Thursday, February 27, 2014
I don't work out on Wednesdays and I missed Tuesday's work out because it was an advising\counseling day at school. I approached their psychological counselling services because rewiring my hormones has me mood swinging like I'm going through puberty again, and with my bipolar disorder that wasn't exactly easy the first time around. Because of side effects and the trouble with find the right med, I'm hoping some behavioral cognitive therapy, mindfulness mediation, and getting my sleep apnea addressed will help take care of it a bit before I have to go on meds again. It's also part of why I'm blogging so often: the more I write, the better I can handle things.
I had been freaking out because I was so far behind in school. Snow days screwed up my study schedule, and even though I was maintaining Bs and I was only halfway through the semester, a bipolar brain is not known for its rationality. Another issue I have when battling depression is a sense of worthlessness and being a burden. I have friends and family who tell me otherwise, but my social media (Facebook, email, etc) is filled to the brim with "friends" and relatives who gladly repost and rant about----well, people like me. I really feel like they don't want me in their country, that they hate me, even though they don't actually know my political view points. I finally got my father to quit sending me such emails when I blew up at him: "If one more email tells me that I need to leave the country if I don't believe in what it says, that's it! I'm leaving!" There's always the theory that if you stand up and say "This is offensive" people will stop, but more likely they say "You're being too sensitive," or "Oh, we didn't mean YOU. Just, you know, others. Like you." Which is kind of how people try to hide their sexist\racist\homophobic behavior--"Some of my best friends are---"
But I'm getting off topic.
So the point is I've been stressed, I don't feel safe at home because it's a trashed mess and I like it tidier than it is but I don't have time because of homework, and my friends and family alienate me.
So in addition to avoiding the people who tick me off by invalidating me, I went ahead and sought counselling, I started blogging, and I've been exercising regularly. I discovered today that breaking up with my scale is harder than I anticipated. I caught myself slipping my watch\heart rate monitor and rings off to weigh myself, even though I had just repeated I was not going to step on that scale. I stopped myself, but I'm really wanting to validate my efforts with weight.
I've been rewording my sentences. It's a cognitive behavior believing your focus determines your reality: if you say "I NEED to do this," then you will file it under NEED---it's now as important as food and shelter. But if you say "I want to do this," "I should do this," "I will do this" they will be filed in a separate, less stressful thought process. So instead of saying "weight" I directly refer to "excess fat." My worth is not a number on a scale. My issue is not weight itself, weight is a side effect. My issue is an unhealthy amount of fat, especially around my middle.
I'm caught up in my classes, and in fact am working ahead.
I've come back to a safe zone in SparkPeople, I'm journalling in my blog, and I've joined new clubs at school.
I've sought help when I was in too deep.
It took much battling, but my husband is closer to being my house partner, and I have Spring Break in less than 2 weeks to allow me to put the house back in order.
I'm keeping track of my study hours to have an accurate (as opposed to irrational and false) sense of reality and effort.
And I'm exercising most days of the week, regularly surpassing my required minutes.
The result can be seen in this week's afore-mentioned advising session.
Last semester, I felt completely overwhelmed by my adviser. I had literally been at the university for less than a semester, and he was ready to graduate me the next semester. He wanted me in Japan by the end of the summer, he wanted me to forgo my minor and jump into the work force that had previously driven me into school. I panicked, put myself into less-than-helpful situations, and over all did not respond well.
Tuesday I went in with a mockup schedule. I promptly corrected him on my declared major (which hasn't been properly set up still.) When he started pushing to fit classes into requirements where I hadn't planned them on being, I asked him if it was to graduate me sooner. When he confirmed, I stated plainly I was not comfortable with that. I self-advocated, I stated what I wanted, why I wanted it, how I was going to accomplish it, and when I would complete it. He was stunned, completely taken aback and appreciative. He thought I was being aggressive and that it was a GREAT thing. We spoke at length about Japanese cinema afterward.
It was the complete opposite of the previous semester. I was prepared, I was confident, I was capable.
I was doing better.
My mood swings have stabilized somewhat since Sunday, the low point of the week. I think it has to do with you. You guys who read my blog and give me feed back. I really want to thank you all for being here. I know I've been a big mess---I guess that isn't too uncommon, for myself and humans in general---and I want to thank you for being supportive of me and offering advise on how to handle things in general. I haven't been replying to comments because it's a form of active listening I want to try---instead of agreeing point blank or defending myself, I want to fully absorb your words and see how they fit and really live in the moment and in your words.
So thank you.
