I’ve been absent for so long because my life has been consumed with my 6 year old son’s health problems.

When your child is sick everything else seems to have no meaning.

I don’t want to paint a more desperate picture than it is in reality so I should say upfront that what he’s facing is not life-threatening. It’s just life changing.

For him.

For us.

For his sister.

For school.

For everything.

One of my best friends told me that I just need to go easy on myself because we’re all in survival mode right now.

She’s right.

We are.

We keep seeing these “finish lines” in front of us but when we get to them we realize it’s not actually a finish line but just a new starting line for a whole new set of questions and tests.

My husband and I are both fighting to keep our heads above the water of depression and anxiety. I’m grateful that we have each other and can lean on each other as we go through this together.

My food has been nothing short of a disaster these past few months.

I hadn’t weighed myself since January 29th of this year. That’s nearly exactly six months ago. At the time I was 165.5 pounds.

I’ve been too afraid to weigh myself for fear it would bring about all sorts of self-loathing and self-recriminations. But I’ve estimated based on how my clothes fit and how I feel that I’ve put on 30-35 pounds.

Today I weighed myself. I finally did it because I realized that to a certain degree I don’t care what it says. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like being heavier. But with the perspective of what’s going on with my son the numbers on the scale hold very little meaning for me. I know what I look like.

And I’m doing the best I can.

And for today I’m satisfied with that.

So, I weighed myself just to know where things stand and I weigh 188.5 pounds.

That’s up 23 pounds from January.

That’s up 30 pounds from my stabilized weight after the loss and what I weighed before getting pregnant with my son 7 years ago.

That’s up 35 pounds from my lowest weight from the last weight loss attempt.

So, what I take from this is that I know what the numbers are, at least generally, without looking at the scale. But that looking at the scale keeps me honest.

I’m not ready to try to take the weight off right now. I need some more stabilization with my son before I’m going to be able to think about going on a diet again. But that’s ok. When he’s better I’ll be better too.

 

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here and that needs to change. I had fallen down the rabbit hole of my depression and anxiety and in trying to be gentle with myself as I tried to climb out of that hole my writing stopped. But, it helps me so it’s time to get back into it.

So here’s a bullet list of updates I’ll elaborate on later:

  • I saw an APN for medication management and my depression and anxiety are finally lifting and I’m feeling like I’m back from the edge of the abyss.
  • Work is winding down for the semester and while there’s one last push of work that will hit I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • We’re about to undergo a tricky week of my son being in the hospital to address some of his health concerns which is creating some reality based anxiety for me but I’m looking forward to getting some answers.
  • We may have a bite (finally!) on selling our old house. The attention needed there is ramping up this week and I’m not thrilled that it’s coinciding with my son’s hospital stay but if I can get that house off my hands once and for all it will be a huge stress reliever.
  • I’m pretty sure I’ve gained back most of the weight I lost since starting this blog because I’m back in my old size 10 clothes but I’m not sure what the actual number is on the scale because I haven’t weighed myself since January 29th.

So, let’s start with that last item… I’m working hard on accepting the fact that between the stress and anxiety of my son’s health concerns and the depth of my depression this winter the weight gain isn’t the primary focus. It’s just something I have to accept and not beat myself up over.

Surprisingly (and it’s probably the medication talking here) I don’t hate myself very much for this weight gain. I won’t lie, it doesn’t feel great to put on clothes that used to fit and have them not anymore. I didn’t like having to go out and buy more size 10 pants and shorts. But, this was one of the more difficult and stressful winters I’ve experienced and I feel kind of lucky that some weight gain is all the damage I did to myself.

I was looking at my naked body in the mirror the other day and I realized that I don’t hate it. I’m not angry at my body or mind for “betraying” me. I’m not criticizing it in my mind as much. I still hate the way my belly hangs over the c-section scar and I still hate the rounded double chin. But, those thoughts are quickly pushed away by the perspective that I’m alive and so are my kids and that’s more important than the size of my belly. While I know that I feel better when I’m lighter, and I plan to get back to losing again, I’m also being realistic about what I can and can not handle right now.

