U is for Unmotivated

u embroiderSo I’ve been putting off doing most things lately, including writing blog posts. Why? Because I just couldn’t get myself to do anything. To the point of spending two days in bed. Yep, you read that right. Two. Days. In. Bed.

I’m not even sure why I’ve been so unmotivated or depressed or whatever you want to call it. I don’t actually feel bad. Most of the time. Most of the time I feel like an inarticulate word ending in “h”: eh, ich, blah. It’s only when I try to get myself to do things that the bad thoughts and feelings come up (they involve my own uselessness, death, and anything else negative you can imagine).

I read somewhere that if you just start something, anything, your motivation will show up and you’ll feel better. So I chose to start this blog post. Let’s see, dear readers, what happens.

 

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I came across this picture the other day and couldn’t help but stop and wonder. Who was Ms. Eliza M. Stillman? And why isn’t there a death date? Is she a vampire? An immortal of some kind? Based on the engraving of what I’m assuming are shamrocks, either she or her husband were Irish. Or admirers of Ireland. Or they really just liked shamrocks. Or those are supposed to be something else and the artist messed up.

Of course, there’s probably a simple explanation for everything I’m wondering. When she died her family probably couldn’t afford to have her death date engraved (we had a similar problem). But it’s more fun, don’t you think, to image that Ms. Eliza is off somewhere, baking cookies, and enjoying her 178th year of existence.

 

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Speaking of immortal, this picture jumped out at me too. Doesn’t she look creepy? I can’t help but wonder how those black streaks got there. Intentional or…?

 

IMG_1481__

This is just pretty.

 

fat cat

As y’all know, I’m fat. Circus-fat-lady fat. And I love cats. Yep, I’m the cliché.

 

Image from mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/macro-photos-show-amazing-details-of-everyday-objects

Image from mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/macro-photos-show-amazing-details-of-everyday-objects

This falls under the title of “Isn’t science cool?” This is a single grain of sugar. Cool, right?

 

quote struggle

This picture might look familiar as I’ve used it in a previous post. But hey, I still like it and this is my blog. Love the tail.

 

Okay. So I wrote. I posted. I looked at pretty pictures. Do I feel any “better”? Not really. I just feel hungry.

 

Maybe I’ll go back to bed.

 

black white cat


 

Take care.

Bonnie

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X is for X Factor

x xmas fancyWhen I was a kid, my best friend and I used to play this game nearly every day. We pretended we were princesses and we had to “compete” to win our princes in a pageant-like competition. So we would dress up, put on makeup, dance, sing, and sometimes put on a play. And of course, we each won a prince. The prince himself didn’t really matter. The whole thing was just an excuse to pretend that we had “it.” That elusive something that would make someone take one look at us, gasp, and say “Her! That’s the one I’ve been looking for!”

Image from commons.wikimedia.org

Image from commons.wikimedia.org

Now that I’m an adult I know that that kind of “something” is rare. Marilyn Monroe had it. Cary Grant had it. Katy Perry has it. Johnny Depp has it. I don’t have it. At least when it comes to that kind of celebrity charisma.

But what I’m still looking for, at the age of forty-something, is the X factor. I’m looking for that certain elusive something that allows someone, despite all the problems or issues in their life, to do better, to be better. I’m looking for whatever it is that makes someone push through what seem to be unsurmountable odds and make the world a place I want to be in.

About five years ago, I discovered the author Therese J. Borchard. At the time I was combing

Image from thereseborchardblog.com

Image from thereseborchardblog.com

the internet for answers to a spiritual quest and Ms. Borchard had a blog on the website Beliefnet which dealt with spirituality and mental illness. I fell in love with her writing, but more I fell in love with her story. You see, Ms. Borchard has Bipolar (you can find more on that here) and yet has what most of us would consider a normal life. She’s married, has kids, works, writes, has a master’s degree, has published books, and (what may be the hardest thing) fights her mental illness every day. She has the X factor.

According to one of her blog posts (found here), every day she swims, keeps a gratitude journal, lists her accomplishments, makes herself laugh, meditates, takes all kinds of supplements, watches her diet, sits under a sun lamp, and prays. Every. Day. I can’t even do those things every week. Again, the X factor.

So why does she have the ability to fight so hard? Or maybe how does she have the ability to fight? Is it the support that she has from family and friends? Or is it something in her makeup, her DNA? Is there a gene for the X factor?

And she’s not the only one. There are thousands of people out there who, often on a daily basis, fight battles that would put me under. Cancer, domestic violence, political and religious violence, schizophrenia, PTSD, fibromyalgia, cardiac disease, Crohn’s disease, AIDS, Cystic Fibrosis, MS, Lupus, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), the list goes on and on. And they fight. They have the X factor.

As you know, I have a chronic illness too: Major Depressive Disorder (more on that here). And I fight it…bed gray sometimes. Not on a daily basis. I don’t try to fight it with exercise or changes to my diet. There are whole weeks that I spend in bed, not making an effort. Not attempting to have a normal life. Not fighting. Sometimes I’m just too tired, too exhausted by living with the stupid illness to even make an attempt.

But there are other times, times when I could fight it. Times when my energy is up, and I can smile, and I can see the beauty of this world. Those are the times when I could establish the habits and behaviors that fight the disease. Those are the times that those with the X factor push themselves to do what they can, to be what they can. And often they succeed. Ms. Borchard does, and she has a family, friends, and, on top of all she does on a daily basis, has started a community for those with chronic treatment-resistant mood disorders, Project Beyond Blue. How does she do it?

And how can I not? I don’t have a spouse or kids to take care of. I have nothing to distract me, not work, not family, not even a cat, to distract me from fighting my illness. But I don’t. I don’t. I don’t have the X factor.

But maybe, maybe, I can find it.

Find the X factor and fight for my life.


Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to give more? Or are you adding more charitable donations to your plate as part of Lent? If so, please consider donating to Ms. Borchard’s Project Beyond Blue. Details on how to do so can be found here.

On behalf of all those who benefit from her work, Thank You.

ProjectBeyondBlueNingmastheadalternative3

Image found at community.projectbeyondblue.com

 


Take care.

