Not so social media.

Dear Journal, 

I did an experiment recently as I was facing a lot of darkness in my life.  I discontinued my use of all things social media for a little over a month.  No Facebook.  No Instagram.  No Twitter.  I only allowed myself to use our organization’s “company media” platform we network with each other on, and I was still on email.  This is part of the reason I’ve been silent on my blog, too. When I write on here, I’m always tempted to have Facebook up in the background for some reason! But, now I feel as though it is time to talk about my experience. Let me tell you this was no easy feat, but it was exactly what I needed.

May was certainly not my month.  If we are really being real, 2018 is not my year. I was worn out, depressed, and anxious even more than normal.  I was facing uncertainty about my evaluation for bariatric surgery, and I was awaiting a different appointment to see if any of my hormone levels improved.  This is a double edged problem, in a sense.  At my current health situation — diabetic, hypothyroid, PCOS, clinically obese — I most likely would not be able to become pregnant or if I could get pregnant, having a viable pregnancy would be unlikely.  That has been so hard for me to accept.  My doctor is fairly certain that about a year ago I had a very early term miscarriage based on some reactions from my body.  I can’t get that off my mind, and wonder if that truly was the case.  I’m getting older (OK, I’m only going to be 27 in a couple weeks, but that is pushing 30!), and the more time that goes by the more defeated I feel about having a family.  My husband, bless his heart, is patient and thinks that when the time is right and if it is meant to be, we’ll be able to have kids some day.  So this leads me to my social media experience.

My summary of my Facebook feed: Everyone is having babies.  Everyone is losing weight.  Everyone seems happy.  Everyone is head over heels for their significant other.  Now, I am very happy for my friends and acquaintances, but as I scrolled, it was not helping my mental state at all.  Essentially it looked like everyone was winning at life and I was losing.  I know that it’s easy to LOOK happy on social media, hell, if you looked at my Facebook page, you’d probably think I was super happy, stable, and enjoying life.  But, even so, I realized that I was living in the world of social media, dwelling on what others had that I might never have, as my husband and I got in yet another fight when I was feeling too fat to go to a BBQ.  I needed to stop.

The first few days of my absence of a social media presence was SO hard.  I realized just how many times I was reaching for my phone to just scroll through other people’s lives and how often I was ignoring what was right in front of me.  It was habitual. The more time that went by the more clear my mind got.  I was reading more, writing more, and even talking to my husband more.  I stopped comparing my life to everyone around me.  I stopped wondering if what I was doing or not doing was “right” based on the people around me.  It was an incredible feeling.

A few days ago I opened up my Facebook page and Instagram page again. I’m happy to be back, but I have a new respect for these things.  I no longer feel the need to spend hours a day on these platforms just in case I might miss some big news.  I cut down my online social circle, and I’m actually happy being on social media again.  If I find myself going down the path of borderline social media addiction again, I’ll put a stop on it.  I encourage you to look at just how much you are hiding behind a social media persona, and to redefine your presence online.  It might just clear your mind!

-s

“Weight Wounds.”

Dear Journal,

on this day

The ‘On this Day’ memory feature on Facebook always elicits a plethora of feelings whenever I open it.  I’ve had Facebook since about 2007 so I am always faced with over ten years of memories and ten years of people who were part of my life at various points.  As I scroll, some things make me so happy to remember, some things sad, and some things make me cringe! Apparently, back in the day, I also used to partake in some ‘vaugebooking’, but even ten years later I can often remember what a certain quote was about. (Spoiler: probably boy troubles in my younger years. 😉 )

Today a particular post struck me.  I posted it in the morning before school.  The year 2009 — only a few weeks before my high school graduation.  In the morning I posted, “Another day of not feeling like enough.  My jeans are getting too tight again.  My mom said my face is getting rounder. Why is my weight ALWAYS such an issue? Here we go … starve mode … have to look good for graduation!”   The sad thing?  I had nothing to worry about with my weight then.  I was healthy.  I was strong.  I was most definitely not overweight.  This was just the beginning of what would eventually become a lifetime struggle with my weight.  About a year later I would be diagnosed with PCOS and the issues would only keep on coming from then on.

I’m so mad at myself for living in a state of “weight panic” most of my high school years.  Every single day I obsessed about how “fat” I was getting. I tried every fad diet, every fasting technique, and more to try to control my weight.  But, in reality, I know that this only made things worse.  Those tactics probably messed up my metabolism for years to come.  I remember a specific diet that consisted of just eating tuna, broccoli, and grapefruit.  So…much…tuna.  I still can’t look at the stuff to this day.

