Why I Stopped Blogging And Why I May Start Again

The last time I posted anything was over two months ago (I’m not counting the Queerbash post. Promo is promo.) The long and short of it is I had a setback. The melodramatic part of me wants to write ‘breakdown’, but setback is a better word. What happened was this: I went on placement, read about mental illness for 8 hours a day, and started having panic attacks. I returned to college and this advanced to flashbacks and derealisation and depression. A few doctor appointments later and I had my medications revamped and a diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD.) I took the rest of the week off and did nothing with myself.

Things got better from there: the meds kicked in, I learned coping skills from my new counsellor, I talked through my flashbacks, I joined a church and threw myself into service and learning more, I got on top of college work, and my mother and Andrew ensured I remained a human being.

This improvement came at a price: I had to stop writing for Gaelick (and the blog), I cut down on committee things, I am still completely unmotivated to run or play music or not engorge myself on sugar. My IBS has been playing up, I had a period of touch phobia, and I am getting the shakes from another medication adjustment.

But things are looking up.

Life seems good again.

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Dealing With IBS (While In ED Recovery): Part 2

  Read Part 1 here

In the height of my ED, my IBS was only an issue when I ate, so I tried not to. When I went into recovery and had to eat, my symptoms went into overdrive and I was sick no matter what I ate. Although I was telling myself I was improving, I was still restricting (to a lesser degree) and when I felt the need, would try to make myself sick. To avoid suspicion, I would sometimes eat my allergy foods (i.e. bread) to force a reaction. After about 3 months, I realised I wasn’t reacting anymore. I had put on about a stone, was eating regularly and was chock full of meds. And I was able to stomach food I hadn’t eaten in 4 years.

Cut to 2 years later and I started seeing a dietitian to push through the next hurdle of recovery. Besides addressing my eating patterns and my vegetarianism, she gave me a list of foods to avoid. These low-FODMAP foods were not the extent of the  restrictions I had put on myself previously. Basically, I don’t eat apples, mushrooms, onions and honey and I keep white bread to a minimum. As it turns out, my symptoms are highly correlated to my stress levels – which fits completely with my history of depression and anxiety. When I started to get these under control, my IBS was a lot easier to handle too.

The reason I decided to bring this up had to do with the current exam period. I hadn’t been experiencing any symptoms for a while. Like the reading week before it, this reading week had driven me into a frenzy of thoughts of failing and ideals of perfection. An added bonus of the Spring Semester was a stressful work placement and an almost constant string of rehearsals in the period leading up to the exam. The culmination of this was a week of alternately restricting and binging on a daily basis.

Soon, the tests were upon me but I felt prepared. I knew my shit and went into Anatomy to give a sigh of relief that the questions I felt particularly strong at had come up. One hour in and half the questions done, I felt a stabbing pain in my gut. I tried to ignore it but eventually I caved and was escorted to the bathroom. I got sick, felt better and headed back to finish off what was to be a kickass exam. My insides had other plans and I only lasted fifteen more minutes before I called uncle and left the exam hall, test unfinished, to get sick. Disgusted and disappointed don’t begin to cover how I felt that day.

Whether I like it or not, food is always going to be an issue. IBS doesn’t go away, it just fades into the background before rearing its ugly head in times of crisis. My eating disorder seems to follow the same pattern and the two have become intrinsically linked. Maybe if I didn’t have IBS, I would have never restricted a food group and become accustomed to not eating. Maybe if I had never had an ED, my IBS wouldn’t have exacerbated as badly as it did. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. With both conditions, the disease does not just disappear. You find ways to live and ways to cope.

To be continued…

Dealing With IBS (While in ED Recovery): Part 1

I talk about my history of ED a lot here. What I have never really gotten around to is talking about  the  other issues I have with  food.

When I was 11, I started getting sick. At least 5 times a week, I would have no choice but to take to  my bed with stomach spasms, pain and all manner of symptoms. No body had any idea what was wrong with me. I was afraid to go to parties, to leave the house, to do anything in case I got sick while I was out. It was around this time that I started to withdraw and become introverted, partly due to my illness, partly due to first episode of depression. This continued for five years with no change.

Various visits, tests and misdiagnoses later, a gastroenetrologist diagnosed me with IBS. Although I now knew what I was dealing with, I was still frustrated; IBS is a diagnosis of elimination – basically, nothing else was wrong with me – and it was a chronic syndrome i.e. there is no cure, only remissions and exacerbations.

To counteract this, I decided to cut out all wheat, yeast and various foods out of my diet completely. My sickness episodes (while still ever present) decreased dramatically and I also lost about half a stone in a short enough period of time. I was also starting walking and eating healthier in general and I was happy that I was able to be freer with my social life and was looking  better. I was still dealing  with depressive and anxiety episodes but I had come a long way from my earlier days.

When I decided to quit self harming (another story for another day), I took up binge eating instead. When I gave up the wheat and other foods, I switched to tracking the ingredients in food. This turned into tracking the calories and then reducing calories. The more stresses I had in my life,  the more stringently I kept to my “diet”. The less food I ate, the less I was sick (there was nothing in my stomach to make me sick) but overeating, and even normal eating, pushed my body to such an extreme that I was put off eating properly again for days.

To be continued…

Sugar Withdrawal Day 4

I am four days without sugar and I kind of want to die. Or kill everyone else around me, I’m not quite sure yet.

I do see the benefits. I do not have multiple crashes due to low blood sugar during the day. My binging has pretty much stopped (I know its only been four days but thats still a pretty big deal for me.) I need a lot less food to keep me full because I’m eating lots of protein and unprocessed food.

