Uh-Oh

The irrational in the human has something about it altogether repulsive and terrible, as we see in the maniac, the miser, the drunkard or the ape.
~ George Santayana

Now that i’ve mapped out how i was indoctrinated and gaslit into thinking i was a bitch my whole life, and how i figured out that that just ain’t so, on to the next…

Another scary thing sits on my horizon. She looks like some kind of ape or monkey. Sometimes she’s sitting there crosslegged, with a massive grin on her face, her teeth too many and too big, and sometimes she gets up and does a goofy dance – a shuffle and hitch, toe-to-heel thing. If you’ve seen that cartoon orangutan dancing GIF, you’re there.
She’s Mania, and she wants to come out and play.

I’m not just a multiple, i’m bipolar. I don’t generally use “DID”, because i don’t see being a multiple as a disorder. My experience being bipolar though, definitely warrants the term. A brief history:

I wasn’t diagnosed until around 2006, in my late 30s. That might seem odd, and well, it is, but so am i. Heh. Being as involved in self-knowledge and therapy as i am, i think i, and the medical professionals involved in my diagnosis, have figured out why it took so long.

Fat.
I’ve had disordered eating since birth, being regularly starved, bribed, placated, and rewarded with food. I hit chubby at around 8yrs old and worked my way up to morbidly obese after i got married at 30. Food was my antidepressant and anxiety medication, and the resultant fat was my protection from people and the world around me. Fat kept me warm and insulated from the chill of rejection, and it put a wall between me and sex and sexual attention.
More than that though, i think it kept my system in a drug-like stupor. It fed the starved bits and numbed those born of sexual trauma, and shushed the angry ones.
I used food as a drug to take the edge off of the intensity of my thoughts, my physical sensations, and my emotions. I self-thorazined with fat and sugar. I over-satiated myself into an emotional coma. Zombified.

Seeing Carnie Wilson have gastric bypass on the internet woke me from my slumber, poking me with the sharp stick of possibilities. I might not be stuck in my ever-growing wall of bloated flesh. I had a vague, Suzy Creamcheese notion that losing the weight would help me get rid of emotional baggage. I had no clue whatever that a literal maniac (n. A person who has an excessive enthusiasm or desire for something, n. A person who acts in a wildly irresponsible way) lie dormant inside, awakened and gradually set free, her prison bars dissolving as the fat melted away. A dancing baboon.

I lost the weight quickly, and thoroughly, hitting my first big goal within a year.* I’d joined a club with others who were also seeking surgery, and we stuck together as one by one, we grabbed for what we all hoped was the brass ring. It was, for me, and though food, eating, weight, and body image will likely always be something i must be conscious of and deal with, i’ve never struggled like i did before WLS, nor have i felt hopeless, nor experienced the extreme end of disordered eating since.

I saw other women losing the weight alongside me, and i watched their lives do a 180. From shy, quiet hermit-types, to bombastic thrill-seekers. From a wardrobe consisting of dark colours and drapey, flowing fabrics to body conscious, flesh-hugging outfits and vava-voom. Makeup and hair and nails all done. Strap on some high heels and get yourself to the club gurl, your look is on point!

It looked like a lot of fun.
To a woman who’d been overweight since elementary school – it looked liked redemption and revenge, too.

The attention came at me hard and fast once i hit my first weight loss milestone. Everyone was nicer, and people wanted to do things for me. People like attractive people, and i was closer to societal beauty standards than i’d been since i was 8. So i had doors held open and was let in quickly during traffic jams and everyone smiled at me, and men…
Men wanted to carry my packages, and men wanted my attention at stop lights, and when i strapped on those heels and went to the club, all the chairs around me were taken and all my drinks were free. Because men.

That’s heady stuff for someone who was as wounded by school as i was. I never had a boyfriend, nor any male-peers’ sexual attention, save the odd grope that occurred from time to time. Always when no one else was around (and always followed by shock and anger when they were rebuffed, thanks to my system). I’d known i had a traditionally attractive face, but since my weight gain around grade 2, the information came with a sad trombone playing at the end.

You have such a pretty face /wahwahwaaaahh
<insertsighandlookofpityhere>

or

You’d be hot if you weren’t fat. /pickupline (No, i’m not joking.)
I could pity-fuck you. You know, if you want…

I’d never been pursued, so when men stopped in their tracks and stared at me or whistled when i walked by – it was a thrill. That hurt, angry schoolgirl inside me felt vindicated.
And then i got offered a job in the entertainment business and i took it, and the performer that had been stifled by parental interference and fat felt like a star.
I felt beautiful and sexy and wanted and i was the centre of attention. Any fear that came up or parts that were triggered as a result of it all was dulled, muted by alcohol, or handled by parts that were made for men who wanted sex from me. Parts that acted sexually sophisticated, or childishly naive, depending on what seemed to be required.
I was 10ft tall and bulletproof.
I was a dancing baboon.
I was manic AF.

What followed was a rather epic, and painfully pathetic disaster. I was spending all my time and money on myself, and my children and my husband suffered for it. I was in and out of The Bin, medications, detox, therapy, and facilities for long term care for crazies and boozers, too.

I was disordered, that’s for damn sure.

A geographical cure followed, which helped some. Then finding a therapist i clicked with helped ever so much more. Oh, and maybe regaining about a third of the weight i’d lost played a part, too. Which brings me to today, and that grinning primate. I figure i’ve lost about half of what i’d put back on, and that, coupled with this new work i’m doing, has been making me feel a bit giddy.

I’m pleased with myself – proud, even. The 2 manias i’ve experienced since being diagnosed were long and intense. Cleaning up the wreckage afterwards taught me a lot; i know how mania feels. It’s like the first time i ate raw onions. I hated them, and they made me retch, so i avoided them as much as possible over the years. But even though i rarely ate them, i sure knew when one had snuck its way into my salad or sandwich.