Bonnie

Z is for Zero

~~~~~TRIGGER WARNING~~~~~

Food, bingeing, nutritional numbers, and suicide mentioned.

frozen barbed wire
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’re in the US, you’re probably aware that the Midwest, where I live, is currently in the deep freeze. We’ve had wind chills below zero all week and the last two days it’s been so cold schools have closed because the wind chill was thirty below (frostbite could happen within minutes of being outside.)

Now normally, I have no problem staying home. Except for today. Today I wanted to binge. I wanted chocolate, sugar, junk. Of course, anything carbohydrate (carbs)-related is supposed to be “bad” for me. I have Type II Diabetes (click here for info on Diabetes) after all. Did I care, nope. I just wanted to eat what I wanted to eat.

I did try though, not to give into that little devil on my shoulder that nattered at me to go out and get all those carby goodies. I ignored him all day. Until I couldn’t.

So I bundled up and walked to the closest store and bought a bunch of junk food. For the sake of clarity, let me tell you exactly what I ate, the nutritional facts of each item (taken from their packages), and how long it took me to eat it all…

6pm

One 12oz bottle of OJ. This is not a normal binge food for me. I drank it because I can feel a cold coming timeFlieson. Calories: 160; Fat: 0g (grams); Carbs: 37g; Protein: 2g.

One pint of Premium Ice Cream (vanilla with fudge streaks and peanut butter cups mixed in). Calories: 680; Fat: 44g; Carbs: 72g; Protein: 8g.

6:55pm

One 11oz bag of Nacho Chips. Calories: 1540g; Fat: 88g; Carbs: 176g; Protein: 22g.

One large Peanut Butter Cup. Calories: 200; Fat: 12g; Carbs: 22g; Protein: 5g.

9:20pm

Two Chocolate Cupcakes. Calories: 330; Fat: 12g; Carbs: 53g; Protein: 2g.

One large Peanut Butter Cup. Calories: 200; Fat: 12g; Carbs: 22g; Protein: 5g.

One Brownie. Calories: 500; Fat: 26g; Carbs: 66g; Protein: 5g.

11:20pm

One 6oz bag of Pizza-flavored filled Pretzel Snacks. Calories: 780; Fat: 30g; Carbs: 114g; Protein: 12g.

So our grand totals for this evening of bingeing are: Calories: 4390; Fat: 224g (46% of calories); Carbs: 562g (51% of calories); Protein: 61g (5% of calories). Yeah, I know that’s more than 100%. I’ve never been good at math.

sugar

And this isn’t even all I ate today, just what I’ve eaten since 6pm. And I may eat more, like the other things I bought on my below zero shopping trip: another brownie, a 4oz bag of chocolate covered pretzels, a large banana-nut muffin, a large cheese streusel muffin, three milk-chocolate truffles, and a 4oz bag of hard candies (chocolate flavored). I’m gonna try not to eat anything else, but there are no guarantees. Not with me anyway.

I’m assuming some of you are thinking, “Huh? What does all that mean?” To answer that question, let me tell you a bit about what I’ve been told I “should” eat…

Calories: The last time I saw a nutritionist who specialized in eating disorders, I was over 400 pounds. She told me to eat roughly 3000 calories since I was used to eating at least 4000 a day. I’m not quite so heavy now (I lost a bit when I became unemployed and couldn’t eat at fast food places all the time), so I did a web search. According to calorieking.com, I should eat between 1900-2100 calories if I want to lose weight and 2650-2850 calories to maintain it.nutritionfacts

So this binge took me over my daily allotted calories by 1390 to 2490 calories, depending on which advice you’re looking at. And that doesn’t even include the food I had earlier in the day (no binges, just regular meals.)

Fat: Because my cholesterol (believe it or not) is fine I’ve never paid much attention to how many fat grams I should or should not eat. Basically I’ve been told to get roughly 30% of my calories from fat. This binge pushed me 16% (at least) over that.

Carbs: This is the biggie. Because carbs digest into sugar first, they affect your blood sugar fastest. So with Diabetes this is the number everyone focuses on. There is no number recommended by the American Diabetes Association. They always say that the number is “individual.” However, the most common numbers I’ve been given is between 30-45g per meal and 0-15g per snack, or between 40-60% of your calories. Of course, those carbs should all be of the whole-grain-complex variety, not the simple-sugar-junk-food kind I just ate.

Looking at just the numbers, it looks like I did okay, right? 51% is right there in the middle. Yay me! Nope, not yay me. Because I know that when I eat a lot of food in a very short time, especially junk food, my blood sugars go very, very high. And the higher your blood sugars go (averaged out) the more damage you do to your body. At my last blood test my blood sugars ran, on average, twice to three times what they should be. Yeah, not good. What I should be doing is eating low-carb. Like 20-40% of my calories.

Protein: Once again, this is an area that is not focused on much when it comes to Diabetes treatment, other than to say to eat a little bit at each meal as it off-sets the carbs. So, if I was eating 30% fat, and 40-60% carbs, I should eat 10-30% of my calories in protein. This binge put me at a minimum of 5% under what I should be.

plate

Confused? So am I. And for this reason, I’m going to see a Diabetes Educator. Eventually. When I talk myself into it.