My husband also gained some weight this winter. He’s never been significantly overweight but over the past few years that middle age weight creep effected him and he dieted with me two years ago and lost those extra pounds to the point that he was nearly back to what he weighed when I met him at age 23. Now, he’s back where he was two years ago again and he’s making noises about wanting to get back in shape and lose the weight again.

I told him that I would get back on the bandwagon with him again once this week of tests for our son is over and we get the house sold (or at least firmly contracted so the buyers can’t back out like the last ones did). Then I will have the ability to focus and give attention to my weight. In the meanwhile, I’m just working on getting emotionally better and taking care of my son.

For now, that’s enough.

I haven’t been writing here because I’m taking a little break from everything for a while. My husband got his mother to come stay with the kids so that he could take me with him on a business trip.

We’d actually been planning it before our son’s health problems arose these last couple of months. When I was faced with the prospect of actually leaving it was incredibly hard. I didn’t want to go.

But I did want to go, which made going all that much more difficult because I felt selfish.

I was running on pure anxiety driven adrenaline the entire day and I think if I hadn’t been so focused on getting everything I needed to get done done before we left it would have been the biggest anxiety attack I’ve every had. I barely ate all day and by the time we got to the airport at 4pm my blood sugar was so low I felt myself slipping into a state of fuzzy headed dissociation. Athletes call it “bonking”. I was bonking.

After a fruit drink and a couple of cheese sticks I started to feel better.

I’ve taken this week as an emotional break – or at least tried to.

I’ll have a lot more to say when I get back.

 

I suppose when the universe wants to teach me a lesson it teaches me a lesson.

The weekend was fine. My eating wasn’t great but it wasn’t particularly terrible either. It was more what I would describe as what my “normal” eating had been over the years before I started Duakn two years ago.

But the at 2:30 am Sunday night/Monday morning I was awakened by a terrible feeling of nausea. Between 2:30 am and 9:30 am my body tried to vomit 5 or 6 times (honestly, I lost count) but my Adjustable Gastric Band just wouldn’t let it. None of the contents of my stomach could make it back out over the band and my body had to switch gears at some point and got rid of the offending items in the opposite direction. But the nausea didn’t stop.

I wanted to take an anti-nausea medication that we had on hand but since I’d started new depression medications I first asked my husband to look up the possible drug interactions. Wouldn’t you know it? I wasn’t supposed to mix the med I took at bedtime with the anti-nausea meds.

I waiting until 8:30 am when I called my bariatric surgeon. His office told me he was in surgery and the nurse would call me back. When she did she told me that she couldn’t comment on the depression medication and I’d have to talk to the person who prescribed that.

I called the APN who was also not in the office but her staff told me that they’d page her. When she called back she told me that she couldn’t comment on the anti-nausea meds and that I should call my surgeon.

One hour and 14 phone calls later (I’m not exaggerating) I got a hold of a kindly pharmacist who was willing to listen to me explain my meds and doses and the times they were taken and told me it was fine to take the anti-nausea medication.

Then I was stuck in bed recovering from the pain of being smacked around all night by whatever stomach bug got a hold of me. I felt like I’d been beaten up a bit. I’m not old, but I’m not really young anymore either and the hours of kneeling over the toilet bowl heaving did a number on my legs, back, and arms.

I ate nothing at all from dinner Sunday night (which I’m pretty sure went undigested) until Tuesday morning. I sipped water and some diet ginger ale.

Tuesday I had about 1.5 tbsps of oat bran, plain with nothing in it. Four hours later I ate 1/2 of a banana. 2 hours after that I had the other 1/2 of a banana. I don’t think I ate dinner last night. Oh, wait, I had 1/4 cup of oatmeal.

This morning I had 1 small (like 3 inches in diameter) gluten free pancake just so I wouldn’t have an empty stomach so I could take my depression medication for the first time since Sunday. Just now I ate a 5 ounce yogurt in the hope that the pro-biotics would help my stomach.

