KateNap Is Coming To A Close

Lovely readers,

Some of you have been reading my haphazard words since June 21, 2009. Some of you have been around for less time, but I love you all the same for sticking around, or just sticking your head in once. I started KateNap with a post called “Reasons I Shouldn’t Blog.” I suppose I could call this post “Reasons I Wouldn’t Blog” but I’d like to think that I am less pessimistic now than I was at age 17. (Isn’t it funny? I could have sworn I was 15 when I started blogging. I can’t decide if that makes my old posts more or less embarrassing.)

I have learned so much blogging here over the years. Writing for an audience (no matter how big or small) made me articulate my thoughts in a way that I needed to do and would not have done for myself. It acted as a record of every milestone of my recovery and it allowed  me to vent when things got rough. From time to time, it even alerted family members to when I was going through a particularly volatile period and gave them a chance to step in when I wouldn’t ask for help directly. In 520 posts I documented a quarter of my life. And I am so glad that I did it.

But time keeps moving. I am entering my final year of college after numerous chops and changes. I have less time and energy than I did back in 2009 thanks to a greater workload and a greater appreciation for self care. I have less things to say, I think, or maybe I just feel like others say them with more clarity and more authority. WordPress (and KateNap) are no longer the best platform for me.

I am no longer the person I was when I started KateNap. Everything here explains me: a hardcore Leaving Cert year, dropping out of med school, various failed relationships, recovering from an eating disorder, starting nursing school, leaving nursing school, singing songs, surviving an assault, surviving my own impulses, being diagnosed with a chronic illness – all these things make up little parts of me, but alone do not describe the whole. Which is why I have decided to move on and start anew. KateNap will remain as a record of my life thus far. The rest of the story will be written elsewhere.

If you want to continue to monitor my epiphanies and exploits, I will be blogging (and re-blogging) about all things body (illness and fatness and fashion) over on Tumblr at Shirts, Skirts & a Hapless Flirt. Whether that’s your wheelhouse or not, I thank you for taking an interest in my ramblings until now.

I love you all,

Kate

x

On Feeling Fat

Content note: The following post contains descriptions of weight (specific numbers), eating disorder behaviours, depression, and fat shaming. Please proceed with caution if you are triggered by any of the above. 

Over the last five years, I have read countless times that it is impossible to feel fat. I am almost certain that I have written a post somewhere along the line called Fat is Not a Feeling. But then I look at myself in my sisters’ full-length mirror and I feel Fat. I go shopping and try on clothes that are never consistent sizes between shops and I feel Fat. I pinch my stomach and I feel Fat. I weigh myself and I realise that not only am I 160 lbs, I am actually 163 lbs and two weeks of running around after tiny children have not counteracted all those sweets you ate alongside the tiny children. Activities that have nothing to do with weight – singing, writing, working, socialising – may contain tiny mistakes and inconsequential unpleasantness and I blame it on being Fat.

It’s possible that I will never be confident in my ability to regulate my own eating. I don’t trust my hunger signals. I don’t trust my university-acquired nutritional knowledge. I forget about the peer-reviewed research that states that it is ridiculous to assume that someone is unhealthy on the sole basis of their weight. I convince myself I deserve a treat and then hate myself for it and then hate myself for hating myself and continue to eat more. The constant question: is this healthful behaviour or is this bulimia’s pesky way of creeping back in? Last October, I was extremely confident that I had cracked this conundrum. By November, I was purging after more meals than not.

When does it start?

When does it end?

I try to fake it til I make it:

“Life doesn’t start 10 lbs from now”

“You are exercising as best as fibromyalgia will allow”

“Your bloods and vital signs are better than ever”

It feels like a lie. Each line is overlaid with “163 lbs”, “27 BMI” and “fat fat fat fat fat.”

To be so obsessed with my own weight feels egotistical and selfish. To ignore it feels shameful. This element of recovery is already five years old and there are days which are like those at the very start.

Motivation is a pain. Chronic fatigue is a pain. Early-20s-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life-existential-angst is a pain.

This current breakthrough of food-related distress will fade into the background once again and something new will occupy my attention. It might not go away but it will not be as blatantly obvious and I will muddle along just like I always do. After five years on this journey, I accept that this is what recovery is. Coping rather than curing. Living with rather than hoping it will all disappear. Making room because there is no going back to before. You live in the after or you die. I’ll take the former.

Writer’s Block

Sometimes I feel like my brain is split in two, with one side compelled to be perfect in the eyes of academia and society and the other side wholly enamoured with the creation of art. And mostly art is writing, and mostly that writing is songwriting. I journalled through my crisis recovery at the start of 2015 and then I stopped. I stopped because college got busy and, as always, I chose academia. I stopped writing songs, I stopped writing blogs, because I ran out of time and I ran out of words. I told myself when I had time the words would come back.

I have no words. I’m sitting at my piano. I smash the keys because the notes sound wrong or derivative or boring. And the words sound cliched or too simple or too complex. You sit at the piano and you convince yourself that because you have so many feelings, you the capabilities required to turn this overwhelming web of emotion into something productive. To explain what it feels like to wash dishes and feel like this could be done in a better way, in a better place. To somehow illustrate the small piece of you that has been chipped away and stolen. To process the equally forceful desires for isolation and engagement. I have so many thoughts and not a notion as to how I can resolve them.

New Year Yoga or How I Learnt To Stop Hating Chair Pose

2014 wasn’t a big yoga year. I stopped because my twenty minute sessions were bumming me out and I was reluctant to do longer sessions because I had neither the time nor the patience for long hold poses. My all time least favourite pose is Chair Pose, or Utkatasana in the Sanskrit, which looks like this:

Image from Yoga Journal

You hold Utkatasana and you feel it in your hamstrings, your shoulders, your core, your glutes. Hold it a bit longer, you tire. You hurt. You want to drop down into the fold and relieve the tension and sensations that now flow throughout your body. You hold the pose. You make the choice to continue to hold the pose.

In Utkatasana, I am present, I am intentional, I make decisions. Some days, I do modify, and I bring my arms to centre. But this too is a conscious choice, not an avoidance. Most days, I make the choice to hold the pose.

I don’t like facing unpleasant sensations, unpleasant feelings, unpleasant situations. I like to avoid. I like to procrastinate. I like to distract myself. I don’t do emotion. I detach.

I am not dealing with things, yet. But I continue to hold the pose.

And After Denial And Anger And Depression Comes Acceptance

Yesterday’s post was written a day or two after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It was a messy few weeks, of crying and ableism and cancelling plans and haze and tough decisions and more crying. I yelled at people I loved: my mom, Tom, my sisters, God. I pretended nothing had changed with everyone else. Both took a toll.

But now I’m almost a month in. And things are looking up. My worries and fears from July have come to their foregone conclusions for the most part and I am looking for the upside in them all. And life is looking a little like this:

  • Downside: I decided not to go EUDC in Croatia. Upside: My space went to Andrew, who deserves it and will do it justice.
  • Downside: I have been transferred out of Nursing and will not be graduating in 2015. Upside: The college are making what is essentially a new course for me (BSc Health Studies) and I will graduate in 2016. The next year will also be part time, which will allow me to adjust to professional life at my own pace.
  • Downside: Running is a no-no. Upside: Swimming and yoga are still yes-yes.

It helps that two of my dearest people have disabilities, and are up for a venting session when it is needed. It helps that I bought a shower chair so that I can wash myself in peace. It helps that I am getting into a low-sugar, low-caffeine, bed at 10pm routine. It helps that I am taking more me time. It helps to multitask less. It helps that I am taking a break from worship team, and approaching God in a slightly different manner. It helps that the American explains relevant theology (and makes silly faces) when I am upset. It helps to have a mother who does lots of research about fibro and test runs facials on me.

You get to a point where you start being okay with being a spoonie, a fibromite, a pillow fighter, and whatever other cute names online support groups have for their members. You start being okay with walking less and sitting more, less nights out and more sleeps in, less fancy coffee and two more paracetemol.

But it’s good. This is good.

 

Waiting, Surviving, and More Than Surviving

It’s been a few weeks, sporadic blog readers. One of those months, you know? Where things are going from bad to worse, and a cycle begins reminding you of all the other bad things that have already happened in your life thus far. The cycle then goes on to speculate on all the terrible things that are inevitably going to happen as your life progresses and you get caught in this storm of desperation and disinterest in anything else in the world.

The latest in is that I have an undiagnosed something. Readers and real life friends alike are fully aware that I give out about my hip pain a lot, and as time has gone on, it has become more of an issue. Now I’m waiting on a rheumatology consult, need to take day time naps to deal with the fatigue, and am relating far too well to The Spoon Theory. It’s frustrating and exhausting and it takes a whole ton of effort to do not very much.

The build up has started: I am tired and in pain, so I can’t get a job, so I have no money. I am tired and in pain, so I can’t work as a nurse so I have to consider transferring into something else, which isn’t dropping out, but feels remarkably similar. I am tired and in pain so I can’t sleep at night and am exhausted during the way which makes it harder to socialise, serve, and survive.

All this happens and it would be so easy to give up. I could just take to my bed and watch Netflix and drink tea and never stir. Which I do some days, and it is absolutely necessary. But not every day. And I have to remind myself, as we all do sometimes, that I have survived the terrible things before. I survived bulimia, and dropping out of med school, and coming out as queer, and being raped, and having PTSD, GAD, and panic attacks, and having IBS (I am alphabet soup apparently), and a whole host of other things that felt like the end of the world (like being broke and relationships ending and growing apart from friends.) I am still here after all of that and so I must keep going. Or all that effort will have been a waste.

I can survive, and more than survive. I can adjust. I have a computer. I write (and get paid now. That’s cool). I have Skype. I have a rent free room to live in and meals made for me, courtesy of my beautiful father and mother. I have best friends who are not in the least bit frightened of all my baggage, and often come to the rescue. I have Jesus, and God’s infinite love. I have hope.

And that’s good enough for now.

Damage, Communion, and Easter

I wrote this at Easter and never posted it because I am terrible but it is a Sunday so there’s that. 

There isn’t the hype and excitement around Easter that there is around Christmas. From a secular point of view anyway, and these days that doesn’t bother me. I see the excitement and the joy in the hearts of my fellow disciples in Christ and it makes me even more astounded that almost 2000 years ago, Jesus was executed for spreading the truth and then returned to life. And sometimes I hear that and it means nothing because we all hear it every year. And I’m not going to get into the meaning of Easter and the theological gravity of resurrection and everything else, because then I’d just be explaining all of Christianity and most people who read this either already know it or aren’t going to read the ramblings of a baby Christian talk about Jesus.

I’m going to write about being damaged. We all have a chapter of our lives that we recall and think that’s what broke me. Maybe it was a bad breakup or a lost job or financial struggles. Maybe it was something that filled you with shame like a sexual assault or an addiction. Maybe it was the total feeling of loss and lack of control that comes with a mental disorder, like depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder. I can only speak for myself, but I am sure that many people have sat down one day and asked, “What is the point of trying any more? I am too far gone. There is no coming back from this. I’m done.” I remember feeling so damaged and worthless that I was surprised anyone wanted to give me the time of day. I remember knowing in the core of my soul that there was no point in trying to find God because He’d only hate me too.

And that’s what makes Easter so amazing for me. That’s what makes Jesus so amazing for me. He came back from death. With God, we can overcome anything. And this is getting alarmingly close to sounding like God will fix all your problems (He won’t. Hardship still exists in Christian life, because hardship exists in life.) But when Jesus died, He took it all with Him – the shame, the lies, the hate. He was damaged by the world just as badly as we are. And when He rose, He gave us the opportunity to take the broken parts and be reborn. He gave us the opportunity to be free.

He is risen! Happy Easter!