Finding My Center

This is blog post two out of three today. My fingers are sick of typing, but I have a moment I’d like to share before it disappears into my cluttered, tired, void of a brain. Seriously, I’m waiting for it to at least get dark so I can go to bed. I am thrilled with the return of spring, but the extended sunlight makes me feel a lot more guilty about tucking in at oh, you know, 7 p.m.

I went to work today, a Tuesday, which I always look forward to. I know that my favorite ladies will be there bright and early with a celebration in tow. They might be the only force that can negate the fact that I woke up at 4:30 a.m. Stephanie came in first today, and I made her a latte as per usual. She offered me a glimpse into her classroom; a boy she teaches has a syndrome where he sometimes has bursts of being unable to control his limbs. She’s afraid of how this will effect his education, especially of the possibility that he is taken out of school. She finished up her story by mentioning how utterly compassionate his classmates were. They don’t draw attention to him, they don’t mock him. And to think, just moments before, I thought all children were the spawn of Satan.

I finally finished up opening shop and leaned over the counter near the fire where she sat. She was still waiting on her crew to show up, so we got to chatting a little. She told me about the book of gospels she was reading. She bought me a book for my birthday which is of a religious tone – I haven’t read it yet, but I’d like to. My point is that I don’t believe we need to share a belief system to discuss things on a spiritual level. She has made this obvious to me. I know for a fact that her gift will serve a purpose in my life one day. Anyhoo, she mentioned that the right books always seem to find her. She explained how precious this time is for her in the early morning because it sets the tone for her day. I agreed, without mentioning that she’s the one who sets the tone for my day half the week.

It’s not always easy to carve out that space in your day – especially in the morning – but it is worth it. We all have a little time to spare.

There is no way to avoid frustration, stress, having to do things we don’t want to do, running out of time, complete and utter disaster. There is a way to deal with those things. Finding a moment of the day, by the minute or by the hour, can truly make a difference. My day has been nothing but work and commute. I opened up the coffee shop and stayed until noon. I drove home to make lunch, check e-mails, and pack for the next couple of days. I drove straight to John’s where I dog-sit. We went on a walk. I wrote a blog post about apple crisps and the phrase is now foreign to me. I made the dog and I dinner. I am writing this before I head out for another walk. I might muster up the energy to download some new music, but I will be in bed by 9 p.m. at the latest. Tomorrow will be a repeat of today with a workout in the mix. Starting my day with that interaction set the foundation. Despite my crazy schedule and all the deadlines, I’ve sought out moments of clarity that delivered when I needed a boost to keep me going.

Stephanie told me that she could tell I was centered. I didn’t quite accept her compliment until I realized that it might be true. I think that a lot of people with my workload would have an entirely different experience. I tell someone I have three jobs and they’re shocked. I only have three jobs because it’s manageable. All of them offer me something that the other doesn’t, and I’m having fun while doing them. I have a social life, time to work out, time to do absolutely nothing, and I get eight hours of sleep a night. The bills are paid, my heart is happy. I have found an identity in my work, that’s true. But the time in which I am able to meditate on what is really important to me is what defines who I am. I think that most people could say that if they knew who that person was – and I’d highly recommend seeking that out. My center lets me take on real life without being angry or panicked. My center is the person I am at the end of the day. I will never let the inevitable stress and uncertainty of real life become me. That is the most comforting thing I can imagine.

I am grateful to have this focus today. I have 9 days without disordered eating which is a small feat, but it’s a streak I don’t want to end. There is so much to feel happy about today, namely the much-needed massage appointment scheduled for Thursday morning. Heavy swings and loaded front squats have this funny way of sneaking up on every single move you make the next day. Ouch. I encourage you togo find some overwhelmingly positive and kind soul to have these kind of talks with before the sun rises. It will totally change your life.

