Thursday, July 24, 2014

Distress

The last post was actually written on Tuesday, when I was feeling so good.  I had a nice day, even found out that (out of the blue) I am getting a raise at work, despite the fact that I just got one last month.  My new/old boss has been shadowing me and we're bouncing lots of ideas around about improvements.  And we finally have our final staff member coming on board in August.  
Despite sleeping really well, I woke up feeling so completely exhausted.  I couldn't shake that feeling like I was sick; stricken; completely spent.  After eating a simple lunch I had a sharp pain in my extreme lower abdomen ( appendix area) then quickly got a huge cramp in my stomach that made me feel like I was going to pass out.  I was happy to shake that feeling but the whole incident left me feeling extraordinarily weak and shakey.  I managed to get through my shift and get home, eat a little something, it had been 6 hours between meals and I was famished.  Eating did not make me feel better, it made me nauseous.  At that point I thought maybe I had the flu.  I had some toast with ginger, hoping it would settle my stomach, and went to bed thinking I had solved my problem.  Ten minutes later I was upright, panicked, feeling like I was having a heart attack.  But I knew what this was because I had just experienced this in April.  Gastritis.  Ugh!  Inflammation of the stomach lining. Luckily I had some of my medicine left from the last incident, a potent anti-nausea pill for chemotherapy patients, and it definitely helped with the nausea. I still had a lot of discomfort, but at least with the nausea at bay I could relax and look up why this is happening.  The results range from mundane stuff to autoimmune diseases to cancer.  One sight mentioned thyroid and even Hashimoto's and thyroid issues have come up far too many times in symptom search results for me to ignore.  So as I lay there hurting, I was planning out what I'd say when I went to the urgent care after work the next morning( today) and in my head I was shouting, I just want to feel normal!  So that was my plan, to go to urgent care, see if they'd call in a refill for my nausea medicine and explain in dramatic detail how badly I am falling apart and how frustrated I am that my doctor can't find out why.  I'd request more tests under the guise of going in for the gastritis so that my doctor wouldn't be hurt that I didn't come to her.  But this morning, as I was driving to work, I realized none of that was in my best interest.  My stomach was halfway back to normal and I even got a few hours of sleep.  I decided to give my doctor another shot to crack the mystery.  I sent her a message to tell her how aweful I have still been feeling, and request more tests.  I told her that I'd met someone who's Thyroid Stimulating Hormone tests came back normal, but that she was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroid, and that her symptoms were so incredibly similar to mine.  I asked for more thyroid testing and any other tests that might help us figure out why I feel so lousy.  It wasn't easy for me, because this is the third time I'm asking her about these same symptoms and I feel like a hypochondriac with all my issues, but I need to get better.  I can't think about getting back to a healthy weight when my underlying health is poor.  I feel relieved that I persisted in this matter, and have hope that I'll get some answers soon.  I have made some great gains mentally, once my body feels better I can start healing the outside as well.  
So that is my current woe.  Gastritis is scarey and painful and it was enough to make me take action.  
Happy Thursday!  Ooh!  I can almost feel the weekend like a beach party in my head!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Water Therapy

Today I had what I would consider a normal amount of energy for someone my age, and that is a huge deal, because it has been more than a month since I've been able to say that.  It was bittersweet, it felt good, but it also made me realize how bad I normally feel.  I've been hemming and hawing over whether or not to see an endocrinologist to have more or better testing done, but I feel like I'm going over my doctor's head.  Not only is that uncomfortable for me as a patient, but my doctor works in the same building as me, and is also my customer; she comes to have her eyeglasses adjusted from time to time.  And the only endocrinologist for the health clinic I work for is more than an hours drive away.  I was considering just waiting until I have a day off in September,  but after seeing a fellow blogger post about finally getting a diagnosis, it makes me want to have it done quicker.  That means both going over my doctor's head AND going to a competing health facility!  But my health is most important.  Pride is nothing.  I know something is not right with my health and I need to be my own best advocate.   
I didn't read or meditate much over the weekend, but I did do something else really good for the soul, went to a place called Door County.  It is a peninsula just north of Green Bay, and it is full of beaches, vineyards, art galleries and quaint shops.  I've never been to Cape Cod, but to me, being in Door County feels how I imagine the Cape would feel.  
One of the places we went to had a huge tower (75 ft tall if memory serves) and you can imagine the number of stairs!  I wasn't sure my knee could handle them, but I made it up and down fine.  The view from the top was so amazing!  As many times as I go to Door County I never tire of the water and the plush green trees just everywhere!  We had so much fun, we will probably go back this weekend and stay overnight.  
My knees are feeling that climb a little today, two days later, but it is a good feeling to have slight soreness instead of being so sore I don't want to walk.  It made me realize that my knee can handle that much and still be ok.  I am using the knee as an excuse when it doesn't need to be.  
I am hoping I feel good tomorrow again, but I'm not holding my breath.  And I will schedule that appointment tomorrow, despite the discomfort of doing so.  It's worth it to know.
Hope you are all having an awesome week!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wellness

