Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Celebrating Halloween

Happy Halloween! I do love this time of year and celebrating this day. I almost said holiday, but of course many Christians would stone me for such blasphemy. Of course, anyone who has studied history would see that most of our Christian holidays borrowed heavily from our ancestor's pagan traditions, and the early church even placed those holy days close to the old pre-Christian celebrations to help smooth the transition: Easter keeps the old symbols of rebirth and fertility (eggs and rabbits); Christmas still incorporates the holy and the ivy and the search for light (Christ's birth) during the darkness (winter solstice); and the early Christian leaders moved All Hallows (Saints') Day to honor our departed to the same time that the pagans celebrated the end of summer while they prepared for the dark, cold winter to come. As the plants froze and the livestock were butchered, it was normal to think about death as it pertained to the normal cycle of the seasons. Anyway, enough of my history lesson!

On my mother's side of the family a disproportionate number of people have died in the month of November. I think this side of the family spends the month looking over their shoulder in fear of seeing the Grim Reaper. It could just be a coincidence, but I wonder if the colder weather and decreasing sunlight have an effect on this. We all know about Seasonal Affective Disorder, so maybe it's connected to that.

An old friend of our family died Sunday at the age of 89. He and my grandparents were very close, and after my grandfather died I went a number of times with Grandma to his house for Thanksgiving. The last house I lived in was right across the street from his house, which I consider to be one of the most beautiful homes in our little town. I often took Mabel to visit him and his wife because I always loved talking to both of them. He was a treasure trove of information about the history of our town, and she always had interesting stories to tell. Once in a while she would offer up some home made cookies, or she would teach Mabel a little poem from her Scottish background. And it was always a treat when they offered a tour of their home; as lovely as it is on the outside, their heirlooms and collections were wonderful. In an odd coincidence, the house I'm now living in was the house where they courted as a young couple!

His wife and I talk a lot, because she's in charge of scheduling the altar flowers for our church. She spent the last year coping with his decline, the trips in and out of the hospital and his stay in the nursing home. At Easter the family was called in because his health was so poor, but he managed to rally and continue on until he finally passed away a few days ago. They were such a close couple and shared a lot of the same interests. They both did needlepoint (my grandmother went to their house every week for a church needlepoint group that made all of our church's paraments and our nativity) and seemed so genuinely happy. I know it will be hard for her to lose her life mate.

Let's face it: no matter how hard we try, we cannot escape death. It waits for all of us at the end of our journey, no matter how much plastic surgery we have, no matter how good our diet and exercise routines are, we grow old (if we're lucky) and we eventually die. It is a part of our time here in this existence, so doesn't it make sense to make peace with it instead of being terrified of it? I believe that's the original basis of celebrating Halloween: enabling us to become more comfortable with the idea of death.

Wow, I wasn't expecting to be this verbose on this subject. But it's definitely what was on my mind this Halloween morning.

Back to everyday things. Yesterday I had a very heart-pumping yoga session. The room was very chilly yesterday afternoon so Yoga Rachel got us ripping through a series of Sun Salutations until we got all warm and toasty.

Yesterday afternoon and evening I seemed to be constantly hungry. I did okay until evening, when I took Mabel to our local arts center for a Halloween craft class and I went to W*l-M*rt. For the first time since starting the Wellbutrin I found myself thinking about buying up binge foods, and I definitely checked things out in the store. I did get one small container of cookies, but I managed to look at my usual binge foods and turn away. The thoughts in my head were "I just don't want that much,"... "If I buy it I'll eat it all and I'll feel sick,"... "I don't want to go there."

I wasn't perfect, though. Last night I wound up eating all of the cookies in the car before I picked up Mabel to take her home. Granted, it was a much smaller amount of food than the other things I could have bought, but I still felt like I should have been able to stop at one or two. But I tried to look at the whole day and see what was going on that might have caused it. I didn't eat a lot throughout the day because I was very busy, including the more-intense-than-usual yoga class. That busy-ness and trying to juggle a million different things was stressing me out. Our schedule was so tight that I had less than 10 minutes to eat supper, which made it very unsatisfying. It was also the first full day of my Time of the Month.

So, um, yeah, there was lots of fuel to spark a bonfire of eating. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to keep it to a minimum and not buy and consume every binge food I could find.

This morning I'm trying to prevent this from happening again. I had a more substantial breakfast (a little more food, but a lot more fiber), packed a lunch with more protein, and I tried to plan a dinner with Hubby that was easier and quicker to prepare so I have more than 10 minutes to eat it! I couldn't do much about the hectic schedule -- my week is what it is -- but my goal is to do some kind of meditation or yoga this evening to help alleviate the night time munchies.

As for exercise, this morning I finally got back to my gym and rode my stationary bike. Then I came home and did the stability ball exercises again. I am so glad to be getting active again.

Here's something I didn't think about: I'm trying to exercise more and eat healthier foods. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to see how the medicine is going, and I know I'll be weighed. My husband announced he's hoping to hit the 50-pounds lost milestone this week. All of these things could be triggering the old diet mentality in me, which leads to thoughts of depriving myself and often causes binge eating. Even though I'm not trying to diet, having all these things happening at once could still spark those old responses, right? Definitely something to keep in mind.

All right, I've been writing long enough. I have work to do -- including the funeral bulletin for the gentleman I mentioned above. Have a fun Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fitness and Spirituality

I didn't mention yesterday that I finally rolled the stability ball out of my closet yesterday morning and did every exercise on the handy chart that comes with it. The move illustrated in this photo is the one that I'm feeling today in my triceps; otherwise I'm feeling okay, which means the weekly yoga must be helping to keep me in semi-decent shape.

