Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The random blues

Today I changed 6 times before going to my company Christmas party. I see these people every day (and have for over 3 years now).  They know how great I am at my job, and even compliment me on my ability to coordinate 1,000's of events in a year, and on my ability to burn a hole verbally through someone trying to screw me out of a signed contract. Why tonight was I so worried about how I looked around them when I'd already spent 8 hours with them, and they know me and who I am?

I have had anxiety most of my life. Sometimes it really doesn't bother me. That took a lot of work to get to a place where I could say that happens. Other times it's just there giving me light stomach cramps all day. Little anxiety pangs. The stupid jerks. I wish they'd just leave me alone. They have been back for a few weeks, totally not my favorite thing. I'm not even sure what triggered them again. Dana's recent post about depression made me think about this some more.

I tend to feel insecure when I have anxiety or depression feelings. My depression/anxiety has never been such that I needed medication (aside from some herbal supplements when it was at its worst), or that I needed a hospital, except for once. I promptly took care of it with 2 years of therapy and have felt amazing ever since... until now. I can feel it creeping back in on occasion. It usually presents itself like this... (this is its most noticeable form)... I get really hungry, go to eat, and my stomach starts to feel too bloated to eat and feel a tiny shot of adrenaline in my system. This really just feels like little nausea waves or butterflies.

Ugh... I hate that. It really is a bitch. It makes excitement feel like a bad thing, because they feel identical. The biggest and best events of my life have had anxiety attacks in them because I got so excited and happy that my body gave itself an anxiety attack. Those for me are just really uncomfortable stomach issues, coupled with negative thoughts. Yay. I hate those. My wedding day I was late to the ceremony because I couldn't get off the damn toilet.

I can't figure out why right now I have the insecurity and anxiety. The past 2 months being married I've really blossomed with my creativity in looks, and my ability to feel beautiful from within. And all the sudden lately I just feel like I'm thinking too hard to be pretty, or look right. I think I may always battle this stuff. I'll have to fight it off, enjoy the peaceful times before the enemy tries to fight it's way back in. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works. It challenges you to control your thoughts, and not let them control you. It really makes you feel like you can conquer anything, when you are able to succeed with it. It healed me completely. I had over 12 months of completely anxiety-free life. Before therapy it got bad enough that I had it for around 24 hours a day for a few months.  Dana was right in her post. It really is crazy what people are carrying around with them and they never show it to people. All I have to do now is remember everything I learned and did when I was fighting off the anxiety/depression before and I'll be fine.

But... if there were a miracle drug for stomach aches and butterflies, I'd sign up in a minute.

how mountains kept me alive

I remember a Saturday afternoon pressing blobs of cookie dough down onto the pan as my old friend Nate sat in my kitchen.

"How have you been, Dana?"

"Actually," I started, "I've been having a rough time lately."

"Well," he chuckled, "a rough time for Dana is still pretty darn amazing, right?"

"What?" I asked abstractly.

We moved on.  I didn't feel like sharing the reality of my sorrow with him at that time.

Earlier in this blog, I shared my triumphant story of defeating bulimia.  A triumph indeed.  I wouldn't trade my freedom from that beast for anything.  Honest.

But when the act of binging and purging subsided, and when the dust settled, what was left was an illness--an illness that I had been using bulimia to medicate.

What's it like?  Gosh, I don't know.  I guess the one in ten American adults who experience it do so differently.  What's your story?  Share it, if you would.

My life is great.  I mean, really great.  I grew up with intelligent and responsible parents who loved and still love me.  I have the BEST friends a human could ask for (and an inordinate amount of them).  I landed a job doing what I adore and have vibrant, creative, exciting, affirming students (sure they're a pain in the ass sometimes, but that just adds more spice to this life-o-mine).  It has been one adventure after another.

Sunday morning I woke up and rolled out of my bed to kneel and say my prayers.  I stood up, threw my pillow back onto the bed, made my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth.  Then like a train it hit and I didn't even make it through the doorway before I was on my knees and sobbing.  Feeling and thinking things I won't share here.  Why?  I don't know.  Nothing.  Everything.

