Pharmacology, Tattoos, and a Clean Kitchen

Dear Blank Page,

I can’t wait to tell you what I’ve been up to lately. Aside from dropping in to experience the shopping event known as Lilly for Target — just for kicks — I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing bits of my house. No pressure, just small bits. Well, I started with a biggish bit; tackling some bothersome issues like dirty toilets, litter boxes and my kitchen sink (which by-the-way looks brand new again now that I scrubbed it.)

I guess this sounds pretty ordinary and maybe not any bit impressive to most people. That’s okay. When I’m depressed and bathed in anxiety I have no will to care about most things. I drop out of life, lose focus, and hunker down in some deep part of my brain. The mere fact that I not only care, but that I’m acting, well…that’s a really good thing.

I’m not entirely open with people about how deeply affected I am by mental illness. I share articles on Facebook, but I never say, “I loved someone who suffered. I am someone who suffered. It’s been around me my entire life.” I told you that I’m getting help. Finally. Really aggressively, seriously trying to recover. My mental illness and shame has manifested in several ways. One way was drinking. I no longer drink. I’ve also struggled with disordered eating and an eating disorder since I was a young girl. Those behaviors are proving challenging to change. But, the progress I’m making with my depression and anxiety is helping and giving me hope that I can recover. I am working with a counselor, an MD, and a registered dietitian. They are good people and I feel safe with them.

I tell you, I was so resistant to medication for so long. It frightened me. Dependency, bottles on bottles on bottles, false hope. I tried medication after medication when I was in high school. It was terrible. I watched my mom try medication after medication. It was terrible. But I decided to try again at 33 and 11/12ths. I was getting worse. I could see the cycle happening. And the thing is, it’s working. It’s helping. But it’s not just the medication. It’s the help too. Anyway, I’m feeling good.

Also, on Saturday I went for a consultation for the tattoo I talked about a couple years ago. It’s going to be a little bit different than what I described that day, but I’m finally taking action. I’m exited but also kind of scared and anxious. I’m supposed to go on May 7th to get it inked on my right forearm. I’ll show you when it’s done.

So, I guess that’s it for now. I just wanted to say hi, see how you’re doing and let you know what’s new.

Take care!

Katie

 

Wrap Me Up in Sheets of Paper

I have a habit of buying notebooks. I don’t know what it is, but I love a new notebook – all those blank pages ready for thoughts, scribbles, lists, dreams, drawings and plots. Tonight, I opened one of the several that was sitting on my desk at home. My plan was to draw out ideas for my wrist/arm tattoo on the blank pages. The tattoo is meant to remind me of a few things: my mom, my spirit of hope and fire in my soul, my connection to nature, the connection between body, spirit, thought, and emotion. It’s a lot to for a few lines of ink on skin. But I know I can do it.

Anyway, I grabbed a green composition book with a pen clipped to a page with a mundane note about a wireless key. As I walked back downstairs I scanned the pages and noticed pages and pages of words I’d written about myself while doing exercises from “What Color is Your Parachute.” This was a notebook from the end of 2011. This was from a transformational period where I was job hunting after leaving my job of 6 years. This was a notebook from the last few months my mom was still alive. (A side effect of my mom’s passing is that I tend to measure time in “when Mom was alive” and “after Mom died.”)

The words are quite different from what appears in my current journal. There’s a page with values. Those are the same. There are lists of goals. Boy, I have a tendency to expect a lot of myself. There is a list of commandments I wrote after rereading “The Happiness Project.” Still relevant.

I have deep ruts created by the repetition of negative thinking and habits born from shame and unmet needs. In January, I reached out for help. While I’ve written privately, finding out how to share more publicly has challenged me. Embarrassment, shame, and fear have kept me from being open about my life over the last couple of years. I’ve known for a long time that something about how I feel isn’t quite “right.” Though, right and wrong isn’t really a good way to view feelings. I’ve worried that people will treat me differently. I’ve worried that people will worry. I’ve worried that I will feel worse. I’ve worried that it will impact my work, though my anxiety and depression already have. These are only the beginning of the worries.

The truth is, I’ve lived with anxiety and depression, self-harming behaviors and thoughts for a long time. Cycles and patterns, I could make a quilt.

I am still me. That has not changed. I still cherish animals, adore my nephew, believe in kindness and truth, compassion and love. I still love jokes, smiles, and laughter. These other voices inside of me are tricky and persuasive. They offer comfort in their harm. But I am finding the other voices. The voice that wrote the values. The voice that wrote my talents. The voice that’s warm as sunshine (trite, but work with me here), and playful.

Impish, spritely, gentle, and strong. Silly, caring, serious, and funny. Inquisitive, thoughtful, spiritual.

I’m working on a new internal infrastructure to fill the ruts and build new roads. (Do NOT insert overused Robert Frost quote here.)

I am still me.

 

 

[Did anyone read this and think I was about to come out as a lesbian? Because when I proofed it I could totally see that. But, I’m not; just plain old mixed mood disorder, terrible body image and disordered eating- though girls smell better and have nice hair and shoes.]

Dealing with People’s Comments on My Weight Loss

No secret here: I’ve lost a lot of weight. About 80 lbs. I’m working toward 100+.

You can’t lose that amount of weight without people noticing. Comments are inevitable and sometimes, frequent. People who haven’t seen you for months remark. People who see you daily remark. Meanwhile, you keep looking in the mirror and trying to imagine what other people see and trying to interpret what you see.

This is really the 3rd time I’ve tried to lose a significant amount of weight. I’ve succeeded at weight loss before. Where I didn’t succeed was in changing my life. I can diet like a pro. I am an But right now? I’M NOT ON A DIET. That’s the difference.

In my previous two major weight loss eras I really struggled with people’s comments and questions. It made me super uncomfortable to talk about my body and my weight loss. “OMG. Stop noticing me! I no exist! You no see me!” I was doing Weight Watchers and exercising or I was just restricting calories and exercising. Neither one stuck. And neither addressed the real issues I had with my lifestyle.

Even though I still struggle with what I put in my mouth and how I move my body – AND HOW I FEEL ABOUT ALL THAT – I am still proud of myself.

Comments, questions, conversation and compliments don’t make me want to run away (though I totally could!) They make me stand a little taller. They make me think “damn right! I’m awesome!” And the reason I feel that way is because I know what I’m doing is HEALTHY. I’m not starving all day just so I can stay under 1500 calories and eat a giant concrete for dinner. I’m not hording food. I’m not hiding food. I’m not sneaking food. [Confession: In high school I used to buy the big container of chocolate chip cookies from Hy-Vee bakery and hide them under my bed. I’d eat and eat and eat. Also, when I was doing Weight Watchers when I was 16 I remember finding caramels in the top cabinet of our kitchen and thinking I’d hit the jackpot. I totally snuck those bad boys (never before had I ever really cared about eating a caramel). And there was the time we had friends visiting from out of town and we all went swimming and had pizza. I had my WW personal sized cardboard delight and everyone else was having Freschetta. Hell yes I shoved a piece or two of that Freshcetta down my gullet in secret AND ate my cardboard pizza.]

I’m confident because I know I’m making good choices in my life. Do I still have issues with food? Sure. I probably always will. But I’m not afraid to be noticed. I’m open to discussing my struggles with food, movement and mental health with people. Come on, I blogged about my belly and admitted to making it into a butt.

No kidding folks. I’m sexy and I know it. (and you should feel free to comment because I’ll do a sassy little dance in my head and say “Thank you!” – and mean it.)