I'm doing my best to revive my exercise routines. I let the strength training slide back in May, and by the end of the summer my regular walking had fallen by the wayside, too. I attribute the lack of walking to the Lexapro and the fatigue and lack of energy it caused.
Now that my energy and motivation are returning, I'm anxious -- in a good way! -- to get myself moving and physically active again. But it does mean recreating the habits that I let fall to the wayside. Part of that problem is getting disciplined to get up early enough in the morning, because from past experience I know it's the only time of day I can guarantee I won't be disrupted by phone calls, appointments, errands or the multitude of responsibilities I have. Unfortunately I still have some challenges: my home gym is still in the room in the garage at my old place (my cousin is renting the house), and even though it's a short distance away, it's still enough to give me an excuse not to go. My gym's future home, the basement in our new place, is still in flux; Hubby got waylaid in finishing that project by our dogs and their destruction of our kitchen floor. He swears to me that this will be done by Christmas, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
Another front I'm addressing is working on my spirituality. Yes, I do want to get back to church on a more regular basis, but that's only part of it. I've been wanting to delve into meditation for some time because I think it would really help me with stress as well as staying grounded and in touch with my body. The yoga is definitely part of that, but the truth is that other than my class once a week, I haven't been doing anything at home, and I know I really need to incorporate more of it into my daily life.
For some time I've been thinking about getting some jewelry that would be a symbol and reminder for me in regards to living consciously. As I began getting more and more into yoga I've discovered lots of "yoga" jewelry out there, but nothing really struck me and that I could imagine wearing on a regular basis. I wound up visiting Spirals of Light and was drawn to their chakra jewelry.
Now I'm no expert on chakras, but I do like the aspect of the connection of mind and body that it illustrates. The jewelry website encouraged you to think about colors you are drawn to, and the first thing that came to mind is purple. It's always been my favorite color, and I'm not sure it's a coincidence that I have been told by a person who can see auras that mine is a light purple color. When I looked at the bracelets I was of course attracted to the purple amethyst one, and I was quite pleased to see the following description:

Spirituality and Intuition
Amethyst, Clear Quartz
These stones help you to know your relationship with the Divine Spirit.
They are in alignment with the 6th chakra (Third Eye Chakra).
They assist in intuitive awareness, understanding and knowing, as well as insight and peace of mind.
Definitely sounded like what I was looking for, so I ordered it.
I then looked at the necklaces, and again I was drawn to the purple amethyst and quartz. I also liked the description for this piece:

“OM” with Amethyst & Quartz
This bright and shinny sterling silver “OM” pendant is surrounded with purple Amethyst and accented with clear Quartz. At 17” it is a perfect length to wear everyday.“OM” is the symbol of the universal force. It is the universal Cosmic Sound. Amethyst is a stone of spirituality and wisdom Quartz is an energy amplifier.
Again, this seemed to be what I was looking for. So I ordered this too, and yesterday they came in the mail. I'm not saying that I believe these pieces of bead and silver will instantly give me inner peace, wisdom, increased spirituality and energy. But wearing this jewelry makes me feel good. When I look at them they remind me what I'm striving for in my life and what a positive thing this is for my well being.
I've got my yoga class in an hour, so I better wrap up here. Namaste!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Frost and Tears

Ever heard of the saying "the frost is on the pumpkin?" It's from a poem by James Whitcomb Riley and definitely describes the world I woke up to today. Chilly, crisp air, frost covering everything, and it's all exhilarating and beautiful in some strange way.
I suppose I could view the cold morning negatively and fret over the upcoming heating bills, but why depress myself over things I can't control?

Then there are the things that are a little more under my control. On Sunday I had a breakdown moment, complete with tears. Instead of viewing this negatively -- my new medication is making me over-emotional, too prone to tears, and it's embarrassing and I feel out of control -- I realize how good this actually is for me.
I have always been a person who tries not to cry because I've always viewed it as a sign of weakness. I suppose this was ingrained early, as illustrated by the story I'm about to tell you. When I was about 4 years old my uncle hid my Christmas presents and informed me that I was bad and Santa didn't bring me anything. I got angry, telling him I knew he had hid the presents, and I wanted him to put them back under the tree. This went on for some time -- the uncle trying to convince me I didn't get anything, my defiant anger -- until my uncle turned to my mother in frustration and said, "I can't get her to cry!"
Yes, I've got some screwed up family. But since that time I don't like people playing mind games with me. I still have issues about my coping skills when I get hurt by others. Usually I suppress my feelings, withdrawing from the person emotionally if I'm not able to completely eliminate the person from my life. In fact, I'm doing this right now with some people who have hurt me! I'm not saying it's the healthiest thing in the world to do, but I just know confronting these people would not change their behavior or the situation and would only cause World War III. So I have to protect myself the best way I can.