I remember mania, and i can taste it in my brain-salad.
Here’s the thing: i don’t hate raw onions as much as i once did. My guts don’t heave at the once dreaded crisp bite and strong smell. Sometimes, i don’t even ask for them to be left out, and sometimes i even add them to something i know i’m going to be eating. I’m wondering: do i search through my brain and pick out all the crunchy, stinky chunks of mania, or do i chew and swallow?

I don’t know, and i won’t be seeing my therapist until next week, because therapy is expensive and i was seeing her every week but now i’m feeling better about the whole process and more in control of what’s happening so i thought i’d be fine with biweekly.
Heh.
Fuck?

Oh, oobee doo
I wanna be like you
I wanna walk like you
Talk like you, too
You’ll see it’s true
An ape like me
Can learn to be human too
~ I Wanna Be Like You, Robert and Richard Sherman

*I won’t be talking numbers, because that’s dangerous territory for me. It triggers a comparison response, that in turn brings up perfectionism, that can shred my self-esteem as quickly as i can get fast food delivered.

Hungry

Content/Trigger Warning: This deals with food and weight issues, and references childhood abuse and neglect with regards to food, as well as indirect referral to childhood sexual abuse as it relates to such. Take good care.

**********

It is fatal to look hungry. It makes people want to kick you.
~ George Orwell

I’ve struggled with food my entire life, and with my weight since i was around 8yrs old. I’ve tried every diet, but gradually starved and binged my way to around 230lbs in high school, where i stayed until i Grey-sheeted (Overeaters Anonymous’ suggested eating plan) myself to 180lbs when i was 27. For a 6′ tall female, that wasn’t half bad. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long because i went and fell in love for the first time in my life, got married, got triggered massively by the whole thing, and ate my way up to an all-time high of 465lbs.

In the early aughts, weight loss surgery became a thing again. There had been a craze of “stomach stapling”, but that hadn’t been easy to come by for many years. People would overeat, pop their staples, and some even died. Doctors weren’t too keen on it, and the idea that weight loss is simply a matter of the right diet and some willpower was still the overwhelming attitude of many, if not most.

Then along came Carnie Wilson, daughter of Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys, and member of the 90s pop group Wilson Phillips, and she not only got herself a new, better, safer-than-stapling weight loss surgery called a Roux-en-Y (RNY), it was filmed and released for public consumption. I saw my doctor immediately, got a referral, lost enough weight that he okayed me for surgery, and went from 367 to around 150lbs.

Cue my first major Bipolar mania. And just for fun, cue my multiplicity run amok. What followed was more chaos than i’d ever endured as an adult. It had me searching, once again, for a therapist that i could work with, someone who would help me gain control of my runaway brain that was making an absolute train wreck out of my marriage, my mothering, my life. I did some decent inner work on my own, but without help to understand how my brain worked, my system derailed me, over and over again. My doctor diagnosed the bipolar and i went to a psychiatrist, got medicated, and regained around 100lbs. I’ve struggled with it ever since.

When i started working with the therapist that changed everything, the one who helped me save my life, the one i’m working with again today, i finally had a painfully clear and complete picture of why i had such issues around food.

My mother.

Her abuse of me started soon after i was born, and based on others’ recollections of me as a baby, feeding and food was likely an immediate issue. My earliest, clearest memories that i can confirm start when i was around 4yrs old. I remember her showing me how to prepare a roast with a package of onion soup mix, and how to turn on the oven. She also showed me how to peel the potatoes and carrots to go in with it, the dexterity of which was tough for me to learn, and she’d smack me across the head regularly for not doing it right.

I remember her locked in the bathroom, threatening to kill herself, screaming about getting fat and being alone. I remember wailing and banging on the other side of the door, begging her not to do it.
I remember staring at my face in the mirror a short time later, holding a bottle of some pinkish-orange liquid (Mercurochrome?) with a skull and crossbones on it, thinking i could kill myself too, if things got too bad. It’s the first time i remember a soft switch.

I also remember her leaving me alone, sometimes for days, and there would be nothing to eat in the house. I became quite resourceful. I’d put ketchup and mustard on saltines and pretend they were fancy appetizers. I ate food out of the garbage. I ate frozen food, spoiled food, anything i could find.
Sometimes when she came back she’d bring treats for me.
Sometimes she’d beat me for eating things i wasn’t supposed to, and feed me frozen food or garbage as further punishment.

When times were particularly lean, she’d taught me to shoplift food – to stuff my coat with meat, cheese, chocolate. She taught me to panhandle, as well. Sometimes she’d buy me a treat if i made enough money to satisfy her, but mostly not.
As her relationship with the man i think was my father (not a story for today) began to deteriorate, she ate more and more, and there often wasn’t enough money or food for both of us to eat. I was always the one to go hungry.

All my life she would buy salty and sweet snacks for herself, and only take them out after i’d gone to bed. I could hear the bags crinkling and her masticating and watching television. Sometimes she’d even cook, and i’d be laying in bed, hungry and tortured by the delicious smells wafting under my door.

She also used food as punishment and reward with regards to the sexual abuse, as did the people with whom she associated for such. When she was happy with me, her face would be lit up and she’d make us an incredible meal, or even take us out to dinner at a sit-down restaurant. I remember her regularly being complimented for my behaviour and etiquette out in public – she’d incline her head to the side slightly and nod as if it were her due. If i got too much attention, she’d beat me when we got home, and forbid me to eat for a couple of meals.

This abuse and willful neglect shaped me into my school years. I learned to sneak food from anywhere i could: school, friends, friend’s homes, any place where my mother would farm me out.

I rarely brought lunch to school, and at best i’d have a peanut butter sandwich and a carrot or an apple, all of which i’d have scrounged together myself. She never made me a lunch, even though she quit working when i was 10 and laid around the house watching tv all day after that. So when children threw their lunches into the trashcan at the front of the classroom, i’d wait until everyone was gone and root through, smuggling whatever i found into the bathroom, where i’d sit on the toilet in a stall and pack it all into me in a frenzy, barely chewing it enough to swallow without choking.
When i began babysitting outside the home, i’d make up for the $1/hr we were paid in my day by eating the couple out of house and home.
And when my mother married and started popping out other children, i began brazenly stealing food from her; my fear of starving was so great it even overcame my fear of being beaten, as i inevitably was, every single time i was caught. I think i saw my new siblings as competition for what little food was in the house.
I think that’s exactly what she intended.

One might ask, how could i be starved as regularly as i say and still be the fat kid?

The years of regularly starving and being withheld food had made their mark on me. Not just emotionally either, as i was to learn much later in life; my body would hold onto calories as fat in anticipation of the next period of starvation that would come. Once my mother was married and had morphed herself into a (somewhat) different person, my fears were set, and my behaviours ingrained.

Eat whatever i could when it was available.
Food was comfort. Food was reward. Food was a stimulant, and made me feel euphoric. Food was like an opioid too, numbing the pain and fear. And food tamped down my anger, which i was never, ever allowed to display, let alone express. Food and my system worked together so well i didn’t even know i was angry.

And once there were other people in the house living with us, her behaviour changed.
A bit.
She no longer earned money, gifts, and favours using me.
Her mask had begun to slip, she was gaining weight at an alarming rate, and she slowly became a shut-in, rarely going out and almost never socialising.
She continued to put food above everyone else around her. She used her much younger, new husband to procure food for her, which she consumed whilst her children with him were skeletally thin.

I was young and didn’t see the way things had progressed, naturally. I think my subconscious mind processed things like, the bigger i got, the less i was being molested. And i’d found that food was the closest to love i could get. I thought that if i was eating, i must be okay. So food became my metric. For everything. For love, for happiness, for safety.

Food was my currency.

I probably don’t need to tell you what that cost me.
How the fat kid is guaranteed to be bullied.
How people assume the fat kid is indulged rather than neglected/abused because clearly i was getting enough to eat.
How the fat girl gets preyed upon by sexual opportunists who think we should be grateful that anyone would want to screw us.

Any potential as an adult that i had was always at least partially marred by my fatness. The unspoken assumption that i was lazy, slovenly, even pampered. That i had no self-control. No determination, no gumption, no tenacity.

When i’d finally done enough inner work that i could look back and see all these things (all these things that i’ve shared about food and yet i assure you there is still so much more) i was set free.

I now understand why i love grocery shopping so much, and why no one else gets to unpack and put them away. I now totally get why i become antsy as soon as my fridge or my pantry doesn’t look full, when i get low on things. I know why i’m curious what foods other people have in their kitchens when i visit. I know why i have such trouble throwing out spoiled food, or food that just doesn’t taste good, or food that i’ve burned or overcooked or over-spiced…

I know why when i’m doing well and feeling good i want cake, and when i’m doing poorly and feeling bad i want cake.
And i know why i don’t want sex when i’ve overeaten and when i have great sex i’m not scared to eat when i’m hungry.
I know why i gained almost 200lbs when i fell in love and got married.
And i know why i went completely batshit when i lost all the fat and was a healthy, normal weight.

I tried a dozen different times to write about how my mother’s sexual abuse factored in to my issues with food, but i don’t think it’s necessary for this piece – neither for me, nor for anyone else. Perhaps another time, but i’ve agonised enough over this. It was hard to write and even harder to come to a decision about whether or not to post. I prefer glossing over the abuse and focusing on how it affected me and how i’ve coped.

But being fat since i was 8yrs old really, deeply hurt me. It’s held me back from so much living, so much that i might have achieved, because all i could see was my weight. It seemed like it was all anyone could see, honestly.
You could have this if only…
You could be this if only…
You could do this if only…

Relationships. Sex. Body image. Food.

I’ve spent my adult life trying to take these things back, and it’s taken everything i have, and it will continue to do so. I have to examine all of it, and it’s deeply personal and drenched in secrecy and shame.

I’m so fucking tired of it.
This is not my shame to carry – not my embarrassment to bear.
It’s ugly because SHE made it ugly. Because she was so terribly ugly.

I’ve learned over the years that eating and food and weight issues are rarely a matter of willpower coupled with the right diet. I’ve found it to be intricate and complicated. Skeins of moments and messages woven together in a tapestry of pain and fear, unmet needs, loneliness, dashed hopes, and hunger beyond the belly.

This is painful and intensely personal for me, and i’ve cried through a lot of it – but i see how i got to 465lbs and i see how i got here, sharing this piece today. I don’t weigh myself anymore, but i have enough experience with my body to be able to tell you that i’m likely less than 50lbs from where i’d ideally like to be. I took a hard look at my past, a harder look at who i am and how my brain works, and then puzzled over how those 2 things are related with respect to how i see food and eating.

I now know myself so well and have amassed enough knowledge about diet and nutrition (h/t to Registered Dietitians – where i go to get the most accurate information), that i’ve been able to tailor-make my own way to eat to lose weight and keep it off, finally, for good.
I make small, sustainable tweaks to how and what i eat.
I comfort and feed the parts inside me that hunger for much more than food.

My body physically manifested the wrongs that were done to me as a child. I wore it in pounds of fat.
My body is becoming evidence of the good and kind and right things i’ve been doing for myself.

