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

 

Things That Make Me Tingle

I watched two Brené Brown TED talks last night. My body tingled; my legs went cold though covered in a blanket and my heart starting thunking loudly. After a spirited conversation with myself, I got off the couch, put on my flip flops and went for a walk. (And my feet now have blisters because I no longer have flip flop calluses.)

Two geese flew over my head while I flip flopped down the sidewalk. I was transfixed by deer across the street and so busy mindfully breathing the air that I didn’t notice the geese until their butts swooshed over me. Thank goodness they didn’t poop on me! So aware in some ways and so oblivious in others.

Here are the two TED talks I watched — I highly recommend watching them. They were over before I knew it and I wanted more.
Brene’ Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Brene’ Brown: Listening to Shame

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.]

Confessions by Katie

For the past month or two I’ve really been thinking about adding meat, eggs, dairy and seafood back to my diet. I started with dairy in the form of yogurt and then finally added cheese last week (but in very limited quantities.)

Last Sunday, I ate chicken. It was in my burrito bol from Chipotle. It felt strange, but it tasted pretty good. “Okay,” I thought, “I can do this. I can eat chicken sometimes.”

However, today when I tried to eat chicken on my salad it was not the same. I had about 2 bites and I didn’t like the taste and I didn’t know why I was even trying to eat it. I still don’t like the idea of an animal dying to feed me. I don’t need help increasing bad cholesterol, I don’t like the idea of animals living in captivity or factory farming and blah blah blah everything most vegetarians and vegans will spout and everyone will tune out (including the spouter.)

What was really unsettling to me was why after over a year of no meat I was suddenly thinking about adding it back in when none of my core beliefs or feelings had changed.

Today with fork to mouth it clicked in my brain. I’ve been depressed. My mood has been out of control up and down, but for the most part, I’ve been pretty down all the time. That leads to feelings of indifference. Which can lead to no longer caring about things you once cared about — like say, animals dying to feed you.

Secondly, I’m tired of feeling different. Maybe no one cares. But it gets tiring to be the special diet restriction person. “Grabbing a quick bite” doesn’t really exist for me. Part of that is my choice, but a big part isn’t. LORD, I’d LOVE to be able to just go eat without caring. Or eat without getting sick. Grab a sandwich or a taco or a burger. But food is more than just tasty stuff I put in my mouth. It’s ethics and feeling shitty and nutrition. I can’t eat without thinking about nutrition any more. Sometimes that leads to over-indulgence because it gets so tiring to try to be so perfect all the time. I try to thnk about all the things I CAN eat. And there are tons and plenty. But add in social dynamics or lack of money or time and it just spirals into a web of indecision.

My problem with eating for nutrition is that I also eat for pleasure. Food has always been something I could enjoy. My escape. Comfort.

We recently had an ice cream sundae bar at work and instead of my usual non-participation, I had a scoop of ice cream with half a banana and some Hershey’s syrup. And someone of course commented. “Hey, Katie is eating what we’re eating!” I do usually have something in those settings, it’s just not usually what is being provided.[ Generally, that’s due to the whole no-gluten thing. Lately, I’d even been thinking about testing the gluten thing again. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was all in my head. I mean, that’s what the media wants. And then I accidentally ate carrot cake with whole wheat flour and DEAR LORD did I feel like hell. I didn’t know what it was at first, but once I realized what it was, it matched up perfectly based on timing of consumption and symptoms. Dumb.]

The other part of the equation is weight loss. I am FREAKING out on some level about my body and my weight loss. Even though I see messages every day about loving your body and accepting yourself and I know I’ve lost 90 lbs, I am still unhappy. I still only see a fat blob. I have freaking acne that won’t go away and a protruding belly that I fear will always be there. After losing 90 lbs and running 4 half marathons — I’M STILL FAT.  Not only am I still fat, but acne covered and homely. I haven’t worn makeup in ages (partly because my skin is so sensitive and partly because I’m lazy.) I just don’t feel attractive on any level. Yay depression?