Once in a while I will get angry, but normally it's only when I'm defending someone very close to me -- my mother, my sister, my daughter, my best friend. It's rare that I get that angry in my own defense -- only when it's come to the point that I don't care anymore if the relationship is ended by my blow-up. (Okay, I found this image while searching for crying pictures, and while it does kind of illustrate anger, the darn thing makes me LOL! What a ridiculously staged photo-- I love it!)
It's taken me a long time to realize that my expression of anger is not an absolute death-sentence for a relationship; I'll never forget the time I flipped out on a friend for letting me down on something that really mattered to me. I totally expected this person to never speak to me again, but the next day I received flowers from this friend in apology!
For a long time withdrawing and anger have been the only two accepted methods for me. Crying to me was a sign of defeat -- the other person "won" by breaking me down to tears. I felt it gave the other person the upper hand and power over me. But lately I've been discovering a lot of positives in this crying business. For one thing, it definitely releases the emotions I tend to hold inside, which many times can lead to depression and/or compulsive eating if I don't address them. And if I let myself cry over something that has hurt me, it enables me to let go of those feelings so they don't fester inside and grow into something much bigger and more powerful than they should be.
I've also realized in the last couple weeks, my tears have actually helped in getting my point across. I suppose I have the same problem that many people do: we think the people around us are mind readers and can tell when we're upset and when things really bother or hurt us, even though we don't tell them. We expect them to read our body language or tell by what we don't say or do to figure it out. Unfortunately, most people just aren't that intuitive or have those psychic powers.
And sometimes, even when we do tell someone what's on our minds, if we do it too calmly with little or no emotion behind it, they don't take it seriously. I've mentioned Lori's 2x4 over the head method before, but it's so true: with some people it takes a major effort to get their attention. I can be so emotionally suppressed and withdrawn, especially with my old mind set that emotion= weakness, that my feelings don't get across and subsequently I don't wind up getting what I actually need.
For my husband, I think I've finally found my 2x4: tears. I don't want it to sound like I'm deliberately shedding crocodile tears to manipulate him and get my way, because I would never play those kind of games. Two times in the past week, the second yesterday afternoon, I wound up crying during serious discussions with him, and it was something I deliberately didn't want to do, but I wasn't able to hold them back. What I've realized, however, is that this definitely gets his attention, and not only is he better able to understand what I'm feeling and thinking, but he winds up being more insightful and expresses himself better, too. Perhaps the reason for this is because if I go to him angry, his natural instinct is to get defensive and self-protective. But if I'm crying, it's obvious that I'm not out to attack him, and his natural response is to open up to me and try to make me feel better.
And guess what? For some time I've been addressing the same issues over and over with him with no luck. But now that I'm showing him the emotions behind these issues, when he can actually see how much of an emotional toll it's taking out of me, it's like he's finally really hearing me.
So while this crying thing is a little scary, I'm quickly realizing how much it's benefiting me. It just goes to show that I need to look for the positives in all things, even if they appear like a negative at first glance. Maybe even this weight regain I've had may have some purpose I'm not yet aware of.

Someone sent me this prayer in one of those e-mails that you're supposed to forward on to other people. While I'm not ultra-Christian, the message in this prayer definitely struck me today and helped me know that I should not regret what I've been through and where it's brought me -- I am exactly where I am meant to be:

"May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let His presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Curse of the Tight Jeans

While I completed this counted cross stitch project some time ago, I'm finally revealing it here because I just gave it to Hubby for his birthday this weekend. He seemed pleased with it, along with the other presents I gave him.

I get great enjoyment out of buying people presents that aren't necessarily expensive (none of his were) but that really connect with the recipient and let them know I made the effort to get something that interests them. For example, Hubby got this picture because he's an avid fisherman; I got him an encyclopedia of D.C. and Marvel comics because he's a collector; I got him a University of Pittsburgh t-shirt because he went there; and a DVD of "Young Frankenstein" because it's one of his all-time favorite movies.

Yet another busy day yesterday. Hubby went turkey hunting (he didn't get anything, much to my relief!), while Mabel and I went shopping. The cold weather is here and her bedroom tends to be cold, so I got her an electric blanket, which she is totally in love with and takes it back and forth from the bedroom to the living room to snuggle in warmth. In the afternoon I finished the house cleaning I didn't get done on Friday, then we went out for Hubby's birthday dinner.

Some sad news here: when I went to try on my jeans to dress for the meal, all of them were tight! Last season's "fat" jeans were the only ones that fight, but were very snug. The rest weren't even a possibility. Pretty depressing.

I swore to myself when I lost this weight that I would never buy bigger-sized clothes again, so when I thought about going out and buying a bigger pair of jeans, it really bothered me and felt like defeat. Granted, I am still WAY smaller than I was back at the beginning of this journey -- close to a hundred pounds! -- yet these extra pounds I've packed back on feel like such a crushing failure.

But don't fear, I didn't fall into a heap and cry, or vow to start a diet on Monday. I told myself that I am, with the help of my new medicine, starting to turn things around, and it will take time to undo the damage this summer of mental turmoil wreaked on me. I may never get to 200 pounds or reach the Onederfuls, but in time I will reach the weight that's most natural and comfortable for me, and I just need to be patient and do the work that needs to be done to be a "normal" (or at least semi-recovered) eater. At that time, if I need a new pair of jeans, I'll get them, but for the time being I'll wear my other pants (which I prefer anyway!) and not condemn myself for a tight pair of denim pants!
I have to get off of here and finish getting ready; my SIL and her friend from Baltimore who's staying with her for the weekend are meeting my mother, Mabel and I for breakfast at a nearby diner. Then hopefully we'll be able to sit back, relax, watch the Steelers game and do nothing for the rest of the weekend!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Live Simply? How?

I don't have much time to write: Mabel and I are headed to her pee wee cheerleading banquet in half an hour.

Very busy day. Took my mother to the hospital this morning for a colonoscopy. This was her first and fortunately, everything went great.

After I took her home I went down to see J&M, two of the people I'll be travelling with to England. J's birthday was on the 12th, and I brought her a belated present that I made, the counted cross stitch picture you see here.

