mantra for Living” I didn’t believe all the reasons I wrote down that made life worth living.  In fact, I laughed at some of them.  But reading that card every day, whenever I open my journal, those reasons are starting to sink in.  I’m starting to believe them.  They’re becoming part of me, part of my psyche.

The same thing can happen with the self-love letter.  You may feel like all you’ve got is self-hate, but how are you going to learn self-love unless  you practice it?  Unless you try letting a glimmer of that love in?  So I triple-dog-dare you to write this self-love letter.  ViR is asking for people to share their letters.  But if that scares you, if that prevents you from writing certain things down, don’t worry about the sharing part–just write the letter as if no one else in the world will ever read it.  Just you.  You could write “I’m good at standing on one foot on my toes” if you want.  No one ever has to know.  But if it’s something you’re proud of, if it’s something you love, write it down. Write it down and keep it in a place where you will read it every single day.

I quadruple-dog-dare you.

And yes, for those who are wondering, I am taking my own dare.  I’ve already started my letter.  No, it’s not easy.  But let me tell you this:  it’s a hell of a lot easier than carrying around a load of self-hate.

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Body Image, depression, Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Formspring, Take 2

formspring

I’ve written about hellspring . . . er . . . Formspring before.  I had closed mine, and then over break got bored, and decided to start it up again.  So far, people have, for the most part, asked respectful questions.  I leave it so that anonymous people can ask questions because I’ve gotten some good questions about recovery that I don’t think people would ask if they had to attach their name to the question.

Then this morning, I got one of those not-nice questions: “Why are you so fat?”  I’m really not sure that the person who asked that question wanted my initial reaction to be bursting out loud into laughter.  I think that person probably meant it as an insult.  My answer: “because I’m healthy!!!”

A) I know I’m not fat.  In any sense of the word.  I’m not overweight.  I’m not pudgy.  I’m not ill proportioned.  I am a very healthy size for someone who is my height.

B)  I am secure in this self-knowledge, so a comment like this really does make me laugh.

C) This person obviously isn’t a friend because a friend would know that because of the ARVD and my heart, doing anything that would alter my weight negatively could risk my life.

D) I am concerned for the individual asking the question for multiple reasons.  This individual thinks it’s funny to insult someone, which my mother always told me was impolite, rude, and disrespectful.  “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” kind of thinking.  This person thinks it’s okay to make someone else feel like shit, and generally that means the person doing the dishing isn’t that secure in his or her own self.  This person, if they honestly think I’m fat, really has a skewed perception of what thin, healthy, and fat are and that’s concerning and unhealthy.  And finally, the people who would consider me fat tend to be the people who have an eating disorder and are in the “pro-ana” camp, whether or not they will label it that, and that is very dangerous indeed.

E) People can leave comments such as this on my formspring and I won’t give a damn.  I worked my ass off to get “this fat” and I’m damn fucking proud of this.  Because when I would have been considered “thin” or even “normal” by this questioner’s standards, I would have been close to death.  Oh, I just threw out that D word and questioners such as this one tend to scoff at that, but I don’t.  Because I have a list of over ten men and women who I knew personally that died because of their eating disorder.  And I can’t keep track of how many parents I know who have lost their child or the number of people I’ve met on online forums who have died from their eating disorders.  So guess what, this “fat” girl rests secure in the knowledge that she’s alive and is thankful for it.

F) But I know a great many people who, if they had gotten this question, would have taken it to heart and would have stopped eating or would have gone on an insanely long run.  Even though they’re already underweight or at a healthy, normal weight, thus putting their lives in immediate danger.  And even if someone is technically and medically considered overweight, hearing a comment like this could result in the beginnings of an eating disorder or an exacerbation of existing symptoms and would definitely result in feelings of worthlessness and shame and guilt and depression.

Basically, the person who left that question for me was engaging in cyber-bullying, a situation that has gotten way out of hand and had resulted in individuals hurting themselves and committing suicide.  In what moral world is that considered okay?

Please, if you are suffering from an eating disorder or self-harm or depression or just have days when you feel like shit, do yourself a favor and protect your formspring account and either block anonymous questions or block anyone who isn’t approved as your friend.  No one needs these questions.

