Definitely an E-ticket ride
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
First of all, thank you all for your comments on the last entry. Seriously, putting all that out there was scary to the nth degree, but the support I've gotten because of it made it worth the fear.

Second of all, wow, I sure do know how to dump a major bit of news and then disappear, don't I? I have excuses! Good ones! Which involve school and homework and Disneyland and me being tired from it all. ANYWAY....

So now that I've had my Giant Breakthrough, I am faced with an interesting fork in the road. The way I see it, there are two ways for me to deal with my eating disorders. I can either A) redirect my compulsion and binge behavior into some other area of my life (running, shopping, knitting, drinking, working, etc) so as to still have my usual coping mechanism in place or B) I can learn how to not run away from emotions and situations that make me uncomfortable and develop new coping mechanisms. And I've decided that really, B is my only option if I want to be successful at this whole happy, healthy WLS patient thing.

But really, becoming a compulsive knitter who binged on yarn when she is having a bad day would be much easier than Option B, you know? Option B involves really hard work, a lot of facing truths and changing behaviors and soul searching. And also honesty. And possibly therapy. And definitely a lot of support group time.

(Unfortunately for my husband, it also involves a lot of me talking, talking, talking about this to him. He is very good at the listening thing though, thank god.)

One of my resolutions for 2008 was Be More Brave. This past weekend, I was at Disneyland with a very dear friend, and we went to California Adventure. She loves rides that involve nothing but plummeting to the ground; I absolutely hate them because of a giant fear of falling. But she really wanted to ride the Tower of Terror, so I decided to be brave and ride it with her. It scared the living daylights out of me, with the up and down and big drops and fast rising. I kept my eyes closed and screamed at the top of my lungs through the whole thing, with one hand grabbing my friend's leg and the other hand white knuckling it on a handle. I wasn't able to tell if we were going up or down after awhile, but the screaming helped.

And then we got off and I was fine and it was actually...kind of fun. I might even ride it again the next time we go.

The reason I'm telling you this story is because I realized today that the Tower of Terror is pretty much the perfect example of what I've been going through (and what I'll be going through); it's frightening and exhilirating and makes me cling to people and scream through the ups and downs. So I'm totally going to have to keep up with my Be More Brave resolution if I really want to do the whole Option B thing. Or you know...ride crazy ass rides at Disneyland anymore.

This is my confession
Friday, February 08, 2008
This morning I sat and started to watch the ever so lovely Morgan from on The Mike & Juliet Show. I was looking forward to seeing what M&J had to say this time around after watching them with Mo Pie and Rachel last week. But I only made it halfway through the clip before I had to turn it off and walk away and try stop feeling so shell-shocked because it all hit a little too close to home for me. As I sat there listening to them tell their stories, I realized that my own stories sound remarkably similar. And that in turn led me to realize (finally, at last) that I am just like them; I am one of them.

I don't think I've ever really acknowledged to myself just how fucked up I was. How fucked up I am, still. I've made offhand comments about my disordered eating, sure. But before today, I haven't acknowledged even to myself that this is me. And when things are out of control in my life, this is me too. I have never confessed that the reason I am fat (because yes, I am still fat; like I've said before, I'm a more "average fat" right now but I'm still fat) (and that's okay, because this is comfy, but that's a whole other entry right there) is not because of my mother or kids picking on me or any other outside thing. It's because from the time I was a little girl, something inside drove me to eat without stopping whether I was hungry or not.

Food was never something I saw as sustenance or fuel. It was something I used to comfort myself, to stave off boredom, to beat myself up about all the damn time. I remember eating 4, 5, 6 slices of toast when I would get home from school as a kid, followed by a couple bowls of cereal. I would stop at the ice cream truck every day on the way home from junior high, then have a second snack when I got home. I would rearrange the contents of the freezer to hide the fact that I ate 2 or 3 frozen burritos between the end of the school day and dinner time; it helped that there was a teenage boy in the house too, because the moms assumed he was going through a growth spurt and the disappearing food was because of him. When I got to college, I had people to binge with; we would all eat crap when we were studying. Midnight runs to Del Taco for full meals even though I'd had dinner just a few hours earlier, milkshakes and omelettes after evenings of binge drinking at Hollywood & Vine, burgers and fries while debating politics. It wasn't all socialized binging, of course. My senior year in college, my then-roommate would go home most weekends; I would stay at the apartment by myself and order in vast amounts of Chinese food or make Rice Krisipies treats and eat the entire pan. Food was how I entertained myself through a number of lonely weekends that year.