I did call Hubby from J&M's to make sure he'd be home when Mabel got off the bus, because the three of us were talking up a storm. He called back once she got home to tell me he was taking Mabel for her allergy shot -- oops, forgot about that! I rushed back and took over for him at the doctor's office waiting room, because he had to go home and finish the meal he prepared for his powderpuff football team, which is playing this evening. (If you haven't heard of this, powder puff football is when the girls are the players, in this case the 11th graders vs. the 12th graders, and the boys are the cheerleaders)

Mabel and I are not going to the game because of the banquet I mentioned above. I'm kind of glad the banquet gave me an excuse not to go, because the weather is 50 degrees F and rainy here and I don't relish the idea of sitting on a cold, wet metallic bleacher for two hours.

After the banquet I'm hoping to get home and wrap Hubby's presents. If he's home, I guess it'll have to wait until morning when he leaves to go turkey hunting (yuck). Then that evening we're going out to dinner for his birthday. Of course, we also have to go with his parents, his brother and of course Mabel, so forget any kind of romantic evening.

The cross-stitch picture I gave my friend reads "live simply." I sure wish I coud be following that motto, but right now that just isn't in the cards. Right now it's more like "cram as much in as possible and run yourself ragged in the process." At least I have the energy to do it all, and better yet, not have a desire to turn to overeating for stress relief, comfort, etc. So it could be worse.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Hills Are Alive with the Smell of Potatoes

My hometown's claim to fame is its potato chip factory. These chips are distributed through the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and are quite popular. On rainy, foggy days like today, when you walk outside the entire town is greeted to the aroma of frying potatoes. I suppose it's the fog that holds down the emissions from the plant on the east end of town, but I can tell you I live on the very western end of town and our house is surrounded by this smell. All I have to say is, it smells a lot better than the other frequent smell our town is subjected to: the liquid manure the nearby farmers spread on their fields!

Fortunately for me, potato chips have never been one of my trigger foods or even on the top 10 of my favorite snack foods. Not so for my husband: his father worked for the above-mentioned potato chip company for more than 40 years and brought home an endless, free supply of their chips and other salty snack foods. Currently Hubby's favorite treat is their sourdough pretzels, which again is not one of my favorites -- they're too hard for my liking and scratch the inside of my mouth. I am definitely more of a sweets person, although I do like the occasional salty snack like nuts.

I haven't mentioned my husband's weight loss efforts here in the blog for some time. In case you're new to this blog or have forgotten, he went on the weight loss drug Meridia back in May. He has done phenomenally on this medicine -- so far he has lost somewhere around 40 pounds. It has reduced his appetite and helped him drastically cut his snacking and overeating.

Since he's been on this medicine I've been rather jealous, wanting my own magic pill to make the urgency and compulsion to overeat go away. I suppose I could have gone to my own doctor and asked to be put on it, but then I fell into my summer of anxiety and depression and wound up on Lexapro, which seemed to make the compulsive eating even worse.

But now that's changed. This Wellbutrin is working so much better for me. Granted, I do find myself more prone to tears -- when I'm laughing, when I'm hurt, even when some sentimental song comes on -- and I have discovered this is a common side effect. But this actually seems good after the depressing emptiness I was experiencing. I'm also realizing how important it is for me to feel my emotions and not suppress them, whether I do it myself or with medication: the more I feel, the less I turn to food.

Let's face it, though: the biggest change has been with my appetite and my compulsions to overeat. I still get hungry, but it seems like I'm finally just feeling my physical hunger instead of all the cravings and mental urges to eat. For example, yesterday I worked on our kitchen floor for almost six hours straight: normally I would have to stop at least once to eat something, but yesterday I was fine. My snacking has greatly reduced, and when I do, I find myself truly satisfied with so much less. Instead of being haunted by binge foods calling my name, I actually kind of forget they're there!

I'm not saying all of my cravings are gone, but I think they're becoming more intuitive instead of driven by compulsive reasons. Last night as I was finishing up the floor Hubby called me on the phone and asked me what I wanted for supper. I admitted I was really craving a burger, and he brought me my favorite one (not from a fast food restaurant, but a nice sit-down place with quality food) and I was satisfied eating half of it. Afterwards I saw the snack foods sitting where we keep all of them, and while the old habit would have been to dive in to them whether I was full or not, I wasn't interested at all.

As hard as I was trying to eat intuitively the last six months, doing my best to work on the environmental and psychological aspects of it, I realize now that there were neurobiological issues there that could not be overcome without medication. I wanted so badly to master IE "on my own" (hence my reluctance to ask for Meridia), but I realize now that I was fighting a losing battle.

This doesn't mean I'm going to rely on this "magic pill" to solve all my problems. I still need to work on expressing and managing my emotions; learning to become more self-assertive; work on avoiding the almost OCD-like tendency of falling into diet mentality (let's face it, my compulsive need to weigh myself several times a day is not much different than a person who constantly washes their hands); and getting more in touch and respecting my body.

It feels so great to share good news on this blog again. I actually feel eager to write now, which is a major sign of my recovery. Thank goodness! And thanks to all of you who have hung in there and supported me in these topsy-turvy months.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Girl Crush

My blog has been so dreary lately, and I feel like it's time to lighten it up, so I'll tell you about my Girl Crush. The term sounds so silly and relegated to teen girls, but according to the NY Times article I linked to above, it is "a phrase that many women in their 20's and 30's use in conversation, post on blogs and read in magazines."

The article also made me feel a little better when it went on to say, "This is not a new phenomenon. Women, especially young women, have always had such feelings of adoration for each other. Social scientists suspect such emotions are part of women's nature, feelings that evolution may have favored because they helped women bond with one another and work cooperatively. What's new is the current generation's willingness to express their ardor frankly."

