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The last month

April 13, 2012

I know I need to write. I know that once I do write, I tend to feel even a little bit lighter. But I’m not sure what to say. Nothing is really wrong, per se. Which sometimes makes me feel like I shouldn’t write at all.

Over the past month, I have been undergoing a medication change. It has been hell. The physical side effects of tapering off a medication I’ve been taking for years, and onto a new one, were less than pleasant. But the side effects in my brain – of not having enough medication in my system during this process – felt unbearable. OCD is generally treated with higher dosages of medications. That means that the tapering down of Med 1 and the slow increase of Med 2 takes a long time. And in the middle, I’m not getting that high, therapeutic dosage. 

My brain needs medication to work properly. I am okay with that. So many of my friends hate being on medication, or don’t want to be on it, or refuse to be on it. It doesn’t phase me in the slightest. I need it to be okay, and that’s okay with me. That being said, it’s been incredibly frustrating the past month where I’m doing everything “right,” yet I feel like shit solely because of a lack of medication. I said, multiple times, “It’s just not fair! It’s not my fault!” Not that it’s ever my fault if I’m having a hard time, but it was so frustrating, just knowing I had to wait it out.

I vacillate between depression and anxiety. I used to think those were two separate diagnoses – and for many people, they are. For me, they’re just two points on the same continuum: the OCD continuum. When the thoughts/fears/spins/worries/obsessions/compulsions become too much, and take over my brain and my being, I become highly anxious – butterflies in my stomach, heart racing, on the verge of panic attack, etc. Or, I become depressed – shutting down, cloud of doom, pit in my stomach. But it’s all one in the same, really.

The end of last week and last weekend, I gave in. I voiced what was going on in my head to the two people who would understand and/or know what to do and say. I allowed myself to be hugged and nurtured and coddled. I gave up being in charge and allowed my boyfriend  to truly take care of me. I told him when I was feeling anxious, when my heart was racing, when I had a scary thought, when I needed a hug. He encouraged me and supported me. He’s really the best. I don’t give in like that often – really just give up control for that many days. And you know what? It was really really nice. And it helped so much. I’ve been thinking about what exactly was so helpful and a lot of it just comes down to the fact that for those few days, I stopped fighting it. I stopped fighting where I was at, and just let myself be in it. Without judging myself, or hating myself, or wishing I wasn’t in it. I rode it through and let others help me stay afloat.

The trouble is, it’s now a week later. I have returned to work and classes and writing reports and studying and I’ve had to continue on with my life. But that doesn’t mean I’m all better. Yes, I think the new meds are starting to kick in. No, I don’t feel like I’m totally drowning anymore. But I’m still anxious. My brain is still a little too busy. I’m still a little too afraid. And a little too spinny. But I feel like my “being-nurtured-time” is done. I used it up last week and last weekend and now I have to move on and be strong. I know in my core that everyone deserves constant love and support and that I have a right to ask for anything I need. But what do I say – “No, it’s not an emergency, but my brain is a little spinny, and no, I’m not sure what you could do to help, and yes, it’s much better than last week but I just wanted you to know…?” How do I SHOW that although it’s not where it was last week, it’s still a little tough? Should I even show it? Do I have a right to show it? Or is it being needy?


First Steps

April 6, 2012

What I’ve had to do between that Friday night and now is basically take one meal at a time.  The first few days, I really did not want to eat.  I basically had to because my husband (who from now on I’ll call Paul) now knew what was going on.  At one point on Saturday, he fell asleep in our family room from about mid morning until lunch time.  Suddenly I faced either waking him up to help me or muddle through lunch time on my own.  I chose the latter, as the former is not only hard but would add to the accountability I would face.  So, I made lunch for the kids and got the youngest down for a nap.  Now it was 12:30 and Paul was still snoozing away.  I was so angry that he had left me on my own.  Did my rational mind know that he too needs his rest?  That he needs self-care too?  That I’m a grown woman who needs to care for herself?  Yes, yes, and yes.  But right then, did I want him to hold my hand through every second of the day?  YES!  I quietly retreated to our bedroom and climbed under the covers, hoping they would shield me from myself.  My eating disordered voice told me that I could relax in the comfort that I would get to skip lunch.  About a half hour later, Paul came into the room and immediately apologized.  He knew that it was not good timing for me to be alone.   He knew that I was not feeling capable of self-care on my own.  He helped me pick something for my lunch and brought it to me in bed.  Then, while the youngest napped, so did I.  Sweet, sweet rest.  My brain was still muddled and my heart was still heavy.  But maybe, just maybe, ever so slightly lighter.

Here’s the Deal

April 5, 2012

I have a history of an eating disorder.  I was diagnosed, treated, and worked like a dog to call myself recovered.   I think the only way I could have let myself work as hard as I did was to believe that I would never be back there again.  So I believed that.  I preached that.  And then I found out it just doesn’t work that way.  It is no wonder that my black and white mind found comfort in believing it.

Some periods of relapse have been more intense than others.  Sometimes, my eating disordered thoughts snake their way into my mind and it goes no further than that.  That is not what happened this time.

For a few months now, I have been feeling dissatisfaction with my body.  Well, that’s doesn’t really capture it.  Occasionally I have felt ok, reminding myself that my loose stomach muscles and sagging breasts are a badge of honor.   I carried and nursed 3 children, after all.   Other times, I felt dissatisfaction.  Especially when I decided that other moms don’t look this way.   But more and more, I was feeling a disgust.  A deep self-loathing that would come to me at night, while trying to fall asleep.    Thoughts of restriction would occur to me.  But mostly, I just tuned out and if I did anything, I actually tended to overeat.  I felt out of control and feared what would become of my body.

