anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Uncategorized

The Perfect Figure: 36″-24″-36″

d53a6c9f34bfd6c200a31ff94e6d8100For many, many years, I have had it in my head of what I think I should look like.  And much of this can be summed up in a Victoria Secret model.  Flat stomach, edged with muscles, thin thighs, perky butt and very present, a voluptuous bosom.  And in addition to have the “perfect” measurements of 36-24-36…Totally practical right?  I mean there are a ton of everyday people walking around sporting this type of body, right?

With the help of Victoria Secret bras, I was able to pull this look off for several years, yet never fully satisfied.  Never having kids helped me maintain a trim figure and the whole slipping back into the whoas of Anorexia and Bulimia every few years also did the trick.  I maintained a lower weight for my frame and I was quite pleased about it.  I did not really have to exercise and when the scale started to inch up, I just cut down on my intake, exercised a wee bit and alas I’d drop the unwanted pounds that had crept on board.

Much changed when I had a hysterectomy in 2014.  That flat stomach now was a little round.  The weight I maintained for 10-15 years, was now 10 pounds heavier.  My hips were wider, bum was thicker and holy Jesus and Moses I surpassed a B cup and graduated into a C cup.  However, I was maintaining my weight, although a little bit heavier than I once was, so I was dealing with it.  No need to get all crazy and start becoming a gym rat or anything.  Just kept an eye on what I ate, do the occasional starvation and laxative abuse and the number would stay right where it should be.  Easy peasy!

In 2016 I ended up gaining a little bit more than 20 pounds as result of the mood stabilizer Saphris.  I was so incredibly depressed that I did not care about the weight gain.  I just wanted the emotional pain to stop and for the misery to leave me.  When the clouds parted, I was disgusted with my weight gain and miserable.  I had never been this weight in my life and much to my surprise I was now in the “overweight” category and I thought my world was ending.  Months later I came off that medication and I lost the weight that I had gained.  However, that bump in my abdomen was still present and this was just not acceptable.  I’ve never worked out so much in my life, only to see a reduction in inches, but that damn bubble was still there.

Presently, due to medication and hormones, I am nearly 10 pounds up and yet again, miserable.  Although thinner than I was in 2016, I am heavier than I was at the start of the year and the number on the scale just keeps increasing.  For a person who thinks Christina Hendricks is gorgeous, and I envy her, in my mind it is just not acceptable to look like her.  Why do I deem the perfect shape being that of a Victoria Secret model, a shape that a very small population possesses?  Why do I have to choose between mental stability and weight stability?  Why is how my clothes fit more important than how my brain functions?  Why is the number on the scale the thing that determines my worth?

It was suggested that I take every Victoria Secret model picture that I have in my home, or that of a person that fits that shape, and put it in a box and burn it.  It was also suggested that I take a Barbie doll and add her to the mix, as she is also an example of unrealistic expectations when it comes to shape and size.  I have yet to do this, as I think it is a bit funky, but I did look in the mirror today and I told myself that my shape was gorgeous.  That I was perfect just that way that I am.  I was recently told that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I behold you to be beautiful” and this is from a man whom has never lied to me, therefore I should believe every word that he tells me.

This is a start on a very long and treacherous path of self and body acceptance, but it’s about time that I conquer this thing, before I self-destruct.

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Self-care Sundays

sleepy sundaySunday morning was spent baking up a storm, gluten free cakes, of course.  In previous years I have been known to make castle of cakes and have even completed wedding cakes for a few brides.  But, when the mental break down of 2016 stormed through, the creativity that used to swell within me, dried up faster than droplets of water during the summer in the desert.  The lack of creativity forced me to abandon cake making.  I sold more than half of my supplies and said that there would be no more cake making for Michelle.

Often in my life, I excel at something, but when hardship comes along, I drop it like a hot potato.  In school, I was a flutist, entered into competitions and achieved awards for my perofrmance.  But when the eating disorder blew through, I lost my edge and turned my back on playing.  Following the music, I started working with the high school newspaper and achieved the status of Editor in Chief.  As editor in chief, I won the opportunity to meet Colin Powell as part of a county wide writing competition.  But when college came around and I got involved in a relationship, there went writing and the dreams of being a journalist.  Next was teaching.  It was something that I wanted to do for years, but when He said it didn’t make enough money, I turned my back on that as well and went the business route.  I thrived in the business world and really came into my own, but when 2016 marched in like a lion, my ambitions of having a corner office with a view and an upper management position, leapt away like a little lamb.

Over the last year, I have maintained longer stretches of stability, or the sweet spot as we like to call it.  When I have finally been able to get on the right medication regime, things started to come back.  My fashion sense finally returned, and oh boy did I miss it.  Crafting returned and although it hurts the good ole bank account, I get such enjoyment out of creating and adorning our home with handmade embellishments.  As gifts started to return, I started to feel more courageous and wanted to try my hand at baking.  I figured I would start slow and just do cupcakes, but then if all goes well, I would venture out and take on more challenging assignments and maybe even some cakes.

Today was a day of baking and decorating.  As the cakes were just for practice I dove right into the decorating and worked on my piping as well as experimenting with colors and adornments for the cakes.  With an order for next weekend (gender reveal cake) I wanted to practice piping rosettes, so I have increased confidence in my ability and when I deliver the cake, I can be proud of what I am selling.

