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!
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Therapy Tuesday

Today’s Happy Note: Despite my long, stressful day I was able to consciously take some time for myself.  I got up early to do a little workout and ate a quick dinner when I got home at nine so I could read/blog/read blogs. These few small moments have made a big difference in my anxiety level (compared to the middle of the day).

So. I ended up at four different doctors today.  Four.  That’s more doctor’s appointments than I would like in a year. Yuck.  I had two in the morning, then therapy, then went to my office for a whopping half hour, scarfed lunch, then headed to see my doctor for lab stuff, then went to another doctor/radiology for more labs, then rushed to my other job.  So, long day.  Not a bad day, just exhausting, physically and emotionally.

The first doctor I saw (reproductive endocrinology) was The.  Biggest.  Bitch. Ever.  She treated me like I was a complete idiot who knew nothing about my condition or my body, was shockingly rude, and did a hurried and poor physical exam.  She tossed all my questions about fertility aside.  I’m not really one to complain about these things, but my hormones are one of the major components of my health affected by the PE and I just don’t want them to be screwed up.  I have PCOS, I cannot now (or ever again) take birth control or any other hormones, and I have concerns about how this will affect my ability to make babies in the future.  I think that’s valid.  She told me that concern was irrelevant, and didn’t hardly even explain why.  She then spent the rest of the visit screaming at me to lose weight, which I had told her at the very beginning I was trying to do.  She seemed to have little concern for my psychologically precarious position regarding weight and body image.

The other doctors were wonderful and understanding though.  I still need to have a lot more tests done to determine the cause of the PE.

Meh.  Not documenting all the eats today because I need to write about therapy.  But I kept track and didn’t do any unnecessary snacking.

I know I have some new readers out there!  In case any of you are wondering what Therapy Tuesday is: I go to therapy with my lovely (although sometimes we clash) psychologist L.  It has been a very important experience to me.  I know that people often don’t “get” therapy or just don’t know what it’s about.  For me, it has meant several things: I have someone who consistently cares about me, listens to me, and thinks about me; I have someone to relate to, vent to, or cry to, every week, rain or shine; I have someone who helps me understand  how the different pieces of my life fit together; I have someone who wants me to live a happy and satisfying life and will do anything to help me get there.

I usually write about both the content and the process of each session.  I don’t always share it all on the blog, for obvious reasons, although I am pretty open about it, so please feel free to ask me questions about my experience or what therapy is like.  I think it’s really important to record my feelings and thoughts from the session and from after the session.

Therapy Tuesday

The overarching theme of today was dealing with stress in healthy ways (although that is a slight oversimplification).  I have had a lot of stressors lately: being so ill, family issues, anxiety/panic about work, confusion about the future/law school, and just generally feeling a bit run down by my busy summer (not to mention the stressful doctor’s appointments I had just come from). I told L about all these things.  We had a nice back and forth thing going today.  I love that she actually talks to me and doesn’t just sit there like a piece of wood.  So I would talk a little bit about a stressor and then we would look more closely at what it felt like, what it reminded me of, how I might respond.  I felt like our conversation, particularly her responses, was very direct today (which is nice), but also very intimate/emotional.  I didn’t cry at all.  That hasn’t happened in a long time.

We also talked about how I connect with the people I love in my life.  How I reach out to them and how I perceive them and how they might perceive me.  It’s sort of funny; we tend to think that we are always doing everything “right” in a relationship, but it is so easy to overlook the intricacies of the other person’s feelings, thoughts, and concerns.  I think it’s important to really think about how our actions affect those around us, and how we might be more compassionate (always).  I am not so good at this yet, it’s just a seedling of a thought in my head right now. Friends and family are truly lifelines.

It sort of felt like we kept reaching dead ends today – we would talk about one thing and look at my feelings or concerns and then have trouble connecting that to something else.  But I don’t know that that was really the case.  Instead, I would say that we simply leafed through a lot of different “pages.”  It wasn’t necessarily disconnected, and I wasn’t uncomfortable.  Feeling physically comfortable in the moment of discussion is very important.  I have gotten better and better at this – there were times in the past where I would just sort of sit in the far corner of the couch, away from L, and not look at her, and just sort of be in my own little world.  It sounds a bit hokey, but I feel like our little physical worlds are connecting more and more, and I think that this means our emotional worlds are moving closer and closer together as well.

One other thing we talked about was yoga.  I was telling L about my newfound discovery that soothing myself or talking myself down or doing nice things for me is “allowed.” She pointed out that it’s okay for me to feel all those stresses mentioned above (they aren’t just going to disappear!), but I can learn to just be with them and not have them take over my life.  In order to do this, it is helpful to be kind to myself.  At some point she sort of randomly asked me if I do yoga.  Looking back, it wasn’t so random, since we were talking about being kind to myself and learning how to manage my feelings, and I feel like those things are absolutely tied to yoga.  I told her yes and we had a whole wonderful conversation about that: what it means to me, why I like it, what sort I like to do, when, how often, what the class is like, what the spiritual and emotional components are like.  Her curiosity made me curious and I asked her if she does yoga.  She said that she does.  We talked some more about each of our practice.  It was really nice to connect with over this.  It just felt soothing, or right, or comfortable.  And the truth is that yoga has helped both my mind and my heart grow so much in the last year or two.