Starving for love, starving for food. These things are so intertwined for me.
These knots inside me are being untied, these constraints inside me are being unbound.
By me.
I’m trying to help anyone reading this to find hope in however your own childhood struggles may have expressed themselves in how you do or don’t eat, and how much or how little you weigh.
This piece is disjointed and choppy AF. I did my best. I think it’s been super hard to foment into something consumable because it’s not just mental, this stuff is inextricable from the physical. It’s visceral.

I hope this was helpful.
Please take care of yourself and talk to someone if you’re stirred up inside.

I Wish You All Love and Peace,
~H~

Organising The Clutter

A little more functional today, and a little less afraid, which is good. I’ve got a small list of things that are important to me to accomplish, and i’ve implemented a couple of tweaks that i can already tell are very good ones.
I’ve moved up my exercise to the first thing i do once my husband leaves for work. I have some personal cardio that i do, and then i take the doggies for a long, brisk walk. I also don’t eat breakfast until i come back, thereby burning calories from my fat stores, especially since i don’t take in any nutrition after 8pm, i need some fat burning done for energy. YAY!
I used to shower every other day, because i don’t get sweaty/smelly working around my Little Crooked House all day, but i’ve decided to make it a daily thing. It’s good for mindfullness for me, and it’s positive, caretaking touch that reminds me how well i’m doing and how far i’ve come. Also, as my exercise regimen increases, i actually am starting to sweat, so i probably need it now anyway.

I like lists and i like a schedule and i like ticking things off as done. This is keeping my current fear of falling back into old behaviours at bay quite handily. I am dealing with worry regarding how far i’ll ever get socially. I do so much better alone, or just with my husband and kids and their families; i’m still really struggling with being around other people. I’m grateful that i have this life where i can live that way most of the time, but what if i’m never able to be a particularly social person ever again? And even if i want to, i don’t really have any friends to return to. The friendships i’ve had over the last 10yrs have been superficial at best, with the exception of 1 or 2. And that’s not a commentary on the people i’ve been friendly with, either. I kept people at arm’s length. I had friends i could go drinking with, mostly. It was the easiest way for me to have friends.

I liked drinking to be part of any social event. One, because it was part of my mania/depression, two, because other parts of me would take over, i.e. party girls and the like, and three, because alcohol keeps a nice, safe barrier between me and anyone getting to know me. Meaning, you can’t get to know anyone very well when you’re both under the influence – and that’s how i wanted it. I wanted the illusion of friendship, but none of the meaty, visceral reality of it.

And the thing that worries me is i like being alone and i think it’s mostly who i am.
But what if it’s not? Maybe i’m lying to myself, saying i like it this way because the ugly truth is that i just suck at social situations and i’m not very likeable. I mean, i can be fairly likeable online, but you have to be at an asshole level over 9,000 to not have any friends on social media. And even then you’ll probably have quite a few, so i’m thinking that’s not a terribly good indicator.

Yeah, overthinking. I haz it.
That’s why i’m going to at least try to blog more often. As my Peanut Gallery has become more vocal and active, my brain is even more full than usual, and that makes me feel like a buncha crazy is gonna come bursting out of me at any second… So i’m gonna try to cut back on the clutter, y’know? There’s a lot of stuff strewn about in here that i could trip over and hurt somethin’ – maybe me, maybe them, maybe someone else. This will be like putting things in boxes and sticking them in a storage facility. I may still be a hoarder, but at least my house’ll be too clean for rats n’ roaches.

Heh.

Love and Peace and Hope For Us All,

~H~

Tubthumping

Youda thunk ida gone done and learned by now.
And yet… NOPE.
I’m a big Nopey McNoperson in this regard, every. single. year.
I get blindsided by Easter/Birthday season.
I forget how hard it is for me. I forget how the way my brain works is going to kick into high gear and my Bits N’ Pieces are gonna need a lot of care and attention.

Birthdays are much less a big deal now that i’ve hit 50. It’s been that way since i hit 40, really. I’ve never much cared about the number insofar as how OLD i am or how old i look, or how much time i have left. None of that. As i stated in my blog entry right before this one, it’s the lack of accomplishment and the low level of functionality that trips me up. However, that’s only been since i’ve been functional enough to critically assess my levels of anything. Heh.

Birthdays, however, have always been an issue.
We were so poor at times, that there was no money to celebrate.
My mother was often incredibly stressed out on any holiday or for any celebrations, the brunt of which i often bore.
More than once i was sick on my birthday. I was mostly left to fend for myself whenever i was ill. To be fair, if she didn’t work we didn’t eat, and her parenting “style” left me incredibly independent anyway. At 4yrs old, for instance, she would often leave me on weekends. I’d wake on Saturday morning and she wouldn’t be home, so i’d watch cartoons until noon or so, longer if there was a Stooges or Abbott and Costello movie after, and then i’d go outside to play for a couple of hours, making sure to come back inside in time to put the roast in the oven and peel the potatoes for supper, as per the instructions she’d left on a note for me. Yes, FOUR.
So if i was sick, i’d just watch telly and occasionally vomit in a bowl. Or if Mom was watching telly i’d be in my room reading, and occasionally vomit in a bowl.

More than a couple of times i would be sick on my birthday. Stress made me vulnerable i think. There were some family members who could swoop in and make birthdays wonderful, but that wasn’t every time. One year, 2 Auntie type women that i adored were coming to celebrate. I think it was my 6th, and i got the Mumps. Not only was i severely sick and feverish, i endured my mother’s fury because the party had to be cancelled. She beat me more than once before i recovered.
Then there were the birthdays where i was put in my best dress and she’d do my hair like for a picture. A man i didn’t know or already knew i didn’t like would be invited… And that is all i’ll say about that.

