Therapy Tuesday

Today’s Happy Note: I have discovered that I can safely eat dark chocolate. ¬†My life is so much better now. ūüôā

Some thoughts:

  1. I have purchased an LSAT study guide. ¬†I am officially going to apply to law school in the fall. ¬†This is very scary. If I am in law school — no, if I am even applying to law school — I must be an adult. ¬†A real live adult. ¬†Weird.
  2. I miss running. ¬†I’m going to have to do some yoga or else I will go crazy.
  3. Books are good.  Books are my friend.  Books never let me down.  Sometimes people let me down.
  4. My parents are the best parents in the world.  Trust me.  My mama calls me Bunny Rabbit and my papa calls em Cupcake.
  5. Summer and I are not friends. ¬†As I was explaining to a real friend the other day, summer just makes me wilt. ¬†I honestly get exhausted, tired, cranky, overheated…I hate it after about five minutes. ¬†I hate walking the ten minute walk to work and arriving with my face covered in sweat. ¬†I should not have to be mopping my brow at 9 in the morning. ¬†This is why my family lives in Canada and Michigan (although summers there are rather hot as well). ¬†I am moving to Norway. ¬†And becoming a reindeer herder. ¬†When I grow up.
  6. I need to bake.  ASAP.
  7. I am graduating from college in less than a year. ¬†I still feel like a baby. ¬†I’m pretty sure most of my relatives think I’m about five.
  8. I have eaten non-bread foods today! ¬†Not much, just a bit here and there: frozen berries, frozen coconut bar, a bit of oatmeal, a few peanuts. ¬†Just to break up the monotony a bit and get some energy into my system. ¬†I am craving veggies, meat, and healthy fats like nobody’s business.
  9. The first meal I make after this wretched infection is gone might have to be Averie’s rice paper wraps with tofu, avocado, zucchini, and peanut sauce.
  10. Yes I am planning ahead for what I will eat when I’m all better. ¬†Also on the list:¬†Mediterranean¬†pasta salad, spaghetti with meatballs, hummus and cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, fish, shrimp salad. ¬†Greens with EVOO. Real food. ¬†And lots and lots of protein.

Therapy Tuesday (lots of thoughts today — bear with me friends!)

This was my first session — and pretty much my first significant interaction with another person — since my illness/hospital visit. ¬†I started by telling L all about that. ¬†She was very responsive and sweet and acknowledged my thoughts and fears. ¬†I wanted to talk more about the experience but I couldn’t really get beyond “I was scared.” ¬† I did talk about how loving and helpful and supportive my mom and dad were. ¬†That was really important to me these past few days. ¬†I didn’t realize this at the time, but I didn’t want today to turn into a look at my relationship with my parents. ¬†What I wanted — and needed — was a very gentle session in which L just sort of metaphorically held my hand. ¬†All weekend, that’s what I wanted: for someone to hold my hand. ¬†That was what I needed today and, unfortunately, I didn’t consciously realize that. ¬†L was by no means mean, but today was absolutely a tough session. ¬†Once I broke down I never really resurfaced.

One thing I did enjoy about today was that L focused on our relationship sometimes — the “here and now” or “in-between” of psychotherapy. ¬†It was refreshing and a bit fun to think about how she was making me feel in the moment or how we were perceiving one another. ¬†Mostly, I felt a lot of confusion-frustration towards L. ¬†Which I told her about. ¬†I felt like this because it seemed like we just kept miscommunicating. ¬†I often feel like she is criticizing people I tell her about (for example, my family members). ¬†But when I told her this, she made it clear that she is just trying to figure out the situation — not to judge anybody, especially people she doesn’t know,

