Love And Spaghetti Squash And Jeans

Today’s I am proud of myself because: of how open and brave I was that day in the park when I met USB.  At that point in my life, I was truly convinced that I was unlovable, romantically speaking.  That no one would ever want to be with me. Sure, there were parts of myself that I liked.  But I thought that I was just too weird for anyone else to ever like those elements of me.  I wanted to meet someone.  I was 20 years old, about to start my senior year of college and had never had a serious relationship.  I had made out with a few boys.  But that was about  it.  Nothing ever clicked.  With USB, everything clicks.  I didn’t know it then, but I think a big part of the sadness I have felt over the last three or four years — the constant aching in my chest — was simply because I wanted to share my life with someone.  And now I do. And it is even more wonderful than I imagined.

I didn’t do a happy note!  It was really hard for me to change, lol.  But sometimes change is good, as USB has taught me. 🙂

Just wanted to say hello quickly and hear about your weekends!  I haven’t done any full workouts yesterday (Friday) or today.  The social time is infinitely more important for my health.  I probably walked a few miles both days anyways.   I also got in plenty of studying.

Other exciting things:

My first spaghetti squash!

Believe it or not, spaghetti squash has always been a secret fear of mine!  I steamed it in the microwave for about 10 minutes (cut in two halves, with the flat side down).  At first, I took it out and didn’t see any spaghetti!  I freaked out, thinking that I was a spaghetti squash failure.  That, or the farmer had simply sold me a different type of squash by accident.  But then I noticed about a teaspoon worth of “noodles” and scraped those out.  Lo, and behold, the scraping produced more noodles.  So I kept scraping and more and more noodles appeared!  Slowly, a giant smile crept onto my face.  It was great fun.  Seriously, if you’re ever super stressed, try scraping the noodles out of a spaghetti squash.

Totally unrelated, but relevant to the blog as a whole: yesterday, I went shopping.  Clothes shopping.  Clothes shopping is not easy for someone who hates every little part of her body.  I went to a bunch of different stores and kept telling myself over and over again, “you will look fat and horrible in that; you should not even try it on.”  I was starting to get really down on myself.  Eventually, I wound up in a designer jeans section at a discount store.  I am NOT a clothes elitist — I don’t have the money to be — but I truly believe that with things like jeans, and dresses, a really nice brand can sometimes look and feel better, making it worth the price.  I got into my determined mode and said “Caronae, you are going to try on some jeans and find a pair that you like and you will look beautiful and you will buy them.”

And I did.  I found a pair of jeans.  They are Seven brand.  I have never had a pair of Seven jeans before, but these really are quite nice.  I like them a lot, and a tiny part of me thinks I look decent in them.

So there. Take that, jeans.

Time to go find USB! 🙂

What are you all up to this weekend?

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Love Your Body Day And Therapy Thursday

Today’s Happy Note: Willow Smith and her song “Whip My Hair”.  She uses her braids to fling paint.  Enough said.

I got in my nine miles this morning!  And they were really, really sucky.  It was just one of those runs that I needed to push through, and I did.  I did three miles at tempo pace in the first half.  I was supposed to do three fast 800s in the second half but there was no way that was going to happen.  Part of the problem was that I was inappropriately dressed.  I have running clothes for 55 degrees and higher and 40 degrees and lower.  I can never seem to dress appropriately for that 15 degree gap in between.  Ugh.  I really should invest in some long sleeve tech tees.

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments yesterday!  Every single one of them felt like a little gift in my inbox.  I talked through a lot of it with L today, which was nice.  I’ll share those thoughts at the end of the post.

First, in honor of yesterday’s National Love Your Body Day, I present you with 16 reasons why I love my body.  [FYI: there are many more reasons why I don’t love my body; I’m not perfect.  But I think that enumerating things my body does for me is not a futile exercise.  It does remind me of the good.]