I'd call my crush more admiration than ardor, because this is a person who has qualities I would like to foster in myself. So I look to her as in inspiration, someone I can learn from and look to for guidance.

All right, enough stalling, I have a girl crush on my yoga instructor! From the first day I have appreciated the calmness Rachel generates in the room, the relaxing cadence of her voice as she talks us through poses and urges us to get in touch with our bodies. I admire her peaceful demeanor, the way she carries herself, even the clothing she wears.

Yesterday I was the only one who showed up for class, and she asked me if I'd like to do partner yoga with her. If you've never heard of it, click on the photo above for a link to a web site about it, or else check out this book on Amazon. I was kind of nervous about it, definitely self-conscious at first, but as it went on I was able to relax and appreciate the cooperation involved in the poses.

It did illustrate to me how I (and probably most people) have become so removed from people and physical contact. Other than my husband and my daughter I almost never touch another person. My family isn't the huggy-kissy type, nor are most of my friends. And in our 21st century culture we conduct the majority of our relationships through telephones and computers. We as a society have become isolated from each other, and this lack of intimacy with others could easily be a cause of a lot of the problems we face.

All I can say is that I love yoga, and I'm thankful I have a good instructor to lead me to an improved quality of life. If I'm going to have a girl crush on anyone, I can't think of a more positive, affirming person.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Once again I've been staying away from the computer. The good news is I haven't been binge eating -- the Wellbutrin is doing a fantastic job of quelling my urges to compulsively overeat. For example, last night I went to the store during Mabel's gymnastics class, and even though it was an incredibly emotionally stressful day and I broke down and cried twice, I didn't buy one single binge food. Instead I bought strawberries, oranges, bananas, a high-fiber wheatberry bread and seltzer water. Granted, before I walked into the store I had eaten a handful of mini candy bars (oh the joys of Halloween candy), but this was extremely minimal in comparison to my eating in the last few months. And I still can't get over the fact that I had absolutely no desire to refill my binge food cache. There was no feeling of panic of running out of snacks, no feelings of deprivation -- only a desire to get some more healthy foods back into my body again.

I picked the picture above of an active volcano to illustrate how I'm feeling right now. I'm in the middle of some stormy situations to be sure. While I have erupted and the lava is flowing steadily, it's better than staying dormant and withdrawing emotionally, and I haven't completely exploded like Mount St. Helens into a huge cloud of dirt and firey ash with only a crater left behind. In fact, even though this isn't the most pleasant feeling, I think I actually prefer this middle ground: I'm not shutting down emotionally, which leads me to overeating and depression, and I'm also not going completely psycho and chasing my family around with an axe.

Mentioning axes, I watched a new show yesterday on the Lizzie Borden murders that used modern CSI techniques and psychological profiling to shed new light on the case. It seems more and more certain that Lizzie did in fact give her parents 40 whacks, but she was definitely the O.J. Simpson of the 1800s and managed to escape conviction for it. I find these crime/mystery shows mesmerizing. I guess I'm intrigued by the human mind and how it snaps and leads people to horrific acts. Not that I'm seriously planning any massacres, I swear!

I'm know I'm glossing over what led me to this current state. Once again, it's those little straws that build up until the camel's spine snaps from the burden. This current straw really hit me hard, hence the crying I've been doing. After a couple days of this I realized the only way I was going to get over it was to confront the person who caused it. It was difficult, but I did it, and while at first I felt a sense of weakness in exposing my hurt, by the end I felt stronger for standing up for myself and making sure the person knew they had crossed the line.

The reoccurring problem seems to be, however, that I while I am asserting myself more and more, nothing really changes, and these incidents keep happening. I don't know what the solution is. And that scares me.

I guess I just have to keep asserting myself and hope that eventually it sinks in to the people I'm asserting myself to that they're going to keep getting my confrontations until they change their ways. Or perhaps I'll have to get that axe after all...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Benefits of Anger

This could have been a picture of me yesterday. I had some moments when I was okay -- mainly when I was out of my house -- but every time I was at home I seemed to be on the verge of a complete nuclear meltdown. Every little thing was aggravating the hell out of me, and I fumed and bitched and stomped around like a maniac.

Today I'm better, mainly because I'm just too darned busy at work, where I still am. I also think it helped that I actually let out my feelings and didn't hold them inside. While the fuming was pretty exhausting, it's a better feeling than the sedated, zombified feeling I was experiencing.

In addition, the more I feel and express, the less I'm turning to food. I had to go to the grocery store last night to get milk, and I noticed as I walked past or even checked out some of my recent binge foods that I just didn't want it. It still looks good, but that compulsive feeling that I NEED IT ALL NOW isn't there. What a huge relief!

I still like my sweets, but I find myself craving other things like nuts and cheese, and not huge amounts either: I'm finding myself content with one cheese stick or a tiny bowl of nuts. I'm feeling much more like an intuitive eater again instead of an out-of-control eating machine, and I'm so relieved.

So while my explosive bitching isn't the most pleasant thing in the world for me and my family, it seems to be paying off in more ways than one. It certainly got my husband's attention. Last week when I made the suggestion that we needed a date night he shrugged me off and said, "When will we find time for that?" Today he's e-mailing me from work telling me how badly we need quality time together. Like my pal Lori says, sometimes people just need that good old 2x4 board over the head treatment to finally get the point.