Additionally, as I consider the comment about my mom saying my face was getting rounder, I’m annoyed.  I love my mother dearly and she’s done so much for me, but I’m not sure she realized how much I struggled with my weight concerns, and she only exemplified them.  My mom is tiny and has never had to pay attention to what she eats and she never gains a pound.  She just doesn’t understand the struggles.  Please, please refrain from pointing out things like weight gain especially when you are talking to impressionable young women. Those comments she always quipped had a lasting impression.  So much so that even nearly 27 year old me always waits for a weight comment from her even though, at this point, I think I’ve gained too much weight and I think she thinks I’m already lost.  (She does still say things like, “That shirt really looks good with your body type.” Usually an over-sized comfort shirt.  Hey, thanks, mom.)  But, that’s so minor now it hardly matters.

I urge you to encourage the young females in your life to nourish their growing bodies and eat healthy.  They are more than what the scale says and they should be happy with who they are. (I KNOW that is harder said than done.  Self acceptance can be hard.) Even if you notice they are adding on a few extra pounds, don’t point it out … maybe sit down and cook a healthy meal together or go for a refreshing walk.  Teach your kids (and the kids around you) how to take care of their bodies and teach them how to love who they are.  Also, refrain from expressing your own negative thoughts about your body in front of them.  I used to occasionally express my displeasure in my body in front of my friend’s seven year old.  She looked at me one day and said, “don’t say that!” That had an impression on me.  Even if in my mind I’m completely disgusted with myself I refrain from that kind of talk in front of her.

If you’re unhappy with who you are, put the steps in place to make a change….a small one or maybe a big one like weight loss surgery.  You deserve to be the best you! I’m glad I saw this post today because I remember how deep my “weight wounds” go.  I am looking forward to my bariatric surgery consult in a couple weeks, but for now, I need to live my life and be happy with who I am.

How do you embrace you you are…faults and all?  How do you present yourself in front of the young people who are watching you?  Feel free to share!

-s

Fat clothes.

Dear Journal, 

It was something actually didn’t think would make a difference to me, but it did.  I wallowed all day so far in self pity because of it.  Today, I bought clothes second-hand from someone obesitywho for most of my life I referenced as fat.  (Now, I know that in today’s world of body positivity that’s a taboo word to use.  But, I’m not talking about calling her fat to her face; it is the voice in my head that recognizes different hair colors, eye colors, and other descriptors.  Let’s face it, we know when someone is a little fluffy.  Would I treat someone different because of that? No.  So you get my point)  Now, I was able to buy these clothes from her because since January she’s lost fifty pounds.  THAT is amazing.  I am so proud of her.  But, for me it put things into perspective a bit.  That person, who for much of my adult life I regarded as fat, was now much smaller than me, and her “fat clothes” were the perfect size for me.

It caused me to reflect on how I got here.  I’m good at playing the victim to my health, and even doctors tell me I have the cards stacked against me.  I’ve been told that even if I ran a marathon a day and ate perfectly balanced meals I still would have a hard time losing weight.  I have a wonderful combination of PCOS, endometriosis, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and an enzyme issue in my stomach.  All of these things led to depression and anxiety.  I’m in the process of working with an amazing team of doctors at Mayo Clinic – Rochester to decide if maybe I have gotten some incorrect diagnosis in the past that got me to this point.  We are looking into autoimmune issues and more.  I finally feel like I am in the best of care to get down to the bottom of whatever I have going on and gain back the remaining years of my 20s and better health for my future.  But, I have a “food problem” and with all this said, I am not innocent in my decline in health and addition of weight.  I love potato chips, and I love chocolate chip cookies. I occasionally binge on them when I’m stressed, having a really bad round with depression, or just because they taste good.

With all that said, I know I need to start making better decisions and I need to be realistic about my problems.  I can’t play the victim. I need to get over my “victim of by body” mindset especially as I look upon having gastric bypass.  My consult for that is coming up at the end of May, and to say I am nervous is an understatement. I also just can’t believe that this is where I am.  I never thought that I would be a candidate for a surgery like this and sitting here weighing out the pros and cons of a life changing surgery like this.  In my mind I go back and forth, back and forth.  It’s such a tough decision to make whether to proceed or not, but I can’t help but thinking it is a good choice to make.  I’ve failed on dozens of normal diets, worked my butt off, and spent thousands on “health trends”. When nothing changes after all of that, and you keep losing and gaining the same ten pounds, it’s easy to feel defeated.  Here’s to hoping this could be a positive change after some tears and pain.

Has anyone overcome binge eating tendencies?  Has anyone personally weighed out the pros and cons of weight loss surgery?  Share your thoughts below. 

-S

 

 

 

Stages. By: Social Anxiety

I’d like to take you on a journey — the stages of a social event, brought to you by social anxiety. 

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Dear Journal, 

In my last post, I mentioned how I hate social situations.  The more weight I gained the worse my social anxiety became. My husband has a hard time understanding my struggle with this and sometimes my friends do as well.  So, I’d like to take you on a journey — the stages of a social event, brought to you by social anxiety.