  1. It’s super bendy!  I am seriously the most flexible adult ever.  I can do the splits and get into pretty much any yoga position.  I like this.
  2. My eyes are deep and dark and mysterious and nice.  I like how they fit under my eyebrows.
  3. I have really strong arms and can lift all kinds of things.
  4. My heart and lungs pulled me through my pulmonary emboli hospitalization this summer.  For that, I am eternally grateful to my body.
  5. I have nice hips for dancing.
  6. The skin on my hands is soft; I have good hand-holding hands.  USB tells me this.
  7. My spine and torso are very graceful — dancerly, I like to think
  8. In fact, I think I’m kind of good at dancing. I would love to be in a dance recital some day.  Is that weird?
  9. My feet take a beating through running, but they forgive me.  Thank you, feet.  You work damn hard.
  10. I have great hair.
  11. My body has let me climb mountains in Mexico, hike through cloud forests in Costa Rica, and run up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower.
  12. I scar really easily and have some really unique, beautiful scars.  My favorite is on my right kneecap.  I like how scars tell important stories.
  13. My hands!  Oh, how much hands do for us.  I mean, come on, opposable thumbs?  How awesome can our bodies be?!?!
  14. My senses.  I have wonderful eyesight and hearing.  My senses let me interact with the world and respond in my own way, through sensory writing.  My senses help me create poems and prose and essays.
  15. Ribs.  I like how they form a cage around my middle, protecting me.  My body has ways of protecting and defending itself.  That’s beautiful.
  16. We cannot forget my legs, obviously.  They have carried me through three half-marathons, two ultramarathons, countless long runs, and hopefully, a marathon (soon)!  They are strong and forceful.  Sometimes they just keep going even when I don’t tell them to — when my mind is too exhausted to function, my legs have a way of working, regardless.
I have much to be grateful for!  What are you grateful for, at this very moment, in terms fo your body and its amazing capabilities?
Therapy Thursday
I think I’ll keep my therapy thoughts brief today (haha, am I even capable of that?).  I don’t want to get into certain things.  We spent a while talking about my anxiety surrounding the timeliness of our session and then we talked about how I characterize myself as “lazy” and then about how I operate, socially (how I make friends, how there have been some very lonely periods in my life).  I told her about my first day at my second high school.  I was a junior.  It was August, 2005.  I cried, recounting it to her.  It broke my heart, looking back.  But I was also crying happy tears about it — I was stubborn (I had this really geeky yellow lunchbox that I refused to give up; I spent the whole lunch hour walking around the school by myself on that first day, desperately wanting a friend) and held tight to my beliefs and identity.  If that meant being alone, so be it.  I think that in some ways I am better at being alone now — I manage it; it isn’t always a lonely alone.  I will always be a person who needs her alone.  I need to be by myself, often for long stretches of time.  I can’t fathom spending time with friends every single day.  One of the things I like best about USB is that he doesn’t fear being alone — he relishes it.  He uses that time to unwind and rewire; it also means that we are comfortable not spending every single second together.  I think that’s healthy.
I used most of the second half of the session to talk about my weight/body/health problems.  For a pretty straightforward summary, see yesterday’s post. I liked that L was both tremendously compassionate and objective about it all.  I actually just got an appointment with an endocrinologist today.  We agreed that I will try that — and I will make a serious effort to try any diet variations or medications she recommends or have tests done — and move forward from there.   As I was outlining my health problems to L, she said something like “having a chronic illness is hard; it’s not fun.”  I looked up at her, started crying harder, and told her “I might be able to handle one, but having two is destroying me” — the clotting issue and the endocrine issue.  Her face softened and she just said, “I wish so much that I could make it go away.”   It was comforting.  She was comforting.
And that is the honest truth — I don’t know how much longer I can handle having both of these things.  It’s exhausting.  I don’t know what takes precedence over the other.  I am tired of scheduling follow up appointments and having my weekly blood draws and having heart echoes and breathing tests and living in terror that I’m clotting again.  Seven doctors is more than any healthy 20 year old should have to face.  It was actually kind of nice to just have that moment of complete breakdown and vulnerability with L this afternoon: I basically told her “I can’t do it.”  And she acknowledged that.  That was all I really needed out of today, I think.
I have to keep living one day at a time.  The next few months will be full of visits to specialists and blood tests and endless round of medication trial and error.  But in some sense, I’m already used to that.  I feel like I will feel less burdened when I at least know that we are doing things to try and figure it all out.  I like journeys. This feels like a journey to me.  I’m trying to stay positive.
Goodnight friends!  Happy Friday to you all!

Something Is Not Right

Today’s Happy Note: Catching up on most of my schoolwork.  Okay, so the actual act of doing the work isn’t “happy”, but having it done makes me happy.  So there.  I deem it worthy of a happy note. 🙂

Sorry to have disappeared on you friends!  I truly wish I could blog every night and it makes me sad that sometimes I have to hit the books instead. I have quite a lot of reading this semester, but not a lot of assignments.  This means that it is quite tempting to put off the reading, but then when the assignments come around, I would be screwed.

I know I have talked about priorities before (blah, can’t find the post), but I have been reorienting myself the past few days.  School already was a priority, but it needs to be even more of one.  I just kind of need to grit my teeth and get it done.  Meh.

Anyone else out there feeling mid-semester blues/overwhelmed?

I saw something fun on Angela’s Blog today!  Apparently, it is National Love Your Body day today.  I’ll get to that in a minute…

First, I have some training notes to catch you all up on!

1. Monday: I did an easy 25 minutes of weight lifting followed by my easy yoga class (it’s for school).  The instructor wears sweatpant booty shorts.  He is a man.  That is all.  My body was grateful for the easy day.

2. Tuesday: Was supposed to be nine miles of speedwork.  I really didn’t want to do it during the day and finally set out around six, planning to stay on the streets.  But it just didn’t feel right.  My body was moving in all the wrong ways — my lower legs seemed to be doing something completely different from my knees, which were doing something completely different from my quads.  You get the picture.  I listened to my body!  This is something that I have really struggled with in terms of exercising, so I was proud of myself.  I cut the run short and did four miles, with 5×100 strides in the last mile.

3. Wednesday: I figured I would just get in my nine miles today.  But.  Again, something wasn’t quite right.  Mostly, I was terribly tired.  I couldn’t seem to get out of bed in the morning or after my afternoon nap.  So I just did my easy yoga class. That was it.  Taking it this easy is hard for me!  I feel a lot of guilt.  But I know that taking the rest is a good idea.

I think there are three reasons why I struggle with guilt when I don’t workout hard everyday:

1. I tend to have an all-or-nothing mindset.  I feel like I’m either completely sedentary all day (in reality, this isn’t true) or insanely active.  I struggle to find an appropriate balance.

