Building a Bonfire

Normally I would pontificate on how long it’s been since I updated this blog, but I wrote this entry mostly for me.  I’m only posting it publicly because sometimes I need to tell other people about things in order to keep them real in my head–it’s like one of those micro-aggressions you do against an abuser (in this case, my compulsive eating habits) to keep your resistance against them active.  So the format of this entry is a bit different.

Though for reference: The last time I weighed myself, I was in the neighborhood of 270 pounds.

My why:

  • I’m frustrated by never having any energy
  • I dislike how cumbersome my body is to move around right now
  • Practically none of my clothing fits and I both miss it and can’t afford to replace it
  • I miss feeling attractive

Challenges:

  • It is very emotionally taxing for me to control what I eat. In order to do so, my life basically has to revolve around what I eat.  I need to focus on making good choices and curtailing my self-destructive impulses.  I need to be diligent about measuring, portioning, timing, and counting calories.  I expect this will take some measure of time away from each workday, and given that my focus on most days is on productivity, it can be very stressful to shift that focus to anything else–this includes things like self-care and even housework.
  • I need the people around me to be supportive of my efforts to eat better, most specifically my two boyfriends, who are the two people I see the most during each week.
  • I worry that my finances might bar me from being able to make good food choices for one of two reasons:
    1. The food that meets my dietary criteria will be too expensive; or
    2. I won’t be able to afford a variety of foods that meet my dietary criteria, and will quickly become burned out eating the same things all the time and slip back into unhealthy eating habits because unhealthier things are less expensive and therefore easier to acquire in a wider variety
  • Eating away from my residence, whether at a restaurant or at someone else’s house, will become either exceptionally tricky or outright impossible. This has a host of implications.
  • Changing things that have become staples of my diet could be tricky.
  • I’m likely to be hungry a lot when I begin to alter my eating habits, which is going to make it more difficult to stick to the new habits. Even mild physical hunger can make it difficult for me to focus, can make me feel depressed or irritable, or even make me feel queasy.
  • The ever-present sweet tooth is still there.
  • My depression and anxiety are, in general, mollified by comfort food, and as these personality disorders are ever-present factors in my life, living without my time-old form of self-comfort can be very tricky. I actually theorize that it was a significant contributor to my nervous breakdown in 2014.

Dietary criteria and goals:

  • Eat once every 3 to 4 hours
  • Eat 6 to 8 ounces of food per meal
  • Eat 15 to 20 grams of protein per meal
  • Do not eliminate carbs, but eat them sparingly
  • Fat is fine, your brain needs it to function
  • Do not drink right before, during, or right after eating—but consume at least 30 ounces of plain water per day
  • Eat between 1150 to 1300 calories a day
  • Track meal portions, calories, protein, and carbs every time I eat
  • Weigh-in only once per month, not once per week as I used to

I am still on the fence as to whether or not allowing myself one “cheat day” each week would be mentally and emotionally beneficial, or do more harm than good.  On the one hand, it would allow me to relax the mental and emotional “muscles” that I keep clenched when I expend the sort of energy required for me to engage in better eating habits.  But on the other, I fear that even one day off from those habits might make it easier for me to slip back into the bad habits.

I have a lot of complex emotional baggage when it comes to food.  Slogging through it can be downright impossible sometimes.  It’s easy to just give up control and succumb to the addition.

But I’m tired of feeling hopeless and helpless.  The inner fire that ignited after I had bariatric surgery, when I began losing weight and feeling better, might have gone out.  But my old weight loss motivations are still striking sparks inside my heart, and I think I’m beginning to once again source scraps of tinder within my will.  Even as I’m terrified that I’ll fail again, I pull from other sources within myself my general attitude of, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and find that I am meekly, cautiously willing to try again to build a bonfire.

But baby steps.  I need to remind myself that it’s ok to go slowly.  It’s ok to make mistakes.  It’s ok to not be perfect.  And that no, this will not be fun.  It’s going to suck ass.  But I’ll dangle my whys in front of my psyche like candy and see if that helps.

So, first goal: Lose 10 pounds by January 1st 2018.

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Status Update #16…Sort Of

My last check-in was actually a couple of weeks ago now. I’ve been meaning to sit down and write the usual blog update about it, but instead, I’ve been lax in doing so. Now, where to start.

Firstly, my weight is, according to my doctor’s scale, a little over 190 pounds again. According to my scale at home, it’s still a couple of pounds under. I tend to feel that my at-home weigh-ins are more accurate, as they are done without the weight added by breakfast and clothing, but the metrics from my surgeon’s office scale are what I’ve been reporting in all of these status updates.

