Hello Darkness My Old Friend

As the time for my appointment with Margaret approached, I found myself becoming more and more anxious. Like a school child waiting to be called to the principal’s office, each passing minute brought more dread. I didn’t want to see her, I haven’t been doing my (home)work. I felt like a loser. After all this time and hard work, at the first sign of stress – boom, I revert back to my old coping mechanisms.

I used to think that my bouts of success and failure with my diet were arbitrary, and out of my control. Now I realize they are a direct reaction to my environment, and right now I am feeling a lot of stress. This past month I have gained weight, had an argument with a coworker, shirked my duties at work, let my chores at home go undone, and found myself wanting to just lie in front of the TV and take a nap. That behavior sounds all too familiar. This retreat from responsibility and from life is my typical old way of dealing (or not dealing) with stress. I had gotten myself so worked up that by the time I sat down on Margaret’s sofa, I started crying.

I told her I didn’t want to come, I felt like a student showing up unprepared for class. I was totally falling back into my old habits. She said, “of course you are”. What!?!? But she was right. Faced with intense emotional stress, of course I reverted. This is the first time I have had real, intense stress and it was more than I wanted to deal with, so I shut down the way that I used to and retreated into my food and solitude. My eating has been out of control, focussing on my comfort foods, especially sugar and cheese. I’ve had so much cheese, I might start mooing. And where I used to eat lean meat, veggies, and fruit for a meal; now I eat cheese, bread, and candy. This eating is also causing me to feel sluggish. That combined with the desire to escape make me feel tired most of the time, which only makes good choices even harder. It is a downward spiral. I don’t know how to stop it. Wait, yes I do. I need to deal with the stress, not avoid it.

The stress is from two things: work and vacation. I know it sounds silly to say that my vacation is causing me stress, but the planning of it feels a little overwhelming sometimes. I will be gone for 9 days and in that time will stay at 5 different places, attend 3 live performances, and visit my childhood home. There were a lot of details to coordinate, and I am so afraid that I forgot something, or that I will forget to bring one of the tickets. I also worry that it will be colder than I expect and that I’ll freeze in the clothes that I have brought. And what if I forget my passport? Ah, it’s too much. My heart is racing even as I write this. I have to just calm down, and do all the things I need to ensure that I am prepared – and I have. Really, there shouldn’t be any problems, but the unknown always causes me concern.

The work stress is all too real. My industry is changing and my company is in a precarious position. If we don’t morph into what we need to be to survive, it’s entirely possible that I could be without a job in the next year. Now that is scary. The thought of having to go out and get another job is paralyzing. Do you know how hard it is for a 49 year old, fat woman, with a ton of experience to find work in this dinky little town? I don’t even want to imagine it. So again, I am doing all that I can to make things good here, and my boss has several irons in the fire. Besides, worrying won’t change anything.

So what can I do? I can continue to be the best me I can. I need to silence my critic, and my scared child voices, and let the patient thoughtful adult do all the talking in my head. She’s the only one that can bring calm to this storm. (deep breath) Positive Thoughts!

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Take A Deep Breath

My coworker provoked me today, and I told him off. He told me off too, but that’s just water off a duck’s back. I am sorry that I lost control of my emotions and became reactive when he insulted me by saying “I have no respect for you!” Instead of taking the higher ground and ignoring his arrogant tirade, I shot back “Good, it’s mutual!”

We went back and forth a few times, until I was about to lose my mind and said “That’s it, I’m done.” and I returned to my desk and sat down. Turns out, everyone in the office agrees that he is out of control, mean, negative, and lazy. And they thought it was about time someone told him just how bad his behavior has been. I just hope the boss sees it that way when he gets back tomorrow. Who knows what version of the events this asshole will tell him. I need to stay focussed, positive, and calm.