2. I overexercised at an unsustainable level for years — I think this is tied to the ways in which I was active as a child and adolescent.  From when I was four until I was fourteen, I was a gymnast.  The last few years of that, I would practice about 20 hours a week.  Then in high school, I did diving, track, and swimming (sometimes at the same time).  I would often be working out for hours a day — senior year, I swam for 3-5 hours a day during the fall season.  Thus, my expectations for physical activity were shaped unrealistically at a formative age, and thus it is truly difficult for me to understand that not working out that much is okay — normal people in the real world do not typically work out for more than two hours a day.  Even an hour is more than enough.  I think that, for me, mentally, moderate exercise is actually best.

3. I still feel the need to “make up for” everything I eat.  I probably eat slightly more than the average 20 year old female college student (although really I have no way of knowing this).  But I really am running a lot, and I also have a significant amount of muscle mass.  Regardless, I feel like if I don’t run 6+ miles a day, I am just another slovenly, greedy American who overeats and doesn’t move.

A few weeks ago, L pointed out to me that I would never say the things I say to myself (in my head) to another person. I would never, ever be that cruel to someone else.  So why do I do it to myself, over and over again? I don’t know.

I think this post is going in a slightly different direction that what I intended.  That’s okay though, since these are the things I need to talk about.  FYI: the rest of this post is about weight and related health concerns/body image issues. Please feel free to skip this part.

I typically weigh myself every 1-2 weeks.  Sometimes I go even longer, maybe every 3-4 weeks.  I am not obsessive about it and don’t record it or anything.

But.

I did weigh myself this Monday and a pattern clearly emerged. Or maybe the pattern has been there for a while but I just noticed it.  Whatever.  Thee point is simple: I have been gaining weight at a rate of almost exactly 1 pound per week since leaving the hospital.  It’s been just over three months, so approximately twelve weeks.  I have gained 12-14 pounds.  I was already a few pounds over my “happy weight”; I would estimate that I have about 17 pounds to lose at the moment.  This is very scary for me.  Very scary for me.

The reason it is so terrifying is that, as far as I can tell, it is something that is either largely or entirely out of my control. Something is wrong in my body.  I know my body and I know when something isn’t right.

Well, something isn’t right.  This weight doesn’t make sense.  I should not have gained 14 pounds since I left the hospital.  Not only have I been training for a marathon, but I have also been fairly careful to keep my eating in check.  I stopped taking birth control as soon as I was diagnosed with my pulmonary emboli. I am not a doctor (in fact, I pretty much suck at science in general), but to me, it seems like the birth control was doing something in my body that was good, and now that it has been taken away, something is going unchecked and rampant in me.

I saw the women’s health Nurse Practitioner at my school a few weeks ago (is it weird that there are a grand total of zero gynecologists for a college student/grad student population of like 30,000 students????).  I basically told her the same things I am telling you guys.  Something doesn’t make sense.  I want to know what is going on.  And, unlike many health conscious young people, I have no aversion whatsoever to medications.  I would happily take several medications, daily, if it would fix this.  I already take about four medications a day — I have several more types too.  I joke to people that I have my own pharmacy.  Taking pills really doesn’t bother me, nor do I feel like I’m somehow polluting my body. They’re pills. Scientists made them to help us, for the most part. It actually kind of bothers me when people get all purist and shit and say “oh, I don’t take pills, I don’t put chemicals in my body, I treat things naturally.”  Great — it’s really nice to know that you have never been burdened with serious medical conditions that require drugs.  I am so happy for you.

Okay, so that was completely tangential.  I’m a writer.  What can I say.  I like talking.

Getting back to the main storyline here.  The NP I saw referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist.  I called her office a week or two ago and she isn’t taking new patients until January.  I am not trying to wait that long, so I got a referral to someone else.  I will schedule the appointment tomorrow.  Hopefully, it will be in the next few weeks.  This is causing me a lot of anxiety, as you can tell.  I want to get to the bottom of it.  Fast.

Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t always work that way.  Our bodies don’t always work that way.  Sometimes they do not want to reveal their secrets, even when their secrets are hurting us.  I hate how medicine is simultaneously so scientific and so unpredictable.  Anyone else find this duality unsettling?

My guess is that, starting after the marathon, we are going to have to do some serious screwing around with my diet and medications.  Probably accompanied by some serious blood tests.  I may have a weird adrenal disorder.  I may have PCOS.  I may not have it.  I may have pre-diabetes.  I may have some bizarre hormonal problem.

So, things are complicated.  I know that’s a really lame conclusion, but it’s all I have for now.  And I need desperately to share my struggles.  Thank you for listening! 🙂

One other note: Any inquiry into/treatment of my hormonal/adrenal/endocrine problems is severely constrained by my history of PE and accompanying clotting disorder.  I cannot take any hormones.  I cannot take anything that might interfere with my Warfarin.  I cannot take anything that  might predispose me to further clotting.

I truly am sorry for unloading all of this on you guys.  But I just need to get it out there.  USB has been amazing about it all — I never would have thought a love interest would be interested in my bizarre medical problems.  Especially not when they make me fat.  But he listens to me and soothes me and tries to help me in whatever way he can.

So.  The Love Your Body post shall be saved for tomorrow, I think.

