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


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.

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.

Serendipity, You’re Weird

So apparently February 24th to March 2nd is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Which means that I had my bariatric surgery right in the middle of it. …huh.

If you suspect you may have an eating disorder, or that you know someone who might be struggling with one, you or they can take a screening conducted by the National Eating Disorder Association and Screening For Mental Health, Inc. There are lots of resources out there for those affected by eating disorders to get help. And sometimes something as simple as letting them know they aren’t alone can be a major balm.

If you’d like to learn more about National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, or get involved, you can do so by visiting the NEDA website.

Chasing the Wagon

I generally hate the phrase, “falling off the wagon”, but what the hell, we’ll use it this once.

I’m not exactly sure when the fall happened. The way most people talk about it makes it seem like there should have been a definitive moment to which I could point and say, “There–there is where I lost my footing, there is where the positive habits I’d built up were erased”. But I’m finding that it’s not so cut-and-dry. …and yes, it’s entirely possible that that is due to my own denial. Even writing this, I don’t want to admit that I’m as far outside of the scope of what I should be doing as I am. But I am forced to, and, despite not wanting to admit it, I’m happy that I am.

I weigh myself every Saturday. In November–so, three-ish months ago, at this point–I weighed around 164 pounds. This morning, I awoke and climbed on the scale, and discovered I am now back up to 175 pounds. I’ve been trying to be gentle with myself–I’m high-strung to begin with, and am currently working on a project that’s just a little stressful, so I’ve been trying to coach myself to not stress out too much about anything, including things that are weight- and food-related.

But that ends now, at least for anything food-related, anxiety issues be damned. I have not come this far only to backslide. Vigilance is the price I pay for feeling better, both in general, and about myself. I need to not only be aware of my food intake, but I also need to be aware that “vigilance” and “guilt” are not synonymous–it is possible for me to be vigilant without beating myself up for making bad choices.

So now it is time to try and find my way back to those good habits. I (literally, it’s been so long) dusted off my food journal this morning, which I haven’t been using in part due to laziness, and in part because, for some foods, it’s difficult to know how many calories I’m actually ingesting. So, for that latter reason, keeping a food journal seems somewhat pointless. But there is a point to it, I must remind myself, and that point is awareness, conscientiousness, and vigilance.

So no, I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I (once again) started caring more about my next fix than my own health. But I can say that as of this morning, I am tired of the excuses and the willful ignorance, and I am no longer going to accept either. There are better ways to deal with stress than food, and there will always be a stressor in my life that makes me want to eat. I accept that fact. But I rebel against the urge to succumb.

My one-year anniversary is this coming Thursday.

Status Update #9

I’d had another check-in with my surgeon, so it is once again that time. This is actually a bit late this month—sorry.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 168.4 lbs
Weight today: 170.0
Total lost: 70.8

Those numbers could be better. To say that I’m disappointed in myself would be an accurate way to describe my feelings…but I do also sort of feel as though maybe I’m being a bit hard on myself. It was the holidays—but then maybe that’s just the addiction talking.

In any case, there were other things I wanted to talk about today than my most recent post-op visit. I had intended to write this post sooner, but late is indeed better than never. So, Christmas.

December what a bit of a nightmare for me. I don’t know what it was. I don’t know if it was the fact that the holidays made a convenient excuse, or the fact that seasonal candies made a convenient excuse, or if Seasonal Affective Disorder just makes me want to eat all the things, or a combination of those and other factors, but I just could not behave myself when it came to food. My weight is thankfully still right around where it was in November, which means that I at least haven’t gained anything over that. But still. I can’t help but think that if I’d have eaten less junk, I might have gotten closer to my ultimate long-term weight goal.

I was, however, successful in not stuffing myself to an uncomfortable level at Christmas dinner, which is most definitely a win. On New Year’s Eve, I had more junk than I should have, but that was, as I’ve said, just the way December went. Writing this entry has actually brought some focus to the fact that this is a whole new month, and the cycles of last month do not necessarily need to carry over. There’s something to think about.

But yes, I have been having a lot of trouble with my portion control lately. And it’s not just with the sweet stuff, either. It’s with everything. I know how to solve that problem—I need to slow down when I’m eating, and be stricter about stopping when I feel full. I just get so tired of having to maintain that diligence, that alertness, that self-awareness. And this weariness is not new. It’s part of the reason why dieting never worked for me. But I really no longer have the option of just throwing caution to the wind—I have to start being more careful, or I could hurt myself. I just feel like I’m constantly in some sort of frenzy, and so it’s difficult to pay attention. …have I mentioned lately that I don’t deal with stress well? (I am currently wending my way through multiple stressful projects and situations, so finding the brain power to focus that much energy on eating properly is very difficult for me.)

I really must look into speaking with a professional about my food problems. I am not confident that anything productive will come of it at this particular point in time—I attempted to see a therapist a couple of years ago for different issues and ended up getting a bit screwed financially because of my insurance company—but as I often say, one never knows without asking.