And please, if you’re the person asking them, take a look inside yourself and ask yourself these questions: Is it okay to make someone else feel like shit?  Why do I feel the need to belittle other people?  What would I feel like if someone asked me this question?  Am I willing to be the trigger behind an act of self-destruction?  Why do I take pleasure in causing other people pain?

Have some respect for yourself and other people and cut the crap.

February 3, 2011 Posted by | Body Image, depression, Eating Disorders, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Self-Soothe

Tea Posy

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t blogged in awhile, so I decided to remedy that today.  We’re in the middle of Snowpocolypse 2011 here, and aside from spending two hours shoveling my car out this morning, I’ve been confined to my apartment all week.  It’s given me some time to catch up on course reading for both the courses I’m taking and the courses I’m teaching and get ahead a teeney little bit in my course prep for the two classes I’m teaching.  Mainly, I’ve had a blast watching my one cat repeatedly run smack into the floor-length window in a vain attempt to catch the snowflakes on the other side.

Probably the reason that I haven’t written is that I haven’t been feeling that great and could think of nothing to say that would be the least bit inspiring or encouraging to anyone.  Physically I am fine, for the most part, save one heart episode on Monday, but the depression . . . well, it’s been a bitch and a half lately.  The fact that I went to all my classes last week absolutely amazes me.  The fact that my campus is shut down this week due to the blizzard thrills me beyond belief.  I am dreading having to step back on that campus and well, be a functioning, responsible, and social  adult again.  My bed is much more enticing.  I was supposed to have ECT again yesterday, but the blizzard kind of prevented that from taking place. I keep telling myself that things will start turning around, that I haven’t done enough ECT sessions to notice a change yet.  I keep reminding myself that ECT always helps and that I trust this psychiatrist more than any other psychiatrist I have ever worked with.  Ever.  And that says a lot since I have a general distrust for that profession.  (long story)

My therapist is a DBT therapist.  And one of our goals is, of course, to “create a life worth living.”  Right now that involves using a set of DBT skills that have always been particularly difficult for me: Self-Soothe.  It has always been much easier to deny myself, punish myself, and push myself.  But with this depression and the anxiety that seems to tag along with it, I’ve been creating a list of self-soothing activities.  For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Self-Soothe is the set of skills where you use each of the five senses to–yup, you guessed it–soothe yourself.  This is something a lot of us with eating disorder histories never really practiced all that much, for a lot of reasons.  But I challenge you to start your own list.  A list with lots of options since we aren’t always in a physical position to use certain skills  (as much as hot chocolate is a very soothing drink, I cannot get up in the middle of a three-hour class to go get some if I start to feel anxious during class.  nor would my professor appreciate it if I took out my iPod and started listening to my favorite relaxing music).

Here are some of my favorites:

Taste – tea (and I like the whole process of making tea in a tea pot and smelling it and holding the warm mug), chocolate (specifically a heath bar), coffee, grapefruit

Smell– lilacs, lavendar, vanilla, incense, candles, coffee

Hearing– Gemma Hayes, Haley Bonar, Beth Orton, A Fine Frenzy, Brandi Carlile, Chopin, Elgar, Jacqueline DuPre,

Touch– petting my cats, holding my stuffed bear, wrapping up in one of my soft blankets, a hot bath, body lotion, massaging sore muscles, brushing my hair, knitting or crocheting

Sight– I have this book of ballet photos, I love the Griffin & Sabine books, re-reading letters from friends, looking at pictures of my niece and nephew and friends

These are just some of the things on my list.  I know taste may be difficult for some people, and if you find it triggering, don’t push it.  But also remember that you should not feel guilty if something makes you feel better.  If the only thing you have that comforts you is food, then there’s a problem, and you should talk to someone about emotional eating.  And if you binge as a way of comfort, that is also dangerous.  It took me a good couple years of recovery to let myself enjoy food and use it appropriately in times of distress.  I no longer feel guilty when I curl up with a blanket, my cats, a movie, and a dish of ice cream after a long week of classes.  But it took time to get there.  Do not push yourself in that direction.  You will know when you are ready.

 

But all those other senses–learn what works for you. Everyone is different.  Know yourself, and know that you have the ability to help yourself.

February 2, 2011 Posted by | coping, depression, Eating Disorders, feelings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments