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.

I haven’t written anything in a few days because…

… I’m away from my computer this week…

… My son’s health problem that triggered me last month are back…

… My eating is so off the charts terrible I can’t even handle it…

… My anxiety and depression are so off the charts terrible I don’t even know what to say about it anymore…

… My head feels like it’s just spinning…

… The iPad isn’t sufficient for writing blog posts.

I’m reading a book called “Where’d You Go, Bernadette Fox” by Maria Semple. While sitting awake next to my son all night waiting to awaken him at 3 hour intervals for medicine I read the following passage about anxiety and depression. It stood out to me and resonated with my experience so I thought I’d share it. Thank you to Maria Semple for her words.

“Even sleeping makes my heart race! I’m lying in bed when the thumping arrives, like a foreign invader. It’s a horrible dark mass, like the monolith in 2001, self-organized but completely unknowable, and it enters my body and releases adrenaline. Like a black hole, it sucks in any benign thoughts that might be scrolling across my brain and attaches visceral panic to them. For instance, during the day I might have mused, Hey, I should pack more fresh fruit in Bee’s lunch. That night, with the arrival of The Thumper, it becomes, I’VE GOT TO PACK MORE FRESH FRUIT IN BEE’S LUNCH!!! I can feel the irrationality and anxiety draining my store of energy like a battery-operated racecar grinding away in the corner. This is energy I will need to get through the next day. But I just lie in bed and watch it burn, and with it any hope for a productive tomorrow. There go the dishes, there goes the grocery store, there goes exercise, there goes bringing in the garbage cans. There goes basic human kindness. I wake up in a sweat so thorough I sleep with a pitcher of water by the bed or I might die of dehydration.”

Well, I lost the battle but at least I can say I know the war isn’t over yet.

Today kicked me in the teeth.

I’m hitting some sort of bottom with my depression. Obviously, my old meds aren’t working the way they are supposed to and I’m not holding it together. This morning between dropping the kids at school and leaving for work I spent 30 minutes curled up on the floor crying uncontrollably. Putting one foot in front of the other just suddenly became too hard. I couldn’t do it anymore.

After work and before picking my kids up from school I went to see my PCP to get a referral to a psychiatrist. I spent a fair amount of time there crying also. Now I’m waiting on a referral from their office and even though I know the psychiatrist I want to see I don’t have an appointment yet. I’m looking at the week after next to be seen. Hopefully.

The hurdles we have to jump over when we are already this far down are borderline absurd. Countless phone calls, referrals, waiting for appointments, etc. That’s hard enough when you’re healthy but with depression it just seems like a cruel joke.

“Oh, you have an illness that makes accomplishing small tasks seem Herculean? You have an illness that makes taking care of yourself overwhelmingly impossible? That’s ok. We’ll help. But here’s a list of 15 things that you have to do first. We’ll help once you do all of that yourself.”

Sorry if I sound bitter.

I know I’m better off than most people. My husband made the appointment with the PCP for me. He researched therapists to call. I’m not that alone.

After I dropped my daughter at tennis after school I called my husband. He asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner and all I could do was cry and say that I couldn’t possibly be expected to make a decision like that.

I couldn’t. I can’t.

He took care of it and got chicken and salad and the restaurant included a side order of yellow rice and pinto beans.

Three guesses what I ate for dinner and the second two don’t count.

I also ate 3 packages of fruit snacks. So, wagon, I’m on it no longer.

I keep saying that I need to sort out the food first, but I’m not sure that’s true anymore. This bout of depression feels so much deeper than it’s been before. I don’t remember what it feels like to feel happy. I don’t remember what it feels like to feel anything other than anxiety, despair, and emptiness. I don’t remember smiling unless it was socially expected and so I forced it.

My husband keeps telling me that this too shall pass. I know he’s right but I don’t see it right now. I can’t feel it.

I’m not planning a crazy bender. But then again I never am.

But I do know that I can’t fix the food first. This depression is too deep.

I don’t want to fix the food last either. The consequences of that would be too far reaching.

But, something’s got to give right now. I can’t do it all.

I wish I could forgive myself for not being able to do it all. For failing once in a while.

I can’t fix the food today. I can’t…

I just can’t.

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