I needed something to break the cycle of my relapse and binging, right? Well, I suppose the universe took care of that.

Right now I’m not feeling much like binging or eating crap.

But I’m not really feeling like going back to start over with losing the extra weight I’ve put on either.

I feel like I just need a break.

So, I got some chicken for dinner and I’m making a vegetable and rice side dish and I’m hoping that when it’s ready in a few hours I can stand to eat some of it. I’d like to just be “normal” for a while.

My biggest fear at this point is that I’ll get some weird thought in my head that I can go on eating this little after my stomach is fully well. Or that I’ll conclude that since I’ve had so little this week I’ll be able to eat whatever I want when I get my appetite back.

What a sicko my disease is.

No thank you.

So, for today. Gentleness is in order. For my stomach and my soul.

I haven’t had a relapse this bad… maybe ever. Or maybe it’s just the first time I’ve really consciously decided not to fight it so it feels more out of control. I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that I ate cake for breakfast and pasta for lunch. For me that’s about the equivalent of a heroin addict mainlining.

I’m not proud. In fact, for all my talk of forgiving myself for my addict-driven transgressions I feel horrible. Awful. My stomach hurts from eating as well as from the guilt.

Of course, I’ve noticed over the past few days that the only time I don’t feel anxious is when I’m eating.

Duh.

That’s why I do it, right? It’s the moment of closing my eyes, letting out a big sigh, and just falling into the taste of the food to block everything else out. It’s that moment of dissociating from the world around me. It’s that moment of feeling buffered against the swelling anxiety that won’t let me sleep.

(The sleep medication didn’t work as well last night. I think it may have been that I went to bed too late or that the anxiety had built up too high before I went to bed.)

But then after the anxiety free moment of actively eating the effect of eating hits me and I feel gross and sick and shamed and despondent. I hate myself for it.

My insight comes from this feeling. I think I’m making myself feel this way on purpose. No one likes to feel gross and sick and shamed and despondent – not even me. So the question that begs asking here is, “If I don’t like it why am I doing it?” The easy answer is that the addict in my head doesn’t give a darn what I like or not she’s just getting herself fed. But right now I don’t buy that answer and the one I’m leaning toward is that it’s giving me something that I do want I just have to figure out what that thing is.

Every thing that we do serves a purpose for us psychologically. Even when something seems not to be in our best interest it is still accomplishing something or else we would have done something else.

So what purpose is this relapse serving me?

This morning, after eating cake for breakfast, it dawned on me that I’m punishing myself. I feel that I deserve my own hatred. Why?

Because I feel helpless to do anything to help my son with his health issues. Because I feel responsible for him and feel (however irrational this is) that I have failed him as his mother for the troubles that he’s facing. Because I condemn myself for my focus on myself over the past two years when maybe he needed me more than I needed me. Because I hate myself for being able to sleep when my greatest fear is that he’ll die in his sleep. Because I keep thinking what gives me the right to rest when a moment of inattention on my part could mean I lose him forever?

Rationally I know that my attention is only partly relevant here. I can not predict nor control if or when he suffers. All I can realistically do is be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. But instead I’ve chosen this as a metaphorical whip with which to self-flagellate.

I can’t make myself not hate myself for my inability to make sure nothing bad happens to my son. I mean, I can, long-term, but that’s going to take quite a while in therapy to work through and I only started back last week. In the meantime I have to find some other way of approaching this.

Maybe I should just allow myself to hate myself flat out and not hide behind the food? Maybe I should allow myself to numb out and dissociate to music instead of to food despite the fact that it makes me really dissociated? Maybe I should just channel that anxiety into cleaning the bathroom, or taking long walks, or sewing my kids’ ripped clothing? Maybe I should take up running again so that when I get anxious I could just pound the pavement? Maybe I should learn to meditate? (My husband’s all for the meditation option.)

For now the thing that feels possible is that I’m going to try to write the anxiety out before I pick up something to eat. So there may be a lot more posts than anyone would even want to read because I get anxious a lot these days during all sorts of different times of day.

