I stepped on the scales this morning with much trepidation, knowing I had gained weight over the three months of ups and downs I’ve had since the start of October. However, I still didn’t expect the results I saw. I’m twenty pounds up since October. Twenty. Pounds. Up. I had no idea things had got that far out of control.
Now comes the time of working to get healthier, just like half the rest of the world. We cling to health and weight loss as new year’s resolutions, but I feel this is a fight for my life of sorts. I feel the effects of the weight, both mentally and physically.
As an always recovering bulimic, the desire to lose weight is particularly precarious. And this is where the numbers game comes in to play. I needed to know my weight in order to have a starting point. I don’t, however, need to start calculating every calorie in terms of how it will affect my weight loss rate. I don’t need to push it to get to a tiny shape as soon as possible; I don’t even need to make being skinny a goal. Healthy should be the goal, whatever that looks like for me.
So here’s to health. And weight loss. And training the mind and body to make healthy choices. This is my resolution, regardless of how silly and cliched that might be, and I hope to achieve it through slow but steady progress toward my goal.
I include the question mark because so many people struggle this time of year. For me, issues with deep grief and ritualistic trauma frequently permeate the lighter side of the season. This year I have made a concerted effort to participate, rather than hide myself away somewhere. I have gone Christmas shopping and made plans for both Christmas and Chanukah celebrations. This has helped, to some extent, but I find my agita spiralling as the holidays near.
My sister’s death from suicide on 7 December 2000 is the most painful thing I’ve ever been through, and its sting is still just as sharp as it was that day. I have had quite a few other losses, and they all still sting. My sister’s death, however, still drops me to my knees sometimes. She was my second self. We were rarely separated, and I still hold myself partially at fault for not seeing the signs in her. That day was just as painful as ever this year, and it started my mind down the spiral of grief and fear. I’m trying to bring it back up.
If you are struggling this month, please hold on. Somewhere out there, someone needs you more than you know.
In the UK & Ireland: Contact the Samaritans 116 123
In the US: 1-800-784-2433; TTY: 1-800-799-4889
I’ve been cycling. As a matter of fact, I’m still on the downswing. It started with hypomania that I didn’t even recognise. My therapist pointed it out to me. This went on for roughly two weeks (which is why I haven’t posted). My thoughts raced madly, and I wanted everyone to shut it so I could keep talking. *Nothing* moved fast enough.
From there, the mixed state set in. The latest DSM did away with mixed episodes. The disorder, on the other hand, did not. This is the dangerous stage for me. All the despair and suicidal ideation of depression with all the energy of mania. I had racing dark thoughts. I didn’t want to talk anymore because I didn’t want anyone to get in my head. My paranoia shot up. *Everything* was dangerous.
Now I’ve fallen in to a light depression. It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable, but I feel I can cope with it safely. If not, I’ll definitely phone up my therapist. This completes my cycle, though. A couple of weeks of mania, followed by a week or so mixed, followed by sometimes months of depression. Here’s hoping this stage passes as quickly and as easily as possible.
It occurred to me this morning that we should strive to be like lamps. Lamps come in all shapes and sizes, take many different types of bulbs, and are of many different colours. However, they all have one purpose: to shed light. But what is the function of light? It brightens, yes, but it also clarifies. It even warms ever so slightly.
There’s a side of lamps we never really consider, though– they are shaded. Something *protects* their light. Shades prevent the light shining so brightly that it becomes harsh and painful. They stop people accidentally touching hot bulbs. They focus the light in the spot where it belongs. In essence, these are the aspects that shape the light and allow it to do its job efficiently.
So what if we were like lamps? We’d be accepting of all shapes, sizes, and colours. We’d be aware of who needs more shade than others, and we’d be accepting of that, recognising that the shade only helps us give as best we can. Some of us would be warmer than others, but even the coldest would have a purpose. We would shine as individual lights serving a common purpose, but we could still shine together to shed light on the world.
My thoughts have been going down that road all weekend, and it’s dangerous. I look back on certain situations in my past and wonder how they might have turned out if x had or hadn’t happened. This is futile at best and dangerous at worst. A decade ago, something happened in my life that lost me quite a few friends. It’s been an entire bloody decade, and the thought of it still floors me. I felt I had everything going for me. Then, one person and one event tore it all down. The logical part of me realises that means it simply wasn’t meant to be. The emotional part of me wants to stamp my feet and demand the chances back again.
This has left me quite depressed. I’m not suicidal, but I keep having these fleeting thoughts like ‘what would happen if I just slit my wrists.’ Maybe I just want a visible indication of how I feel whilst the smile sits on my face. I wish I could somehow communicate to someone exactly how miserable I feel, but trauma dictates that I keep smiling and avoid bothering people. Therapy this week. Hopefully, I’ll drop the facade there and actually process this stuff. In the meantime, I shall sit here typing away and trying to stay in the present. The past is just so hard to resist.
This post, by its very nature, will probably be more controversial than my trauma posts. People seem to have more trouble hearing about veganism than trauma sometimes. So, to start– I am not judging vegetarians or even omnivores. I’m simply writing about my experience in case it helps others along the way.
