Resolutions of 2012 (and what I learned from 2011)

Move forward or get stuck in the past

Choose, but choose wisely.

It is always something I enjoy doing – making my resolutions.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Resolutions are goals.  People who are like, “I don’t make resolutions ’cause it’s stupid” are likely to be the people with no aim or direction.  They probably float through life, accidental like, waiting for things to happen, rather than making them happen on their own.  I take issue with those people.  Now, conversely, if you’re the person who is constantly setting goals and re-evaluating them, then the prior statement doesn’t apply to you.

I’m not a fan of the cop-out resolutions.  Without defining, clearly, what your commitment is to, it’s easy to let them slip away.  If you go with the ones that are often broken (weight-loss, less debt, more family time, etc), you’ll find that you will have lost sight of them by March.  Because life happens and it’s easy to get off track.  Not that those goals aren’t worthy and/or easy.  They are *very* important and often difficult to achieve.  But, I guess I’m a bigger fan of goals that go deeper than that.

When I made my 2011 goals, my life was in a decidedly different place.  I stuck with many of my resolutions, but not all.  I’m okay with that.

I learned a lot from 2011.  I learned that things can change slowly, but you often realize the gravity of those changes all at once.  I learned that emotions that are bottled up for too long will find a way out.  I learned that my strength is a sleeping giant, but it will prevail.  I learned that, without direction, I am lost.  I learned that no one will speak better for me than I can.

So for 2012, here are some of the big ones:

  • I need to keep an outlet for my emotions.  A person or activity or both.  I need a place to vent, and I need an activity to safely process my emotions.  Currently, I have those.  I need to remember to use them and not feel weak when I do.
  • I will continue to focus on my physical health.  Not to lose weight, per se.  But to keep my body healthy by keeping my mind engaged.  I lost about 20 lbs in 2012.  And I did it through active participation from my mind.  I will keep that focus.
  • I will speak up when I have a concern.  But when I do, I will be insightful and kind.  It does no good to be hurtful.  I generally don’t do that, when I do say something.  But I find that the first step is speaking up.  I will speak up more often.
  • I will read more.  I read a lot during 2011, but I want to read even more in 2012.  It helps my subconscious process things while I escape.  Plus, it makes me a better writer.  Can’t argue with that.
  • I will be featured by WordPress at least once as a featured writer.  So, you hear that, WordPress peeps?  Pay attention to me, please!  I have stuff worth saying (most of the time).
  • I will be off meds by the end of the year.  So long as I am ready, at least.  I don’t want to take myself off them before I’m ready, but I will take the steps to try to be ready to do that.  Meds weren’t ever a long-term solution.  And although I am much more comfortable with my choice, now (thanks to my very dear friend who helped me through the decision), I don’t want it to be a forever thing.
  • BFF #1 and I will go blazing at least four times this year.  I value that time, so much.  And it gives us both an opportunity to express ourselves creatively.  That’s a good thing.  Plus, I got some kick-ass photographs this year.  I want that to happen again.

I have some others, but these were the biggies.  I have one more, though.  It’s one of the most important, I think:

  • I will take care of myself.  My mind, my body, my soul.  I will reward myself with things that make me happy without guilt and shame.  I will enjoy myself, and being in my own skin.
    I am a worthy person.  I know this, deep down in the cockles of my heart.  But I will practice it, in 2012.

What are your goals?  Do you make them?  If not, why?  And if so, what are some of them?

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe and exciting New Years celebration.  Don’t drink and drive, and move forward into a new year with love and determination to be the best person you can be.

I’ll end 2011 with a quote from my favorite movie, of all time: Forrest Gump.

“Don’t you just love New Years? It’s like you get to start over.  …..Everyone deserves a second chance.”

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The road is winding

I don’t know that I have “arrived” in recovery.  If you’ve spent any time on this blog, you know that I’ve struggled.  I’ve had my ups and downs.  This post is how I got better, again.

It was tough.  I went to the first meeting with my shrink, so wound up that I could snap at any moment.  I was a mess.