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Hindsight and Good Things

Hindsight is strange, because it hits me like a train nearly every week as I recover from what I am certain is the end. I mean, not always. I don’t want to be dramatic, but last weekend was the worst I have felt in so long. I don’t want to raise concern, but something came over me. The rational part of me was in utter disbelief. I was trying desperately to justify giving up. I don’t know what that means – in that moment or those days of despair, it essentially meant finding a way to remove myself from everything that means anything to me. I just wanted to go back to a time when this wasn’t my life. What that meant to me was not to revert to a happier time, but an even worse time. What kind of escape plan is that?

I was stuck in this feeling that everything I’ve worked hard for would be worth giving up. To avoid further beating around the bush, I’m pretty sure I was thinking that being dead would totally beat being alive this weekend. I reached a point where I realized that I had completely lost a sense of what my life was comprised of, and I couldn’t convince myself that anything was worth living for.

I don’t even know how to write that out because I am currently beaming behind my computer, filled with all the fuzzy feelings of straight up happiness. I am embracing this moment, the last few days of utter joy. I am also afraid that this weekend will be the same as last, because that tends to be the way it goes. I’m riding an emotional roller coaster. The phrase is kind of overused, but it’s the most accurate analogy. I’m constantly being jerked between two extreme levels of emotion, and it’s very scary.

Out with the bad, in with the good.

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Sunsets, for one. The sky is the ultimate cure. Bonus: being up for sun rise the next day.

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Dom called me on Monday, and he promptly showed up at my apartment. I was still in a slump, and I’m beyond grateful for our spontaneous hangout sesh. We hopped in the car and drove to the cemetery with the best view. It’s underrated. Dom and I go months without seeing one another, and every time we are reunited, it’s as though no time has passed at all. We’ve known each other for a long time now. He’s so insightful, and he always makes me look at things, especially myself, in a new light. He also complied with my random desire to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Fortunately, the trip lasted only three minutes before we went to Burgatory and he treated me to dinner.

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This photo was taken a mere 30 minutes outside of my downward spiral of a weekend. I’m highly adaptable if there are trees to hang from…

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Then I saw this in a bathroom at the book store because signs from the universe to keep fucking moving are always present. If this is any indication, I am most certainly fully alive and fully human.

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The next day, Kate and I accidentally celebrated mine and Wesley’s friendiversary (she was there, to be fair) which was a wonderful mistake. She got me this precious card with birds that look just like us on the front. She also got us ALL THAT MEAT. Prior to our feast, we saw Cold War Kids at WYEP for their live and direct session. It was a magical afternoon. Once again, I was reminded that my life is very much worthwhile, especially when I have the greatest friends in the whole entire universe. I do not use that phrase lightly.

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Bonus: I got this cool windbreaker. Is that an oxymoron? I don’t think so. The thing is, I don’t try that hard to wear ironic clothing. I am just a recovering shopping addict, and all of my clothes once belonged to somebody else. That hat was 79 cents, and it is not contributing to my debt.

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And then there is Withnail’s mouth, which is a spectacle that brings everyone joy…

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And tonight was spent in fits of laughter with the crew from Primal Fitness. We mostly talked about burpees, leotards, and vaginas. And by talking, I mean screaming. This group of people is something to be very thankful for. I go to the weirdest gym in Pittsburgh. 10/10 would recommend.

My “real” work week is over, and I am exhausted. Tomorrow will be spent writing everything before the weekend hits. I’m feeling so silly. I looked at my planner on Monday morning and wondered how I would ever manage to do everything that I pictured above – all of those fun, carefree things with people I LOVE – and it made me want to cry because it felt so impossible. So very silly.

I Resolve To…

I talk about love a lot. Love is an invaluable tool, one that I often find myself lacking when I need it most. When I find myself full of hate, I believe that feeling is really one of longing in disguise – for things I don’t have, for things that I miss, for the goals I have yet to reach, for love. Other times, I find myself filled with the purest and most sincere love – overwhelming and all-encompassing. Those times are the best. They are spontaneous, like when I take the dog out at 10 p.m. for our final walk, and I decide to make it a long one because the snow has insulated the entire world around me. It’s perfectly quiet, and everything is still but the snowflakes that are falling. My headphones play one perfect song after another, and all I feel is love. I mustn’t forget those times in my day-to-day existence which is generally not so picture-perfect.