I am still here, still working and delving into the dark, and you know what?  The more times I go to the dark, the more I feel the grip of my past loosening.  I'm losing my anger, my hurt, my feelings of loneliness and smallness.  I'm learning that how I felt about things that happened to me as a child were things I was only seeing from one side, and through the eyes of a child.  But I'm not a hurt little girl anymore.  I am a smart, funny woman and people enjoy being around me.  I have a family who loves me to the moon and back.  I have a bestie I can tell anything to and get to make people feel good about buying eyeglasses.  I have a pretty sweet life.
Meditation (and I am using that term very loosely) or as Geneen Roth calls it, 'inquiring' has been helpful.  If I ask myself a question in the normal state, I am never guaranteed an answer, but when I'm in a dark, quiet(ish) place and am focused on the images taking me to the place where I get the answers (it feels like I'm asking them to a wise sage) I get very short, Precise answers to questions is often can't figure out by thinking about them in passing.  I don't write them down because the question and it's answer are relevant to that moment and that situation.  As I learn and grow, I would imagine it gets easier.  
It's amazing, I am as heavy as ever, but have a lot more peace working internally. The thought of never going on another diet for the rest of my life doesn't sound like manic binge-eating things I've been denying myself, it feels like I am allowing myself some peace.  It's been a long time coming; I've tortured myself long enough.  Now I know what I've been dying to understand for so many years, it was never about food or dieting or willpower.  I was using that as a cover-up for the deep stuff I didn't want to face.  Now that I'm getting into all that muck, I am starting to feel a certain calmness and freedom I've been searching for.  I wish I could share it with everyone struggling right now.  
Just wanted to update you.  Good things are happening.  Hope you are well too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Identifying Shortcomings is a Start

I am still working on the book "Women, Food and God" by Geneen Roth.  Confession, I put off reading this because I expected it to be written in a testimonial type manner "Praise The Lord!  I found Jesus and now I'm not fat anymore!"  On the contrary, this is my favorite of hers so far.  I learned that there are two types of compulsive eaters, Restrictors and Permitters.  Restrictors calculate and plan and research and believe that if they could only deprive and restrict enough, they can get thin and being thin will miraculously make them ever-happy.  Permitters, on the other hand, are the ones who think every moment is a chaotic rollercoaster of emotions, so if I live in a daze I won't have to acknowledge or feel them.  I am a permitter.  I am going to eat because it's there and looks good and temporarily makes me happy.  I'll think about restricting myself tomorrow or Monday.  
I still struggle with some concepts, but I'm coming around slowly.  The main concepts to ending the compulsive eating are:
     1. Eat when you are hungry.  This is tough for me.  I am so in old grooves with this.  For instance, last weekend, when I got home from work, I was famished.  Headache-stricken from stress and not eating for about 6 hours.  My husband was at the gym and I didn't know how long he'd be, so I ate a large chunk of cheese.  When my husband arrived home about 15 minutes later, my family decided they wanted to go out to our favorite chinese restaurant so we went.  I wasn't full but I wasn't hungry.  I ordered anyway and ate half a plate of General Tso's tofu before pushing my plate away, uncomfortably full.  Why did I order and eat when I wasn't hungry?  Habit?  Fitting in?  To avoid feeling left out?  It tasted good (a little over-spicy, I'm a total wimp when it comes to spicy food), but it wasn't worth feeling so full, which happened because I also didn't follow the second concept.
     2.  Stop eating when you've had enough.  Enough, she says, is a point where you want more but you don't need it.  Your stomach isn't growling and it's not stuffed.  I didn't listen to my stomach that night.  And I felt physically uncomfortable.  This is going to be the toughest one to obey.  Food tastes good. 
     3. Eat the exact thing you truly want.  Here is a place I got a little confused.  She talks of eating cake for dinner or a chocolate bar at a luncheon.  However, this book explains it a little clearer.  I was taking this to mean I should eat whatever I want to taste with my mouth, or what I enjoy the sensation of.  The clarification comes finally, in that the true statement isn't that we should eat what our minds want, but what our bodies want to eat.  I think this is based on how a certain thing makes our body feel. I've been noticing that a good majority of the day I end up felting too full, dazed and slow, always tired.  My joints have been aching so much and my breathing feels labored over the smallest things.  I don't like how it feels.  Frankly it scares me.  
     4. Sit down to eat, cars not included.  It makes it you realize that you are eating, taking in calories and helps keep you in the moment more.  I never realized how often I eat standing up.  While I'm fixing myself or my kids some food, I'll nibble on a little of this, little of that, and that doesn't "count" as food because it's not a meal, I'm not sitting down. I eat standing up at work sometimes too, because I have too much to do (working off the clock is a nasty habit I need to break) or I eat while hovering over my phone, out of sight of customers.
     5.  Eat in a quiet space with no intentional distractions.  I'm hugely guilty of this.  I cannot just sit down and eat, I have to be looking at something on my phone or reading or (the most pleasurable and mind-numbing), watching TV ( I rarely get a turn on it, so I usually have to watch my boys playing games or watching videos, but it's still a distraction.  I also do a lot of eating while tending to everyone else's needs, listening to my husband tell me about his adventures or endlessly fixing food for my kids etc.  A lot of times, my kids will see me eating and ask for food in the middle of my meal, and sometimes I tell them they need to wait until I am done eating (they eat like teenagers, usually it hasn't been but 20 minutes since they last ate) but most of the time, I get up and fix them food, eating my own food standing up in the kitchen usually on my phone.  Anything but attentive to my food/eating.  
     6. Eat with the intention of being in full view of others.  I suck at this one.  But I'm slowly getting better.  I know it's because I'm attaching shame to the food, but that is a patterned groove of conditioned response someone passed down to us years ago.  Someone we looked up to so we took their opinion for truth.  Food is not in and of itself good or bad, it is JUST FOOD!  
     7.  Enjoy your food, eat with gusto and experience the pleasure.  In order to really do this, you have to be aware and attentive and in-the-moment, not distracted or in a daze.  
So that's where I am.  There is an exercise she lays out for inquiries, sort of like the questions I was asking myself in an earlier post.  Just think of something you don't know the answer to and ask yourself.  For example, what is hurting me?  And let the answer flow from you without thinking.  For me, an image comes to me as soon as I start asking the questions.  It takes time, and despite her recommendation to do it for 20 minutes a day, some days I just don't feel like digging in the wound so I try to meditate or do some gentle stretching instead.  
I think I'm ready to start putting some of these into practice.  I'll let you know how it goes!
Hope you are well and finding your path to happiness!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Answers