Just even getting the appointment was a stomach-wrenching experience for me:
I called the 1-800 number on the back of my insurance card to get pre-approved for mental health coverage.  It’s one of those stupid voice recognition systems.  (**Side note, I hate those with the passion of a thousand fires!)  It asks why I am calling.  I already feel like an idiot for having to call, as it is.  So I say, “mental health coverage.”  It asks me to repeat it.  Then, the female voices says (with disdain, I might add), “Are you trying to say, ‘Check a claim?'”  Um…. no.  Then she says, “I think I’m having a hard time understanding you.  Let’s start over.  Say, ‘Check a claim, check for coverage, blah blah blah blah.'”  So I say, “operator.”  And what happens?  Oh no.  If you guessed that I spoke with a human, you’re wrong.  She starts *all over* again.
“Okay, I understand you want to speak with a representative.”  And we go through the same thing.  Finally, fed up with the whole process, I start saying random words (like unicorn, pizza, Santa Claus) until the mechanical woman finally succumbs to my stupidity and puts me through to a human.  Once I speak with this guy, I tell him that if I weren’t already crazy, I would be, by now.  And he’s lucky I didn’t have a gun because I would have ended myself 25 minutes ago.  He laughs, nervously, and then I tell him I’m just kidding.

So, I went to the appointment with the shrink.  I tell her, upfront, that I don’t need to be shrunk.  I don’t want her to ask, “how does that make me feel?” and “how do I think I should handle that?” because if I knew, I wouldn’t be here.  She accepts my directness and challenges me.  I spend two weeks in total internal chaos.  I cry.  I cry.  And I cry some more.  And I get reassurance from people who love me.  But ultimately, I have myself to blame for this and it is killing me.

Wow… and you know what the worst part is?  I haven’t even shared with you what I was doing and continued to do through half of my recovery?  I was taking diuretics 4 times a week.  Can you believe it?  In addition to hardly eating anything and purging on occasion, I was taking laxatives and water pills to control the rapid fluctuations in my weight.
Who knew that my body would rebel against such mistreatment?

I can’t say that I know what it is like to be an addict to a real drug.  I can’t say that I fully understand it when people throw away their entire lives to these addictions.  But I can empathize.  I let myself fall prey to insecurity and fear.  Dysfunction reached in, wrapped itself around my psyche, and established roots.  The truth is that I felt safe in the disorder.  It was all in my control – even if I felt out of control with it.  It was *my* choice.  It was all on me.  No one put a gun to my head and said, “Purge.”  Or “Take these pills, or else.”  I did it.  I remember, in painful detail, every single time I made the choice to do more.  To get worse.

My therapist helped me get control over those thoughts.  Through intense and, often, difficult conversations, she and I began to build a path around these obstacles I was unable to overcome.  It took a while.  I slipped.  I purged, or took pills or restricted.  It took me 5 years before I was actually able to diet normally, instead of resorting to bad habits, despite the 60 lbs I put on.

It isn’t easy, even now.  I feel better, and stronger, now than I ever have.  But every day, and every meal, I have some thought that used to overtake me.  I still think, “You shouldn’t eat that,” or “this is why you’re fat.”  I even say it out loud, sometimes. Even worse?  I assume every rejection is because of my appearance and physical  shortcomings.  It’s hard not to feel that way.  I love who I am inside, and I believe others do, as well.  So it must be the outside that is so repulsive.  I know… I know.  You don’t have to remind me.  I try not to think so badly of myself.

On the other hand, I have had some great gains in self-confidence.  Despite the weight that I’ve put on, I am confident enough to accept compliments.  I feel comfortable in my own skin, even when I am only wearing my own skin.  I don’t look in the mirror and think I should be in a magazine, but I do think that someone out there in the world finds me attractive.

The road is winding.  It is long.  I wake up every day as a bulimic.  I go to bed in the same way.  But my resolve is in making healthy choices for my mind, body and soul.  My resolve is in loving who I am.

I’ve been healthy, and recovered, for 2 years.  Maybe slightly longer than that.  I was in therapy for many months, almost weekly, to get my head on straight again.  I believe that saved my life.  And now, many years later, I am stronger and happier with myself than I ever have been.

My goal is to stay that strong.  I believe I can.

So that’s my story.  At least, that’s one chapter of my story.  There are more tales to tell.  Stay tuned.  One or two are bound to surface.

Lastly, my PSA:
It isn’t easy and I won’t lie to you by telling you it is.  But if you’ve found me and my story, and you think you need help, please click on the link to the National Eating Disorders Association and call the helpline.  Don’t spend your life wondering what happiness feels like.  And believe me, it isn’t found on your knees after a purge.  It isn’t found at the end of a 300 calorie day.  It isn’t found after you take more than your share of pills.  And, even though everyone on TV and in magazines likes to say so, it isn’t found when you reach your perfect weight.  It starts inside.  And you have to get your head right before your body will follow.  Trust me.  I’ve lived it.  Get help today.  Click the link. 

Purging and how I hit the bottom

It wasn’t easy.  I never liked starving myself.  Truthfully, I never even liked being that thin.  But I felt very out of control.  I felt out of my body… out of my mind.

Where were we….