With the depression has come a real struggle to avoid emotional eating and make good food choices. I thought if I could make myself eat things like chicken, I could help my weight and fat loss. People always talk about lean protein. Maybe I could do a week or two of lower carb and high protein and drop some weight fast! Yes! That’s the ticket.

Any how, I’ve been trying to deal with the emotional roller coaster and I’m lucky because I have good friends who have been there for me when I’ve vacillated between wanting to lash out in anger at people and when I’ve wanted to put my head down and cry. I’ve honestly just kept expecting to wake up and suddenly feel okay again. That hasn’t happened. It doesn’t work like that. Not really. I’ve added on to this taking “THE pill” for the first time in 16 years to help with some issues and so far it’s just exacerbated most of the demons. I’m still holding out hope that I’ll normalize in less than 3 months. There are other factors that are large contributors to my stress, anxiety and depression but I have word-vomited long enough for now. Just please know, I’m not being a nancy-pants. There are real things, valid things, to be causing my feelings. And even if there weren’t; even if I just felt this way with no reason to which to point (and part of it probably is that) that would be okay. (I have to tell myself that. I still have trouble believing it.) So, thanks for reading if you did.

Tomorrow Is Another Day

I awoke today with joy. I felt lighter.

Something I should clarify about last night’s post. (other than the fact that I was drugged when I wrote it – so please,  consider that when critiquing.) Actually, this came up when I was working out with Cheryl this morning.

[SHAMELESS PLUG:  Cheryl is awesome. I would NOT be where I am today without her help. Not just the exercises she makes me do. (Sometimes I am enjoying chatting so much that I have to stop myself when I’m working out and remember I’m working out. Anyway.) The guidance, the accountability, the nutrition help, the encouragement, the ideas for just every day healthful living. If you can’t workout with Cheryl in KC you can sign up for her daily emails. You’ve seen me blog about them before. The extra cool thing about the emails is this: they aren’t just emails. You get interaction with Cheryl. And with that, we are back on track for the topic of this post…]

I ate a lot of M&Ms. I sought out and purchased the medium size bag of peanut butter M&Ms and plain M&Ms. (I didn’t share that particular piece of information. It wasn’t just one bag y’all – it was TWO.) I also thought it would be a great idea to have tortilla chips and salsa for lunch on Sunday. I love love love (oh mi amore!) chips and salsa. I didn’t write last night’s post to celebrate my foray into binging. That’s what it was. It was a binge. It should not be celebrated. It was different from an indulgence or a treat.

One of the hardest things about overcoming an addictive relationship with food is understanding what is happening when it is happening and before it happens and finding a way to alter the behavior and the thinking. I didn’t want to alter the thinking on Sunday. I just wanted to eat my chips and salsa and my M&Ms dammit! It was a slip.

Having someone to talk to about it can remind you of things that need to run through your brain: Have a plan. Think about it before it happens. Have alternatives. Think about how you feel after. It isn’t easy. Sometimes you will give in. (Like I did.) But most of the time you won’t. And the feelings you will get about not giving in will bolster you. And it builds up.

Figuring out why you want to turn to comfort foods helps too. I was feeling bad about a decision I made and bad about my run. I’ve also been feeling uncertain and scared about my progress. This is the point where I usually fail. And I so badly want to succeed. I so badly want to be proud. I’m humbled every time someone says something nice to me or about me. But it also puts pressure on me. I feel like I have to be great not just for me, but for other people. But that is a powerful thing. I want to help people. (I’m also a total glory hound – HA! not really) I want to help me. It’s all just one small decision at a time.

After opening up about my tryst and acknowledging the feelings and thoughts that were driving the desire, I felt so much better. It allowed me to wake up today full of joy and hope. It made me feel lighter.

FACE IT. Plan for it. It’s not going to go away. If you are an emotional eater, that part of you isn’t going to go away overnight. You are going to have to work on the thoughts and behaviors. You are going to have to face it. Slay it. Pick it up and hug it close. Look it in the eye.

Enough.

Intentions

I started reading a new book last night. One of the things it mentions is setting your intenions for the day when you wake up. I thought this went nicely with the “write it down” challenge.

