Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When your weight controls you...

Women, do you feel good about your bodies? 

Someone pointed out to me yesterday that even when I was exercising 5-7x a week, eating as clean as a rabbit, and weighing about 6 pounds less, I still thought I was fat. I still had a pear shape with thighs that barely shrink.  I still saw saggy skin, stretch marks, and imperfection. 

Because of injury, I quit working out like I was on a mission. Instead, I started practicing self-care and yoga.  It makes me feel peaceful, but the 6 pounds I have gained make me feel anything but. However, I look pretty much the same in the mirror, and my clothes still fit. They just fit in a more shapely way in the hips.  :O I look at women like Adele and Oprah, and think they are beautiful. I look at other women in my life- who I think are gorgeous, but overweight- and wonder why I can see beauty in them, but not in myself. 

So here is my reason for this post: I want to know the secret. How does one feel beautiful?  If you feel beautiful- truly beautiful- tell me how you got to that place in your life. Since I lost weight in high school, I have spent the past 24 years trying to maintain "normal" and not turn back into that fat kid my childhood friends remember. I can pretend I do it for my health, but I don't. I do it because I don't want to live in shameful hiding again like I did when I was younger.  I want to believe that if I were to wind up 205 again, I would love myself, but I know I wouldn't. If I didn't love myself at my lowest (115 and suffering from malnutrition), I am not going to love myself at 205. A healthy weight for me is between 150-160, and I ate myself then too!

My therapists' assignment for me this week was to do things that make me feel good and confident about my appearance. Here are the things I have done:

1. Cut my hair.
2. Colored my hair.
3. Bought Kat Von D Prayer lipstick- dark and dangerous :)
4. Wore my Vintage Floral Doc Marten's as much as possible this week.
5. Dressed like the grunge kid I used to be.
6. Painted my nails.
7. Went out in public in yoga pants and a hoodie, rocking my lipstick, daring someone to say something.

I have to be honest. I know I am not ugly. I know I am not obese. I know people find me attractive. But in the end, none of that matters because I don't look in the mirror all day long and see the positive things- like my kick ass lipstick. I live in my brain that tells me I am still a 205 pound fat girl with braces, sweet 16 and never even held hands with a boy.  My brain tells me I am not pretty: I am mushy, soft, I have big gums, I have ugly thoughts about people, I am a poser.  I appear to be normal, but inside I'm screaming.

What makes you feel good? What makes you feel confident? How do you get what you see in the mirror to match what your mind is telling you? How do I reprogram my mind at 40 years old?

Thursday, September 15, 2016


To quote Usher, these are my confessions:

·      I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003.
·      I was on Lexapro for 13 years before it finally dropped me.
·      I am currently on Viibryd for both GAD and Depression.
·      Turns out I had Depression all along, but the voices of GAD were louder.
·      My Anxiety is a noun, not a verb.
·      Anxiety is a living, breathing part of me.
·      I feel sorry for those who love me, because they didn’t sign up for this.
·      I fear for my kids because they see me crack.
·      I apologize, but seeing your mom crying in the fetal position in her bed is scar-worthy material.
·      I will pay for their therapy.
·      I currently exhaust my HSA to pay for my own therapy.
·      I inappropriately think of my therapist as my friend because she understands.
·      I had a panic attack in therapy today.
·      It is the first time anyone has seen it besides my husband (and random people outside of my car window).
·      It was embarrassing.
·      I took Valium.
·      Actually 2.
·      Then I went back to work because I am “functional.”
·      Being able to “function” feels like a lie 99% of the time.
·      I hate having all the feelings.
·      I hate that- for me- Emotional Thought > Rational Thought.
·      Sharing my story is easy.
·      Living in my brain is hard.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sometimes it's too much to post

Today is a raw day. Very, very raw. I saw my therapist this morning which generally helps, but hasn't really thus far in this case.  Sometimes I really do not know where the line is between anxiety and depression. I am so anxious and tired of fighting that I become depressed. Because I don't think I will ever win this war. It is a war against an untouchable, like "terrorism". It's not concrete. I cannot hit it or punch it or beat the fuck out of it.  I am just here. Everyday. Struggling to function and be "normal". And inside I am not normal. I want to be in my bed, under the covers, hiding. I know that I am considered at a functioning level and not a debilitating level, but when do I get to qualify as debilitated? I want FMLA. I want to stay at home. I want to find my balance somehow. But I cannot hide and figure this out. Because I am an adult. Because I have to work. And I have bills. And I have 2 children who need my insurance, and a husband I need to help financially support our family.  I just wish I could take a melon ball scoop and scoop out the section of my brain that does this to me. I want to enjoy life, but I don't. I wallow in it. And that's flat out sad.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday, Therapy Day