The truth of the matter is, I don’t pay as much attention to my diet as I should, even when I’m not bingeing. I may, or may not, eat the right percentages of fat, carbs, and protein. Often I eat based on what’s cheap and filling (thanks poverty!)

Now a few months ago, a friend of mine made me promise to pay more attention to my physical health. She bought me a blood glucose meter so I can test my blood sugars at home and gave me some cash so I could pay for my Diabetes meds. And I have tried. A bit. A lot of the time I “forget” to test my blood. But I have tried. I now eat more salad (my blood sugar likes those). And I do pay more attention. When I can.

However, I can’t always handle it. Like today. It was cold, I’d been stuck inside for days because of the wind chill, and I just wanted to feel something other than suicidal. And food pulls me out of that mood fastest by raising my blood sugar and putting me on a sugar-high. For those hours when my blood sugar is dangerously high, I feel—not happy, but close. I feel…well, normal.

That voice in the back of my head that tells me I’m a horrible person, that I’m the scum-of-the-earth, that I shouldn’t be alive, gets quiet. It’s easier to laugh, smile, feel anything other a crushing sense of hopelessness. On a sugar-high I feel like I might just be able to be a productive member of society. I can achieve my dreams. Maybe even be attractive.

Of course, I pay for it afterward in both long and short term ways. In the short term I get headaches, stomach-aches, and digestive problems. In the long-term, my Diabetes could cause me to lose limbs, go blind, have a heart-attack, or a stroke.

But frankly, if I’m fighting death daily, what does it matter if I die now from suicide or latter from a Diabetes-related complication. Either way, I’ve killed myself.

I am zero.

It’s just my choice to see how long before it happens.


Take care.

Bonnie

V is for Vow

v silver on blueI bet you can guess what one of my New Year’s resolutions was this year. Yep, to recommit to my blog.

So where have I been the past four months? I wish I could say I was in Sri Lanka or

Image from HealthyPlace.com

Image from HealthyPlace.com

the North Pole or something but I wasn’t. I was in my little apartment. Here’s a few things I did do:

Tried not to kill myself. As hard as it is to believe if you don’t struggle with it yourself, I spend a good part of everyday talking myself into living. Most of the time the thoughts of death are like a habit. “I gotta remember to buy eggs the next time I’m at the store. No one gives a shit about me. I should be dead.” Other times it’s a constant argument with myself, complete with resisting the urge to Google “best ways to commit suicide.”

Almost got evicted. By August I was eight months behind in rent. Understandably, my landlord was a bit frustrated and he gave me an ultimatum: pay up or get out. Well, with no income and nowhere to go I couldn’t do either. Luckily I managed to qualify for a local assistance program that just barely covers my rent.

I applied for Social Security Disability. This sounds easier than it is. First off, there’s an online form. Then a phone interview. Then a bunch of paperwork has to be completed and sent to them. Including releases of information so they can talk to every person you ever known about everything from the last time you sneezed to the first time you giggled. Now I’m waiting for the next step, which I understand is having to go to some doctor picked by them who will say if I am or am not well enough to work. Fun.

Slept a lot. And ate. A lot.

Image from keepbusy.netpic.phpid=3347.

Image from keepbusy.netpic.phpid=3347.

Promised a friend that I’d take care of my Diabetes. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a Type II Diabetic (go here if you don’t know what this is) and I haven’t had any medication for it in over a year. This was a bit distressing for me because I’ve suddenly had to test my blood and take medication and—gasp!—eat healthy. Not so easy for someone who is a binge eater.

Now I’m back with my New Year’s vow to write in this blog again. I made other vows too (I’ll write about them later) but the one that matters today is this blog. I’m committing myself to write something at least once a week. And since you’ll be reading it (hopefully), please let me know if there’s anything you’d like to hear about.

That’s it for this week. Exciting I know…

Take care.
Bonnie

 

U is for Unhealthy

u smoke blueI do a lot of unhealthy things. Of course, there’s the obvious: binging, sleeping too much, not exercising, not taking my meds (for both the mental and physical illnesses. Although I’m getting better with the mental meds), not testing my blood sugar (I’m a Type II Diabetic), not eating vegetables, and so on.

As you may imagine, a lot of the unhealthy things I do involve “not” doing something I’m supposed to do. What else don’t I do that I’m supposed to do? Let me count the ways:

  1. I don’t pay my bills. Now this one I suppose is temporarily excusable. I’m unemployed and my unemployment has run out. (Thanks Congress!)
  2. I don’t clean. Much. Currently I’ve an agreement with my landlord to clean the common areas of my buildingcleaning (two bathrooms, a kitchen, a hallway, and a foyer). I’m supposed to do this once a week. I’m averaging once every other week. When it comes to my room. Nada. I’ve got cobwebs and dust galore. I pick up every once in awhile though, so everything’s neat. Just dusty.