With regards to the last couple of weeks…

I used to wish for a nervous breakdown. It seemed like it would be a cathartic release rather than a quagmire of emotion with no definitive beginning and an even more poorly defined termination point. Now that I’ve actually had one…I think I could really have done without.

No, this isn’t a recent thing. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, actually, and realized that the point at which I was in October, right before I started my anti-anxiety medication, probably qualifies as a bona fide nervous breakdown. I couldn’t sleep. I was doing a lot of stress eating. I couldn’t think about housework or my own music without wanting to run and hide in a corner and just cry and cry and cry. Social interactions frazzled me. Being alone left me feeling anxious and depressed. I was a raw nerve, and effectively useless. I have no idea how I managed to finish out the end of my band’s tour, to be honest.

So…yeah. That happened.

By contrast, I’m much better now. I still feel like I have a long way to go, but at least I’m not as bad as I was.

I’ve started therapy. I’ve had only a handful of sessions thus far, so my therapist and I are still getting to know each other a bit. But I’m hoping it will help.

Otherwise, I invite you to read these two articles to get a glimpse of the muck that’s swirling around in my head right now. I find it difficult to be even half this elegant about my own experiences, but these articles are pretty close to some of what I’ve been going through.

11 Habits of People With Concealed Depression

9 things I wish people understood about anxiety

That Update I’ve Been Meaning to Make

I intended, following my check-in with my general practitioner, to post an update regarding my anxiety meds. Then I was generally busy, and then I was sick, so I’ve been putting off a lot of things that I intended to do.

But now that I’m feeling humanoid again, here’s that update I’ve been meaning to make!

The meds seem to be working pretty well. It was, at most, maybe two weeks before I was able to mentally compile a to-do list for the following day while on my way to bed and then not lay there awake for hours stressing out about everything on that list. And the days on which I wake up already feeling overwhelmed and run-down are now much fewer in number. I am once again able to do the things that I need to do without freaking out about having to do them, and the things I want to do without finding them pointless and joyless.

I will still occasionally have the off day. But it seems as though now, instead of spending my entire day anxious and depressed, convinced that no one loves me and everything is pointless, and oh, why couldn’t I have been better about this or that?—I will instead spend a few hours feeling this way a few times a week. These emotions are much less acute and frequent, and they dissipate much more quickly.

And I finally had the energy and mental wherewithal to get back into portioning and journaling my meals.

…and then Thanksgiving happened, and, well, y’know. But I know that once I shake this bloody cold—which has been a hungry virus, let me tell you—I will once again have that ability, that patience, that strength, to stand against those inner voices that tell me I should be eating constantly, and tell them that no, I really shouldn’t.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that I’m still not dealing with the underlying problems, because I don’t know how to, or even what they are.

The bad news is that I was, around the time of my band’s last show of the year, so generally anxious that if I didn’t have a stuffed animal in my hands to cuddle at all times, oh dear god, I might start crying at any minute. I was a raw nerve around people and all I wanted to do was get away from them. (Naturally, my band’s last show of the year was at a convention, so that wasn’t going to happen any time soon.) This is a Very Bad Thing because it means that my band is probably my greatest source of stress—which I knew, but if engaging in related activities stresses me out to the point of practically being unable to function, well, that’s kind of a problem

Thankfully, I think the actual performance went quite well. It’s the lead-up time to actually getting on stage at an event that makes me get really twitchy.

And the last of the bad news is…

The medication I’m on has as a possible side-effect for women increased difficulty climaxing…

…which is really ironic for a medication that’s being taken to help with anxiety…

…and naturally, I would be one of the patients experiencing that side-effect.

Sigh.

But my doctor says I should only plan to be on this medication for six to eight months. …of course, I’m not confident that I won’t need to get back on it shortly after I stop taking it since, as I said, I currently have no way to deal with the underlying issues, but…yeah.

In the meantime, at least I can function. I can do chores (when I’m not sick with the plague) again. I can enjoy sewing and crafting again. And maybe—just maybe—I can get back into songwriting when I’m done being sick and riding the roller coaster that is The Holidays.

Speaking of which, my next check-in with my bariatric surgeon isn’t until January. So unless I have something to say between now and then, this is the last you’ll hear of me until 2015.

I hope all of you have a safe and wonderful end of December, and that whatever holiday you celebrate, if any, is all that you want and need it to be.

And happy New Year. Maybe set some goals for that new beginning, if you’re into that sort of thing. Not “resolutions”—goals. After all, we only get to start 2015 once.