Breathe  10, 9, 8 …

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Stress Eating

Stress has got me behaving poorly. I am acting like the impudent child instead of the responsible adult. Things are bad at work, and the business as a whole is in trouble. It is entirely possible that I may be unemployed any day now, or we could turn things around and I could work here for many years to come. But the uncertainty and commotion has me feeling a lot of stress, which in turn is allowing me to make poor food choices. I need to stop, take a deep breath, and regroup.

In addition to making me crave grilled cheese and cookies, stress also makes me shut down. Rather than attending to the work at hand, I prefer to daydream or get lost in mindless tv. I am finding it hard to stay focussed at work. I keep checking Facebook, reviewing my vacation plans, texting friends, etc. NOT GOOD. I need to put my shoulder to the wheel and get moving. If I don’t actively contribute to the forward motion of my company, it will make things much much worse for me, and all of us.

I am the last one in the office tonight and before I leave, I am going to make a list of things to do tomorrow and long-term. I need to be organized if I have any chance of saving my career with this company and maintaining the lifestyle to which I have become comfortably accustomed. No more excuses!

[self talk] I am an adult, I have responsibilities, and this is what has to be done. Why would you procrastinate, making the inevitable that much harder? Don’t be foolish. You know what needs to be done – do it. Not only will it ease your stress, but your boss will be so pleased and it will help to ease the enormous stress he is suffering these days. You know you are awesome at this job, all you have to do is do it. You will accomplish so much and feel so good about your work and yourself. Don’t worry about anything else, just focus on the work at hand and let’s get going.

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I did it again. I disappeared. I don’t know what happens. I get in these … moods, I guess. I am not depressed or angry or fatalistic. I just feel like I am so busy (I’m really not). I feel like I am behind on everything, scrambling to keep up, and out of control. And when I feel like that, I don’t write. I barely even think. I just trudge through my daily routine without really paying attention to my life, like I am on auto-pilot. Not good – for me or my diet.

Of course I have opportunities to get caught up. In fact, just this weekend I whiled away the hours on FB and TV while the dishes sat in the sink, the carpet has more cat hair than the cat, and my closet looks like an explosion at Lane Bryant. But there I sat, or laid, on the sofa watching movies. Oh I got a few things done, I always do – whatever is absolutely necessary. I finally cleaned the kitchen, including the sticky floor, I washed and changed the sheets, and spic-n-spanned the bathroom. But to feel like my life is in order and I am in control of my choices I should have done much more, including made my lunch for today and tomorrow. Now instead of eating healthy meals that I prepared myself, I will buy something more expensive and less nutritious, all the while the delicious organic fruits and vegetables I bought will rot in my fridge.

These are the times when I hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me not to be so lazy. LAZY, I hate that word. It has such tremendous weight for me. Growing up, lazy was one of the worst things a person could be (the other was a liar). And in my family, I was the only lazy one. Everyone else took care of their duties/chores thoroughly and in a timely manner. Not me, I was always trying to get out of mundane duties, or at least postpone them. But if there was something new and exciting, I was the first in line. If it is something I want to do, god help the person who tries to stand in my way. Then, lazy is the antithesis of my behaviour.

The mundane never held any interest for me. I always imagined, from the time I was a small child, that my life would be extraordinary. That I would be a unique leader in this world. I often pictured myself in foreign lands participating in exclusive events. At the height of the designer jeans craze, I would practice my signature for the tag on my hot new line of jeans like Gloria Vanderbilt, and dresses like Diane von Furstenberg. In my early teens I would practice my appearance on The Tonight Show, laughing and joking with Johnny about my amazing life.

So how did I end up here; fat, old, and boring? Maybe the bigger questions is, Where will I go from here? Yeah, that’s what I need to do, focus on moving forward, not regret. I cannot change the last 30 years. I can affect the next 30 – and I want them to be wonderful. Full of vitality, excitement, accomplishments, and most of all overflowing with love. Now, how do I do that?