Specifically, we talked today a lot about how people in my family deal with emotions. ¬†This was interesting, if not frustrating. ¬†My mother is emotional and compassionate to a degree that affects her personal and professional life. ¬†My father has always been much more objective and rational, but he has always kept his emotions locked inside; he isn’t really managing his feelings either. ¬†We talked about my impressions of these examples and how they affect me. ¬†For some reason it made me really angry when she brought this up. ¬†After a while I figured out why: I don’t care. ¬†Or at least in the moment I don’t care. ¬†I told L this and told her that it upsets me to not care. ¬†But for some reason in her presence I just get frustrated when we talk about serious things and I respond by not caring. When I told her about my not caring issue she said (albeit gently) something along the lines of, “well, we have to figure out why.” ¬†This further frustrated me: when she says this kind of thing, it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. ¬†Like I’m no good at therapy. ¬†Like I’m not getting better. ¬†I have really struggled a lot with feeling like I’m not “improved” lately. ¬†I know I mentioned a few weeks ago that maybe it isn’t about consciously improving, maybe it’s just about relating to L, sharing my experiences, telling my stories and seeing how things fit together. ¬†I honestly don’t know.

We spent a lot more time talking about how I feel “stuck” and “not ready.” ¬†I’m not sure where this phrase came from, but it caught on pretty quickly: I feel like I’m not ready. ¬†For new friendships, meeting men, getting out more, being member of the “real world.” ¬†I guess I feel more ready than I did nine months ago. ¬†But when I get upset during therapy, in the moment, I panic. I panic so hard and I only just realized this. ¬†My ¬†biggest issue with feeling unready — besides the panic — is that I feel like being stuck makes me destined to live in misery until we fix things, which might not happen for years. ¬†Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of misery already.

Mostly, I just want this feeling of stasis to go away. ¬†First of all, I know it’s not true. ¬†Secondly, it’s really damaging and hurtful to me. ¬†I pointed this out to L and she reminded me that she isn’t hurting me: this is a story I’m telling myself. Speaking of stories I tell myself:

I also spent time today talking about how much I miss the very intimate, powerful friendship I had with my writer-friends. ¬†It was a set of very rare relationships and circumstances that I feel like will never happen again. ¬†Why do I feel this way? ¬†Because good things don’t happen to me. ¬†I don’t have friendships like that. ¬†People don’t love me that way. ¬†At least, this is what I tell myself. ¬†I have loved my three years of college tremendously and I have many dear friends, but haven’t experienced that same wonderful relationship. ¬†Yet. ¬†L politely pointed out that I do not have a crystal ball. ¬†I will have friendships like this again in the future. ¬†This is another story I tell myself. ¬†It is simply not true.

Why am I so negative?  How can I try so hard to believe in myself but still feel like such a failure?

At the end of today L asked me how I was feeling and I just told her “frustrated.” ¬†Terribly, terribly frustrated. ¬†I am not sure why, but she asked me where — physically — I was feeling this. ¬†It was totally in my hands. ¬†They were tense, anxious, zipping around. ¬†I was trying desperately to show her my frustration in the way I moved my hands. ¬†I meant to ask her why she asked me this but I didn’t. ¬†I think the way we physically feel things is important, but at that point, this didn’t feel the most relevant.

So today was strange. ¬†Very strange indeed. ¬†There were good moments and bad moments. ¬†A lot of frustration. ¬†Not a failure of a session by any means; but confusing. ¬†L simultaneously tells me that I am different now, that I deal with things differently, I cope better. ¬†But also that we need to “fix things” or “improve.” ¬†She doesn’t explicitly say this but that is the sense I get and the sense means everything. ¬†So there is a sort of double message, which I hate. ¬† I hate hate hate feeling like this.

There are, however, good things I took away today as well: it is nice to have someone who unconditionally loves you. ¬†Of course my family members do, but things are different with L. ¬†Looking at our relationship has been enlightening and enjoyable. ¬†It is imperfect, but I also deeply adore her. ¬†It is natural for people to become attached to their therapists (sometimes people fall in love with them; it’s called transference). ¬†I try to be wary of this and to see L as a normal person. ¬†Ultimately, I think she simply cares deeply about me and wants to help me help myself in any way I can. ¬†In the end, I know this and have faith in this, so even frustrating sessions like today don’t destroy me.