Like today, when I was walking in the rain and all the Sharon Van Etten songs were too good to not keep walking.
Like today, when I was walking in the rain and all the Sharon Van Etten songs were too good to not keep walking.

The past month has been a test. I wrote about some guidelines that I would recommend that you follow of you struggle with an eating disorder and/or depression a little while ago when everything was rainbows and butterflies. As I recall the past month or so, I realize I strayed very far from that ideal. I was doing well, and I wanted to feel a little less rigid and relax – unfortunately, that period of relaxation quickly turned into my demise as I knew it would deep down. My day-to-day life is FAR from stressful almost solely because I set limits. It’s the practice of gentle discipline – discipline is not punishment, but the will to do the best you can and be the best you can be.

Here are the main things I believe that lead me to some serious turmoil, binge-eating and purging, poor sleep, and not a whole lotta love.

– Drinking. My birthday began with drinking, and it never stopped. I’ve drank every weekend since, sometimes during the week as well. And it hasn’t been casual; I mean, I’ve been extremely intoxicated at least once a week for the past six weeks. The six weeks prior to those ones were binge-free and alcohol-free. Coincidence? I think not. Some of the drinking was justified and not problematic i.e. my birthday celebration and my time spent in New York City. I got a little bit overconfident, thinking that remission was something I was living without effort. Quite the opposite! I believe that after six weeks without disordered eating, my behaviors and actions were becoming more intuitive which is the result of hard work and practice whether it is conscious or not. Intuition is something that needs to be maintained. Alcohol inhibits intuition, or severely alters it. I resolve not to drink.

– I quit medication. So, that was a good thing for the most part. In addition to quitting coffee, I slept fine at first. I had some withdrawal symptoms from the Celexa, but I felt good otherwise. I’m very happy to not be taking an SSRI – I genuinely don’t believe that I am depressed, at least not anymore. I am deeply unhappy almost exclusively ONLY when I’m in the middle of a binge. That is situational, and it doesn’t need to be medicated. Unfortunately, even before I reintroduced coffee, my sleep was once again interrupted roughly 5/7 days of the week. The night-eating began again which is the motherfucking BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. I’ve grown to accept it, as I know it is not really contributing to my stress levels, quality of sleep, or weight gain. I’m generally only awake for ten minutes, and I eat something like a carrot. USUALLY. Anyways, I’m back on Trazodone to sleep. I’m sleeping very well on it, assuming my diet and activity was good that day. I said before (ya know, in the post titled DRUGS) that medication will not set me free, but I resolve to continue taking medication that makes my life more manageable.

– Not attending OA. I was only going to one meeting a week, but it was much more helpful than I believed it to be. I went back last night after getting into some pretty religious text this weekend. I’ve never been religious, I don’t know where to begin. Someone sent me The Greatest Thing in the World, and it took me three weeks to finally break down and read it. I know that I can’t do this alone though, and I think that it would be callow of me to deny the power of living a spiritual life. I went to a meeting last night after having a terrible, awful Sunday, and I immediately felt better. I ordered the text and some work books, and I plan to find a sponsor within the month after I attend a wider variety of meetings. I have tried to do this on my own, with a therapist, with medication, with my blog, with my friends and family – I have only gotten so far. I want abstinence, and I want long-term recovery. I resolve to use OA and my higher power to heal for good.

I resolve not to neglect the need to love and be loved because good things come from love. And love is patient – my goals are set, but they do not have a deadline. Progress must remain steady, but it can be slow, that’s okay.