Monday, February 24, 2014
So I saw my sleep specialist today. I haven't seen her since late 2009. I lost my insurance in the month that followed, and my job shortly afterward, so I haven't seen her since my original sleep study that confirmed I have sleep apnea.
Well, today, I saw her finally. I'm 40 pounds heavier, but I saw her. I have a heart condition now, but I saw her. My bipolar disorder is at a dangerous point and I have PCOS that is possibly linked to stress and weight, but I saw her.
I mention these things, because she mentioned a very specific thing.
Back in 2009, she told me how hard it is to lose weight if you don't get sleep. And how hard it is on your emotions if you don't get sleep.
In 2012, it was acknowledge the problem that caused my heart condition, was probably my sleep apnea. It's known to happen. It's likely to happen.
Here is the thing: she looked down my throat and noticed the build of my mouth and throat.
I've always snored, ever since I was a baby. I've always had sever sore throats, sever sinus infections, sever ear infections. I didn't get sick often, but when I did, I was down for the count for weeks because the infection couldn't drain properly.
I knew, KNEW my tonsils and other palate tissue was obstructing my airways, especially when my snoring got so bad that my husband started sleeping on the other side of the house and I still kept him awake.
So back in 2008, we both BEGGED my primary care doctor to send me to a sleep clinic. We BEGGED that I have the surgery to correct my excess tissue.
I wasn't even 230 pounds back then. My weight could still fluctuate in the downward direction at points. But I knew how much stress my snoring was putting us under, and since I'd had it as a skinny child, I figured this was something that should be surgically fixed.
But my doctor refused to refer me to a specialist, and only told me to lose weight. It would go away, if I lost weight.
And being only 22 at the time, I bowed my head and followed her instructions and never lost. I started gaining. She put me on amphetamines, and she threatened gastric bypass when I couldn't take them because they caused chest pains; but she didn't listen about my worsening bipolar disorder or my fatigue or my snoring. I eventually did the research on my own and tracked down the clinic by myself, paying out of pocket where need be, but did not finish before losing my job.
I'm thankful that I lost my insurance, because that was the only thing that made me leave that office. I kept blaming myself for not being able to fit her criteria.
And so, two years later, when I was 24, I developed the heart condition.
And today, today my sleep specialist wondered, pained, how much I've suffered because this was never addressed.
And she highly recommended, in addition to weight control, the surgery, especially since I've been this way since my childhood.
Do you understand what this means? I could have NEVER HAD A HEART CONDITION. I mean, I COULD have. It's POSSIBLE. But it's also possible and MORE LIKELY that I would never have developed my heart issues if this had been addressed. I might never have gained weight to the extent I have. I might not be struggling with my poisoned mind to the point that I am.
I feel like my health has been stolen from me.
I feel like the struggles and the pain and the failure of the past few years stemmed from negligence.
I'm furious, to the point of tears.
I trusted an authority figure, who is not omnipotent and infallible, true, but who was given a request and the information needed to make a different choice.
I feel like the last four years have been stolen from me.
Who might I have been, if I hadn't been falling apart?
Maybe I never would have dropped out of school in the first place, maybe I would never have lost my job, maybe I'd still be working AND be an honor student.
And thinking like this is going to drive me mad.
I need to forgive, let it go, realize that what I'm doing is taking control of my life . I now have four, FOUR, doctors who take me seriously and who want me to be healthy. I have a wonderful general practitioner, I have a caring ob/gyn, I have a serious cardiologist, and I have a sympathetic sleep specialist.
I said I wanted the cards stacked in my favor, that I don't want anything standing against me if I'm going to truly lose this excess fat.
But I think I may need time to come to grips with this revelation that I was right, and that I let somebody else make choices for me.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Yeah, yeah, I know, nobody likes weighing themselves, certainly not if they're heavy.
But my scales are seriously broken. I don't trust a single one of them. They all give me a 20 pound range that I *could* be. Somewhere in there.
So I've decided to wait until my 3 month follow up. I don't mind visiting my doctor every 3 months while we're on this journey. Not if it means getting the help and support I need, not if it means doing this right.
I'm just not sure how to measure progress. I think I'm going to stick with measuring the journey: how was today's work out? How was today's water count? How was today's food choices?
I was trying to figure out where I became so obsessed with NOT wanting a thigh gap. I mean, for comfort reasons, seems like a good idea---plenty of people hate chaffing, and I KNOW I'm one of them.
But I think it's along the same reasons I decided I don't care about a six-pack.
In order to get a six pack, women generally have to have below a healthy percentage of fat.
And that goes back to, what am I chasing after?
Of course, I'd like a shapely belly and strong, dancer thighs. I've been doing more strength training, core, arms, and legs.