Sorry for the monster post! ¬†Sometimes I just have so much in my head ¬†and if I don’t get it out it becomes tremendously stressful!


Food and Feelings

I’ve been feeling really lazy in terms of exercise this week. ¬†Lots of walking and a little bit of yoga; maybe I’ll do a little shredding after this post. ¬†I do plan on getting out for a nice long-ish run early tomorrow morning. ¬†I think it’s fine to be resting a lot after an intense training cycle and race, I suppose. ¬†I feel like I need some exercise-adventure in my life. ¬†Just something new and exciting, like surfing or rock climbing or mountain hiking or coral reef snorkeling. ¬†Unfortunately, those things aren’t really options right now. ¬†Anyone have any ideas for fun but still intense exercise options in NYC?

They were planting flowers all over campus today! ¬†Mostly pansies and daffodils, but the colors were quite lovely — lots of periwinkle and lavendar shades. ¬†This kind of thing makes me super happy.

Okay, no pictures today because I was pretty lazy, but also because I felt like I wasn’t eating healthfully enough or was eating too much. ¬†A lot of times I feel negatively towards my relationship with food regardless of what fuel I use, but today I really did feel like I wasn’t giving my body what it needed. ¬†I’m going to take pictures of everything for (at least) the next two weeks so I have a visual record at the end of each week. ¬†I’ll only post highlights though so as not to bore you ūüôā

Food, Love, Emotion:

I’ll be honest with you guys (and myself): in the past few weeks, I have been struggling with managing my emotions without turning to food. ¬†Because of my activity level, this typically isn’t a major problem: if I have eaten several hundred extra calories, I’ll probably just burn them off on my next twelve miler. ¬†But this isn’t the issue. The issue is that sometimes I eat when I am already full and sometimes I eat when I am feeling intense emotions, instead of turning to healthier outlets. ¬†With that said, I am proud that I have been surviving (and even beginning to thrive) despite my mental illness. ¬†It is not always easy to function through serious depression, but I have taken ownership over my disease in so many ways. ¬†I see a therapist, I have lots of hobbies and passions that I can turn to, I have supportive friends and family members. ¬†I acknowledge these triumphs and take pride in my improvements and newfound ability to love myself. ¬†I think, however, that this might be the point at which I’m finally ready to begin moving away from using food as an emotional assistant.

These are the things that food can do for me:  fuel me through long days and workouts, help my brain and heart and organs to do their jobs, help me connect with those around me through social situations, and serve as a source of pleasure through cooking/experimenting/eating.  These are the things food can do for me.  Notice what I did not include in the list: food cannot solve my problems and it cannot be a friend.

For me, I think it is helpful to sketch out the reasons, emotions, and situations that cause me to turn to food:

1. Frustration: earlier tonight my computer was alternately not working or running really really slow (like Stone Age slow).  I reocgnized intellectually how frustrated and helpless this made me feel.  And then I proceeded to eat chocolate and granola.

2. Anxiety: when I feel tense or confused, food often seems like an easy remedy; it helps me ignore the situation rather than actually dealing with it.

3. Loneliness: this is the big one.  I have friends, acquaintances, family members, coworkers, peers, teachers, mentors.  I have a huge human support network who I can turn to when I feel sad or scared.  Learning how to do this will be integral, I think.

So this is where I am, emotionally, at this point. ¬†I am a smart, educated woman. ¬†I have begun the process of growing self-esteem over the last year, and I believe that this knowledge can translate to improved self-awareness regarding my eating patterns. ¬†I think I’ll probably talk about these issues more in upcoming posts. ¬†I apologize if that’s really not what you want to hear, but I think it’s something I need for my personal development.

Do you struggle with confusing food and feeling?  Do you have ideas or tips or thoughts about it?

See you tomorrow!