Also, while visiting my doctor this month, I asked about additional supplements to take for my hair. Hair loss is a common thing for LAP-Band patients, and in that respect, I am quite the norm. And that is perhaps the thing that upsets me the most about this new life. My hair is very important to me. To list all of the reasons why would take much longer than I think any of you want to read; to articulate all of the ways in which it is important to me would be impossible. So I’ve been very, very upset, actually, these last few months, because, while some of the hair has grown back, it is noticeably thinner and somehow lacking. What hair I do have seems to still be pretty healthy, but I am nevertheless very concerned that it isn’t what it was prior to surgery. So I wanted to see if my doctor could recommend some additional supplements that could be beneficial to the growth and health of my hair.

He did give me the name of a supplement to try. I have not yet bought any because I’m waiting on some blood test results. Yeah—they actually drew blood to check the levels of various things in my system, because my doctor suspects there’s something off nutritionally that is perhaps beyond the norm. I’m…not really keeping my hopes up, but I’m finding it more difficult to remain positive lately, just in general. That’s SAD for you.

Anyway, I am keeping my fingers crossed that we can get this sorted out sooner rather than later. I feel like a part of myself is missing, and honestly…at times it’s enough to make me regret having had the surgery. At times.

Until I have answers, I’m just trying to keep my hair up so that it doesn’t bother me as much, and am actually considering a drastic haircut, which if you know me personally, should really tell you something.

In the meantime, this month I will leave you with not one, but two photos. The first is the original photo of myself that I posted in November of 2012. The second is this month’s progress photo, taken in a manner similar to that original photo, for the sake of comparison. No, I am not above posting pictures of myself in my underwear on the internet—as I’ve said, I’m not wearing any less fabric than I would be in certain kinds of bathing suits.

But so this is the difference a year (and bariatric surgery) can make. …putting this together was quite the experience.

Status Update #9

Because everyone wears bathing suits in Indianapolis in January. Right?

Yes, It Really Starts this Early

This morning, a friend of mine shared this article on her Facebook page, entitled, “Uh Oh: My Child Might Have An Eating Disorder”. I gave it a read, as this is the sort of thing that’s relevant to some of my interests, and I was curious to see what the situation was.

The article doesn’t say how old the child in question is, but she’s pretty young. And I would be willing to bet money that there are people out there–because this is the internet–frothing at the mouth because of how alarmist this article is. The child couldn’t possibly have an eating disorder, she’s too young.

If a disorder is a thing that disrupts or prevents conventional or healthy behavior, then it is entirely possible for a young child to have an eating disorder. And more to the point, I know this because mine began when I was a young child.

This article actually made me remember some things about myself that I’d forgotten. Like how, once when my (step) uncle was visiting, we made cookie dough and put it in the freezer to chill. Then something happened, and the cookie dough was forgotten, and we never actually made cookies. Except I didn’t forget about the cookie dough, and I would sneak it compulsively. (This was at the age of seven or eight, folks.) I used to sneak candy all the time. Like the child in the article, I would also get really excited about sweets, and would ask for them at odd times of the day. I was much better able to get away with this at my dad’s house than at my mom’s, and I remember frequently eating ice cream at odd times, or drinking can after can after can of soda because it was so good, I just couldn’t stop. One year, for Christmas, my Papaw gave me twenty dollars. I walked to the Village Pantry near my dad’s neighborhood and spent all of it on donuts and ate them all myself. Twenty dollars worth of glazed donuts is a lot of fucking donuts.

When the friends I had in my dad’s neighborhood would have slumber parties, I remember I would get so full on snacks and soda that I would consider making myself throw up so that my stomach would stop making me miserable.

If the compulsory ingestion of a substance known to be harmful to oneself is not the hallmark of an addict, I don’t know what is. I am an addict. And I started really, really young.

I’ve been worse about my intake this last week than I thought I was. I’m back around 180. I will be asking for another adjustment when I go to see my surgeon in a week or so (and not just because of the weight increase, but because of part of what’s causing the weight increase–I’m having issues with actually feeling hungry). And I do have the business card for an addiction counselor that my surgeon recommended. I’m just waiting to contact her until we figure out what’s going to happen with our insurance next year. …which leaves me in a bit of a lurch over the next two months, which, lucky for me, are The Holidays.

(Pro Tip: For anyone working their way through compulsive overeating/other eating disorders, the holidays are an absolute nightmare.)

So yes: It is very possible for a young child to have an eating disorder. I only hope that it’s also possible for a young child to overcome an eating disorder if it’s recognized and treated early on. And I wish that family all the best.

Edit: Oh, and by the way, I thought I should give you all fair warning. In conjunction with that whole holiday thing I mentioned, I also suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder, which you may know by the term “seasonal depression”. It is therefore very possible that my posts may start becoming less thoughtful or exuberant and more negative, as part of the reason this blog exists is for my own catharsis. It’s not guaranteed that it will happen. Last year, for example, I was barely bothered by the winter, and there were plenty of non-SAD reasons for me to be down about things–and I wasn’t. But this year…this year, I started feeling ghosts of it a couple of weeks before Halloween. So if my posts take a turn for the negative, just know that it’s caused by a combination of food cravings and the weather, and that the blearch should subside on the nice, bright sunny days.