And it's not like if I get a six-pack or a thigh gap I'd panic and race for food.
But it seems like it isn't worth the time and energy to me. My body's appearance isn't so precise.
When I was a teenager, when I was "fat", I was heavy, I was built like a rugby player. I had "child-bearing" hips and AA-cups. I had rippling back muscles and "thunder thighs."
God, I wish I'd never heard those words. I wish I hadn't heard my classmates despairing over their weight because it never would have occurred to me to be ashamed. I wonder where they learned that vocabulary. I wonder how much of my panic was linked to my mother's worry, a natural size zero before having children.
I want to lose this excess fat, yes, but please dear Lord don't let my future children learn this habit.
Please don't let them see a woman whose neck has been photoshopped longer and thinner, whose waist has been airbrushed out of existence and whose thighs and arms have been toned with toner. Please don't let them think that is the ideal.
I am "morbidly obese." But I don't really look it and I don't really feel it and the only people who act like it are guys who act like I exist solely for their viewing pleasure, and doctors who are actually concerned and want my body to work properly.
Scales are evil because they stole years from me. I would give up so easily because I didn't see any movement on the scale ever. I would gain weight while working out. And yeah, maybe I'd be over 300 pounds by now because I'd worked out and gained the entire time, but I have been at Sparkpeople for nearly 4 years now and every time I calculated when my end goal would be I believed it would be completed by now, that I would have enough time to be at the end of my journey by now, but I let a SCALE decide that for me.
Because if I were 350 when they found out that my body isn't working right, well, we'd be in the same boat as I am now, only I would have the muscle and the endurance to let these pounds shed as my body accessed the calories I fed it.
Instead, I'm practically a beginner. Who steps on a scale and then runs crying to her husband, because last week it said 275 and this week it said 300, and that man at the bar commented on her weight and is she still beautiful? Is she still valuable? Does she still have worth?
Scales are evil.
And that's only because I let them be.
So I'm breaking up with my scale.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
While I certainly have dieted and exercised (to no avail except maintaining my dangerous weight) and documented those instances on SparkPeople, I have not checked in for over a year and a half.
I haven't really gained or lost weight in that time; in fact, I'd often give up pretty quickly because it seemed like the more I tried the more I gained. I'd stop trying, and I'd lose. I was confused, conflicted, and very, VERY stressed.
My stress was also linked to my schoolwork. I had decided to pursue a second associate's degree, this time in Fine Arts. I have to honestly tell you, studying art was simply the hardest thing I've ever done. There were days I sat in the hallway, crying over my project, frustrated because "I'm not an artist!" My GPA wasn't where I wanted it to be. I struggled for every grade.
But I graduated, this time Magna Cum Laude (my transfer degree was just Cum Laude).
During this time, I also applied for disability because of my bipolar disorder and my heart condition. While that never received any sort of conclusion, we did receive some aid to see a cardiologist.
And he took me seriously.
You have no idea how important that was to me. You see, when I was first showing symptoms, I called the cardiologist daily (back when I was insured). But nobody would see me, nobody would make an appointment with me.
This was about a year after my last blog, and two years after I had landed in the ER, scared out of my wits. They ran an ultrasound of my heart and an electrical monitor, and started me on medications. While I still haven't had this fully sorted out, this now gives me a history, something I can present in future appointments.
And while I certainly wish I didn't have this medical condition, I take comfort that it isn't fat based, it's an electrical problem.
I started attending the local university soon after that, and thank God, they offered an insurance plan. I snatched it up as quickly as I could. And I started making appointments.
And we might have found out why diet and exercise weren't working for me.
I explained that the only time I ever lost 10% of my total weight, I had to hike 5K a day and was living off vegetables and fruit and lean protein. I had gained weight inexplicably, in spite of diet and exercise. Several other symptoms were mentioned, and a series of blood tests were ran. We had an answer.
I was diagnosed with PCOS. That's Poly-Cystic-Ovarian-Syndrome. If you remember me fretting over how my cycles would run away every time I exercised, well, here was the culprit. My testosterone is not properly balanced with my estrogen and proestrogen. You sometimes see women who suffer from this have facial hair, or baldness\thinning of hair. Mood disorders are common, and so is weight that doesn't come off. One of its symptoms is insulin resistance.
My doctor explained to me that my cells weren't accepting my insulin. Because of this, they were not accepting the food I was offering. This left an excess of sugar just floating in my blood. My body would then store that excess sugar straight to fat.