Originally, I requested PTO for today. It’s my mom’s birthday. I wasn’t sure if I’d lose my shit at some point, or just find a general inability to focus. I’m an inappropriate expresser of emotion. That is, I explode publically or cry at odd moments, thus making a lasting, and totally respectable impression on those around me. Last week I decided that I could, in fact, make it through the day without any dramatic outbursts or embarrassing misty-eyed public moments. AND, I decided, I would be better served by taking Friday off and having a 3-day weekend.

So my intentions for the day are as follows:

  • Get some work done (I’ve been doing okay on that front.) Be present at work.
  • Control my eating. Do not give in to temptations of comfort food and drinks. Do not try to soothe my physical, mental, or spiritual self with food. Be mindful of my goals. (I’ll be posting my food again tonight or tomorrow, but I’m eating a salad thanks to Cosentino’s right now.)
  • Follow-through with my workout. I’m planning to do that interval deal from Monday followed by yoga. I have trouble relaxing but there is something about the Wednesday night yoga class after a hard run that really works. I’ll probably cry inappropriately during Savasana, but it so wouldn’t be the first time.
  • Take time to sit quietly and remember my mom. She was beautiful in every way. Life is not perfect, people are not perfect, relationships are not perfect. But I would never trade for a different mom or a different life.

Internet, you now know my intentions for today. I sincerely want both to pack up, head home, and lie around with M&Ms and stick to these intentions. Choice is mine.

I’m calling on my “I don’t wanna” or “negative nancy” spirit animal: The Happy Puppy. This is what I will be using to help keep me going today. Because who can’t learn from a happy puppy?

P.S. There has been at least one time in recent memory where packing up, heading home, and lying around with M&Ms was the right choice. Sometimes you just gotta.

1000 Reasons I Am Awesome

First, the humble side of me needs to tell you that I stole the title of this post from an email. (This now reminds me too much of Ana’s “inner goddess” from Fifty Shades of Grey. Why did I just admit to knowing anything about that book?)

Second, this post is in response to my Lamentations on motivation.

Essentially, I need to focus on the awesome that I’ve achieved. This was not my idea, but Cheryl’s. Just talking about it made me feel better. So, I’m forcing myself to focus on positive things. Good things. Things which I have achieved.

  1. I’ve lost 64 pounds through healthy methods.
  2. I’ve inspired others to make healthy changes in their lives by adding exercise or working toward a fitness goal.
  3. I’ve completed three 5k runs and I’m going to train for a half marathon.
  4. I can run a mile for the first time in my life. (and not feel like I’m dying)
  5. There are no longer X’s preceding the size in my shirts.
  6. I can lift heavy things.
  7. I can carry big things of water bottles up stairs.
  8. I am sticking to my gluten free/soy free dietary needs and not “cheating.”
  9. I’m trying to be a better person by doing nice things for people.
  10. I eat a balanced diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables.
  11. I try to cook most of my own food.
  12. People always comment on the freshness and yumminess of my food at work and that makes me proud and (shyly) smiley.
  13. I chose walking instead of driving.
  14. I’m challenging myself.
  15. I’ve tried new things instead of running away. (and if you read above, you know that I can now run, so…)
  16. I come back from any dalliances (I make myself get back on track if I have a bad day or week or so)
  17. I didn’t let some major life events demolish me; instead I let them strengthen me.

That’s all I have right now. You should all watch this video that was left in the comments of my anxiety/fear-laden last post: Look, I can be a sark!

In Which There is Self Doubt

I’m at an important point in my “journey.” This is where I usually stall out or backslide. aka FAIL. FAIL FAIL FAIL. FAIL FAIL FAIL. flop.

I am determined to push through. I am determined to succeed this time. Right? Am I? I am?

The last 2 weeks my motivation and self confidence have been tenuous. Keeping the “but I WANT” voice of my inner child quiet has been more challenging than it was a month ago. I am working on a new self definition. Sometimes I do not believe I am who I am. I enjoy exercise. I enjoy cooking and eating healthy. I enjoy being a morning person (mornings are just this wonderful combination of peace and energy – so much possibility!) I enjoy that some of my best friends are four-legged (and snuggly!) I love lying around with a book and a cat or 3. I’m not much for crowds. I’m still shy and awkward with people until I really know them (that hasn’t changed much.)