Oh yes.  Starving.

I was literally starving myself.  Having less and less calories made me grouchy.  I was getting much more forgetful (which, if I’m being honest, is something I struggle with anyway).  I was losing my grip on what was fun.  I hated my life.  Especially on weekdays.  Especially on Fridays.

What’s worse is that I hated myself.  I was so constantly critical of how I looked or what other people were thinking of me.  I started retreating into myself and hearing only the “thoughts” that kept me in check.  What I know, now, is that those were the tapes I played for myself that kept me from seeing the truth.  I said all sorts of horrible things:

  • If you’d eat less you’d lose more weight. If you lose more weight you’d be more attractive. If you’re more attractive, people will want you around.
  • When you finally get to your goal weight, your life will be better.
  • If you can get thin enough, people will like you, instead of feeling sorry for you for being fat.
  • Doors open for skinny people.

To be totally honest, there are some times when I still think that way.  I know better, but I still think it, in my dark moments.

And so it went.  I got a feeling from restricting that is compared to a runner’s high.  I felt capable and confident – which is funny when you really think about it.  The very thing that was driving me to do these things was the very reason I was suffering.  Crazy.

At some point, though, I was up against a wall.  Sometimes I would be in a situation where I had to eat.  And so I did and would feel remorse for hours or days.

One day, after dinner with friends, I went home by myself.  I stood there, in the bathroom and thought it: “I should just purge.  It’d be easier.”  I stood there for a while, looking nowhere else but at the toilet.  Which is kind of gross, anyway.  But I wasn’t thinking of anything but my intentions.  And I heard the battle, inside me, as Crazy battled Sanity.

Crazy won.  And I kneeled and purged for the first time.

Instant relief.  I felt better almost immediately.  I had underestimated, though, the shame and guilt that snuck up on me within minutes.  I couldn’t believe I did that.  Even when I have the stomach flu, I refuse to let myself throw up.  Here I was, though, on my knees, doing it for vanity.

I did feel miserable all night.  Until weigh-in the next day.  I was down 2.6 lbs.  And with that validation, I was hooked.  What was really sick, though, was that I would purge small meals.  The typical bulimia trademark is bingeing and then purging.  Not me.  I would engage in this disordered behavior after only 300 calories.  And not all the time.  You see, that is how I kept myself in check.  I thought, “I’m not doing it everyday, so it isn’t a big deal.”

I continued losing weight.  I got to my goal weight.  I’ll never ever forget that day.  I was hollow.  A shell of myself.  I had an amount of self-loathing that I had never known before.  I hated who I was; who I had become.  Standing there, in size 4 jeans, I thought, “You’re a fake.  You cheated the system.”  But, as is tradition with Weight Watchers, they asked me to get up and talk about getting to goal and sort of “inspire the troops.”  My speech went a little like this:

So I made it!  And it’s been hard.  I worked my ass off, literally.  And it wasn’t easy.  People ask me all the time, “What is your secret?”  My secret?  Sacrifice.  I gave up my life and living with friends to have the body and the feeling I wanted.  And let me tell you something, no one gives a crap once I leave here.  People are only looking at you with some misplaced sense of admiration, or waiting for you to put the weight back on.

No one will be clapping for you when you get home.  No velvet ropes will part.  Champagne will not fall from the sky.  Guess what?  Today is just like any other day.  Except harder.  Because now I get to fight to keep it off.

So remember, every week when you are doing what you need to so you can lose weight, remember that nothing will get easier.  Prepare yourself now so you aren’t disappointed when you get to where I am.

Oh yeah.  That’s fucking awesome.  I was unkind about it, because I was angry with myself.  I wonder how many people took that message to heart.  I hope none.  But, in reality, I expect that a few heard my words echoed later in their lives, at some point.

And that wasn’t the bottom.  The bottom was when I went out and ran, after continuing to starve myself and purge, and couldn’t manage.  For the first time, ever in my life or ever since, I had to cut a run short because I simply had no energy to do it.

A friend of mine told me that I needed to stop.  It was a long speech, and I blew him off.  And he said, “At some point, what I’m saying will sink in.”  He was right.

On my knees, one night in the bathroom, I heard it.  I heard the voice of Reason.  Maybe even the voice of God.  And He told me that I was killing myself.  My kidneys were acting up.  I was robbing myself of a life.  I was instilling bad habits into my child.  I was making my husband miserable.  My friends were uncomfortable around me, since I never ate or drank.  I heard Him.  And He said, “Get Help.”  I knew I needed it.

And I made the choice to make the call.