I won’t say much about the Easter season things, either. Just that there was conflicting indoctrination going on. During that time i was under constant stress to act one way at Mommy’s church, and another way at Daddy’s. I was almost constantly switching from one part of me to another, depending on what was being required. Everyone had one face at one church and a completely different one at another. Everyone close to me was volatile and mercurial. The rituals, the purported inescapable supernaturalism, the drama, the surrealism, the abuse, both subtle and overt, the sick and hungry practitioners, the fakery, the fucking circus… It twisted my brain into so many knots so tight they frayed, and some split entirely, requiring new knots to keep them together.
Do you see?

Every year since i began seriously dealing with my past and trying my hardestfreakingbest to manage the way my brain works and enjoy a better quality of life i have been 2X4’d in the head by this bloody season. (There was no punctuation in that sentence because i said it all in one breath.)
So yeah, i got coldcocked – again.

This is the part where i do what i have been practising to do when i get into a mental jam like i am. Where i assess the damage, look for the positives, and make any changes or alterations necessary to handling it better next time.
I’m happy to tell you it hasn’t been that bad.
The voices in my head rose from their characteristic background mumble to a constant, reverberating rumble – but there was no roar.
I lost the face more than a few times, and i even found myself walking on the road a couple of times – but none of my people did anything damaging or even particularly inappropriate, and i didn’t hitchhike into the city and lose myself for hours or days to high-risk behaviours.
I drank a bit too much – but not enough to make myself shake, puke, or wish i was dead. And it wasn’t every day, all day.
I’ve been wicked-depressed – but not suicidal. No ideations, no plans.
I haven’t picked any fights with my husband and there has been no drama of any kind with any other person.

I guess i kinda knew it was coming. Not consciously enough to avoid gettin’ bonked on the head, but once i got back on my feet, i wasn’t utterly gobsmacked that it had happened. I’ve been able to look around and get my bearings and say, Yeah, it makes sense for me to be here.
I’ve been able to communicate to my Peanut Gallery that it’s okay, but some things were less okay than others and let’s work on those things… I’ve been able to negotiate some internal deals that i think will really pay off in the future.

There was no drama.
There is no debt.
No rides in police cars and no trips to the hospital.
No crushing booze/drug hangovers.
Communication amongst me and my people has actually improved.
My husband and son are impressed and proud of me.

I didn’t even turn to food.
Yesterday i tried on the jeans i use to track my weight loss progress.
They fit fine and i wore them out to supper.

Don’t get me wrong, this has not been an easy couple of weeks. The way my brain works has been incredibly difficult to manage lately, but this is my life, and this may always be my life to some extent or another. I have found a way that works for me – a way to manifest long-term changes that have lasting positive effects, and contribute to a happier and more functional life.

Tubthumping is defined as expressing opinions in a loud or dramatic way:
I will not stop, no matter what.
Every time i fall and get back up, that statement becomes more true.I get knocked down, but I get up again
You’re never gonna keep me down
~Tubthumping, Chumbawumba

Have a happy day if you’re able. If not, try again tomorrow and know that i’m cheering for you and i want that for you.

Love and Peace to All,
~H~

Hunger

Hunger is the best sauce in the world.
~Miguel de Cervantes

This next diet tweak is hard. I may stumble quite a bit, but i am 100% committed, if not terrified.