But right now, in the midst of it, it still kind of sucks. The headaches, the upset stomach, the mood swings. And more than all of them, I have to actually feel my feelings. Turns out that I have a lot of them. And they aren’t that happy that there is no sugar to placate them anymore.

So when anxiety, depression and panic sets in, what do I do now that I can’t suckle on a piece of chocolate?

For one, I’m being a total hippie and meditating a lot. Every morning. It keeps me sane until lunch at the very least and I am becoming slightly less uncomfortable with my raw emotions everytime I just sit down to contemplate and breathe.

I am back on the exercise wagon and have done something active everyday for the last three weeks. Sometimes it is a quick half hour going gung ho with kickboxing, sometimes its a run or a long walk, other times its yoga and on days that I am tired, it might be a simple 10 minutes of some ab work. But doing a little everyday is suiting me a lot better than going insane three or four times a week and utterly dreading it. And it all balances out to around the same amount of time (4-5hours) a week – its just that I actually enjoy it this way.

Last, but not least, I am trying to keep myself busy with the to do list I make every morning. 8-10 things to accomplish during the day so if I’m at a loss at what to do I can just look at my notebook and see that, “oh yes, I wanted to practice three sections of that piano piece” or “I almost forgot tidy my room.”

Hopefully by my next post, I won’t feel so homicidal. I’m off to nurse this headache and watch some Dr. Who.

One Year Ago…

One Year Ago, I accepted my place in Medicine in UCC.

Today, I accepted my place in Nursing in UL.

One Year Ago, I was dangerously underweight.

Today, I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life (albeit technically overweight…but health is achievable at EVERY size.)

One Year Ago, my priority was wasting away to as low a weight as I could.

Today, my priority is making the best life possible for both me and the people I love.

One Year Ago, I felt like a child overwhelmed.

Today, I feel like a confident adult.

One Year Ago, everyday was a struggle.

Today, I appreciate life.

 

Its amazing the difference a year can make.

 

Shit Just Got Real

Monday will mark my third week of Overeaters Anonymous. That’s right, kids, I’m in a 12 step programme. Whilst therapy and my doctors have helped me make huge strides in my recovery over the last year, I felt there was still something missing. So I am currently going to online meetings, talking with my sponsor and working the steps to break free from this “spiritual malady.”

Spirituality is a hard concept for me to swallow. A self confessed atheist for about 8 years, it was this part of the program that I knew would cause me the most trouble.
I don’t know when this changed exactly, there was no “eureka” moment per se. But I feel there is something there. And I am finally start to trust in whatever that is.

I used to be afraid of God because of my fear and disdain for religion. When my morals clashed with that of the Catholic church, I believed that there was no place for me. And since I could only do what I felt is right, I cut myself away completely and depended solely on philosophy and science. My family is not strict Christian at all (my mom is a liberal Christian and my dad is agnostic) so I was always taught to be open minded and accepting of everyone. But like every other child in Ireland, religion and catechism is part of your school curriculum until you enter third level education. And the older I got, the more I found myself disagreeing with some of the principals of the Church (I particularly hate the homophobic nature of some Christians, as well as not seeing eye to eye about things like contraception, abortion, feminism, insert more liberal beliefs here….) It was all very black and white to me: I either was a catholic or I wasn’t. So I chose to not be.

I may not have been content in some areas of my life – my issues with relationships, my friendship problems, my self hatred and harm, my ED – but this was one thing I was certain about. Surely science would not fail me, even when it felt like everything else had.

Recently, my friend (full of alcohol and honesty) worried the hell out of me with some of her personal revelations, but instead of dwelling on it and trying to change her (which I know from past experience does not work) I put my trust that there was a reason for all this, that there was a bigger picture – yes, even that God will take care of what I am unable to. It is difficult to see your friend in distress and say no more than I love and support you. But I trust that that was all I, just one little girl in a big bad universe, could do.

I have no desire to return to my old church, and maybe I will never return to organised religion. But that does not mean I have to be without God. If I am meant to find a religion, God will guide me there. As regards my current confusion towards morality and sexuality, God will guide me. I know if I want to recover, I have to have this willingness.

I don’t know what I believe – or the where, how, why, who, when, of anything. All I know is that I am changing as a person. And that that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Damaged Goods

My voice died. I tried CPR, the paddles, everything. Except shutting up. Maybe that deserves a go. In any case, I can’t go to Season’s Greetings tonight, which is disappointing as it is always a highlight of choir and I have been in it for the last 2 years. But I would have to hit several high A’s if I went, and I am not even thinking about an A until next week.

This said, I still proceed to hang out with Dad as he learns Nella Fantasia. What started out with helping him pronounce Italian quickly became us jamming out a harmony so we can duet and scare people in the pub. Needless to say, the vocal cords aren’t happy.

As it’s coming to the end of 2010, expect a post soon about what I learned this year and any resolutions I may attempt. Lame, I know. I was going to write it now. But I thought at this side of Christmas it would be even lamer. 2010 was one of the best and worst years of my life in many ways, so a look back will be interesting.

In the meantime, I decided to set some really really easy December goals to keep some ounce of motivation in me. I have three, one a week until New Year’s Eve. And the overall goal is to either journal or blog as I go. But that’s just a hope.

Week 1: Drink 8 glasses of water a day (I am bad for drinking anything but tea. And this way, my skin will be nice and clear and kidneys good and hydrated.)

Week 2: Meditate once a day (My mind is going 90 pretty much all the time. And for anyone unfamiliar with the irishism, going 90 means going really, really fast and all over the place. [It can always mean mad in a good way e.g. the craic was 90 = it was tremendous fun])

Week 3: Cut out (or at least reduce) the processede sugar in my diet (I sugar crash a lot. And then I get upset.)

Over and out, compadres.