**I have to make my PSA of the day: If you have found this, for any reason, and it rings true for yourself or someone you love, please visit  this link to the National Eating Disorders Association and call the toll-free helpline.  It isn’t enough to be aware that you have a problem; you, or your loved one, need help.  I knew I was out of control.  Someone needed to tell me that I needed to stop and to get help.  Make the choice today.

Stay tuned for recovery.  There’s hope at the end of this story.  I promise.

Steps to becoming a disordered eater

Firstly, if you accidentally stumbled onto my blog in the hopes that I will tell you a step by step plan on how to be bulimic, you’ve come to the wrong place for that.  However, I think you should stay.  You might find that you really don’t want to know the answer you’re looking for.

I’ve decided to tell the story of my eating disorder.  Trust me, I’m not bragging.  Well… okay.  I am a little.  I made it through and I have every right to brag about that.  The real reason I’m writing this, though, is to give a little insight for the random numbers of people who may find themselves intrigued by such things.

It started slow enough for me.  When I originally joined Weight Watchers, I lost weight like no one’s business and was doing well without even trying.  I was in my early twenties and it was like a cake walk.  I cheated on the program, and had my alcohol and treats, and still lost 2 lbs a week.  In 8 months I lost 68 lbs.

“That’s it!” I thought.  “I must be cured of being fat.”  If that’s any indication of my mental view of my weight…. I should have known then.

I quit WW and put about 40 lbs back on in the blink of an eye.  So I re-joined.  “This time, I want to lose even more.”  Like it was the amount of weight that I lost before that helped me put it back on, I figured that I would lose even more this time to distance myself from who I was when I was fat.

I did all right at first.  Not great.  Not bad.  But, all of a sudden, I was slowing down.  Nothing I seemed to do helped.  I’d be up.  I’d be down.  I couldn’t break a plateau for about 2 months.  It was maddening.  So I asked for help from a veteran WW leader and friend.  She recommended that I “burn at both ends”, which basically meant that I should work out twice a day.  One intense workout in the morning and a shorter, easier one in the afternoon.  So I did.  5 days a week, with 3 of those days being 2-a-days.

This had an effect on my weight loss.  I was going down again.  It also had an effect on my mood.  That was going down, as well.  I found that I was, suddenly, putting my workouts first above anyone and anything.  I was grumpy.  Okay… it wasn’t just grumpy.  I was bitchy.  And God save us all if I didn’t lose what I wanted when I weighed in.  The whole world had to pay the consequence.

My husband told me, in no uncertain terms, how horrible I was behaving and asked me to stop. And I did.

But that’s when it started.  I was already going crazy. (**Side note… I lovingly refer to this time in my life as my “crazy” time.  I feel like, since I was diagnosed, I have every right to call myself whatever I want.  My apologies to anyone with mental disorders.  This isn’t intended to be insensitive.)  

So, I was already falling into craziness.  Since I couldn’t burn extra calories by working out (mind you, I still worked out 5 days a week, just not the two-a-days), I started cutting back calories.  Just 100, at first.  Nothing dramatic.  And I saw results.  Still losing, I kept that up for a little while.

One week, despite my attentiveness and dedication, I didn’t lose anything.  Now, for a normal person, it would be easy to dismiss that as a normal occurrence.  But I was crazy, you see, and didn’t see anything normal in it, at all.  It was like I was waiting for reasons to increase my dysfunction.

And so it began.  Week by week, a little here and a little there, I’d cut back.  Making it that, eventually, I was eating only 600 calories a day, on average.  I’d have more on the weekends, when I was furthest from my weigh-in.  By the day before my weigh-in, I’d be eating 300 calories.  Sometimes less.  Sometimes just barely more.  And I had all sorts of rules about what I *could* eat:

No processed foods.  No alcohol.  No sodas.  No caffeine.  No salt.  And absolutely nothing after 6pm.

I was bitchy.  I was tired.  I was determined.  I was beaten.

And I hadn’t even hit rock bottom, yet.  That was still to come.

Stay tuned for more of what I like to call, “Crazy Town: The path to and from Bulimia.”

My public service announcement:  If, in fact, you did stumble into my crazy post, and you are even *thinking* that this sounds like you – stop now.  Call a friend.  Call a therapist.  Call a helpline.  Call someone.  Tell them that you are struggling and you need help.  I wish I would have thought, then, that I was on a road to no where.
If you found this post because you were looking for ways to up-the-ante with your disordered eating; you’re not alone.  I looked for ways to get better at being bulimic, even though I didn’t know what I was looking for.  Get help.  Click on this link to the National Eating Disorders Association and call the toll-free helpline.
And check back with me.  I’ve got more story to tell, and you need to hear it.