I've often said I am an "emotional eater", but in reality, I am someone who medicates with food. At the height of my worst depression episode (which was really more of a nervous breakdown), I would eat an entire order of Papa John's cheesesticks and a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream for dinner. When my roommate noticed the plethora of pizza boxes, I started making sure to throw all the trash into the dumpster outside before he got home rather than leaving it for him to find. Eventually he moved out, and then my live-in boyfriend dumped me and I was all alone. Living by myself was both heaven and hell for me. I could make entire batches of cookies or cupcakes and eat them freely, without having to hide them. I remember wolfing down cupcakes in two bites, hovering over the trash can and wishing that I wasn't so averse to throwing up because at least then the food wouldn't end up on my body in yet another roll. I had a friend who would come over for movie nights, a friend who was a crazy ass black belt level athlete and could eat anything without gaining an ounce. We would order those insane P'zones from Pizza Hut, one for each of us, and we would eat the whole thing. And then we'd make alcoholic milkshakes to top off the night. I was miserable every time we did it, but it didn't keep me from doing it again and again and again. I suffered from chronic acid reflux that left me with a weird post-nasal drip and an addiction to Tums, but even knowing that I would wake up in pain in the middle of the night could not stop me from filling my stomach yet again with pepperoni and cheese and ice cream.

When my husband moved in with me, things got a little better but the behaviors never went away. I didn't binge in front of him, but the compulsive overeating kept going. I would obsess over Twinkies to the point where I would send him to the store to get them for me; I am ashamed to say that I used him as my food proxy, hiding at home so I didn't have to worry about a clerk seeing the fat girl buy Twinkies or ice cream or giant hunks of cake. His solo bowling night is Wednesday night, and if I didn't have other plans I was quite often at home eating everything in sight. I've never admitted that to him; I've never admitted that to anyone. Sometimes, if I was having an especially stressful day at work, I would start planning my binge before I even headed home. And other times, when the stress was too much, there'd be a binge in the middle of the day. I remember buying a foot long Subway sandwich meal for lunch (complete with chips and a cookie, of course!), and then stopping at the donut shop next door for a dozen donut holes that I ate before I even left the parking lot. I drove back to work in a sugar coated haze of self-hatred, but it didn't stop me from scarfing down the enormous lunch I'd also bought. And the reason I gained 20 pounds when I broke my wrist wasn't just because I couldn't cook; it was because I got myself through the pain and stress and upheaval with Sno-Balls and Taco Bell on a daily basis despite the fact that both of those things made me hate myself a little more every day. The crazy thing was that the only way to shut up the self-hatred and anger was to eat more food, until the coma-like crash that inevitably happened at the end of a binge.

I have a million more stories about this, stories and images that have been running through my head ever since I started watching that video clip. This isn't me trying to make anyone feel sorry for me; there's a part of me that worries that I will come off as jumping on someone else's train with this entry. But this is simply the truth of how I lived my life, truth that I haven't confessed even to myself before today, and I need to get it out of my head before I explode. Remembering all of these stories is leaving me more than a little horrified at what I put my body through. It makes me nauseous to think about it all now, to actually finally confront it head on and admit that yeah, that's me. I'm yet another person who has been struggling with an eating disorder for most of her life. Admitting that to myself has opened my eyes to another simple fact: whether I meant to or not, I chose to have gastric bypass surgery to treat my eating disorder. (Wow, that sounds a lot more fucked up on paper than it does in my head.) I wanted to lose weight, but I could not do it without a physical reason for binge eating to stop being feasible for me. Every time I dieted, I would eventually turn back to my old behaviors, the constant eating, the stuffing myself to the point of illness, the ongoing anger and guilt and shame over how much food I was filling myself with. But it wasn't until today that I even recognized the behaviors for what they are; apparently, I needed that physical disconnect in order to even begin to work on the mental side.