This morning I was much calmer and nicer, and when I dropped off Mabel at the bus stop I said, "So, was I better today?" She just smiled at me as she got out of the vehicle. Being a drama queen herself, I suppose she understands.

I wonder, now that I think about it, that the fact that I finally walked a couple miles this morning didn't help matters, too. Exercise does do wonders for my stress tolerance, which is something I have to keep in mind as I try to get back to a regular workout routine.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pitching A Fit

It's good to know there's a place for me to pitch my tent while I'm pitching my fit. (Is the term "pitching a fit" well known? I suppose it's a more hillbilly version of "throwing a fit.")

I felt like a psychopath this morning. At one point while I was eating my cereal and listening to Howard Stern I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes -- thank goodness I didn't choke on my Banana Nut Crunch!

Later I got totally overwhelmed trying to get my daughter ready for school that I pretty much pitched that fit I mentioned above. I have our morning routine down to a precise science, and when Mabel tries to start throwing additional stuff at me, I seem to crack. This week at school they're having theme days, and today is crazy hair day, so I had to help her do her hair. No big deal. But then she wanted me to figure out how to work her new MP3 player, and that seemed to send me over the deep end. I'm not afraid of technology, but I just didn't have time to figure it out and get her and myself ready for our day. Things just got worse as I dealt with the latest casualties to my dog's teeth and the state of my kitchen, which is utter chaos now and is only going to get worse as my husband prepares to build an island and replace our dog chewed flooring. I turned into a snarling fiend and growled continuously until I got to work. I feel bad about getting so crabby and snappy, and I even apologized to Mabel and told her I'd try to get myself under control by the time she got home this afternoon.

It just goes to show how poorly I do with chaos and changes to my routine, especially in the morning. But this week overall has been really taxing me; there's been way too much running around in the afternoon and evenings. It's all stuff that needs to be done, but I wish it wasn't day after freakin' day! By the time I get home -- after 8 p.m. -- I am physically and mentally exhausted, and nothing is getting done around the house because I either don't have the time or energy to do it.

The good news, I suppose, is that my emotions are back in all their glory, even with the Wellbutrin. I don't feel sedated, I don't feel empty, and I feel like I'm slowly starting to regain some motivation and concentration in my life. As for the eating, it's not "perfect," but like I said yesterday, that overwhelming need to hoard food and overeat it is weakening. Thank God! Is there a saint of pharmaceuticals?

This afternoon I'm going to see Dr. Karen again, and I'm sure I'll go over all of this stuff again with her. She's always good with her insights and suggestions, and of all the things I have to do, this is always a productive one. Then this evening we go once again to Mabel's gymnastics. I will be so glad when this week is over!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Getting Back on Track?

Wow, I've really been missing in action online! I just couldn't seem to find the time to blog, and even today I'm squeezing it in between lunch and yoga -- and I couldn't even finish this sentence without being interrupted with a phone call.

Since Sunday I've been on Wellbutrin, and while I don't feel a big change as far as sedation or mood altering is involved, I do notice I'm not finding that drive to binge that's been making me so crazy the last few weeks. I'm not plotting and scheming about getting to a store to buy something "bad," then more plotting and scheming to snarf it down while no one's looking. Wellbutrin is also sold as Zyban and is used to decrease the cravings to smoke, so maybe this is slowly beginning to work on my cravings to overeat, too.

Along with not making the time to blog, I'm also finding it very hard to keep up regular exercise. Perhaps it's a good sign that this is beginning to bother me, and now instead of plotting how I'll inhale half a dozen doughnuts, I'm trying to figure out how to get back into the treadmill/ stationary bike routine again. I know, I just need to DO IT and quit thinking about it, but I'm moving in the right direction.

I hate to cut this short, but once again I've got things I have to get done. I really do hope this is the beginning of me getting back on track. I really need to get back to a point where I'm feeling good about myself again. And I don't mean the number on the scale. I mean my energy level, my ability to self-motivate and a general contentment with how things are. I guess I just have to keep trying, because the alternative is simply not an option.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Waking Up

I'm close to the end of my two weeks of weaning myself off of Lexapro, and I really feel like I'm reawakening from some deep sleep. No, I'm not calling myself Sleeping Beauty! But maybe one of the scullery maids in her castle who also got put under a magical slumbering spell with the rest of the servants.

I'd rather describe it this way than say I'm feeling "better." The truth is, I wasn't feeling much of anything before, and now I'm beginning to find emotions again. And let's face it -- some emotions are pleasant, and some aren't. But I must say I'd rather be able to feel again than to be a walking -- and eating -- zombie.

The emotion that has been taking precedence the last few days has been anger, but I don't see this as a bad thing, really. It doesn't feel like a destructive anger, but more of a self-assertive strain of anger, one that forces me to take care of myself. It's dawning on me just how much crap I've had to deal with the last few weeks and I'm making a decision to not put up with it anymore.

The overeating problems still aren't solved, but I'm doing my best to do something about it. I managed to pry open Karen Koenig's book "The Rules of Normal Eating" again. Each time I read it I seem to have a different reaction to it: this time I feel like the prodigal daughter seeking forgiveness and redemption for my wayward actions. I just hope I can pick up the pieces and find some way to return to intuitive eating.

Tomorrow I call my doctor and we decide which way to go. Even though I had a bad experience with the Lexapro, I don't think I want to go cold turkey. I talked to my sister this morning and asked her about Wellbutrin (she's actually on the Zyban version of the same drug) and she had nothing but positives to say about it. She started taking it to quit smoking and to handle the stress of a messy divorce, and it's helped with that. But it's also helped her quit mindlessly snacking, as well as getting more organized and motivated in the rest of her life. Seeing that we have the same genetic sources, it would be logical that it might have a similar effect on me.