Stage #1 – Sunday – The invite: My husband gets a phone call from his friend, Josh*. Josh would like us to come over to his house Saturday night for dinner and a small gathering to introduce his new girlfriend to all of his friends. (‘Wow, she must not have social anxiety,’ I think.)  It is a week away, I like to be invited, and I think ‘I can do this and I will enjoy it.’ Before I “got bad” as I say, I liked Josh and considered him one of my good friends, too.  In fact I miss him, it will be nice to see him, I think.

Stage #2 – Tuesday – The “I can do this” thinking:  I can do this, I can go.  I have a positive attitude about it at this point.  I’m looking forward to going.  I look through my closet at things I could probably wear, and I tell my husband I’m going to go and smile.  I’m actually maybe a little excited.

Stage #3 – Thursday – The “I probably can’t do this” thinking: What…. was… I…. thinking?  Why did I commit to this?  How mad will my husband be when I tell him I might not be able to do this?  No, I can do this, I think one more time. I’m back looking in my closet.  I pull out some outfits.  But, then the original reason for my anxiety starts creeping in: how dang fat I’ve gotten. I’m too fat to be in public, I think.  No, it is what it is.  I’m still fat no matter if I go or not, and I don’t care what people think.  This process continues on for much of the evening, until I go to bed. I still lay in bed and think about it.

Stage #4 – Friday – The complete meltdown: I think about Josh’s event all day at work.  I have a hard time even focusing on work.  I get home.  I tell my husband I can’t do it through tears.  He will once again need to go to a social event on his own.  Here, people will ask where I am.  He will make up yet another excuse as to why I am there, and people will think we are having relationship problems.  Ah, shoot.  Well now people are going to talk about me either way — I’m either fat or a bad wife (cue paranoia, my other old friend).  Ok, I’m going to make one last attempt at going.  I pick out an outfit.  I’m look at myself.  I go through my usual “f-ck PCOS, f-ck depression, f-ck fat, f-anxiety” skit as I look at myself in the mirror.  I then check my clinic account to see if my appointment for gastric bypass consultation has been moved up.  Cue more anxiety about that. But, I find an outfit.  I go to bed.  I can do this.  I get up five times because I have diarrhea from the stress of it.

Stage #5: Saturday (Event Day) – The Ol’ Change-up: It’s 2:00 PM, I’ve been thinking of this all day, but the nausea starts to set it thinking about going.  My husband asked me at 10 AM if I was still planning to go.  I said I was, and he let Josh know. (Josh asked again this morning because I have a history of bailing out on these sorts of things.) I think deep down my husband knows I won’t be able to do it, but he riddles me any way.  He tells me we need to leave by 5 PM.  I proceed to shower and cry the whole time ramping myself up for this.  I sit on the bed with my towel for the next hour.  My husband comes in to ask if I’m ok.  Yup, I am, I say.  I go into my vanity and attempt to put on makeup.  My eyes are too puffy and watery to really do this successfully.  I’m downright pissed at myself at this moment.  No 26 year old should feel this way about going to a dinner and gathering with a few people, mostly people I know.  But, I do.

I walk out into the living room where my husband is with my hair half done and my makeup half done and say ‘I can’t go.” He says, “figures”.  I go and cry in the bedroom.  Some time passes, he comes in to give me a kiss and say goodbye.

Stage #6: (Saturday, part II) – The Regret: Once my husband leaves, I come out of the bedroom and sit on the couch.  My cat curls up in my lap and my dog is next to me.  I feel safe here, but I can’t shut down the overwhelming sadness and regret that overcomes me.  My husband is at the event by himself where I should be, and I want nothing more than to be able to be there too.  But, I can’t my body won’t let me.  I sit in quietness most of the time my husband is gone.  He comes home, I ask him how it was, he says fine, and he goes to bed.

This is my life.  This is the cycle.  This is what happens any time we are invited anywhere.  It isn’t fair to my husband and it isn’t fair to me.  But, it is what it is.  I go to bed too and close my eyes.  Enough for the day.  The next day I wake up.  My husband has a ceremony and dinner for work coming up in a couple weeks, he tells me.  Time to restart the cycle.

*Names were changed to protect the anonymity of the author and others.   

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!  I’m looking forward to sharing my life with you. My life was always pretty great until the struggles of mental health, weight gain, and fertility issues started coming to the surface. Rather than write all my ramblings in a book, I chose to expose them to the world so that maybe someone can relate, laugh, or realize they aren’t alone, no matter how dark things can be. I’ll cover the nitty-gritty, relationship issues, friendship issues, OCD, social anxiety, and more.  I aim for this to be honest and relate-able. I’ll try to publish often.  Want to know something more? Ask me! I’ll respond or write a post about it!

“Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” — Mina Murray