As I have said to people in the past, I've always known what to eat and if I could have afforded to hire a Marine drill seargant to follow me around and smack food out of my hand I would have done that. But I couldn't afford that, so I had an internal Marine installed. I physically cannot binge to the levels that I used to, at least not right now. I am made physically ill by my trigger foods and I no longer have the stomach capacity for a P'zone or a dozen donuts. And those two things are helping me break a vicious, ugly cycle that I was in for my entire life. The scary thing is, I am at the point where snacking is entirely possible. The compulsive overeating is already starting to rear its head again, and that scares the ever-loving shit out of me despite the fact that I am now able to recognize it and step away from the behavior before it gets out of control. On the good side, I now realize where the shame and guilt and frustration I feel towards myself if I eat too many carbs or dare to have some sugar come from. In my mind, too many carbs is a binge and is punishable. I still have to talk myself out of giving in and eating things that I know for a fact are going to make me sick; those conversations with myself really suck. And they are all coming from the compulsive eating/binge eating side of my life.

One thing is for sure though: today's realizations have shifted my focus off the weight loss and back onto straightening my shit out. And I'll tell you what, I am thankful every day that I have my Celexa and my support group leader (who is both a behavioral therapist AND a WLS patient, so she *gets it*) to get me through this, because I think that the journey I started back in July is about to get a lot harder for me.

Six months down, 600 to go
Sunday, February 03, 2008
I've been remiss in updating this blog with my six month stats. Heck, as I write this I'm much closer to seven months out than 6 months, and it's been three weeks since I saw my surgeon's office for the official check up. Ah well. That's how my life goes these days.

So here's the stats as of January 9th:

In six months, I lost 72 pounds (89 from my highest weight). I lost 39 inches (and 12 of those were from my waist). I went from a size 24/26 to a size 16/18 (and am now able to buy XL shirts from the misses department). My cholesterol went from 220ish to 180 (HDL is around 65, as are my triglycerides; LDL is around 100). And my blood pressure is just fine and dandy.

In other words, things are working pretty damn well.

I've been kind of slack on the whole picture/measurement taking thing lately; I never did measure myself in January so those numbers are actually from late December. I seem to have gotten to a point where it's just not as much of an obsession for me. I'm not losing as fast as I did at the beginning (but really, if I'd kept losing 15 pounds a month, I would have freaked out) but I still haven't had a stall; I'm a slow and steady loser which is just fine with me.

When I saw my nutritionist on the 9th to talk about my six month bloodwork, she said everything looks good except my B12, which was in the normal range but below 400. So instead of 2000mg a week, she wants me to do 1000mg a day for the time being and get retested later this month. I'm not surprised though; my B12 was low enough for my PCP to be concerned before I had the surgery, so whatever, I take B12 every day now.

Speaking of my PCP, I know I have raved before about how much I love her and how freaking awesome she is but I have to gush a little more. I saw her for my yearly check up this month too (woo, doctor's appointments everywhere!) and she sat and talked to me about everything, asking about food sensitivities, checking on my vitamin regimen and my exercise habits. And then she looked at me and said "So, how are you doing emotionally?"

"I'm a little on edge," I replied with a sigh. "I'm pretty emotionally raw, and really irritable and...yeah."

Because here's the thing. I am a woman with a history of depression and anxiety that started manifesting when I went through puberty and landed me in a series of therapists' offices throughout my early to mid-20's, along with a 2 year stint on EffexorXR. My mother got hit when she went through menopause. So basically, I am someone with screwed up brain chemicals with a genetic predisposition towards them being screwed up even more by hormones. The one thing I know about depression is that it's not something that gets cured and never comes back; the potential for it is always there for me, so I'm hyperaware of my mental state at all times, always on the lookout for a relapse. And I've been plenty aware that I've been less emotionally stable lately; I've been quick to anger, unfocused and sad and tired and anxious. Needless to say, I'm pretty sure that the fantastic flood of hormones from the rapid weight loss has been exactly the kind of trigger I could have done without.

So the good doctor and I talked about it, and while I'm not in the nervous breakdown stage that led to the EffexorXR, we decided a little something might help me out right now. And now I'm taking a teeny tiny pill, smaller even than my old birth control pills were; it's just 10mg of Celexa for the time being but it's working. And oh, it's been nice not having a simmering rage inside at all times. And it's even nicer not cycling from rage to sadness to giddiness to exhaustion within a span of 10 minutes.

To sum up:
Am crazy, but have crazy pills to control that.
Am low on B12 but have pills to control THAT.
Am shrinking but have pants to cover that.
Am successful WLS patient and am quite content with that.