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I didn’t get any sleep last night – literally. I went out with friends, got home about 10:30, and into bed around midnight. I laid there all night without falling asleep. I just keep breathing deep, trying to relax and drift off, but it never happened. The cat thought it was great, because I kept petting him.

I am supposed to go to the theatre with friends tonight, and drinks afterward. I don’t know how I am going to make it.

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Up Next …

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since my last post. I have been hanging on by my fingernails these last two weeks. I’m still not feeling quite like myself; I have yet another doctor’s appointment on Monday. Maybe this is just how I am going to feel for a while, maybe it’s nothing more than typical aging and hormones adjusting. The worst part is, I’m not sleeping. I finally asked the doctor for a prescription for Ambien, and while it helps me to fall asleep, I still wake up about 2 am and have troubling falling back to sleep. I just want to feel better!

My eating has been all over the place I’ve been eating wheat and sugar, even though I committed to not eating those things. My quantities of food are okay, but I have to stay away from cheese – any kind of cheese. If it is in the house, I eat it. So I don’t bring it in the house and I avoid it when eating out. In fact I just got back from lunch at the Wholefoods buffet, and I did not take even a smidge of their mac ‘n cheese (which is delicious). Instead I had curried pork, ratatouille, and pickled cucumbers. I know it sounds like and odd combination but each of them was delicious and now I am stuffed :-)

Tonight after work I am going down to my parents’ house to say goodbye to my uncle. His recovery is going very smoothly and he is leaving tomorrow. He will receive his follow up treatment of chemo and radiation at home on Maui. Unfortunately the prognosis isn’t good. The doctors expect the melanoma to return; sooner rather than later. So this could be the last time I ever see him. It’s very sad. What’s worse is that I feel bad because I don’t feel sadder. Unfortunately we’ve never had a very close relationship (his doing), so it’s kind of weird. If the whole health crisis hadn’t happened while he was visiting us on vacation, I might not even be aware of it, let alone be so involved.

My emotions are all over the place and I am trying to process them without food. But I am finding that I am not actually dealing with them. I feel stifled. I keep catching myself breathing very shallow, squinting, hunching, my mind wandering. I am letting the emotions get the better of me. Although they aren’t making me eat (and for that I am grateful), they are still affecting me adversely. Maybe I will have a weeping session with Margaret on Monday. I will tell her that I need to deal with these feelings and she can walk me through a meditation, which usually ends with me in tears. 

I need to take care of me and make sure that I continue down this productive path of recovery. No old behaviors or coping mechanisms are going to help here. I’m beyond that now, I’m just not sure what’s next.

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Who Me?

I feel … weird.

I’m not quite sure what it is, but I feel not quite myself. This morning on the way to work I realized that I feel very depressed. There are so many variables at play right now, that I cannot be sure what is causing the issue.

Could it be lack of sleep, one of my 2 new medications, my hormone imbalance, the stress about my uncle, the running all over town with family visiting my uncle, the looming doom at work, or something more deep-rooted, like my utter disappointment that I never had a family.

My weird feelings have affected my eating. For the most part, I am still doing well, and following my plan. In fact yesterday I had a chance to have pizza and some sweets and I thought, “ug, that will make me feel bad. I’m not going to eat that.” and instead I had some nuts and fruit when I got home. Which not only made me feel better, it was actually more satisfying. But while things are on track most of the time, there are those times when I completely lose it, and I am disappointed because those moments had become less frequent and now they are more frequent again. I have eaten more than I should have, of something off-plan, and then purged about a half a dozen times in the last week. I hate doing that. I hate giving into temptation and eating crap, and I hate the purging that sometimes follows. Sometimes I purge just to be rid of the calories, but usually I feel the need for physical relief of the yucky feeling I have from eating what I did. Either I am too full, or the sugar/fat has made me extremely nauseous.

Whatever is happening, I don’t like it. I feel out of control and like I am back-sliding. I just got off the phone with Margaret and made an appointment for Monday.

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