I’ll leave you with my latest purchase!  I’m going to be wearing these on marathon day!

Katie is giving away a massive amount of Artisana. I want it.  Bad.

Anyone out there, by any chance, happen to have a simultaneous history of PE and PCOS/unidentified endocrine disorder? I know it’s a long shot — I haven’t met anyone else with this combination of problems.  But if you have had similar experiences, I would be thrilled if you would let me know your story!

For everyone else, what is the most frustrating health experience you have had?

What are you grateful for about your health?

I’m grateful for my body’s tremendous ability to untangle its clots.  Seriously.  The clots are long gone by this point.

A Critique of Certain Responses to the Marie Claire Article

Today’s Happy Note: For the first time ever, this afternoon, a reader recognized me — in public!  It was so strange.  It made me happy — not because I care about how many people read my blog but because I like meeting new friends!  Hi Jen!

Marathon Training: I basically had back-to-back rest days yesterday and today, although both were active rest days.  Well, sort of.  I did not leave my floor until 10:00 PM last night.  I literally stayed on my bed or in the kitchen the entire day. Then I walked three miles because I was getting antsy.

Today I had yoga class and 20 minutes of weights. I would have done a bit more (I enjoy strength training) but had to rush off to the doctor’s.  I finally got referred to an endocrinologist so let’s keep our fingers crossed that my health issues get sorted out soon!

I’m sure you’re all up to speed on the big controversy that hit blogland this morning — there was a libelous article in Marie Claire magazine about “The Big 6” healthy living bloggers (no one uses that term — I’m pretty sure the author made it up).

If you, by chance, have not read the article, read it: The Hunger Diaries.

Here are each of the “Big 6” blogger’s responses:

Kath

Heather (part II here)

Meghann

Caitlin

Tina

Jenna — I have not seen a response from Jenna and, FYI, I do not (and never have) read her blog, so I won’t comment on her blog or her posts.

I know that many people have already responded to the article, primarily in two ways: first, there have been the “Big 6” themselves and their supporters (of whom I definitely count myself as one) and second, there have been those who support the “Big 6” but tenuously, acknowledging that the article raises some legitimate points.  If you want a good synopsis of this perspective, read the post entitled “Please Blog Responsibly” from Hollaback Health.

I would like to respond to the responders; in other words, I am taking a third path. In so doing, I intend to engage with the article in a new way.  I like to think that, given my blog’s unique combination of honest musings on physical and mental health, I am situated to talk about some of the issues raised by the article in a new and, hopefully interesting and relevant way.

I would like, however, to make two points, before beginning:

1. I am not an expert on anything besides my own life. I do what works for me. I eat what works for me, move the way that works for me, and most importantly, take care of my emotional health in a way that works for me.  I am not a dietitian, a doctor (although my parents are!), a psychologist, or any sort of professional.  I am, however, applying to law school!  Note: This has nothing whatsoever to do with my credentials as a healthy living blogger, I just wanted to say it.

2. I think that we can all agree that the article was downright mean, poor journalism (if we can call it that), and should never, ever have been written. It was cruel and wrenched my heart; I can’t imagine how those who were mentioned are feeling.  Not to mention the fact that it was just plain old wrong about 99% of the things mentioned; the degree to which quotes and posts were taken out of context astounds me.

Okay.  Onto my thoughts.

My main problem with both the article and the second group of responders (those who say that the article makes valid points) is that both of them presume some degree of stupidity among readers.  They assume that healthy living bloggers (with the ladies mentioned above being the paradigmatic examples) are some sort of breed of obsessive, blind, health addicts who have an inherent inability to be introspective.

This is wrong and an insult to my intelligence.  Here is the thing about blogging: I can guarantee that no one has ever held a gun to your head and said “you must read this blog or I will kill you”.  I guarantee it.  Yes, there have been moments in my own journey where I thought “wow, she is so much thinner than me and eats less — I must suck”.  But guess what: I got over it.  Real fast. And this is coming from someone who clearly has had a lot of mental health struggles, disordered eating patterns, and severe body image/self-acceptance issues.

If you are unconvinced, you can read about my mental health struggles on my Mental Health page and in this recent post about therapy.

I consider myself a painfully honest blogger.  It is simply the way that my blog has always operated.  If something is happening in my life, you all know about it, usually not too long after my family and my therapist (L).  That is the premise of this blog and it always will be.  With that said, I understand that not every blogger can (or wants to) share as many details as I do.

Let’s say a blogger posts pictures of all of his or her meals from a day, with interesting commentary and recipes, and talks about their morning run, in a post.  Does the fact that this is the contentpresented in the post make me think that that blogger has no issues with eating or body image or perfection?

No no no! Why?  Because I am an intelligent, cultured, educated, powerful young woman who makes her own damn decisions. While I recognize that not every reader is 3/4 of the way through an Ivy League degree and in the process of applying to elite law schools, I also understand that it would be naive and insulting to assume that a majority of bloggers and readers in this community cannot make their own decisions.  We are adults (if a 12 year old girl in the throes of anorexia is reading these blogs, I think that is a different issue; one that I will not get into).  We know our bodies and ourselves and our limits.

Guess what?  On Saturday I had at least five servings of peanut butter pretzels and three or four servings of chocolate covered ginger for dinner.  Followed by some cereal.

