anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

The Waredrobe: Out with the Old

IMG_2088It was time.

I have postponed this for long enough.

There was no more room left for excuses and wishful thinking.

I stood in my walk-in closet and looked at my extensive collection of clothing.  Shirts all organized by style, followed by skirts, then dresses.  There are so many items on the rack that it was hard to add anything else.  Many items that should be hung, are neatly folded in the dresser that is outside of the closet.  My numerous pairs of jeans are in the cube bookcase that sits below my large bedroom window.  I have quite a collection of clothes, I am definitely not in need.

Over the last two months, the weight gain has resurrected, and I am officially up ten pounds. (le sigh) Therefore, the amazing, beautiful, wonderful, soft, LuLaRoe dresses that I bought during Michelleapoolza in January, no longer fit.  They are tight on my arms, and my chest.  I do this dance, jump, karate chop maneuver to get the zipper up the back of the dresses.  It is time that I say, so long, not goodbye, because this is not permanent, just so long for now.  I remove them off the hangers and put them in the large tub that I retrieved from the garage.  I lay the dresses in the box and tell myself that this is just for now.  That history has shown me that my weight fluctuates and decreases over time.  I remind myself that I am in the best place I have been since I can remember, mentally speaking.  That these are mere clothes, they do not define me.  I have a fleeting idea of putting the scale in the box too, but I shake my head as that is far too drastic of a move.  Once the LuLaRoe’s are in the box I go for a second pass through the closet.  I remove another five dresses, numerous shirts and before I know it, I need another bin.  And off to the garage I go…

I wrongly associate my worth by my size.  As my weight increases, my perceived self-worth decreases.  I look at my body and I can see some changes, but not that big of a change.  Therefore, I work to challenge the thoughts that cross my mind.  With summer fast approaching, I fear the swim suit, I fear what others may think of me, and how I may be judged.  I feel like I want to create a sign that says “I gained weight because I am on medication for bi polar disorder” just because I wrongly assume that people are wondering why I look the way I do.

But, in the back of my head, I have the verse that my mom told me repeatedly growing up (and still tells me today) … I am beautifully and wonderfully made… She also has helped me to focus on what is true, and praiseworthy.  I am not defined by my size or shape.  My mental stability is far more important than the number on the scale.  I will focus on what I have gained and redirect my negative and destructive thinking.  I will not resort to old eating disorder behaviors, laxative abuse or over exercising.  I will focus my attention on maintaining stability and consistency.  I will press on.

 

Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

What I’ve gained: Part Two

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I see my psychiatrist this afternoon after a month since my last appointment.  I do not clearly remember the last time I was able to go an entire month without seeing my doctor.  For the last two years, I have seen her more than I have seen my friends and family, nearly every one to two weeks.  We have had to meet more regularly because the Bipolar was out of control and we were constantly modifying my medication to try and stop the swinging between depression and mania.

I spent the last fifteen (15) minutes writing a two-page document with updates about the last month.  I do this every time I see her, so I can provide as much information as possible to her within the short 30 minutes that we have together.

The biggest point on my document for today is that I have achieved stability, and it’s been a very stable month for me.  I have done as I have been told and taken my medication as prescribed, regardless of the weight gain that has been present since increasing a few medications about two months ago.

Anxiety

For the first time ever in my life, I have little to no anxiety.  This is an amazing transition for me.  From being in a place where I was having panic attacks daily while driving, to a place now where I am far calmer, is such an amazing blessing.

Depression

Other than suffering from a bit of lack of motivation, especially in the morning during the week, I have not noticed any signs of depression creeping in.  I do not feel like I am mentally receiving “bad data” (or as my mum calls it, stinking thinking).  I am not dreading to complete normal daily tasks like showering and making dinner.

Mania

When I am manic, I liken my state to that of a hummingbird.  Constantly moving, never sitting still, flitting around like I must get where ever I need to go quickly.  This has not been me.  I am not engaging in manic behaviors such as acting in impulsive ways, spending money on things I do not need, and I am not lacking in sleep.

Sleep

As mentioned a second ago, I am not lacking in sleep, nor am I oversleeping (except for the weekends when I thoroughly enjoy lounging in bed, being snuggled up in the blankets on my incredibly soft bed as I don’t have any place I need to be at any given time).  On average, I am getting 7-10 hours of sleep, waking refreshed, and falling asleep at night without assistance.

Weight

Dun, dun dun… so I gained between five to ten pounds over the last two months.  I am far less than thrilled with this change as I already weighed more than I had wanted to, so this is the preverbal icing on the cake.  However, a friend of mine suggested that for each pound I gained I think about a positive thing I gained with that given pound.  And I think this is a phenomenal idea.  Overall with the weight I have gained, I have achieved stability, and that is a blessing in disguise.  With one of the pounds, I gained relief from anxiety, another pound allowed me to be freed from depression, and that other one prevented me from sky rocketing into mania.  I’d say my good, balanced sleep is probably worth two pounds in itself.  I love her idea and will remind myself of these “gains” each time a crappy thought about weight gain pops into my head.

For now, my mood swings are in the rear-view mirror, and that is such an amazing accomplishment, as any person with Bipolar or any mental health condition can relate, that when you are in a good place you just want to cherish that time you are in this place, as it is not known how long it will last.  As always, I will keep pressing on, perhaps skipping along in my cowboy boots and paisley dress, embracing everything that this given day has provided to me.