This made sense to me. I couldn't lose weight because my cells weren't getting energy--I was in starvation mode. I was constantly hungry and never full because my body was insisting I wasn't giving it food. And what I did eat, was being turned into fat. It'd get worse when I exercised, because exercise messes with your hormones, usually in a good way, but I suspect that it didn't help me with my testosterone levels any.
So they added a medication to help my body use its insulin, and some hormones to keep my body closer to functioning. My testosterone levels are supposed to drop as the weight drops, but that's debatable, we'll see, and we'll work with it.
So I've started again. Diet and exercise. I get full very quickly now. I'm still a mess about school, especially since I really want to duel major in Film and Art and duel minor in Japanese and Film Studies. But I've joined a sorority to supplement my support system. This diagnosis has helped my husband understand things better. I have an appointment for my bipolar disorder and an appointment for my sleep apnea. I'm giving it everything---I'm tired of having the cards stacked against me, I need everything to be on my side this time.
We're told calorie-in-calorie-out. Even as we struggle, we know the effort on our part cannot be overestimated, it comes from our hard work and dedication. The problem is, we really feel like a failure when that just doesn't work, like there is something bad about us.
I used to have a doctor who gave me amphetamines to try to force me to lose weight. I said I was hungry all the time, and she decided to address that symptom. I couldn't take them, they made my heart hurt. She said I needed to deal with that if I wanted to lose weight, because the alternative was surgery. She was more obsessed with my weight than my health.
And now, I'm more obsessed with my health, than my weight.
And I think, someday soon, those two are going to go hand in hand.
Friday, February 21, 2014
This wasn't going to my first blog entry back, but I need to write this down, for myself.
Weight loss is a side effect. Just like weight gain was a side effect of your medications and your hormones, weight loss is a side effect of your dietary habits, your exercise routine, and your medications to correct your hormones.
I know you're panicking, thinking you'll never, ever be small again, never, ever feel good about yourself again.
That isn't healthy.
Mainly because you're putting so much emphasis on LOOKS. You have every reason to be proud--you've maintained a healthy relationship with your spouse, you've made smart financial decisions, and you've earned several degrees. You are an A student, and often a straight A student. You put time and effort into your world.
But also because looks shouldn't be tied to your weight. You're gorgeous. Your chipmunk cheeks, your bright eyes, and your killer curves. You're gorgeous.
And while the world only sees your fat, deciding your worth and personality on your waistline, they're wrong, and if they're important to your future they'll see that.
You want to lose fat, to tie your shoes again.
You want to lose fat, to turn completely in the driver's seat, a safety issue when backing up.
You want to lose fat, to fit into more clothes, a comfort reason.
You want to lose weight, to be fitter when completing daily activities, a comfort reason.
Comfort and safety need to be the priorities in your life, Marle.
I know you've had trouble finding medical professionals who look beyond your weight. But that's a good thing--you're weeding out the people who can't support you fully.
Nobody can call you lazy. You may be fat, but you are not lazy. You put in more time at school than anybody you know. You come home and put more time into your work and house than most university students have to. You separate time out for all your friends and family who need you. You are NOT lazy.
I want to know, for certain, that you will not become obsessed with this idealized way of life or body form.
I know you see these girls in their tiny little tights, and think about thigh-gap and waist-to-bust ratio.
But I want to know that thigh gaps are a side effect. If you do, it's because your body responded that way to diet and exercise. They are NOT a goal! If you don't have a thigh-gap, it's okay---what matters is how far you had come in your fitness.
If you reach your goal weight, that's okay. If you find that you're happier above it or below it, that's okay, as long as it's HEALTHY. You cannot struggle with "I'll never be happy without those last five pounds." You need to be happy whatever your weight. You need to be healthy whatever your size. If you turn out to be a buff marathon runner who is two sizes bigger and ten pounds heavier than you or others thought you'd be, embrace it as YOUR body, healthy, and presenting as it is meant to be.
Do NOT starve yourself.
Do NOT destroy yourself for some imaginary idealization.
This may legitly be the first time we've lost weight. It turns out there were more underlying medical conditions than we realized. It took a lot more effort for you to lose than it took others, and because of that, you were never a yo-yo dieter. Then again, because your body didn't respond to diet and exercise previously, you gave up easily.
After a month of being medicated properly, you're forcing your fitness challenge into 3 weeks, one of which will be completed tomorrow. You are paying attention---proper form, weight according to your fatigue resistance, your cardio based on your heart-rate. You're putting in the hours. And years of practice have set you up for success on your dietary habits over all.
You're working with your medical advisors for the first time, really WITH them, instead of from them.
You have the best chance ever right now.
Promise me that you will focus on the process, the journey, today's workout, today's diet. Promise me that you will live for today.
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