Do I hate myself for it or think I am a lesser blogger?  Absolutely not.  I think that Caitlin makes it especially clear on her blog that we each need to do what works for us.  She candidly eats salads for dinner sometimes and entire boxes of macaroni and cheese for dinner at other times.

Whether or not certain bloggers exhibit tendencies of disordered eating or “pseudo-anorexia” is simply not relevant: in a niche of the blogosphere where everyone goes out of their way to celebrate differences in lifestyle (including eating and workout patterns) , it’s time for us to recognize the fact that some women (and men — hey Evan!) need to eat differently than others.  As someone who has struggled with her weight being too high, I can sympathize with bloggers who eat less: it is my genuine belief that many of us need to eat more or less than others.  It is also my genuine belief  that, the vast majority of the time, the “Big 6” bloggers — and others — do not cross into disordered eating territory.  And if they do, I simply don’t read that blogger’s blog.  It’s that simple.  It’s painfully obvious.

Furthermore, the precise intricacies of a blogger’s body weight and menstrual cycle are nobody’s business but the blogger’s, her close friend’s/family’s, and her doctor’s.  If she chooses to share some of this information with readers, that does not give them free license to criticize. I can guarantee that she is doing it for one of two reasons: either to help or inform her readers in some way or to help herself in some way.

I am responding to the article and the responses to it because I believe, with all my heart, that the blogging community I consider myself a part of is about the little guys as much as it is about people like the “Big 6”. It’s about all of us — everyone from the celebrity bloggers to those getting 10 page views a day. Moment of honesty: I typically average 100-200 readers a day.  Not a lot.  By anyone’s standards.  I don’t have any ads.  I make no money through blogging.  I have, a few times, gotten free samples.  Probably totaling less than $20 worth in the last nine months of blogging.

I say all of this to illustrate the following point: blogging is meaningful to me — healthy living blogs are meaningful to me.  They have illustrated to me that I can eat normal, whole foods in normal portions and still eat healthfully — I can even eat dessert, every.  Single.  Day. (And I do).  They have given me the confidence to train for my first half-marathon and a marathon.  More importantly, I have become so much more accepting of my body exactly as it is, since starting to read healthy living blogs (and eventually starting my own).

That said, I recognize that this is not the case for every single reader.  And my response to that is simple: do the adult, mature thing and don’t read blogs that are upsetting or triggering for you.  Like Heather, I do believe that bloggers are responsible for their content, but I also believe that readers need to be more responsible.  I would never to tell you that your diet should consist of celery sticks and plain grilled chicken breasts.  I don’t know any bloggers who would.  BUT even if they did, I expect that it would be your responsibility to recognize that that was disordered and wrongheaded.

There, I said it: I expect educated readers. We are a smart, vibrant group of young people.  We are not stupid.  None of us is.  Those readers who are going through serious eating disorders and are seeking “thinspiration” on the web are going to find it somewhere, regardless of whether or not the “Big 6” blogs exist (or any other healthy living blogs that share daily eats).

I think it is careless to say that the article raised issues that needed to be raised — to say that it was “The Elephant in the Room”, as I have heard some bloggers refer to it. By no means do I think that we are perfect: but that is the entire point of healthy living blogging!  Acknowledging that we are not perfect — that every single one of us will eat differently, wokrout (or not workout) differently, and just generally take care of ourselves in different ways — is central to the healthy living blogosphere. I see bloggers who eat more than me and those who eat less than me.  Run more or run less. Some don’t run at all.  Some are way more in touch with the aspects of their spiritual health, and I really admire that.  

I would argue that non-perfection is the premise of the community, and saying that the article made a valid point by reminding us that we shouldn’t all be perfect and certain bloggers try to influence us to be perfect like them is like saying “(y=(x+10)/0)”.  Okay, so maybe all of us aren’t geeks like me.  If you didn’t know, that is an equation that does not exist.  It is impossible.  You cannot divide anything by zero.

It just doesn’t make sense.

The End.

Obviously, I would be thrilled if you shared your thoughts with me!  Agree or disagree, I don’t care — if you articulate yourself well and aren’t mean about it, I would be happy to listen to you!

Grete’s Great Gallop/Mental Health Update

Today’s Happy Note: The sunshine on my skin in the afternoon.

Mental Health Note: I have been struggling a bit lately, I must admit.  I don’t necessarily feel sadder than usual — in fact, I feel more in control of my depression than I have since, well, before I was depressed (which was long, long ago — like middle school long ago).  It’s the body image stuff.  It’s miserable.  It’s painful.  It makes me want to die, in certain ways. I feel like I’m being taken back to a dark place in my life — say 2-4 years ago — where my body was never good enough.  Every single day was spent hating myself, because of my body.  Everyday.  I thought of so many ways to say “I hate you” that it isn’t even funny.  It wouldn’t even make a bad comedy routine.  It’s too sad.

So this moment finds me facing difficulties with my body and my weight, and, as a consequence, my mental well being.  The most frustrating thing about this anxiety and weight gain and hatred and queasiness — whatever you want to call it — is the fact that I know better than this. I know not to do this.  Not to work myself up into this state.

I guess that admitting how much I am struggling is a good first step.  Better than outright saying “alright, I’m a failure, I’ll just give up and let it all get worse.”