I have been trying to meditate nightly, or at least go to the dark corners of mind to do a little searching.  I think I was trying too hard to make it an other-worldly thing.  Last night, I got really vivid imagery of metal spires twisted out from the top of my head, getting thinner and sharper as they formed a conical meeting about a foot from my head.  I tried hard to bring my contemplation into focus, but I was distracted by this imagery and soon fell asleep.
Tonight was a little more successful as I didn't try to go too deep, but simply cine to a point of relaxation and start asking myself questions.  I answered without thinking, and was a little surprised at how easily my mind answered the question which lead directly to the next.  It was sort of like free-association.  Here are some of the questions I asked myself and the answers I got.
Why are you stuck?
Because I'm not allowed to be OK
Who is disallowing it?
My mother.  She's not OK so I can't be
What if you were OK?
She would feel betrayed or belittled, in her mind it would highlight the fact that that I am better than her or that she's broken.
Your mother was unavailable emotionally sometimes, what did she need from you?
To be left alone, understanding, sympathy.
And what did you need from her?
attention, warmth, interaction, hugs
Did you get those things ever?
yes, but it stopped way before I was ready for it to
What changed to make it stop?
I feel like she withdrew when I got a little older,like 8.  I wasn't a baby anymore.  In her own family, the kids were encouraged to be tough and independent as soon as possible.  But I needed more, but I didn't feel like I could ask for it.
What did you think would happen if you did?
she would think I'm being a baby or that I'm weak.  She would be ashamed of me, and think I was too needy. 
What about your Dad?
my dad worked hard, which meant I didn't see much of him.  He worked overnight and we had to be quiet during the day.  When he was awake and not working, many times he was in the garage with his buddies, drinking and working on cars.  
How would you describe your relationship with him growing up?
Like living with a stranger.  
 What did he need from you?
For me to not take after him and his mistakes
What did you need from him?
Patience, interaction, sobriety, guidance, to not feel like a burden to both of my parents.
Is that how you think THEY felt?  
Sometimes.  They were too young and too poor and I didn't understand that when I was young.  I might have gotten a negative reaction from a request or something I did because we were struggling financially or because they had both been through so much already by the time they became teen parents.  But it made me feel like I was too much and wanted too much.
What about your sister?
I have some really nice memories with her, but I also felt like I was a burden to her too.  She was often forced to let me come along with her when she'd hang out with her friends, when she really didn't want to.  She was older, popular, pretty and in my perception, didn't have to exert much effort into getting good grades.  And, she wasn't fat.  I always felt like I would never measure up to her in my parents eyes.
What did she need from you?
Company, a confidant, when she felt like she was voiceless or powerless, she had me she could boss around.
What did you need from her?
someone I could talk to about our parents and how the world made me feel, someone to be silly with (and we were silly lots of times).  Someone who would hear me without judgments or advice.  
Who put you in this cage?
I put myself here.  I locked myself away from the anti-bliss.  I did it to protect myself from other people's dispair, so I can't be the scapegoat or try to fix them or cheer them up when they care so little about what it's doing to me.

That's what I got through in tonight's session.  I wanted to blog it so that I don't forget and also to share and get it out of me.  It's not fun going to these dark places, but I feel a little stronger everytime I do.