But in the meantime I suppose it’s a start because whatever I’m getting out of this self-hating eating is wearing out its welcome in my heart.

Well, I went to see the psychiatric nurse yesterday and she’s put me on a cocktail of three different anti-depressants. Each is a different type so it will act in different ways on different types of brain receptors. In addition to their function as anti-depressants one will help calm the anxiety, one will help me sleep, and one will hopefully act as a stabilizer in the hopes that it will counteract the weight gain potential of the other two. I’m no the lowest possible dose of all of them.

The bad news is that it will take about two weeks for the effect of the meds to really take place.

The good news is the one that’s supposed to help me sleep did it’s job.

Thanks to my mother and my husband getting the kids off to school without my help this morning I was able to stay in bed and sleep. I slept for 10 hours.

10 hours.

10.

Hours.

My head feels a little funny this morning; if I swing my head from side to side quickly I get a bit dizzy. But for 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep it’s worth it. The best part is that it’s not supposed to be habit forming and once I get the other two meds stabilized she said that I could stop that third one and take it only when I was having trouble sleeping.

The effect of the sleep was significant, although clearly not a cure all. But, this morning I put on a bra, and real clothes, and took off the night shirt I’d been wearing for two days and three nights straight, and took a shower.

My default right now is still exhaustion and despair but the sleep restored a little bit of hope.

Unfortunately, I found out about an hour ago that the assignment I was hoping to get for the summer didn’t come through. In five years it’s the first time that I didn’t get assigned to the summer session at work. I’m freaking out moderately since that essentially means that $3,000 dollars just evaporated out of my income stream and the estimate for repairing the damage that was done to the basement of our old house (which we haven’t sold yet and is now off the market while repairs are being done at the beginning of the peak RE season!!) looks like it’s going to run about $12,000 that we don’t have. Don’t. Have.

Our homeowners insurance will cover on $5,000 of it and we might have to sue our town for the remainder of the costs since the problem was entirely because of them. But even if we succeed it’s going to take months to work that out and get reimbursed.

My resting heart rate has been elevated for so long I don’t even know what it should be at this point. The anxiety just doesn’t have anywhere to go. I know that no matter how good this medication is it won’t be able to get rid of the anxiety as long as all of these reality based external stressors are still beating me down.

At this point I’m just waiting for something to go right.

I’m having trouble with that simple idea today.

I met with the therapist yesterday and that was good. She was sort of horrified when I went through the list of external stressors I have had to deal with lately. But I still feel weak and lame.

I haven’t been able to sleep in days so this morning I went back to bed after the kids went off to school. I slept for about 2 hours. I don’t feel much better.

You know you are depressed when the fact that you changed your socks and underwear feels like an accomplishment. And when you are leaving the house without a bra on and are still in your nightshirt which you’ve tucked into your jeans and thrown a sweatshirt over.

I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to prepare for work for tomorrow let alone go.

In an hour I have an appointment with a psychiatrist to try to get my medication fixed. I know I have to get myself there.

It’s obvious to me that there is a cyclical relationship going on here between the food and the depression/anxiety. If I were eating better I probably wouldn’t be feeling so anxious and depressed. If I wasn’t feeling so anxious and depressed I’d have the emotional resources to fix the food.

Like the chicken and the egg I have no actual idea which came first. Although my instinct is that it was the depression and anxiety because they started up a good six months before the relapse happened.

For today I’m pulling back from even the “one day at a time” and “one foot in front of the other” mentality. They are too fast paced and I don’t have the capacity to do that much right now. Right now it’s just “what’s the next task that really actually has to get done?” I’m not even sure I trust myself to know right now so I’m trying to get my husband to guide me on the reality there.

This is so hard. But I’m trying.

I’ve loved Allie Brosh’s blog, Hyperbole and a Half, for years and years. She’s also a sufferer of depression and her two posts on depression describe a lot of my experience. This line in particular struck me the other day as being particularly resonate:

“But trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back.  A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn’t going to work.”