  3. I don’t pay proper attention to my physical hygiene. This is part of the self-care I’m supposed to be paying more attention to. So far, not good. I brush my teeth maybe once a week. I haven’t showered since May. Now, I don’t go out all stinky. I do a quick washcloth wipedown and that gets rid of the stink. I wash my hands and any obvious dirtiness when needed. I comb my hair then put it up in a messy bun or ponytail. I never wear makeup.

I bet you’re saying to yourself “eww, gross.” Yep. I say that to myself sometimes. The reason I don’t do these things is pretty simple and pretty complex.

The simple answer is that it takes a lot of energy to simply get myself out of bed (and to convince myself to stay out of waterit). Imagine you have an 8 ounce glass of water. This is your energy expenditure for the day. I imagine for most people, about one ounce of that water is used up for things that are habitual: getting out of bed, showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed, and so on. For me, it can take 4 to 7 of those ounces just to get out of bed and stay out. Leaving me just 1 to 4 ounces to do things like shower, brush teeth, get dressed, run errands, clean, go to appointments, look for work, talk to people, climb the stairs from my front door to my room, walk to the bus, etc. I’ve got to parse out those precious energy ounces carefully. If I have only 1 ounce of energy left for the day and I’ve got to take the bus to an appointment, only the bare necessity is done.

The complex answer is the emotional and habitual part. I actually love showerto shower. If allowed, I’d spend hours in there. Just letting the water soothe my nerves. Then I had that hoarding incident I talked about here. About six months into it, I started having trouble with my plumbing (the toilet wouldn’t work properly and I only had about 3 minutes of warm water). I couldn’t call the landlord to ask him to fix it, so I lived with it. For 8 years. 3 minute showers don’t do much for you when you’re a gal and cold showers suck. Not to mention the ickiness of showering in a bathroom with a not-so-fragrant smell. So I learned to do without. Then it became a habit I haven’t broken, even after 6 years of being out of that situation.

The emotional part is this: when I do shower or clean my room, I feel like I don’t deserve it. Someone like me, someone so ugly, disgusting, lazy, gross, worthless, doesn’t deserve to have a clean room or a clean body. I feel like I should punish myself with dirtiness, in my house and in my self.

Now I know this is ridiculous. Everyone deserves to live in a clean environment. Everyone deserves to have a clean body. Logically I know that this is true. But emotionally, I feel I should punish myself for being such an awful person.

And that, my friends, is what unhealthy is for me.

cat bath


 

Blessings to you all.

Be well.

A is for Apology

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t mean to stay away so long. I know I’ve said that before, and I meant it then as I mean it now. If there’s anyone who still is interested in this blog, I apologize for my absence.

Here’s what happened:

When I posted my last entry, I didn’t realize how much of an impact that particular issue was having on my emotional health. I thought it was a small issue, just a little resentment and anxiety to deal with. However, as soon as I posted that entry I started to pull my world back until it was the size and shape of my bed. Not good. Apparently I’ve got a lot of work to do on that particular incident. I’ll blog about it eventually, but please be advised that it will be painful and I’ll procrastinate about it for quite some time.

Image from keepbusy.net/pic.php?id=3347

Image from keepbusy.net/pic.php?id=3347

So what snapped me out of it? Believe it or not, the mental health system. Sometimes it works! I had an appointment with my case worker (at my community health center, case workers are mental health professionals who help patients deal with the day to day stuff. If you need help budgeting, they help. If you need referrals to assistance programs for rent or utilities, they know where to send you. If you’ve got an anxiety issue around crowed places, they’ll go to the grocery store with you. So on and so forth). At the time of my appointment (last week), I couldn’t get out of the house, so we did a phone session and she made me promise to do several things that, hopefully will work when they didn’t in the past.

Here’s what I’m doing:

Regular counseling. Of course I’ve been doing this all along, but this time I promised that I wouldn’t miss any more appointments, even if I couldn’t get out of bed.hugging cats

Group counseling. I had been going to a group for people with eating issues. I’m going to start going to one for people with depression and anxiety as well. I haven’t started this so we’ll see
how it goes.

 Psycho-education. My mental health center just started doing this thing where they have a class/group that educates patients on particular therapy types and gives them the skills to use them at home. For example: They educate you on the basis for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), its history and particular philosophy. Then they teach you how to use it on your own. I start this today.