No more eating, unless i’m hungry.
Really hungry. Like, approaching hangry, if not already there.
No more, “I could eat.”
No more, that looks good so i’m gonna have some.
No more eating just because that’s the regular time i eat, or i’m eating now because i won’t have time later.
No more eating just because everyone else is.
There will be the odd exception, as there is with any of my prior tweaks, like No Eating While Standing, and Must Eat At The Table, No Media Distractions, etc.
I taste test for seasoning when i’m cooking, and i’ll eat sitting on the couch if my husband is really tired after work and wants to watch a show and then go to bed.
I eat relatively well, and it won’t kill me to miss a meal if i’m not hungry at family suppertime, or if i’m out and about and don’t have time, money, or great choices for something to eat.
I had a gastric bypass in 2005, lost over 250lbs, and then gained around 80lbs back. Sure, it was initially due to being put on bipolar medication, but that’s no longer an issue, and i still find myself wrestling with the first 30lbs… I’ll take it off and put it back on, take it off and immediately put it back on. Over and over, ever since i regained it. I can’t seem to get to that second batch of about 50lbs.
As my mental health has improved, i have been, as some of you know, making small, manageable changes to the way i eat. Nothing magical, just sound alterations to my diet. Not so much what i eat, as HOW i eat.
What i eat is not so much of a problem for me. I don’t struggle with junk food or sweets. Maybe potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta, but dealing with my childhood and the myriad, complicated reasons behind my struggle with those particular foods have reduced that to almost a non-issue.
Here’s the thing: you can out-eat your weight loss surgery, and it’s not that hard. I’ve struggled with taking off this weight that came back on, and it has nothing to do with medication anymore.
Due to my personal health problems, my stomach has been scoped a number of times, and it is, thankfully, still the size of a lemon. I’m not bingeing. I’m not consuming vast quantities of food at a sitting.
So i’ve had to get unflinchingly honest and take a hard look at what my real issues are with eating and food.
I’ve tackled them one by one.
The first thing is i’m no longer a heavy, compulsive drinker. The booze weight is gone. I didn’t quit drinking for weight loss, i quit it because it’s a sick behaviour that will result in my premature death.
The second issue was simple to identify, but required management in a number of areas – a multipronged attack, if you will.
One way to out-eat a weight loss surgery is by snacking and grazing, and that’s what i’ve been doing. I haven’t taken it too far, but it’s been enough that i cannot lose the pounds i gained when i went off the rails with Bipolar Disorder.
That must change.
Over the years i’ve tried to deal with it through diet, but i went about it in the old way. You know, the way that hadn’t worked in the first place and caused me to seek the surgery solution?
Yeah, that way.
<you may roll your eyes here>
It failed, just as it had always done. It wasn’t until i began managing my brain’s diet, that i was finally able to tackle these accursed eighty-or-so extra pounds. I approximate numbers, because one of the things that i’ve learned is unhealthy for me is the scale. My doctor knows my number and she knows my mental status, and i trust her with both. I can make a fairly educated guess based on how i look naked and how my clothes are fitting, and if things go wrong i can go see my MD, or talk with an RD.
Learning to control what my brain takes in and puts out not only gave me the clarity of mind to address my weight problem, but it gave me some strong indications of how i might manage it as well.
I feed my brain mostly healthy stuff, with only the occasional treat.
If garbage is coming out of my face, the first thing i do is check my brain-diet. Am i watching crap telly while consuming nothing but junk like anger, bitterness,or hopelessness? If i feed my brain information, what i get is knowledge, THE vital nutrient required to keep my brain running in peak condition. Writing is the exercise necessary to rid my body of those unnecessary emotional pounds that feeling trapped and helpless and alone had slowly packed on.
So i have devised a way to eat that i can live with, and live happily, for the rest of my life. I have created it with my years of experience, my intense, hard work to know myself, and the knowledge and input of those who are experts in the field of nutrition (your friendly, neighbourhood Registered Dietitian), all under the care of my personal physician.
I have progressed very slowly, giving these small alterations to my lifestyle a chance to take root.
There this one big thing left (there may be other small things, for sure), with respect to what and how i eat, that must be adapted, and that is my caloric intake.
And so, with that firmly in the forefront of my mind, i do perhaps the hardest thing: put an end to grazing and between-meal snacking.
It is clearly the solution to my overconsumption of calories. I won’t be discussing my activity level in this post, just suffice it to say that it is currently evolving along with my eating, but is sufficient.
If i only eat three squares a day with nothing in between, it will reduce my calorie intake to weight loss levels. No matter how hungry i am, i simply cannot eat a large amount of food; i’m restricted by my small stomach pouch.
Being hungry is normal. One is supposed to feel hunger. I am dreadfully uncomfortable with the feeling, due to childhood abuse and neglect, and my aversion of the feeling for the vast majority of my adulthood.
The modifications i’ve made have brought me to the edge of the thirty pound boundary. I am determined to cross it and never look back.
This may very well not be the way for you and i am in no way suggesting it should be. Excess weight and unhealthy eating habits are an incredibly complex and personal issue. I have no advice to give you. This blog post is what almost all my blog posts are, and that is a journal that i share with anyone who wants to know about me, how my brain works, and how i am slowly-but-ever-so-surely, creating the life i want to live and the happiness that i have always sought.
Your kind attention to my process is helpful beyond measure.
Thank you.
Love and Peace to You All,
~H~

Unique Up On It*

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine made a comment on a blog post regarding my willingness to know myself, and all the hard work i’ve put in to doing so. It relates to some stuff that’s been sloshing around in my brain, so i thought i’d write a bit about it.

My mother was intensely interested in psychology. I think she may have genuinely been seeking help for herself in the beginning, but by the time i was ready to attend school, it was more of a weapon than anything else. She jumped on every bandwagon, embraced every fad, and swallowed every line of pop psychology she could find. There were therapists i saw for individual and family counselling during the day, that would be involved in our nighttime activities, and then there was the odd social worker who would come to school to speak with me. The former were criminals, and the latter merely useless, but they both cemented a distrust of all involved in psychology – a science so soft one could call it “mushy”.

I knew something was wrong with me but i never knew what. My religion taught me that i was a hopeless sinner in need of salvation, which i pursued generally, sometimes even tirelessly. (I was gonna say single-mindedly, but that doesn’t quite fit. Heh.) My family either reinforced religion, ignored the problem, or contributed to it. This left mental health professionals, from whom i regularly sought answers, despite my wariness and stunning lack of success with them.

It wasn’t all for naught. As i have with many things, i took what i liked and left the rest – like the religions from which i took that advice. Over decades i’ve amassed a decent amount of knowledge on the subject of the functions of my mind with respect to my behaviour within a given context. You’re not going to hear a bunch of current buzz words coming from me. I’m not a spiritual person, but neither am i only about that which is tangible and provable. Every day my understanding that i am a truly unique individual, deepens. I think you are too, although that understanding is more exoteric. What i know about myself is more abstruse.

There endeth my grandiloquence.

I draw from this font of knowledge every day. The more i know myself the better able i am to make good decisions and enjoy positive outcomes.
Take for instance, my lifelong, contentious relationship with food. From chubby at 8, to super-morbidly obese at 35, to thin at 38, to Bipolar Disorder packing 80lbs back on… I’ve been through it all with food. Abuse and neglect warped my mental and physical connection with food. Being intermittently starved, and frequently lured, rewarded, and placated with food, has done an incredible amount of damage in my life.

You’ve heard the stories before. Some of those stories may be like your own.
Yeah, i eventually tried all the diets. It was in later years though, not really ever as a child. Regularly not having food in the house made the thought of dieting anathema.
School was excruciating. The children were unrelentingly vicious until the latter half of grade nine, when i switched to a half decent school where only about half of the boys and a few of the girls were truly heinous. I cried myself to sleep as so many of us fat kids have done. I sobbed out desperate prayers to the god i was raised with, begging him to make me thin. I mostly thought my school troubles were due to my weight, i only came to realise through years of the kind of self-study that i’m right now referring to, that it was sosoSO much deeper than that. I look back now and i see a chubby girl who was quiet, another who had money, one may have been wide, but she was very, very short, and one or more of them came from families whose names everyone knew and respected. None of them got it as bad as i did.
I’m telling you, i’m a very nice person, but there are some people from those last 2 schools i attended that i would be hard-pressed not to punch right in their smug faces and gouge out those glittering eyes filled with cruel glee. I may be odd, honey, but you’re still a shitty human being.