Despite my weekend turning into a sob-fest of donuts and trying to sleep for 36 hours straight (spoiler alert: not possible), it started off with quality time spent with my family. I am grateful to have them. I cooked for my sister, which I believe might have inadvertently caused a trigger reaction in me. I am so happy for her because she’s taken steps to live a healthy life, and she’s losing a lot of weight. I admire her, and she inspires me to be a better person. I love that I can be of service to her and help her considering how busy she is. She is one of my best friends. Some sick part of me is insanely jealous of her weight loss and her success. I want to be able to do what she is doing. She has no history of disordered eating or mental illness. She’s so normal, I have to wonder why. I have avoided (and will continue to avoid) talking about my childhood or my parents on this blog, but sometimes I don’t understand how she turned out the way that she did while I ended up where I am. That’s not to say that I’m not appreciative for where I am and even where I’ve been – but I have to wonder. I had a great weekend until I drank a little (surprise, surprise) and I got kind of depressed. She’s happy and has this innocence about her. She isn’t caught up over the things that I am. She is so confident and care-free like I’ve never been. Again, I’m so beyond happy for her success, but it pains me a little that I don’t have what she has sometimes.

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To celebrate my own success, I have a fun job this week! I’m so excited to be working further with myPaleoPal. I will be reviewing ten paleo-friendly protein bars. My career is clearly taking off in the right direction considering someone is buying me food and paying me to eat it and write about it. Even more than that, I love networking with people around the world about this lifestyle. I never thought I would have this – I didn’t even know I wanted this – but it’s something to be proud of. Next step: GET A LAPTOP. I cannot be a ~professional blogger~ within the confines of my desktop much longer. Fortunately, tax return season will allow me to treat myself a little bit.

More good things: I made some beef cheek and plantain gnocchi tonight. It was incredible.

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BRAISE IT IN RED WINE (I never said I couldn’t EAT alcohol…)

DRUGS and stuff.

I just left therapy and I spent the millionth time in my life speeding down 376 to the Squirrel Hill Tunnels in tears. I have grown to hate that route. The only time I ever take those tunnels is to therapy from the East End, and it’s only associated with feeling hopeless. I usually leave therapy not crying, it’s worth noting – but when I do, it’s the worst kind of sad thoughts because it’s all been said, and I still feel bad.

Let’s rewind. The past few weeks have sucked. I wrote about the worst of the days prior to this post, although it’s untitled and I didn’t share it on Facebook or anything because it was just awful. Take that day and place it haphazardly into one or two days of each week before and after that and ta-da! My life. Sigh.

My new and seemingly brilliant idea was this: stimulants. If you have been following my story, you know it goes like this: pro-pharmaceutical, anti-pharmaceutical, sort of in-between, different dosages of pharmaceuticals, I AM THE MASTER OF MY MIND I WILL TAKE NO DRUGS, kind of wanna try something new. Yeah, I can’t decide where I stand. I just refilled a prescription for the sleep aid I quit awhile back because I no longer sleep through the night. Suffice to say, I’m not for or against medication – I just didn’t really think what I was taking before was working.

I’ve once again reached the end of my rope. Do you notice the pattern? There is no magic cure, only periods of remission and periods of relapse. That is okay. I just didn’t know it would be that way, especially fourteen months into intensely diligent recovery. My therapist said one good thing today: “Each period of remission [that you have] is longer. One day, you’ll have 20 years.” It was a nice thing for her to say, but it made me cry, which I am now laughing about. She’s right.

I started to read about Vyvanse which is similar to Adderall. Vyvanse is the first drug ever to be used to treat binge eating disorder, with a study and FDA approval that is. This just happened in January. Some background on me and Adderall: It’s been over five years since I’ve used a drug, even longer since I’ve used a stimulant, but I’m no stranger to them. Adderall made life as good as it did bad for the extended periods of time that I used it. I bought my first prescription of it in the seventh grade from a friend who was uninterested in being medicated for her ADHD. I feel terrible for pressuring another eleven year old into a doing this at all. She was giving me entire prescriptions for free (because eleven year olds make the worst drug dealers). I wanted to be skinny though, and Adderall made it entirely possible to go eight days without a bite of food. Later in life, I turned a 0.8 GPA into a 3.5 during my junior year of high school. Some periods of stimulant abuse were more productive than others. Alas, all I ended up with was a terrible habit of grinding my teeth, that time I read the Motley Crue book in three hours and cried about it, and notebooks full of the worst poetry you would ever read if I didn’t destroy them. Memory lane… anyways, I understand the negative side effects, but I want to focus on the potential benefits.