Also, I surprised myself and opened up to USB about it.  That was a big step for me, I think.  A really big step that I’m proud of.  And L, as always, has been there for me.  I think I sent her an email late last night and she responded today, a Saturday, with a long comforting response.  I guess I haven’t talked a lot about therapy/L lately, as things have become more and more private, I guess.  It’s a really beautiful feeling to know that someone is there for you 24/7, no matter what, when, where, why.  She’s there.  And I need her, very much, at this moment in my life.

Grete’s Great Gallop Race Report!

This morning was my third official half-marathon! Unlike my first two (read my recap of the NYC half here), I was not going into this one with the goal of running fast or PRing.  I had two goals:

1. Get into a “race mentality” — early wake-up, race breakfast, getting ready to run fast.

2. Run slightly under Marathon Goal Pace.

That’s it.  Plain and simple.  And I satisfied those two goals, which means that I am happy with the experience.

A few notes:

~I probably should have slept for more than 4.5 hours last night.  USB is such a wonderful, wonderful distraction though…I’ll be sure to get 8-10 hours of sleep before the marathon.

~I went out at a solid 10:00 pace and worked my way down to a 9:00 (overall average pace was 9:36).  This is good.  I would like to replicate this slower-to-faster strategy on marathon day (although probably being a bit slower overall).

~I think GU Shot Blox are my favorite mid-run fuel.  I had to take a clif mojo bar today which wasn’t ideal.  I also need to figure out my ideal method of carrying fuel or water.

~It’s time to get new shoes!

~If I can run a half marathon in 2:05:50 at the end of a 57-mile week, with relative ease, I most definitely can run a marathon, while tapered and well-rested and properly-fueled, under my goal pace of 4:30!

So today was an experiment of sorts.  A happy, succesful experiment.  I’m pleased.

Oh, and USB took me to get a foot massage afterwards.  I can’t really explain what I feel for him.  But just know that it’s a lot.  I feel a lot.

Tell me about your weekends thus far?!?!  Any races? Long runs?  Non-running related exciting happenings?

What do you do when you feel like you’re in a mental health rut — like you’re slipping and you want to be able to get a better hold of things but you don’t know how?

Goodnight friends!

Therapy Thursday

Today’s Happy Note: Owls.  Something about fall just makes me think of owls.  I doubt there are any in NYC.  They are such beautiful, intriguing creatures.  I wish, right now, that I could be in a cool, wet forest, camping out, watching owls fly overhead.  That would be nice.

Sometimes I love New York and sometimes I desperately want to leave.  It’s a strange mecca, really.  I have fallen in love with the city over and over and over again and I am not sure I will ever be able to leave — the sounds and lights and people and neighborhoods.  The buildings.  The way the architecture seems to merge with the humans flawlessly.  But there is a small part of me that is a small-town girl.  Or even a rural girl.  I love meadows, streams, forests, mountains; scrambling over rocks in National Parks, kayaking down long windy rivers, climbing big old willow trees in a huge backyard, rambling endlessly on dirt roads surrounded by corn fields.  And owls, of course! I like all that.  I just want to have that and New York.  And it scares me, because I don’t think that it’s possible.

Are you a country girl?  City girl?  Wilderness girl?  Suburban girl? Or boy.  I might have some male readers, I suppose.

For the first time in a long time today I did nothing, really, exercise-wise.  And it felt damn good. I walked around campus all day, of course, and did about 10 minutes of yoga to stretch out a bit.  I have been really exhausted lately. This tends to happen when I am stressed/making a life transition.  I think it may also be tied to whatever is happening with my body, hormonally or otherwise.  Sick Caronae=Tired Caronae.

I don’t think I was being lazy by not running or working out today.  I genuinely listened to my body, which is harder to do than it sounds.  I love running, but I also think that it tends to make me a little bit out of touch with my body.  I can never figure out my hunger cues when I am running a lot.  So no run today.  I am still running five days a week, with some yoga and strength training thrown in there.  I think that is perfectly acceptable for now. 🙂  NYC Marathon, here I come!

I have a confession: I have a vision of myself breaking up with running, one day.  Not necessarily soon, but it is something I have known will happen for a while now.  Maybe in a few years.  After a few more marathons and ultras. Maybe even sooner than that, or maybe later.  Maybe after I have babies.  Maybe I’ll stop for several years and then come back to it.  I have amazing natural endurance — in fact, I would argue that that is my only real physical talent — but I also have arthritis, sciatica, weak joints, a problem in my sacrum, and frequent generalized muscular/skeletal/nerve pain.  Right now running is working for me, but barely. I love when Heather talks about this because I relate so well.

Anyways.  Just some rambling.

Therapy Thursday

First: do you know how long I have waited to have my appointment with L be on Thursdays just so that I could write “Therapy Thursday”?  I love alliteration.  I am such a geek.

Second: This post is a little bit emotional, a little bit heavy and difficult and painful.  I won’t be afraid if you don’t want to read it.  Sometimes when I am sad, reading about someone else’s sadness only makes it worse — if you’re like that, I highly recommend skipping. 🙂

Last night’s blog post was in the back of my mind for the whole session.  I didn’t talk explicitly about it, but talked about those issues — weight, body image, health, self-hatred, self-esteem, the essence of me. It is sort of strange, but I feel like the whole last year with L (it’s officially been a year, this week) has been leading up to this point, where I feel comfortable sharing the deepest, darkest secrets I have about myself, all of which have to do with the body.  I do have other deep, dark secrets, but I think I have mostly already shared those things with her.  The body is the hardest thing, because it is entirely real.  It is not a ghost or a memory or a scar.  It is not something that happened to me when I was six or an ephemeral feeling.  It is not something that goes unspoken, like love or growth or opening myself up.  It sits right in front of me.  It is me.  Always.