I’ve felt this way about my depression. I’ve also always felt this way about trying to use willpower to manage my eating.

Willpower is a non-starter in both cases.

I thought I’d link to the two posts she has on depression because they make me feel so very much less alone.

My experience differs from her’s in that I’ve never felt suicidal… I can partly relate to the part where she says, “No, see, I don’t necessarily want to KILL myself… I just want to become dead somehow.” But I don’t actually want to be dead somehow, I just want to be allowed to sleep for months until this goes away. Not the same as dead. Not at all the same as dead. I do not want to be dead. I just want to be left alone to sleep for as long as it takes to make me wake up and feel better and, on some level, that might be just a little tiny bit like wanting to be dead temporarily. Which I know is impossible so I don’t actually want to be dead.

I don’t think I can say that one enough.

I. Don’t. Actually. Want. To. Be. Dead.

So, I don’t want anyone to worry about me in relation to that part…

It’s just the rest these posts that really hits home for me. The end of the second post in particular is maybe the one thing that could give me hope right now when I feel so hopeless. I’ve made that last picture the cover photo on my phone. It helps to see that message every time I turn it on.

So, enjoy. (And you’re allowed to smile or laugh at these posts. Allie is really funny.)

Allie Brosh’s “Adventures in Depression”

Allie Brosh’s “Depression Part Two”

My mother has arrived. She hopped a plane this morning to come help. She’s promised to be “the wife” for a week doing the food shopping, homework, laundry, dinners, errands for the week.

That means I’ll still have to look after the kids, making school lunches etc., but for the most part I’ll have only three responsibilities this week:

1. Go to work
I actually do really have to do this. We were on break last week and so I can’t just start cancelling willy-nilly this week. Especially when I’m trying to get that promotion. If I have any chance of staying in the running I have to stick it out now. I might be horribly depressed right now but I have enough sense left to know I won’t always be and I’ll be angry at myself later if I blow it now. Besides, it’s only part time so it’s not that big of a deal to go and sometimes, it’s a relief to go and be away from all the junk.

2. Get my kids to their appointments
My son’s health problems that reared their head last week resulted in a slew of doctor’s appointment this coming week. I have to go to them. I can’t send my mom and my husband has to go to work. So, this I can do. It’s for my baby, I can pull it together.

3. Go to my appointments
I have appointments made for this week with a new psychiatrist (APN, actually, but that’s fine with me) and an appointment with a therapist. I made two appointments with two different therapists that participate in my insurance. I’ll see one this week and one next week. Whichever one I connect with better I’ll make a second appointment to see. I’m hoping this pans out.

Additionally, it’s my son’s birthday on Wednesday. He’s turning 6. I have to be able to be present for him that day. He deserves that and I want to give it to him.

That’s it. My mother and husband are going to do the rest. I’m pretty sure one week isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference, but it’s better than nothing.

Can I also say that I really wish getting my mother’s help didn’t involve her having to get on a plan. But I’m luckier than most so I should just shut-it and be grateful. Which I am.

I haven’t binged today.

I don’t want to binge.

I don’t really feel like binging.

There’s nothing to be proud of here. I’m having an old school binge.

Like I haven’t had in over a decade.

Walking through the grocery store ripping open bags before even paying.

My stomach hurts.

I’m past the point of knowing I should stop but there’s just no chance I can do it.

I’m not even hiding it anymore.

Things are going from bad to worse here in my life. For today I can’t hack it anymore. Today I collapsed. Literally.

Hyperventilated because the stress just got too much.

I am not proud.

But, for once, I’m not ashamed either.

I just can’t. I’ve reached the actual end of my rope. I thought I had before. Many times before in fact. But this is actually it.

I’m going to bed.

I have to get hime first. Pick up my daughter from the birthday party she’s at. Then go home and hand off this kid to my husband and the babysitter who swooped in to help.

Then I’m going to bed.

Not sure how long I’ll stay there.

But for today “I can’t” isn’t about being defeated. It’s about being honest.

I

CAN’T

RIGHT

NOW

that has to be ok for today.

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