If you are a regular participant in therapy, you know there are those rare sessions when you get clarity and you see something you never saw before. And it is clear as can be. And it's a breakthrough. And then you are like, you idiot, why did it take you 11 years to see this? And then you ask your therapist, "You knew this all along, didn't you?" And of course the therapist says, "Yes." And then you shake your head and know that you just completed a huge step on your journey. So today was one of those days.

We were discussing my job quest and how I have been having meetings with women- at least once a week- whose careers I respect. Women who can offer me advice and help me network in my current place of business. I knew my therapist would be proud of me for doing this. It is waaaaaay out of my comfort zone. It is somethingI am doing without preparing for really. Because the more I prepare the more ways Anxiety can find its way into my brain. So I am just showing up, being me, and asking questions I really want to know the answers to. I am trying to find a path and hoping that these woman can help me forge it. They are already taking time out to meet with me, which is huge, and I respect them so much for even doing that. Helping a stranger.

Anyway, back to the point.  I don't remember how the sentence came out of my mouth, or what exactly led up to it, but in a nutshell I had a realization. I have been in this job so long because I fear going into a new environment and having people (a) not like me or (b) judge me.  In my current job I am safe. I know people like me. I know they accept me. I know that I have earned their trust and respect and no one is going to tear me down. But at a new job. With new people. People may not like me at all. They may be displeased with who I am once they get to know me. They may regret hiring me. And THAT, my friends, has what has kept me sitting in the same job for over a decade.

I will be 40 in 14 days. 40. And I still crave acceptance. My therapist of course asks where that fear comes from, and it comes from growing up poor, and people making fun of me for living in a trailer, and being fat. I was actually teased for those things. That actually happened. My self worth was destroyed before I even hit first grade.  But I have grown out of that. I need to quit thinking that is who I am.  I DO NOT live in a trailer. I AM NOT obese. I realized the things I didn't like about myself and I clawed my way out of it, and that should be commended. I WILL commend myself on breaking the cycle.  I did that. I am proud.

I will not get mad at myself for the things I have done in the past. I made excuses to stay in my current job. They were safety behaviors. BUT they were the right decisions for me at that time.  I will remember that, I am mad at Anxiety, NOT myself. Because I AM MOVING FORWARD. Anxiety is the one who wants to keep me in the safety zone. Anxiety will not win.

I have to be proud of who I am today.  I am a loving mother. I am a fantastic wife. I am an avid and happy exerciser. I am a loyal friend. I am an impartial therapist to my friends and coworkers. I am shoulder to cry on.  I am a fierce competitor. I am strong both mentally and physically. I can do hard things and I WILL DO HARD THINGS.  Now that I know that I let fear beat me for all of these years, I now know my enemy. Yes, it is Anxiety, but it is also Fear.  Those bitches go hand-in-hand. I will win this battle.  I will not choose "safe." I will choose rewarding! I will choose life!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Because Wentworth Miller Speaks Truth

The following entry is not mine. It is from a post on Wentworth Miller's Facebook page. Anxiety and Depression can sometimes go hand in hand. Their tactics...very similar.

This. This below. This is how I feel when it comes to self-talk. The bank full of 40 years worth of vicious coins. I have those. They may not scream "death," but they scream ugly.  They scream negative. They scream loser. They scream that I will fail at all things, because underneath the shiny outside, I am all rotten and decay on the inside.

Thank you, Mr. Miller for speaking out on mental health and inspiring those of us who struggle daily to function


A Good Talking To by Wentworth Miller

"There is no such thing as a neutral word... Either you are speaking life... Or you are speaking death..."

I heard somebody say that once. And I've never forgotten it.

I've had a lot of death spoken into me over the years. Harsh words. From multiple directions. Aimed in my direction. And at some point in there I guess I grabbed the baton. Started speaking death into myself.

There are things I've said to myself, about myself, in my car/apartment/shower that I wouldn't dream of repeating in public. That if I saw written in a book or heard on TV I'd think, "horrible." "Abusive." "Not okay." Words that speak - that have literally encouraged - death.