It’s strange, I suppose, because it (the body — my body) is so obvious and cerebral, but also so subtle and hidden and emotional.  There are some moments when I feel like my relationship with my own body is incredibly straightforward — like there are signs plastered across my stomach or words scrawled on my arms.  But most times, I don’t even understand the relationship.  I get confused — I eat when I am not hungry or don’t eat when I am hungry. I tell myself I am lovely and I have dark, reflective, mysterious eyes.  I tell myself that my stomach and hips and thighs are so big that I should take a carving knife to them.  I have not tried this, but it has been a horrible fantasy of mine for many years.

Tonight, for example.  I almost didn’t eat dinner.  I wanted a piece of pizza or a half of a giant burrito, with chicken.  But I didn’t have any of those things.  I had a salad, which ended up being really good, but it wasn’t what I wanted.   It was the lower calorie version of what I wanted.  I almost didn’t eat at all. I did not listen. Or I did listen, but it was to the mean part of me that has “you are fat and horrible and unworthy” on an endless repeat cycle in my head.

I can’t outline exactly how long I have had this struggle.  Let’s say six years.  Six years into this and I still hate myself so much?  I still struggle to eat a meal sometimes.  Or to stop eating sometimes.  Obviously, the intensity of these feelings has been triggered by recent events.  I have never handled stresses well — I feel things so deeply that it hurts every part of my being.  When something is upsetting, every tiny crack in my body will be upset.

Today, with L, was about all of this.  I am not really sure how to characterize her responses, both verbal and non-verbal.  I can definitely say that they were comforting.  She was comforting.  At one point, I felt like she was looking at me like a mother — that shook me, more than anything else.  It made me realize just how much she cares about me, and how much I care about her.  Strange things happen in a psychotherapy relationship.  I wish I could say that I wasn’t too attached, that it was completely clinical.  But that is not the case — I’m long past that point, and there is no turning back, for good or for bad.  She continually reminds me that there is something wonderful and engaging and warm about me that has nothing to do with my body. I just don’t know what that is exactly, yet.

L and I agreed that we don’t know where the hatred comes from, and that I feel better on days when it is not there.  I can’t tell you how many windows and mirrors and bottles I find my reflection in.  More than should be allowed. Sometimes I wish the world could be devoid of these things.  I want to scream at the makers of bus shelters, “don’t you know there are girls walking by who want more than anything not to see themselves; don’t you know that this one moment — this reflection in the glass — is the most horrible moment of their lives, and it happens a thousand times a day; don’t you know?”

Hurt is human.  L reminds me of this, a lot.  It makes me feel less alien.  We all have our demons.  I happen to have more than many people, and  I also think I feel them more.  But everyone has them.  There are so many things we don’t know about the people we walk by on the street, or even the people we work with or have class with.

The agony surrounding my body and my physical self is not helpful: the hours every day I spend hating myself actually do not make me happier. In fact, they suck away my time and my energy.  What a revelation!  L was telling me how, when I finally accept myself exactly as I am, the agony will go away.  And I know she is right.  I think that maybe it might be in the process of going away — this process started a year and a half ago, in February of 2009, when I left school (don’t worry, I came back).  It’s painful.  It’s not like I can just say “okay agony and hatred — be gone, I’m done with you!”  It helps to say that, sometimes (like in yesterday’s post), but it doesn’t necessarily make it true.  I guess I don’t understand why the process can’t be faster.

Sometimes when I write about therapy, afterwards, it sounds like L wasn’t there or involved at all.  That is not the case, ever.  She is very involved — she probably talks at least 30% of the time, which I like.  It’s such a wonderful combination of helping me see things differently, listening, and sharing her own experiences. Sometimes I can’t remember what it is that she said.  Usually I just know that it made sense and made me feel better.  I guess that my own narrative kind of takes up most of the space in my head, which is okay, as long as I’m being honest with myself.  There are, of course, stories that we tell ourselves, which are not always accurate reflections of reality.

For example, I tell myself that I am basically unlovable.  But I know this not to be true.  My friends and family love me, I can feel it and hear it and sense it.  And on another level, romantically, USB is attracted to me.  He wants to be with me. For someone who hardly wants to be with herself most of the time, this is a large does of cognitive dissonance. I like USB so much that it hurts, and I think he likes me back similarly.  So I can’t be completely unlovable, completely horrible.  USB is making me so happy that I cry about it, sometimes.  Slow, big, quiet tears.

I think things have been a bit heavy on the blog lately.  With reason, of course, seeing as this is me and this is how I am feeling — I began the blog on the premise of honesty regarding my mental/emotional and physical health.  I try to keep things real in both areas.  But with that said, I also don’t mean to overwhelm you with all these darker things at once.

I promise a lighter, cheerier post tomorrow!  Involving delicious foods. 🙂

Thanks for staying with me here; this is simultaneously a very exciting and happy and scary and dark moment in my life.