 On-line support forums/groups. I’ve joined a support group on Facebook that is specifically for those with depression and anxiety. I’ve joined these things before then dropped out because all I did was read what everyone else was saying and never participated. My case manager had me promise to participate at least twice a week. For some reason, this is helping. I’m not sure why. Possibly because I’ve forced myself to be open (I’ve asked for advice about how to deal with specific symptoms and once just vented) or maybe because this group is particularly supportive. I don’t know, but it lifts my spirits.

 Self-help books. I read self-help books off and on all the time, but I never do any of the exercises in

Image from minus.com/msoenEm7B

Image from minus.com/msoenEm7B

the books. Maybe because I’m just lazy. Probably because I’m scared of change. My case manager recommended that I have my regular counselor approve a book before I read it and do the assignments just so I’m not doing some wacky-doodle type stuff, so we’ll see how this goes. I’m least optimistic about this because it’ll require motivation and mental work. I get a bit of “brain fog” (where it feels like I’m thinking through a fog) and I’ll have to push myself to do it. I’ll start doing this once or twice a week, starting later this week.

 Medication. We’re upping (with approval from my drug pusher—I mean my psychiatrist) my meds a little. It’ll take a few weeks (6-8 is the average) to see if this does anything for me.

Self-care. One of the things that I’ve realized lately is that I’m perpetuating a pattern of neglect from my childhood onto myself. To be less “intellectual” about it, I neglect myself. I’ve let my sleep pattern get nuts (some days I sleep all day, others I don’t sleep at all, etc), been lax with my personal hygiene (you don’t need the details on that), and, of course, eaten badly. I’ve agreed to focus on one aspect of self-care a day.

What I’m hoping that will happen is that all this stuff will not only help me feel better, but will make it easier for me to keep promises to my family, myself, and to you. I’m thinking I’ll probably share a lot of the above changes and struggles with you. Or at least that’s the plan.

Wish me luck.

quote struggle

 

Blessings to all of you.

Be well.

 

Y is for Yuck

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was small I wanted to be her. I thought she was the most beautiful, graceful, perfect creature ever to walk the earth. I loved everything about her from her curly hair—so unlike mine—to her pink painted toes. I looked more like her than I did my own mother, and I often wished she was my mother. When she asked me to be in her wedding I decided she was a goddess. If she had told me she invented sliced bread I would not have been surprised.

When I was small she would give the best hugs. She never complained if I wanted to cuddle. If I could, I would have melted into her, soaked her up, drowned in her.

Of course this hero worship did not last long. I don’t know if it was the pain her husband caused me or if it was just part of the normal aging process, but eventually I saw who she really was. A beautiful person, but flawed. The older I got, the more flaws I saw until not only did I not want to be her, I didn’t want to be near her.

She was my aunt and I have not seen or spoken to her in five years. I still love her. How could I not when she was my favorite aunt as a child? Due to a schism—isn’t that a great word? It makes me feel so smart!—due to a schism in my family I no longer have contact with her or her children, except through Facebook.

Have you ever walked by a mirror and caught a glimpse of yourself out of the corner of your eye and swore it was someone else? I did that the other day and swore it was my aunt.

Yuck.shadow face

I nearly threw up.

Then I studied my face and found all the little family resemblances I could find. The nose, the eyebrows, the eyes, even the shape of my face, are all like her. And my father, and brother, and cousins. I hate it. And love it.

I love my family, even my aunt. Who did not protect me or her children from the pain her husband inflicted on us. I love that I resemble them so much. But I hate it too. I hate that every glance in the mirror reminds me of her. I hate that I can never speak to her, hug her, hear her voice. I hate that I cannot have contact with her children in real life. I watched those kids grow up, saw their first steps, their school plays, first boyfriends and girlfriends. Now I’ve missed their weddings, the birth of their children.

Every time I look into the mirror I’m reminded of what I’ve lost. A whole chunk of my family that lives in my heart but are, more likely then not, forever lost to me.

One day I may tell the story of how thirty-odd years of cracks resulted in a schism (that word again!). I hesitate to publish it in this forum as those who do not know the story may stumble upon this blog. It’s unlikely, but possible. Some of those people would be hurt. Some would be horrified. Some would never speak to me again.

I’ve been told (by my counselor) that I should tell the story again and again until it no longer hurts. Until I can forgive my aunt and her husband. And myself. By telling the story on this blog, I may even help someone else. I don’t know.

All I know is that every time I look in the mirror lately and am reminded of my aunt, all I can think—all I can say—is “yuck.”


 

Blessings to all of you.

Be well.