I have scribbled in a journal from six years ago the words "You have to find something to make you live" with a picture of a tree next to it.  It was something a modern dance teacher had said once in class.    I didn't think so much of it six years ago.  I just liked it.

Sunday morning I stepped outside to rain and mountains and something inside of me said "Let us keep living.  It's worth it so long as there is rain and mountains."  I agreed.  So here we are.  Here I am.

I started counseling (again!) in March 2010 at BYU and resisted medication but finally consented (for the first time) in March 2011.  It helped.  I didn't feel dead or passionless like I feared I might.  I felt, functional.  Capable.  Stronger than my despair.  Lows would still hit, but they weren't debilitating.  A year and a month passed and my insurance was up.  A week or two later, so was my medication.  I didn't want to be on it anymore.  I didn't want to be on it forever.  I had a great summer filled with races and adventures and moving to a new place, a new job.

About a month ago depression came back.  From 7:00-2:30 Monday-Friday (and 'till 4:00pm on rehearsal days) I play games/have discussions/make magic with my teenagers.  They make me laugh, and I feel alive.  Then I come home, run, shower and wish I could disappear.  I cry almost every day.

I can see how this all seems incongruous to both those who know me well and those who are only loosely acquainted.  Poor Nate didn't know any better, and how could he?  I'm Dana!  Dana the bubbling, excited, energetic, expressive, runner, aerobics instructor, previous member of her university's sketch comedy group, leading teenagers through goofy warm ups, baking cookies for the entire universe one church/school function at at time, and posting stickie notes that say "Stop fixing your bodies and start fixing the world!" on bathroom mirrors.  I am FILLED with life, and yearning to live, so fully and so well.  Perhaps this makes it all the more unbearable.  It's difficult to share your pain with others because something in you believes that they depend upon you to be happy and well.  But maybe it isn't this way?  Maybe they'd rather hear the truth--that a woman can be full and empty, sick and strong--that she can be vibrant and broken all at once.

How does this relate to bodies?  As previously stated, my life is wonderful.  I really have no complaints.  But depression is not about that.  I don't understand why it happens, but it is not something that more prayer, more work, and more service dissolves.  There is an imbalance in this beautiful body of mine, that makes it hard to carry on.  You give your diabetic her insulin, why not medication for all the sick?  Let us keep the diabetics alive.  Let us keep the depressed alive.

I know too many beautiful humans who are depressed, and I want them to stay.  It might help them to know that they are not alone.  It might help you to know that you are not alone.  We can overcome a lot of things in this life, and I would love this to leave me.  It's important to understand that Paul asked God thrice to remove his personal "thorn in the flesh" (and depression IS a thorn in the flesh--body, heart, and mind.)

Response?

"My grace is sufficient for thee."  (Note: not "I will take it away in time." or "Someday you will be healed.")

I have insurance again.  I guess the Prozac and I will have another go.  I don't want to be on medication.  But I want to live, so here goes nothing.  Here goes everything.

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's my number--by Brooke W.

I am endlessly grateful that I am healthy enough to donate plasma when I have the time.  On top of feeling like a productive member of society, giving plasma is a calm, easy hour out of my day when I do homework or read.

There is one part of the screening process that I don't like.  First thing that happens when I walk into the screening booth is I give my full name and my social security number.  I can deal with that.

Then comes the scary part.  "Step on the scale, please."

I don't keep a scale at home because it is so easy to become obsessed with weight.  That one three-digit number can haunt me.  A number that seems so much higher than I have been told it should be.

Who decided weight was a good indicator of attractiveness?  I never felt very attractive standing on a scale.  I don't recall meeting too many people who felt healthy or happy while standing on a scale.  Some days I peek at the number.  Other days I focus on other things in the booth so I don't see it.  But really, it's just a number.  

I don't want that number to have power over me.  I'm not ashamed of my number.  I feel healthy, and after all, it's a number.

170 is just a number.  It can be divided by 1, 2, 5, 10, 17, 34, 85, and 170.  It is the maximum check-out possible in a standard game of darts.  The roman numeral is CLXX and its binary representation is 10101010.  It is an even number.

It is my number, it fluctuate, and I'm not going to be embarrassed by it any more.