Looking over this post, it -- actually I -- am sounding more positive than I have the last couple weeks. Thank goodness. I couldn't take much more of the dreariness I was mired in.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Another Busy Weekend

Another jam (or should I say apple butter) packed weekend.
Saturday morning Mabel and I went with some friends to the Springs Folk Festival. This is a celebration of autumn and the local history of the area. Springs is heavily populated with Amish and Mennonite so a lot of their culture is represented here. There are lots of demonstrations of agricultural-type work -- sheep shearing, hay baling, blacksmithing, rug making with looms, maple syrup production, to name a few. Mabel got to cut a piece off of a log with a two-handed saw, which she thought was incredibly cool.
There was also lots of good food -- homemade bread with butter and apple butter; bratwurst, corm meal mush and apple snitz. In past years I've tasted almost everything, but this year I stuck with the bread, while Mabel got some fresh cut French fries.

That night was Mabel's last night of cheerleading. Her team, the Wildcats, didn't do very well this year, but the girls definitely had a good time supporting them. During half time during the games they would do a little routine to one of the High School Musical songs (I don't think it's a coincidence that their mascot, the Wildcats, is the same mascot as the HSM team). I have to admit I'm glad the season's over, because it will finally free up our Saturdays.

On Sunday we began the week-long celebration of Mabel's 9th birthday. We needed ice cream and went to the grocery store, where we encountered this odd sight. I just realized you can see my reflection in the truck -- oh joy. The funhouse mirror effect of the truck helps to disguise how much weight I've packed on the last couple months. The good news is that most of my clothes still fit, but I don't have much leeway left. Good thing I got rid of all my fatter clothes, which will force me to do something about this.

Anyway, Sunday evening's event included the grandparents, the aunts and uncles and cousins. Hubby made the cake, which included layers of chocolate and French vanilla cake, and then covered the icing with pink m&ms (It's unbelieveable how many products in October are pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- our capitalist society has really jumped on this bandwagon, which can only be a good thing, even if they're taking advantage of it to make sales).
Mabel got lots of goodies, including a wad of cash (all ones) from her one Grandma, and a pile of Webkinz (for those of you without kids, this is the biggest thing right now -- stuffed animals that come with a code, which you then use to sign your animal in online on the Webkinz website, where you can play interactive games with your new pet). She's definitely in plush heaven right now.
Now that I've got all the weekend events out of the way, maybe I can get on here later and right about more internal/personal stuff. I'll be back.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Best Revenge

"Living well is the best revenge."
George Herbert, English metaphysical poet and clergyman, 1593-1633

There's a reason I go to therapy. When I'm stuck in the mire like I am right now, it's wonderful to go somewhere objective, where I can truly speak my mind without offending anyone or facing the possibility of rejection. It's a place where I can get an outside perspective, and often I get advice that I never would have thought of in my current state.

Dr. Karen didn't make me feel bad for being apathetic, sluggish, empty and driven to eat. She validated my feelings, didn't try to compare them to hers or anyone else's, and made it okay, not a failing or weakness or laziness on my part. (Not that you blogging friends don't often do that, too. But I guess it's different when I've got the person sitting in front me and hearing her voice.)

She confirmed my belief that this England trip controversy did send me "over the edge" as far as burnout/depression. Let's face it, it turned into a major battle in my marriage, and while I haven't mentioned it much here in my blog, it also became defining moment in my tenuous relationship with my in-laws. Their interference in this incident, not to mention their unsolicited and highly negative opinions which were shared with my husband and the extended family but not me, really was the crowning moment in my three year's worth of dealings with them.

Dr. Karen eloquently worded that while I won the battle of actually getting to go on the trip, the emotional toll it's taken on me has taken away a lot of the victory. And she advised me to not let them win.

"You know what they say," she said with a smile, "Living well is the best revenge." She encouraged me to not feel ashamed or bad about going on this trip, which is the current atmosphere going on around here as the in-laws will not bring the subject up in front of me and act like it's a big dirty secret. I need to start being openly excited and happy about this upcoming event and make sure they know it.

There was something about this advice from Dr. Karen that really changed my attitude. Instead of feeling like a victim, it inspired me to once again pick up the reins of my life and do something for me. She made me realize I need to make sure to "not let the bastards get me down." (I tried to look up the source of this famous phrase, a lot of people noted Margaret Atwood's "A Handmaid's Tale" but I'm sure it's older than that.)

While I'm not miraculously cured, I definitely have more of a bounce in my step today knowing I've got someone in my corner giving me the encouragement I so desperately need right now.

The Last Straw?

What a miserable day yesterday. I had terrible cramps and spent the late afternoon and evening in bed waiting for my Ibuprofen to kick in. So it makes you wonder if yesterday's rant was mainly hormonally motivated.

But let's face it, there's more to it than that.

Lori made an interesting comment in yesterday's post that from my blog entries I seemed okay until this England trip saga. This morning I looked back over my blog and I could see her point. But I know it's not the whole story, and the truth lies in the gaps between the posts.

In truth, I feel like I've been on a slow free-fall since April. I've done my best to grasp at whatever lifelines I could -- intuitive eating, conscious living, medication and therapy -- and at times I did feel better. But underneath I always felt right on the brink of breaking down or burning out.