Sorry for the digression – i don’t know if that school stuff will ever go away.
So, back to food and fat then.
And diets.
Oh my eff-you-see-kay, did i ever try ’em. All of ’em. The late-night infomercial scammers, the impossibly petite and perfect, smiley Buffybots, and the anti-science pitchers of expensive woo solutions… All of ’em.
Exercise is the answer.
Eliminating the sugarcarbglutenfat is the answer.
Eating like a caveman. Or a coeliac. Or a diabetic. Or a fat man on the fasttrack to a massive heart attack. Or a runway model. Or a toot widdow bunny wabbit.
I’ve done most of it, and had similar results to those of you who’ve also done it.
PFFT.

You know how i said i take what i like and leave the rest? Well, here’s something i picked up from one of those places and put right back on the shelf for someone else.
“Terminal uniqueness”.
See now, that just doesn’t work for me. The implication is that the answer is already out there, you’re just not working the solution correctly. Or hard enough. Or long enough. Or honestly enough. Or… Eff you in the eh with a dee.

It’s not to say that that concept is never helpful for anyone.
I’m saying it was not helpful for me in this particular aspect of my life. (Honestly, it wasn’t particularly helpful for me in any area, but i’m trying not to do that digressing thingy i did a while back there.)

I AM unique, and if one bears in mind that i will one day die – terminally so.
I wasted a tremendous amount of time trying to be like other people when i wasn’t. To fit in when i couldn’t. To belong to groups i didn’t want to be a part of, and be liked by people i didn’t care for.
For years i ran away from a diagnosis that would change my life, forever and for the better, because i thought being different was bad and being alone was bad. Neither of those things is either always the truth, or always a lie.
Not for any of us.

And so none of those diets worked. For all the reasons that anyone who struggles already knows, but also for this reason that i am now telling you – because i AM terminally unique.
The only “diet” that will ever have a healthy and long term affect/effect on me is one that is tailored specifically for me. It will only fit me. It will not fit you or anyone else.

I now understand that i’m the only one that can craft the perfect solution. And between all the knowledge i have acquired over the years about dieting and myself -you throw in a registered dietician (the ONLY people i think should be trusted regarding the science of nutrition)- and i am set. I am set for life! (That’s the title of some diet book i read once, i think. HEH.)

I will give you one example of how this works for me, and then i shall stop jabbering at you for the day.
I read a very popular diet book once. Well, actually i bought it and all the stuff that came along with the book, and i read the book itself several times. The first thing this doctor, author, diet guru did was tell me that i must go through my entire house and remove foods that he deemed not healthy, or dangerous to my eating plan, or however he put it. (That book is no longer in my house, so i can’t/won’t refer to it for accuracy.)

Removing foods from my house is a bad idea for me. Removing foods that some call treats or junk is an exceedingly bad idea for me.
I was starved growing up. There was regularly not enough food in my house. And worse.
My mother ate while i starved. She would hide sweet and salty treats from me, and often cook for herself after she’d sent me to bed. She kept money aside to support her junk food habit, that should have been spent on clothing for me, or school supplies and fun activities. She would serve me spoiled food. I’d be starving and i’d scrounge food from the garbage, from other people’s homes. I stole other kid’s lunches or dug them out of the trash.

To this day, when i get low on something, or my fridge doesn’t look full or my cupboards are emptying out, i get nervous and anxious. I will leave a smidgen or a dollop of something in a box or a jar until i can get to the store to buy more – because being completely out of something can cause an anxiety attack.
And here’s the other thing, the barer my larder, the hungrier i get. When my kitchen is full of food, i don’t graze as much, and i snack less frequently. And when the sweet and salty snack foods are around i don’t experience an overpowering craving for them. Those things don’t call to me when they’re on my shelf, but when they’re not there, the 7-Eleven is a siren song.

So that extremely successful dude that’s sold millions of diet advice books starts out with a bad idea for me, and goes downhill from there.
Factor in all that science can and has debunked as far as diet fads and crazes, and i can toss out almost all the other books and videos and videotapes and CDs and equipment that i’ve bought over the years (decades).
Factor in that i’ve had weight loss surgery.
Factor in my Peanut Gallery.

I know how to eat now, to be healthy, and to lose some weight. I’m on my way down, very slowly and mostly surely, and i’m fairly certain that, barring mental/physical issues i may face in the future and the resultant medications – it’s staying off for good. I’m not even excited. I just know it’s a pretty safe bet.

So yeah, to clumsily bring it all back around to my friend’s comment on my blog from the other day.
I’ve been thinking about how none of what i now currently enjoy along the lines of daily functionality and enjoyment of life might just not be possible at this level if i didn’t know myself as well as i do today. (That’s a helluva sentence; i hope it made sense.)

To know myself, to know who i am, what i think, and why i think it, is without question, the best thing that i have ever done, or will continue to do. It makes me better, happier, and more productive in every way.

Have as good a day as you’re able. I’ll do the same.

Love and Peace,
~H~

*From a favourite old joke:
Q: How do you catch a unique rabbit?

A: Unique up on it.

Q: How do you catch a tame rabbit?

A: Tame way.