If I heard a parent say to their kid the things I used to say to myself on a regular basis, I'd call the cops. See to it that child was removed from the home.

And that's just what I've said out loud.

In my head it's a whole other story.

In my head I host a perpetual chorus, a gaggle of voices - some strident, some seductive, some sounding like specific individuals and others like nobody in particular - that can be relied on to say the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time. Disabling me. Unmanning me. Reminding me of my place (small, in the shadows) in the scheme of things.

I know this is true for other people too. Because I've heard them make the same complaint. They've got voices in their heads they can't get rid of. Try as they might. Bigoted. Belittling. Shaming. Voices that sound suspiciously like their parents or their peers. Like a former teacher or boss. Or maybe an ex. Or exes plural.

Well if you're one of those people I've got bad news for you. I don't think those voices are going away. I don't think there's any cutting them off or tuning them out. I think they're there to stay.

Speaking death.

So what to do?

The picture I always picture is a bank vault, stacked floor to ceiling with coins, all of them slicked with something black and shiny. Viscous. And each of these coins represents a word. And that word is death.

And there are thousands of them. These coins. Saved up over the 40+ years I've been alive on this planet.

And this vault - this account - is in my name. It belongs to me. Interest constantly accruing.

But there's a second vault. Same dimensions but nearly empty. Just a handful of coins lying in the corner.

And these are made of gold. And they speak life.

Some of these gold coins were put here by others. The rest were put here by me. But their number is few.

I've come to believe it's my duty - my responsibility - to fill this second vault. My duty to speak life into myself until these gold coins balance and finally outnumber the coins in that other vault. The ones that speak death.

Okay. Great. How is that done?

Every day, several times a day, I say nice things to myself.


I talk to myself.

I talk to myself about the things in my life that I appreciate. The people and the experiences I'm grateful for. What I'd like to see happen for me and for those I care about.

I speak words that are warm. Generous. Forgiving. Words that speak less to "self-esteem" and more to self-compassion. I speak to myself like I'd speak to a cherished friend. Or like I'd want that cherished friend to speak to me.

I do it in the car, I do it in the apartment, I do it in the shower.

You can call it prayer. You can call it positive affirmation. You can call it cornball.

I call it life-saving. Or maybe life savings.

When I first started this practice I didn't even necessarily believe most of the loving things I would say to myself. But belief isn't necessary. Repetition is.

Repetition, for me, is the key.

You see I'm fairly positive I didn't come into this world believing that I was too much or less than or not enough. I don't think I came into this world with a hateful chorus echoing in my head. It was by virtue of repetition, because I heard these lies over and over again, that I eventually came to believe - or at least be open to the possibility - that they were true.

Well if that's the case I can play that game too. I can use the same principle - repetition - to balance the scales.

So I've been saying nice things to myself. Lots of them. All the time. Things that won't be revealed here because they're private. They belong to me and me alone.

But I'll tell you something miraculous. Some of the things I've been saying to myself (most of which I didn't, at first, believe to be true) I've started hearing in my head. Unsolicited. It would seem I've added a few new members to that mental chorus. Because now, when the more veteran members start in with their nagging/limiting/discrediting, someone answers back.

It's like I'm creating a new theme song for myself. Slowly but surely. An upgraded mental playlist offering support and assurance instead of sabotage and upset.

(On a side note, this is pretty much the same thing I do as an actor. When I get a new part I take the lines - written by someone else, about a character and a story completely unrelated to me - and I memorize them by repeating them out loud. With every repetition these foreign words and phrases become more and more familiar, gathering weight and meaning and texture until they're a part of me. Personalized. Ready to be spoken and brought to life when the cameras roll.)

I'll be honest with you - I'm not always in the mood to say nice things to myself. Sometimes I'm tired. Sometimes, yes, it feels a little silly. Sometimes it feels like I'm just going through the motions, like there's nothing behind the words as I say them. No energy. No passion. No enthusiasm. Sometimes they're just... words.

But on those days when I find I'm not in the mood, when it feels like I can't be bothered to give breath to my loving thoughts and wants for myself and others, I think of the death vault. Its dark coins stacked high. Four decades' worth. I think about how long it's going to take me to balance that out. How many deposits I'll need to make in that other vault, the one that speaks life. I remind myself that I've got my work cut out for me. And that I'd better get to it.

Then I open my mouth to speak. And when I speak, I speak life.