Two weeks ago, my negative body image was particularly strong while I was sitting at my weekly therapist appointment.  It was a Friday.  The next day we had a party at my house.  I felt strong when I walked past the chips.  Sometimes I ate them, but other times, my body shivered with excitement at my strength to restrict.  I felt downright victorious when I did not eat a cupcake or a slice of cake at my daughter’s party.  I didn’t even want a cupcake!  I had made them, served them, watched other people eat them, and still I did not even WANT one.  I was one powerful woman.  Ha.

The next few days followed with me eating each meal, but less than I wanted.  I felt hungry most of the day.  This felt good.  I knew that I only had a week to reverse any damage that my previous months of overeating had done.  Why only a week?  Because I’m just not that good at being defiant.  Once I had my next Friday appointment, I knew my therapist would find a way to make the healthy thoughts start to filter through.  Once the people in my life know what I’m doing, I am just not good at saying, “No, I won’t eat.”  I’m too afraid I’ll make them worry, or hurt them, or even anger them.  (Isn’t that the same thinking that leads me down this road?  It is a curse and a blessing I guess.)  So, I had a week to keep this private.  I didn’t tell my husband.   Thursday came and the pressure of the self-imposed deadline was weighing heavy. I ate my breakfast.  Lunch time came.  Lunch time went.  I fed my kids, but not myself.  I was so hungry, especially since I had already been restricting.  I started to think about dinner.  I knew that my husband was working late.  The plan started to formulate.  I wasn’t sure I could last, but I knew that my Friday appointment would wreck my weight loss plan. The plan was I would not eat another thing on Thursday, and then Friday I would eat normally.   Dinner time came.  Dinner time went.  I fed my kids, but not myself.  I climbed into bed before my husband even came home.  This way, I didn’t have to experience my hunger and I didn’t trust myself to lie to my husband about what was for dinner:  Nothing.

I woke up in the middle of the night feeling nauseaus.   I thought, if I can just escape to sleep again, I will not feel this.  So, I did.  Friday morning, I ate a mostly normal breakfast.  I had a little less cereal than usual.  Then, I thought, It wasn’t as hard to not eat on Thursday as I thought it would be.  No lunch would feel so good.  And so, that’s how it went.  I drove to my Friday therapy appointment.  By the time I sat in her office, I was shaking.  I was sure that the pain in my head couldn’t get worse.  I was so nauseaus, I thought I was going to vomit.

She spent the first 20 minutes talking me into a supervised snack.  It was so hard to break my streak of not eating.  I had worked so hard to get to this point.  If I caved now, what was it all for?  On the other hand, if I didn’t eat now, how would I drive home?   So I ate.  Slowly.  Tentatively.

My husband came home early and held my hand, physically and emotionally that weekend.  At one point I flipped through some earlier journal entries.  I came across some from almost 3 years ago.  I went through a rough patch in 2009 that I remember as mostly being about feeling anxious and depressed, and that maybe some eating issues were there for some of it.  I was stunned to find that entries about eating went on for a year.  One year. It scared me.  I don’t have that kind of time to give to such an unworthy cause.

Still, after reading those entries, almost every part of me wanted to continue my quest for thinness.  When I was eating I was doing it because my husband and therapist were monitoring my meals.  But it was one of the first healthy thoughts I had in this freight train of a week.

In the next few posts, I want to write about what happens after that.   I don’t want this to be another year long struggle.  I want to get back to me, to my core, quicker.  I can do it.

Harm OCD

February 22, 2012

I really, really, really like this article. I wish I had read such an article a decade ago and saved myself years of wondering if I was a monster. It’s still reassuring to read such an article, and think to myself, “Someone wrote an entire article about what goes on in my head. It can’t be just me. It can’t be just me.

Read it, spread it around. I hope even one person seeks comfort from it.

OCD in a nutshell.

January 24, 2012

“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” -Pema Chondron


January 20, 2012

Had one of those dreams again last night. In which I wake up, panicked. Because I dream-cheated on him. It’s a recurring theme of my dreams, though the dreams themselves vary. But the themes are always the same. I dream-cheat. I date someone else on the side, I have an affair, I question if I want to be with him.

And then I wake up and I hate myself for it.

And while I can remind myself that it’s very likely OCD manifesting its spins in my dreams, there’s that little part of me that wonders…are those dreams me? Am I a cheater? Will I cheat? Do I love him?


December 29, 2011

My fear that something bad is going to happen to my loved ones is creeping back up, slowly but surely. It’s not debilitating, yet. But something to keep an eye on. When one of those individuals doesn’t answer a phone call, doesn’t call right away to say that they’ve gotten home safely, is out without me, is driving or flying or even walking, I’m worrying again. I’m feeling helpless again that there is so much that could happen in all of those situations that I can’t control, and I know nothing I can do can control it. I feel certain that if something were to happen to one of them (and even saying that, thinking it — I worry that I just caused something to happen. Magical thinking at its finest.) I wouldn’t survive it. I just wouldn’t. But I don’t want to think about it, because what if by thinking it it happens? Which I know can’t happen, but what if it can?

And I am feeling everyone’s emotions again. No, not even feeling their emotions. Feeling their imagined emotions. What if my mom is feeling lonely? What if my dad is stressed? What if my boyfriend is exhausted? What if my brother is scared? I feel it all, even when they tell me that they are okay. I still feel it. Until I become so inundated with every emotion under the sun, on behalf of every person I know, that I can’t breathe. And yet, I can’t let go of it. What if by not paying attention to a potential emotion, I’m being selfish? What if they really need me to acknowledge it and realize it and it’s a test? What if I could be doing something to help and instead I don’t? What if they don’t tell me how they feel because they want to protect me? Are they right in doing that in the first place?

It’s not debilitating. Yet.