Be well, dear readers.

Getting over the “crazy”

I was crazy once.  I lovingly refer to a time, several years back, when I was “crazy.”  Crazy = bulimic.  Not happy times for me.

How did I arrive at such a place?  Through a series of stupid ass choices, that’s how.

It all started when I weighed in at my Weight Watchers meeting in ’04 (I think).  I was on a plateau of weight loss.  Any one who has experienced such a thing knows how frustrating it can be.  You keep doing everything right and the number goes down, then up, then down, then up.  Or worse – stays the same.  Ugh.  It sucks.

A good friend of mine suggested that I start “burning at both ends” which is athlete speak for working out twice a day.  One intense workout in the morning; a lighter one in the afternoon.  Three days a week.  Plus two other intense workouts on the other days.  I cannot stress enough how wearing this is.  But, it did the trick.  And I was losing again.

Enter the family dynamic.  All that working out makes me a bitch.  Pair that with disordered eating (eating less and less as I get closer to weigh in at the end of the week), and my husband was ready to murder me.  He requested (in so many words) that I quit doing that.  And so I did.  Stuck with five workouts a week.

But, now I wasn’t losing any more.  So what is a girl to do?  I made the choice.  I remember the day I made the choice.  Drop 100 calories from my already meager diet.  100 led to 200.  200 led to more.  Before you know it, I was eating only 600 calories a day.  Or less.

Enter the other bad choices.  Laxatives.  Water Pills.  And finally, the ultimate insult to my body – purging.  Oh yes… I had really gone down that spiral of disaster.  My body was on a rollercoaster.  Little food, not enough hydration, purging…

It took a toll on me that I cannot describe.  I developed habits that, outside of the bulimia, I knew were bad.  I started avoiding eating in front of people; I started avoiding any function where there was pressure to eat, at all..  I started negative self-talk that was unlike *anything* I have ever heard in my life.  I said the worst things to myself.  I started distancing myself from people.  I became a person that I am not.

A friend of mine, who’s known me for 18 years, said (to describe me), “This isn’t the girl I have always known.  I wish you knew her when she was herself.”  He didn’t know how I had been torturing myself for months and months. And even he saw that something was wrong.

Now, the benefit?  I was a size 4.  I weighed less than I had ever in my adolescent and adult life.  But I was hollow.

It took me years to get right with myself.  I gained a lot of weight back (I wear a size 12 now… but there isn’t anything wrong with that).  I think it was a process I had to go through to get back to even.  I figured out that I really do like myself.  I am pretty awesome (I told you before – I teeter on the line between conceit and confidence).  But there are things that I have had a hard time undoing.

I still don’t eat in front of people.  At least, not a lot.  I still struggle with being very full.  I haven’t purged in a long time.  But, to be honest, I have slipped a few times since I went through recovery.  I have a hard time with “dieting.”  I can and will restrict my calorie intake if I am not vigilant against it.  I have to make healthy choices and be more forgiving to try and overcome that instinct.

So… here we are.  Up to now.  Why am I writing this?  Who knows.  I felt “crazy” for about 35 seconds today until my BFF brought me off the ledge.  Gave me perspective (which is why I love her so much).  What happened?  I cancelled a meeting today that I would have gone to last month (before the diet).  I was feeling nervous about eating in front of people (which wasn’t a big deal before the diet).  I made the choice to go, until an opportunity came up that gave me an out.  And I cancelled.  And I felt guilty, like I had given in to the “crazy”.

But, I didn’t.  And I am not.  I had half a cupcake today (I weigh in tomorrow).  I am eating chinese food for lunch (which is another no-no with all that sodium).

I’m still working on it.  I feel like, had I known that choice I made in ’04 would have taken me this long to reverse, I would have made a different choice.  But (since it is January and I am still being thankful), I am glad that I have the insight to see myself struggle and the strength to win.  I am thankful for people who love me, and teach me to forgive myself.  I am happy to feel good in my skin, again.  I am grateful to feel like “me.”

Today – I am thankful that I am mostly over the “crazy.”

****Side note:

Someone may stumble across this post.  Someone looking for help.  Someone wondering about where they stand.  Are they struggling with an eating disorder?  What does that mean?  Can I get better?  Right now, I’ll speak to you.  Here is website that gives you some overall information: Bulimia nervosa info from the Mayo Clinic.

And yes.  You can get better.  With help.  With patience.  With forgiveness.  But you have to make the choice to do it.  It all starts with a phone call.   And if I can be helpful to you, leave me a comment.  You can beat it.  But you have to start today.  Make the call. Do it today.