Yes, I do think the negative brouhaha over the England trip seemed to be the final straw that propelled me into a true depressive state, but I know there were a lot more straws that were already weighing me down. I've tried to cope with these issues, and over the summer I feel I've made some progress with some of them with some really productive conversations with my husband.
Yet I can't seem to unload myself from the feelings -- or the avoidance of those feelings -- that these issues have caused, and I can't seem to move on.
The worst part is, I know what I need to do, or at least know of positive things I can do to improve my life. But everything just seems to hard. It all seems like too much effort and I can't seem to push myself anymore. It's burnout to the extreme. Or else chronic laziness and sloth.
Today I see my therapist and I hope I can find some solutions there. I really need help to get myself out of this funk, and I hope I can find some soon.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hitting the Wall

My friend e-mailed me today to let me know how he's doing in his effort to quit smoking. He's trying to quit using a medication called Chantix. When I read the following paragraph I have to admit a surge of jealousy welled up in me (I hope he doesn't mind that I'm quoting him!):

"The Chantix works so well that even if I did have a cigarette now, within seconds I'd feel awful and wonder why I ever did it. What the drug does--and this is the freaky part--in "lame man's terms" ;)--is that it makes me forget why I liked smoking. There's a more scientific explanation on the website, but that's how it feels to me. "

God I wish I had a magic pill that would do this for me when it comes to compulsive eating. If I had a pill that made me forget why I liked eating in a disordered way, it seems like it would solve so much grief for me.

Of course, there's always a price to pay, even with my friend:

"The downside is I don't really sleep well--only a few hours at a clip. Hence, I've been cleaning, reading, blogging, walking...anything to occupy the time that I devoted for so many years to the act of smoking. That's the hardest part--especially after I eat, when I wonder 'What do I do now?'"

I've been there and know how hard that can be. You spend so much time concentrating on your addiction -- be it an eating disorder, smoking, alcohol, gambling, etc. -- that when you try to give it up it leaves a gaping hole in your life.

Right now I can't even seem to get close to quitting my disordered eating. I feel so lost, so adrift in the void, so caught up in the habit and compulsion of it, I can't even see a way out of it. Maybe it's the medicine, maybe it's PMS (time of the month will begin any minute now), or maybe it's some elemental weakness in myself I can't overcome.

Whatever it is, I'm feeling so low about myself right now that I'm mentally grasping for straws. I think about weight loss surgery, I think about going away to some intense program for eating disorders. Of course, in reality, I don't know how I'd leave my responsibilities (work, husband, child, house, etc.) to go away like that. And I'm always scared of WLS, even if it's the less invasive methods like LAP band.
I think maybe I'm hitting the wall. I feel like Wile E. Coyote here -- my head is spinning -- and I don't know what to do anymore. Dieting doesn't work; I think Intuitive Eating would work if I could get my head on straight. But how do I do that? I feel so helpless right now.
Of course, maybe feeling like I've hit bottom is actually a good thing, because it means I won't get any lower and I've got nowhere else to go but up. Feeling this desperation and hopelessness might actually be a sign that I'm beginning to feel emotions again, which is what I wanted, right? I don't know why it has to be so hard... God I sound like such a child right now. Life is hard! We all get handed our lot of challenges, and it's our job to work through them. I guess I just feel like I'm not able to handle mine right now, and I just wish I had a better arsenal of tools to cope.
To illustrate this point, I'm not at my yoga class right now. This is a bad thing, because I know how good it makes me feel. But I talked myself out of it with a list of excuses: feeling miserable from PMS and what is either the beginning of a cold or fall allergies. This triggers feelings of guilt and I proceed to feel even worse about myself.
What a whining, miserable post. I sure hope my attitude improves in the next few days.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A Little Better All the Time (It Can't Get No Worse)

Has anyone asked you the question "Lennon or McCartney?" Your choice definitely reveals a part of your personality.
I'm definitely a John Lennon person. For example, when thinking about blogging this morning and figuring out how I'm feeling, I thought of the Beatles song "Getting Better," especially the chorus:
"I've got to admit it's getting better, better
A little better all the time, it can't get no worse."
The main lyrics are Paul McCartney's; the italicized lyrics were added by Lennon. He adds that little twinge of sarcasm, his legendary acerbic wit to temper the sugary sweetness of McCartney's optimistic song.
I am feeling a little better, but I realize I couldn't have felt much worse. I feel like I'm emerging from a thick blanket of fog. The visibility still isn't crystal clear, but I'm not completely blinded and overwhelmed by the fog anymore. Things are coming more in focus and I'm feeling less like I'm trudging through mud to complete the smallest task.
I talked to my sister-in-law yesterday on the phone and she said I sounded better. She's probably my best analyzer, the one person who can read me the best. So it was good to get a positive response from her.
Other signs that I'm feeling a little better: I'm not feeling as driven to hoard and binge on food. I wouldn't say I'm intuitively eating yet, but I don't feel that out of control compulsion to stock up on every binge food I can think of and eat them all until I'm ill.
Another thing: I'm realizing I'm missing my blog friends. I've been unable to concentrate long enough to read blogs, and I'm starting to wonder how some of my pals are doing. Being able to think about others is a good sign that I'm pulling myself out of my self-absorbed depression.
I've got at least another week to see how I'm feeling before I call my doctor back and let her know how I'm doing. At that point I have to decide with my doctor if I'll stay with this lower dose of Lexapro, switch to something else, or quit taking anything. I've heard good things about Wellbutrin -- my sister's doing well on the Zyban version, and others have told me it's worked for them, too. So we'll have to see.
By the way, thanks to everyone who commented on my last post and gave me such nice compliments about my writing. You've really inspired me to think about getting back into my fiction writing. Let's hope I can actually do something about it.