Am I seeking to soothe something? Am I just tired? The mental and emotional aspects of such drastic lifestyle changes cannot be negated. My life was not what it was because I was happy, healthy, and fit. Losing weight and having a healthier body doesn’t fix the rest of me – but it sure helps.  Working on one or two things every month helps. That focus is critical.

In all of the self doubt and fear, this is a cloud of inspiration descending. It is a pushy cloud. It both envelopes and consumes me. Several people told me they’ve been inspired by my progress. And others are inspired by having a goal to share and the pride that comes with achieving something through hard work that they never thought they could do. YES! We are STRONG.

As I try to get myself back in a positive groove, I think about these people. They motivate me to be more. So, keep being awesome people. Because right now? I need some of your awesomeness to remind why I live the way I do now.

I do not know what will become of me if I slip backwards or get stuck. And I’m frightened.

Sunday Quickie

Sorry for those of you who clicked through because you thought this might have to do with afternoon delight (sky rockets in flight! duh duh duh AFTERNOON DELIGHT!). It has nothing to do with such things. Except that I just quote lyrics and told you it has nothing to do with it.

Derailed.

This is a quick Sunday post to report back on the posts of yore, or of Thursday night. If you missed it, it was whiney and somewhat graphic and about my ongoing gastrointestinal problems. (many people will immediately think “ewww!” when someone mentions GI problems but if I was talking about ongoing foot or heart problems, would people have the same reaction?)

Anyway, today was the first day post-procedures that’s I’ve really felt GOOD. No bloating, cramping, excess gas, pains, or nausea. NO headaches, no aches in general, no brain fog. Plus I have energy again. Maybe part of it was falling in love with Henry the Umbrella Tree and being excited about that, but I really think it has more to do with my body being clear of the things that make it sad (gluten), rest, good nutrition, and exercise.

So there you have it. That’s all I wanted to say. I wanted to go on record as saying how much better I feel today. No matter what that Celiac test says tomorrow, I need to feel confident that I am correct about being gluten sensitive. Maybe I don’t have Celiac, but I sure as heck feel better without it. (I really like empirical evidence though.)

One of the big indicators for me was the fact that I ran without any abdominal discomfort. The last few weeks have not been that way (I was eating gluten because you have to be actively eating gluten to get an accurate test result.)

Okay, that’s really. I’m going to get up and bathe now and stop adding to the sweaty butt print on my little ottoman.

Cheers!

Not Madonna’s Song

36 seconds. That’s how long it took me to bear crawl from one end of the mat to the other. Nothing quite evokes the negative self talk and overall crappy attitude in me quite like the bear crawl. Maybe it’s because it’s awkward. Or it could be because my ass is in the air. Or may it is simply because it is HARD.

I dislike complaining. I also sincerely dislike having a bad attitude. All it does is make it harder to finish, harder to break new records, and harder to breathe. (Yep, the negative thoughts breed anxiety which breeds a problem with breathing.)

Also? I don’t feel like dumping that negativity on someone else who’s just trying to push me to achieve my goals. I don’t want to dump on anyone about anything EVER (small issue I have that prevents me from sharing at times and often leads to me being a hermit for an undetermined amount of time.) Anyhow, no one wants to hear someone bitch and moan. And isn’t it a waste of time? It feels half-assed to me.

I got into this to challenge myself – to improve myself and become stronger in mind, body, and spirit. And the work pays off. The burning weight that used to be my lungs after cardio is non-existent now. My heart is stronger. My breath is more controlled.

So, I’m going to try something new. Any time I start to have a negative thought or feel like I’m struggling, I’m going to call upon a few special images and sayings that I can use to flip my focus and my attitude. I’ve successfully used a trick like this before when I was trying to forget about a crush in college. Any time his name would pop into my head I would think of something else (funny, I don’t actually remember what it was anymore!)

So, here are a few of my “happy thoughts.”

*The song I’m referencing in the title of this post is 4 Minutes. It happens to be a pretty decent workout song.