I mentioned this to my therapist today whose rebuttal was, “You have to stop throwing up before I clear it.” Easier said than done, but I will do it. Using stimulants and then inducing vomit is a recipe for disaster and seizures which I would very much like to avoid. My body reacts so strongly to self-induced vomiting the older I get, unsurprisingly, that I am terrified of adding anything else into the mix. I have spent a decade doing this to myself, and my body is smarter than the voice inside my head – it’s done with it. I want to be done. If you have any experience with bulimia, then you know that your body will retain literal GALLONS of water after purging. What this means is I’m literally 15 pounds (of water) heavier than my natural weight right now. On top of body dysmorphia and overall dissatisfaction with the way that I look, my body doesn’t feel like it belongs to me.

I don’t believe that any medication ever made will free me. I am not that naive. I do believe that Vyvanse could help me immensely. I am exhausted by the persistent thoughts of food in my head. Despite having some serious food issues for a long time, the never-ending thoughts of food didn’t start until I truly struggled with anorexia. Since then, it’s become an obsession that I’ve tried to destroy and manipulate in every way possible. Granted, I have a healthy outlet (I’m a paid food blogger now y’all), but it invades my personal life to an uncomfortable extent. The only way I can get a break from the nagging voice in my head is to take a literal vacation. Due to the stimulant effect, I believe I will be able to more easily invest in other things or thoughts without the side effect of thinking about food/weight. The biggest factor in Vyvanse’s success in eliminating subjects’ binge days is obvious; it’s an appetite suppressant. At this point, I am committed to paleo and eating well. My workouts are too important to me to not feed body adequately, so I don’t believe I’m at risk of developing anorexia again. I just don’t want to have to fight hunger anymore. I want to know when I am hungry and eat intuitively; I am not seeking control, only normalcy.

So, now I’m on a new mission for now without health insurance for a drug that doesn’t have a generic! Woo. This should be incredibly stressful and expensive.

Enough drug talk. Today was normal, just a little disappointing. My week has been full of good things, which makes me feel even worse about feeling worse (what? why are my feelings like this?) Let us recap:

SLEATER FUCKING KINNEY. Sometimes, I go to a show, and I remember why I love going to shows. This was one of them. When I started listening to No Doubt way back in the day, I discovered the world of female leads, and I never turned back. Seeing Sleater-Kinney was like the first time I saw No Doubt or Tegan & Sara or St. Vincent or Fiona Apple or even Sharon Van Etten. Those women have truly written the soundtrack to my life. Those albums have played during the most transformative and important moments I’ve ever experienced. Seeing that in person is the coolest thing in the world to me.

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As the marketing manager of myPaleoPal, I have been given the privilege of writing our blog posts! Prior to this, I was managing all of our social media accounts and writing the newsletter. I will now be writing up posts for our website. The blog itself and the content is a work in progress and basically a way to reach more users via Google at the moment, but I’m so excited about it! Maybe just because I can call myself a “food blogger” now, not just a SADGIRLBLOGGER.

Speaking of blogging, I will also be a part of this year’s Pittsburgh blog swap! Someone writes for me, and I write for them. It’s a fun way to get acquainted with the people who are writing in the city. Again, I’m super honored to have been asked to do something like this – I started blogging with no intentions of anyone ever listening to me or paying me or even thinking I knew how to write a sentence.

Lastly, I WON THE SNATCH COMPETITION. I clocked out on February 28th with 880 kettlebell snatches. I have never had a physical achievement like this. I worked incredibly hard for that number, and I had fun while doing it. I reached some milestones along the way, and I learned some serious discipline. So. Much. Chalk. The last day was done with a split right hand, or I’m confident I would have hit 900! I won a restaurant gift card of my choice (I still haven’t chosen… so. hard.) and a massage, which I think is well deserved.

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