After all the baking, I was exhausted, which was nice, because yesterday I was experiencing manic symptoms and was incapable of sitting still.  So today, when I snuck in an almost two-hour nap, I knew that I was back in a better place.  Listening to a book on tape (Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica) I snuggled under my favorite throw and stared at my companion, the twenty-pound feline, Hunter Mahoney, until I fell asleep.

Today was a day full of self-care.  Spending time creating, getting lost in a book, snoozing for a few hours and finishing up some household chores.  I feel well rested and ready to take on the new week.  I feel like I have balance, although a little on the high side, I am not too far from a nice even keel.  Oh, how I love sleepy Sundays.

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Grandma’s Table

the tableIt’s a very basic, oak, round table that comfortably seats four people, but when extended can seat up to eight.  There are panels that hold up the sides of the table where two people will always hit their knees.  And when the family sits down together for a steak dinner and starts to cut their meat, the whole table shakes.  Most times, the table adorns a hand embroidered table cloth.  While at others, the table is bare and you can see the water rings from cups that the cats knocked over and heat markings from when I left a hot casserole dish on the table without a hot mitt.  I am certain that there is some yellow and black paint on the table from an afternoon of painting shared with friends.

This table was my Grandma Julia’s dining room table.  Part of an elaborate dining room suite set that she purchased many, many years ago.  I spent many nights having dinner at this table when I was a child, and more time having yogurt and shortbread cookies while playing Chinese checkers with my cousins.

I acquired this table when I moved into my grandparent’s condo after I chose to leave an abusive marriage.  I did not have much, so the table was a real blessing.  While living back east, following church on Sunday’s, I would have my family over to my place and we would have a large brunch and circle our hands around the table listening to my brother pray the most entertaining prayers that I have ever heard in my life.

Now, the dining room table fills the center of the dining room and is used nightly for family dinner.  I cannot begin to describe what it feels like to have dinner with my family at the same table that I used to have dinner with my parents and my grandparents.  So much history, so much love and so much joy.  And did I forget to mention, so very many delicious meals!

My grandma died while I was being treated for anorexia.  I never was able to say goodbye to her and that is hard to deal with.  But, I feel like she is still alive within me because I have several of her most treasured belongings, one of those including the dining room table.

My grandmother treasured her family.  Her house was the place we all gathered nearly every weekend.  Every time I decorate the table all fancy, I stare at it and think “Grandma is looking down and she is happy to see that her table is being used in the same way it had been used in years prior.”  And the times I sit down with either my family or my friends and we paint, I know that again she is smiling as she was an artist herself.

I miss her.  I will continue to fight every day to conquer the demons that try and grasp their hold within my life.  I will live a life that I feel she would be proud of.  And I will show her everyday that I am not succumbing.  I will press on, move past, and honor her legacy.


anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Side Effect: Weight Gain


It’s been a week since we made further changes to my medication.  Increased the Vraylar (mood stabilizer) and stopped the use of the Wellbutrin (anti-depressant).  I am neither manic nor depressed, so I suppose I am in the sweet spot.  I feel a bit subdued though, not as happy as I had been in the weeks prior to today, but also not as mellow as I was three weeks ago when I was dealing with the depression.  This could be a happy medium, although, I would like to have just a little bit more sunshine in me, to be honest, but beggars cannot be choosers.

Speaking of beggars, one thing that has increased is my weight.  And this is always a very touchy topic for me.  Struggling off and on with Anorexia for the past 18 years leaves the subject of weight gain to be a big taboo topic.  I know that in time, as we age, most people gain weight.  I also know that different medications affect a person’s weight in diverse ways.  I know that I am not defined by what I weigh or what I look like.  I also know that my mental health is far more important than the number on the scale and what size clothes I wear on my body.

With all that being said, I am still struggling.  Over the last month, I have gained five pounds.  Which is not THAT bad, but considering that I have been much heavier in the last year, a gain of five pounds hits my fear center and I start to fret over whether I am going to gain back all the weight I lost previously.  And this scares the crap out of me.  I was finally getting used to my body, embracing where I had some curves and accepting the number that smiled back at me from the scale.

I tell my brain that I am fine, that I am beautifully, wonderfully and fearfully made.  That an extra five pounds will not be the end of the world.  I do believe that underneath the surface, is the issue that this weight gain is not within my control.  That this weight gain happened as a result of medication that I don’t want to take for a disorder that I don’t want to have.  All things that are not within my control.  And let me tell you, I like to be in control.  I like to know what is going to happen and when and by whom.  And when I don’t, I get super agitated.  So, having a mental illness that is defined by the variance between poles, makes being a person who likes to be in control, a touchy subject.

I go back to what I have learned from years and years of therapy: control what’s within your control.  I think on what IS within my control?

  • The way I mentally handle this weight gain.
  • How much I exercise and what I put in my body.
  • Ensuring I get adequate sleep
  • Resisting the temptation to weigh myself daily

There’s several things that I CAN do in this situation.  By changing my mindset and focusing on what I do have, instead of what I don’t have, this whole situation takes a different path.

  • Focus on how my mental health has improved since making this medication change
  • I have a healthy immune system and have not fallen ill despite all the various sicknesses that have been plaguing the masses
  • I am a role model to my daughter and want her to be body confident and have a positive body image, and she can learn this by me leading by example

I have always hoped that one day I would not be so incredibly critical of what I look like and how much I weigh.  As I have gotten older, I am doing a better job, but I still have room for improvement.  However, I will give myself credit for being rational and not stopping my medication due to the weight gain, and instead of turning back to a deadly eating disorder, I am responding with a rational mind.





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