Inside Outside Upside Down*


Manic episode symptoms: The symptoms of mania include: elevated mood, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, difficulty maintaining attention, increase in goal-directed activity, and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities. These manic symptoms significantly impact a person’s daily living.
Source: Steve Bressert, Ph.D., PsychCentral

“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long… ”
~Tyrell

This will not be a tell-all of my escapades while in the grips of mania. Suffice to say they were not at all epic, in fact i’d say they bordered on the pathetic.
But of course that’s only in hindsight.

To me, the world had suddenly become more exciting, more enticing, and much, much more accessible. I was pretty and i was crazy and i was fun and i was hungry for experiences. I’d shut myself off from being very social for most of my life. It was difficult, and i knew i wasn’t very good at it, although i tried hard and with sincerity. Being shunted to the bottom of the social pile in nearly every school i attended taught me that i would never be cool. I didn’t have the family standing, i didn’t have the clothes or the toys, and i was never able to talk like they talked or act like they acted. I had nothing going for me and zero chance of getting any of it.

As i’ve mentioned before, once i got away from the judgmental hell of school, i did find some acceptance and favour in certain social circles. I could have more friends if i wanted, but i discovered a lot of life situations still foster an atmosphere that’s no more emotionally developed than high school. It was less acute, but there were still pecking orders and hierarchies in places like work and church. I still flopped and floundered around like the proverbial fish out of water a lot of the time, but it wasn’t the intense microcosm of human social behaviour that school can be.

Weight loss provided me with a little more attractive packaging, and mania dished me up a heaping helping of thoughtlessness masquerading as confidence, like eating a bowl of chili that you never know was actually made with TVP.** I went where i wanted and did what i pleased with whomever i wished. I overindulged in everything except food. I was -yeah, you guessed it- the life of the party, the centre of attention, the belle of the ball.
I was wanted.
I was liked.
I was accepted.
I was popular.

Of course it was all an illusion, brought about by the grandiose thinking and fearlessness i feel when i’m manic. Oh and if dissociation dulls self-awareness – mania makes the blade utterly useless.
It’s mania that almost cost me my children.
Not depression and suicide attempts, not anxiety or panic attacks, not PTSD, and not borderline agoraphobia. Because mania made me selfish, and it blinded me to the effects my behaviour was having on anyone around me – even, and especially, my husband and my children. I repeatedly put myself in high risk situations, doing harmful things to myself with dangerous people.

When the mania finally wore off i’d paid a terrible price. I’d lost loved ones and things that were precious. I was empty and beyond mortified and fully penitent. My thinking still wasn’t terribly coherent, but i knew i needed to stop and start over.

Sometimes a change in geography can help facilitate a cure of sorts.
A new town provided the emotional cytotoxins.
The depression irradiated every thought in my head.

I spent months hiding under my mother-in-law’s gentle and protective wing, and longer still in my brand new Little Crooked House, but my brain was percolating. I had no defenses left to protect me from either the truth of my upbringing, or what my brain had done in order to keep me alive. My brain got very full. Very LOUD. I call it “bursty”. I’ll tell you why. Because one day, my head got too full and i exploded.

I’d been drinking too much for weeks, months, trying to shut my head up. Trying to find peace and quiet. Trying to sleep. Trying to avoid the hangover the next day. Trying to laugh instead of cry. Well one day it all came crashing down around me and i wrecked one house, smashed in another, terrified my loved ones, attempted suicide, and got put away for a couple of months in a special mental hospital. Not a ward, not a floor, but an entire hospital dedicated to VERY crazy people.
I was in the big leagues.

I got help… kinda. I got more diagnoses and conflicting diagnoses and shrinks who would tell me the last one was wrong and take me off all the old medications and put me on new ones. I got thrown out of a couple of programs that the p-docs at the hospital signed me up for, and that’s when i started seeing the “You again?” look on the nurses’ faces.

I’ve been in and out of The Bin for the better part of 20yrs, but after this last big blow out that happened in front of my family, something happened inside me. I decided i’d had enough of running away from who i am and what i’d been through. So i made a 180 and instead, i ran right into it. I threw myself head first into whatever the hell was gonna happen. I’d had enough of trying so hard not to be fucked up and being fucked up anyway.

I slid around inside my head – not gone, but not totally there. I was so tired. Two and a half years of pedal to the metal mania will do that to a person. I was used up inside, emotionally and physically.

Then i lucked out and got a really good social worker. (It’s happened a couple of times – they’re out there.) She accepted my diagnosis and actually knew a lot about it. She treated me like a person and not a case. She helped me make a plan and set goals. Most of all she helped me feel good about who i was as a human and especially as a mother. She helped me get my feet underneath me and take more than a few steps in the right direction. I even had a little momentum going.

Eventually my husband convinced me to go out and meet people.
I don’t actually have much to tell you about that time.
I know we met people, but i don’t know who, or how. I think some of it happened through going to the bar and singing karaoke, but beyond that, i have no idea. I don’t remember very much. The problem was, i could feel another explosion building inside my head, and i was so afraid and still so very tired from the last one that i was dissociating to avoid… everything. Relationships, feelings, my past, my mental issues. All of it.

I already knew what i had to do in order to avoid yet another major meltdown. I knew that i had to disclose and i knew to whom. I sat my husband down and told him that i had to purge it all, that it would likely take a couple of weeks, that i would be a slobbering, jibbering mess throughout, and i was pretty sure that afterwards i would be useless at best and dangerous to myself and others at worst.
He said Okay, let ‘er fly. I’ve got this.
I was right and he was almost wrong.

Let me see the dark sides as well as the bright
I’m gonna love you inside out
I’m gonna love you inside out
Let me
~Inside Out, The Chainsmokers

* The title is a reference to a children’s book by the great Stan and Jan Berenstain
** Textured vegetable protein. It’s actually great, and i use it in place of hamburger often.