I went vegetarian all the way back in 2009. A friend of mine worked in what’s referred to around here as a chicken barn. It’s actually a large, windowless metal building where chickens and chicks are caught, debeaked, often have their wings broken, and killed sometimes in gruesome ways. My friend laughingly told me stories about how some of the chickens died. I was horrified, and no piece of chicken has ever touched my mouth since.
That experience got me thinking about other animals who are used for food. What made them less than a chicken? Why was I okay to eat those but disgusted by chicken? I didn’t look up anything about the animal food industry, but I did decide to stop eating animals one by one. First went other poultry, then fish, then finally beef (I didn’t eat pork anyway). By the end of that year, I decided to try one more cheeseburger just to make sure. Literally could not keep one bite down. It felt disgusting on my tongue and had no taste at all. So that was vegetarianism. All from the story of chickens in a barn.
Veganism was harder for me. I went on and off of it many times. Learning about the dairy industry was enough to make me detest dairy, but I still slipped up. When I feel tempted now– and I still do sometimes– I just remind myself that that calf’s life is more important than my desire for cheese.
I am vegan because I believe it is the only way to truly respect all life. I believe it is the most kind way of living and that it leaves a lighter carbon footprint. It’s best for the animals, best for the planet, and best for my mind and soul. From one tiny little chicken in a barn came a whole new lifestyle.
I highly recommend Alicia Silverstone’s ‘The Kind Life’ to anyone interested in vegetarianism and veganism. Interesting facts and some tasty recipes, too!
I got the job I really wanted. And kept it for less than an hour. I had been looking forward to this position, even hoping it might lead to full time one day. My housemate, however, had other ideas. He phoned up the temp agency, said he was my boss, and cancelled my position. They phoned me to confirm. With the threat my housemate poses, I had no choice but to tell them I couldn’t take the job. I was– and remain slightly– crushed.
A funny thing has come out of this, though. I know I’ll be ok. Financially, things are dismal. This job would have solved many of my problems. It obviously isn’t possible for me to take it, though, so I’ll just have to make do with what I have. And, for the most part, I know I can. See, there is something resilient about the human spirit, and I can see that part of myself. I will persevere. In fact, I will live well. Afterall, I am the only person who can truly ruin my life. They will never break me.
There are always stumbling blocks. I am edging ever closer to the job I’m really excited about, but now healthcare threatens it. I’m in America now, the land of horrible coverage. Because I am well below the poverty line at this time, I qualify for what amounts to free care. If I get this job, however, I will only qualify for reduced care.
What does that mean? Copays on meds and doctor visits, and a monthly insurance premium out of pocket. Work one job, barely afford necessities. Work two jobs, lose health coverage. I have two chronic conditions that require expensive medication. Neither will spontaneously go away if I get the second job.
This has me in a tizzy. My best friend reminded me that I haven’t got the job yet, but I’m just trying to be proactive. Too bad finding out information about copays and premiums is bloody impossible outside of the ‘enrolment period.’ America must consider itself the land of the healthy, because it’s almost impossible to afford healthcare.
The self-injury sparked by yesterday’s flashbacks has me thinking. I feel ashamed of the behaviour, in part because I feel I should have grown out of it by now. I buy in to the stereotype of the teenaged girl with a razor. But that isn’t an accurate picture of self-injury. It comes in many forms, both genders, and a wide range of ages. I’ve heard as young as 10 and as old as 62.
One significant problem here is that adults who self injure have very little support. Entire treatment programmes exist for children and teens. Adults are expected to outgrow that and magically become able to cope with stressors upon reaching adulthood. It doesn’t quite work that way, though. Even with a great therapist and a new bag of coping skills, I fall back on self-injury sometimes. Maybe I always will. I *hope* that isn’t true and that one day I’ll stop forever. From where I sit now, though, that doesn’t seem realistic.
If you are an adult who self injures, please know you aren’t alone. There are many of us who understand and who are riding along this struggle with you. I wish for you peace and for the ability to learn new coping mechanisms that will ease your pain without creating more. It’s never too late to ask for help.
WARNING: This post contains graphic descriptions of ritualistic abuse. Read with care.
I *hate* when flashbacks ruin progress. Due to some events from last night, a flashback triggered in my mind. I found myself caged, a collar around my neck and unable to stand in the confines of what amounted to a large pet carrier. I was a child, maybe eight or ten at the time, and completely terrified of what was happening around me. There were other caged children in the room. Some were completely silent, staring with empty eyes. Others were scared and crying. Thinking about it now, well past the flashback, it makes my stomach hurt. I’ll never understand how people can do those things to others.
The goal, if I remember correctly, was punishment for disobedience. The children had to prove that they were sorry through acts of self-harm. We had to *prove* that we were sorry. Hence the fact that my feet and arms are now covered with SI wounds. It had been many months. Yet here I am again, all bandaged up and feeling like an emo teen with a razor and a book of Sylvia Plath.
This flashback has left me shaken, no doubt, and it’s definitely something I’ll take to therapy. The hard work now is to toss away the feelings and go back to life proper. It is 2016, and I am, at least for the present moment, safe.