Medical Stuff, Part II, Or “A Slightly Happier Post”

Today’s Happy Note: Perfect fall temperatures!  I’m in love.  The air is warm but also crisp, snappy but gentle.

Marathon Training: We had our first actual “class” of yoga today (I am taking Iyengar Yoga as a P.E. class).  We did not do much at all — it is very, very basic.  We spent the whole hour practicing standing with our feet spread apart and then doing Warrior II, Triangle, and Extended Side Angle.  We finished with some easy bridges.  I wouldn’t call it a workout, but it was a decent stretch that got my hips opening up.  I did about 15 more minutes of stretching and abs afterwards, followed by an easy four mile run.

I didn’t feel awful on the run, but my left hip and hamstring were hurting.  Again.  I really don’t know what to do since it is so inconsistent.  I think that stretching it out a lot helps a bit.  I am praying that it is not present tomorrow for my hill run — running up hills with a hip/hamstring issue is especially hard.  I was supposed to do 6×100 strides at the end of today’s run but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I made a lame attempt at doing two of them before realizing that my body just was not having any sort of speediness.  It was probably the slowest run I have done in a long time; maybe 12-ish minute miles?  The funny thing about this is that I didn’t judge myself for it.  I just acknowledged that I was tired, my body/mind were a little off-kilter, and I was slowly but steadily ambling along.  Just like that, I didn’t care.  I’m proud of myself for that!

In other running-related news: I am ravenous. I am trying really hard to photograph everything because it is VERY useful for me to mentally keep track.  I did well today minus several handfuls (about two servings) of TJs cat cookies, aka animal crackers for grown-ups.

I made an awesome fall feast for dinner!

We have half of a steamed delicata squash smothered in cinnamon, a pile of baked tofu (coated in TJ’s peanut vinaigrette, maple syrup, and ginger) and roasted carrots and okra (coated in EVOO, salt, and pepper).  This is pretty much fall seasonal eating perfection. It was a pretty tasty (and easy!) meal.  Yum.

Medical Stuff, Part II

So.  Yesterday I talked about science and medicine and my body and how the intersections thereof can be a little bit inexplicable.  Read that here. Thank you for all of your kind comments/emails!  It is heartening to know I am not the only person in the world who has these subtle-but-also-overwhelming problems.

Today I kind of want to look at the issue(s) from a psychological/mental health standpoint.

I have always equated being overweight with moral failure.  I never accepted the fact that, for some individuals, there might be other factors at play.  Until it happened to me.

Here I am, 10-15 pounds too heavy.  For me, losing a pound is an uphill battle.  Fought with medieval instruments.  While blindfolded.  And standing on my head.  Okay, you get the picture — it is harder than it should be.  Once my body acquires a pound, that pound is not going to leave without a serious fight. Usually, I just end up psychically wounded and the pound(s) stay(s).

I am so tremendously tired of this.  But here’s the thing: I accept that there are processes happening in my body right now that are beyond my control. Even if there were factors totally within my control (for example, if I were doing serious emotional eating — I’m not, but you get the point), it doesn’t matter: the point is that this emotional battle with my body, at this moment in time, needs to end.

I think that within a few months, possibly after I get things sorted out with endocrinology and gynecology, or after the marathon, my body just might settle back into its natural happy weight on its own (for me this happens to be between 145-155 pounds; I have a medium-sized frame and a fair amount of muscle).

The most important thing for me, in this moment, has nothing to do with science or medicine or numbers of pounds or calories.  It has to do with stopping the judgement and the self-hatred.  Being overweight (ever so slightly) is not a moral failure for me, or for anyone else.  I believe that different people actually have different sizes at which they are healthy.  For me, this size happens to be at the upper end of “normal.”  For some, this might be a bit above “normal.” L was telling me last week how the BMI scale isn’t necessarily considered perfectly accurate or all-encompasing anymore anyways.  I would venture to guess that I am more healthy than a woman who eats mostly processed foods and sits on the couch all day but is at a “normal” weight.  I run ultramarathons, for Christ’s sake.

Kate wrote a lovely post today that really resonated with me, about disordered eating and body-consciousness.  Unfortunately, for many women, these are all-consuming things.  That has certainly been the case for me.  I am not sure I understand why.  Do I think that I will be a more perfect woman if I weigh 145 pounds versus 165 pounds?  Will I become more caring, compassionate, creative, prolific, loving?  I would hazard to guess that the answer is an emphatic “no.”  I am Caronae, no matter what I weigh.  I have an essence beyond my body.  Kate said the following, in describing the hatred, the disordered eating, the obsession that happens to so many women in our society:

“If you don’t understand, it can’t be explained to you.”

So perfect.  So true.  It’s like a club — a club that, sadly, most women are members of.

That was so hard for me to say.  That there is something about me that has nothing to do with my body.  Think about all the things I could be accomplishing if all my physical concerns went away.  I’m going to say it again.

There is something about me, something uniquely Caronae-ish, that has nothing to do with my body, whatever my weight may be. I accept the chaos that is happening inside and outside of me right now.  I accept the stress, the confusing medication regimen, the grueling running schedule, my way of eating, my fucked-up homrones.  I accept all of that.  I accept it because I know that I am something more than that. I might not be exactly sure what this “essence of Caronae” is, but I know, in my heart that it exists.  That she exists.

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