Status Update #15

It’s time for another Status Update.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last time: 172.4 lbs
Weight today: 179.8 lbs
Total lost: 74.6 lbs

There will be no photo this month, as I’ve no positive progress to show. And I pretty much said everything I might have to say in this update in my last post—I’ve started anti-anxiety meds for the first time, and I need to wait and see how that affects me before I can really put much focus toward getting my eating habits back on track.

So otherwise…I hope everyone’s having a good week.

The Beginning of a New Path

Today was the day of my doctor’s appointment to discuss my anxiety problems. I’ve been learning from my friends that a lot of what I’ve had going on is pretty standard for someone with the issues I’ve been having, which is oddly comforting. Obviously I don’t have any updates on how things are going with my new medication yet, but I wanted to at least pass along that the appointment itself happened.

I’ve been prescribed the lower dosage, generic form of Lexapro. It will be a few weeks yet before I’m likely to notice any results. But just having gone through this doctor visit and gotten my prescription from the pharmacy seems to have made me feel a bit better already.

So I’ve taken a turn on this road I’m on and am exploring a new path. We’ll see where it leads.

In addition, I’m planning to reexamine the possibility of going to a therapist after the first of the year. I still don’t feel very confident about being able to actually afford talk therapy, but I’m willing to see what numbers can be juggled and how.

Unless I have anything further to add in the interim, I’ll be back in a few weeks after the follow-up appointment with my doctor to let everyone know how things are going. Have a safe and happy Halloween and Thanksgiving.

On Anxiety

I think I might have mentioned a time or two that I have some anxiety issues. I’m a little hesitant to call it an actual anxiety disorder, as I’ve never been formally diagnosed with such a thing, but it’s not infrequent that my anxiety will muck up my daily life. Maybe I’ll have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Maybe I’ll be too wired to focus on only one task at a time. Or maybe I’ll be so generally anxious that I can’t focus on anything and just sit around worrying about my lack of productivity and how anxious I am.

Yes, I get anxious about how anxious I am.

…that maybe sounds like something disordered, right?

I’ve learned over the course of the last year or so that not everyone with anxiety issues is anxious in the same ways or about the same things. I think maybe I’m still working on accepting the idea that this fact doesn’t make my anxiety any less valid than someone else’s. Just because I don’t feel X about Y doesn’t mean that I’m not legitimately experiencing something that’s causing me problems.

Yes, I get anxious about whether or not my anxiety is a valid response to the world around me.

I spoke in my last entry about seeing my general doctor for a possible way to deal with this anxiety. I have an appointment scheduled for a week from today. I’ll post later about how it goes. In the meantime, I’m trying not to be too—yup, anxious—about it.

I am actually pretty concerned about the idea of mucking about with my brain chemistry with medication. But I know that if I’m prescribed anything, it’s likely to be low-dosage. And I’m willing to see if it will help me, because dear gods do I need something that will help me.

I can’t sleep very well. I haven’t been able to sleep very well for a long time now. I can’t remember the last time I was truly relaxed without a million thoughts flying around in my head. I have so much tension built up in my neck, shoulders, and back that last Thursday morning, I developed a pinched nerve in my back simply because I turned over in bed. Last night, upon going to bed, it felt as if the matching nerve on the other side was being tweaked in a similar manner, so I ended up staying up until 7 AM with my heating pad in the living room trying to keep things relaxed.

There are days that I can get up and tackle the world. Then there are days when the thought of something as simple as doing the dishes freaks me out.

Why is this relevant to a weight loss blog?

My primary means of self-comfort is food. Being so constantly anxious makes me want to eat. A lot.

I’ve been trying to focus on drinking more water over the last two days. I figure it can only help my knotted muscles to keep my body well-hydrated. But apart from that, it’s also helping with my impulsive eating in a couple of different ways. First, the fluid fills up my stomach, thereby leaving no room for any actual food. And second, imbibing said fluid through a drinking straw seems to be satisfying my oral fixation-related urges. I typically chew on my drinking straws while using them, so in this case, not only do I have an edible substance passing into my mouth, but I’m masticating something at the same time. And water isn’t typically known for having a lot of calories in it.

Often when I want to chew on something, I’ll turn to gum. But chewing gum only covers half of the equation. I get the feeling of something in my teeth, yes, but I don’t get to swallow anything. So there are times when it’s not as emotionally fulfilling as I need it to be.

This drinking straw thing is a recent epiphany. I don’t know that it will always be a thing that hits this particular odd spot, but for now, it seems to be helping, at least a bit.

So that’s the update on the game plan I mentioned in my last entry. We’ll see how next week’s appointment turns out.