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Better than Before

51RivppusfLOften, I get these grand ideas.  Ideas about all the wonderful things that I can and should do.  To be honest, I am not sure what exactly it is.  Excessive motivation?  Obsessed with improving my overall well-being?

I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before, twice. (https://gretchenrubin.com/books/better-than-before/about-the-book/ ) It was an informative read the first time, but the second read was even better.  I was insanely motivated to work on my habits, as many of my habits are destructive.  So, coming off reading the book, I was super charged and, in a place, where I was ready to make some changes.  The changes that I have aimed to make are below:

  1. Limit alcohol intake
  2. Implement exercise regime
  3. Improve body image
  4. Increase overall productivity
  5. Migrate from a “B” Student to an “A” student
  6. More involved parent
  7. Reduce sugar intake
  8. Decrease weight
  9. Eliminate multiple weigh ins per day
  10. Start meditation
  11. Cut back on shopping
  12. Change my attitude towards prescribed medication

 

Yeah, twelve things to change, that’s not too much, nor excessive, totally doable.  Or is it?  Have I set myself up to fail because I have made a list of modifications that I want to make that will require too much from me?  Is this the same as having twelve new year resolutions? What will my therapist think?  Am I manic?  Is this delusional behavior?

Let’s take a peak:

Limit alcohol intake

The first thing I started with was limiting the alcohol intake.  With the support of my family, this one has been successful.  I am now in a place where I promised my doctors that I would get to and now to stay there.  In the book, Gretchen spoke about how one’s will power is the weakest as the day progresses.  So, at the end of the day, we have the least amount of will power.  Ok, so knowledge is power, it will be the hardest at night.

Implement Exercise Regime

The grand idea was to take a walk around the neighborhood when I arrived home from work.  At this point, this has not happened.  Not sure why, but it hasn’t.  I have been successful in hitting my daily goal of 2,500 steps (low I know, but achievable with the fact that I have an office job).  Per my activity tracker, I participate in “exercise activity” twice a week, whether that is a hike, or pacing the parking lot while on the phone.  Improvement is needed, but there is progress in motion.

Improve Body Image

Every morning, as I get ready to get into the shower I tell myself that I am beautiful.  That my body is exactly what it is supposed to be.  I also remind myself that my body does not define me.  I have a note on my computer monitor at the office that says, “You are beautiful” and per a comment left on one of my blogs by my boyfriend, “beauty is in the eye of the behold, and I behold you as beautiful” (God, I love him so!)

Increase Overall Productivity

Yeah, this one needs some work.  I make a list every day of what I need to complete, and I strive to check off every item.  I have worked to be more engaged at work, as well as at home regarding housework, parenting, spousing, and my college education.

Migrate from a “B” Student to an “A” student

Nope.  This is not happening.  I might as well just mark it off the list.  Being a “B” student for me is just fine and dandy.  I have quite a bit on my plate, and if I were to work harder to achieve all A’s that means I would lose out on:

  1. Sleep
  2. Time with my family
  3. What little exercise that I complete
  4. Self-care

I have made the decision, that continuing to be a “B: student with a 3.0 GPA is good enough for me.  If I do happen to get an “A” that is fantabulous, but I will not lose sleep over a “B.

More Involved Parent

When I arrive home from school, I touch base with both the kids.  I ask after their day with some kind of a peculiar question that I come up with out of the very deep part of my brain, like “What was the second best part of your day?”, “What made you wrinkle up your nose today” “Did you ever think about your socks while at school today”  You know just to keep things interesting.

Reduce Sugar Intake

See item one.  Work on number one and you have success on number seven.  Nothing better than killing two pterodactyl with one boulder.

Decrease Weight

See item one and item seven.  Although I have not seen any success, and I have gained weight due to not successfully completing number two, I must set some realistic expectations.  A very wise man reminded me this weekend that yes, I have gained ten pounds, but I have also gained ten pounds of mental stability too (have I mentioned how much I love this guy?)

Eliminate multiple weigh ins per day

Have not started on this one yet.  But set a small goal to reduce weigh ins to three a day.  And decrease one weigh in per week that goes by.

Start meditation

I signed up for a Mindfulness class that will begin the first week of May.  I count this as a win because the money has been paid, therefore the line is drawn in the fast-drying cement.  I will attend and hopefully I will learn how to quiet this brain of mine.

Cut back on shopping

Define “cut back”.  Weight gain has caused a delay in implementing this initiative.  I will never again get rid of clothes that I outgrow as I always end up either gaining or losing weight and needing to buy more clothes.  When will I learn?

Change my attitude towards prescribed medication

Every time I have a smile on my face, I remind myself that my smile is brought to me by Lithium, Vraylar, Lexapro and Hormone Pellets.  That if it were not for my prescribed medication, I would either be stuck in bed, or up on the roof dancing a jig.

 

My number four goal of being more productive is apparently in full swing, I’ve made more progress than I thought.  Thanks for reading this as it helped me see that I am kind of kicking ass, which makes me smile, and that makes me be more thankful for my medication, which causes weight gain, thus providing motivation for exercising during the time that is permitted due to being ok with being a “B: student, but not sacrificing time away from my family.  You are the best!!

anorexia, Bipolar Disorder, Uncategorized

Side Effect: Weight Gain

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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.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

https://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/weight-gain-side-effects-that-affect-your-health.html