Apathy causes weight gain

pierre

This is Maurice Sendak’s Pierre. If you haven’t read this children’s book, go to your local library right now and check it out. It’s a study of how one could get eaten by a lion if one remains apathetic. Seriously. It could happen.

It’s a fact. If you don’t give a shit about anything, what’s to stop you from eating 6 peanut butter cookies at one sitting, or a handful of your kid’s Halloween candy (behind his back)? Not a damn thing.

I’ve gained 5 pounds over the past few weeks, due to my Pierre-like attitude (“I don’t care!”). I haven’t run in several weeks and have only walked a few times, and that was because I could watch Netflix on my Kindle while I walked the treadmill. I’ve only been able to wear my “fat” pants and put aside anything remotely form-fitting. I feel very squishy and doughy, yet I still can’t get my ass out of bed early enough to at least *try* to exercise.

In a way, being apathetic has been a bit liberating. I’ve eaten anything I’ve wanted and haven’t had a smidge of guilt.  Chocolate candies and mellow crème pumpkins in the afternoon? Of course! Cookies and handfuls of chocolate chips in the evening? You bet! It’s been a gluttonous ride nearly every afternoon and evening, and when morning comes I roll out of bed, sip coffee and give the finger to my exercise regiment. I dig through my closet to find anything that hides my protruding belly. I stare at myself in the full-length mirror. Then with a halfhearted shrug of my shoulders and roll of my eyes, I’m off to work.

Thankfully, though, the numbers on the scale and a visit from an old friend, may have finally snapped me out of my indifference.  My weight is typically at 165. I like this number. It makes me happy. I feel good and slim at this weight, but not weak. Over the past few weeks, I still weighed myself on most days, and I watched the numbers fluctuate and slowly rise.  Normally if I see my weight get to 168, I’d start to reign it in–watch what I ate more carefully and make sure I exercised every day.  But this past month? I didn’t do anything. I just kept eating and only moving when necessary.  Until that 170 popped up on the scale.  I saw it yesterday. I raised my eyebrows at the scale, ate well all day, then inhaled 7 cookies before I went to bed. Well, it almost worked!

But today, a friend was visiting from out of town.  A really good friend whom I’ve missed terribly. This was my one chance to see her, which meant I needed to get out of my routine and stop hiding in my home and go see her and a few of our friends. If you read my post a few months back, you know that this isn’t easy for me right now. I haven’t wanted to leave my house or be around anyone.

Yet this isn’t just anyone. These are my dear, dear friends that I’ve known for over 25 years. They’re family, or even better than family. But for a few minutes this morning, I didn’t think I’d see them. Something fell through at work and I thought I’d have to skip seeing them. And for those few minutes, I was a bit relieved. I’d have no obligations tonight, just going home and making sure my son got a shower. Nothing else.

Thankfully my boss stepped up and told me I needed to go. She was right. I did need to go. I’m so, so happy I did. Those 90 minutes rejuvenated me to the point where I didn’t even have dessert. Well…that’s not true. I did lick my friend’s whoopie pie wrapper (and no, that is *not* a sexual innuendo) and I might have eaten the rest of the gingerbread man’s body parts that were left in the cookie jar at home. But that’s all! No handfuls of chocolate chips. No Halloween candy.

And tomorrow, no flipping the bird to my treadmill. I might have to fire up the ol’ Kindle to get me on it, but hopefully this is a new beginning. I don’t want to be like Pierre anymore. I want to be that self-obsessed wench I once was. She can be annoying sometimes, I know, but I kind of like her. She has passion. And in my book, passion outweighs apathy every day of the week. But in this case, “outweighs” is a good thing. ;)

Menopause Eve

For some women, menopause is an ugly word.  I know women that felt their femininity would no longer exist as soon as their menstrual cycle ceased.  Personally, I think that’s bullshit, but I can understand the sentiment. Being a woman has a different definition for each of us, and if bleeding each month is what defines you, so be it.

Perimenopause, however, is a slightly different creature. This is the transition period, the yellow brick road *to* permanent infertility, something I’m looking forward to. (I love my child but I don’t need another.) Yet like so many other transitions (potty training, puberty, newly married), perimenopause can be a bitch.

I’ve been going through this for about a year now, but these past few months have been horrific. I know there have been other issues that have made a huge impact on me and my emotions (lack of running, family’s health problems, etc.), but the way my moods have been swinging from high to low and even lower still, reminds me of my teen years.  In other words, it’s hell.

If someone asked me if I would ever go back in time to my high school years to do something different, I’d say “Hell no!” and run from the person.  Not only was I fat and miserable back then, but I cried for no reason and the many, many times I was angry at someone or something, I ate and ate until the anger dissipated.

Fortunately, I no longer eat away my anger, but I yell or run it out. (But since I haven’t been able to run lately….well…let’s say I’ve had to apologize a lot to both my family and my co-workers.) The mood swings though….oh man, the mood swings.  Today, I had a 5-minute conversation with my husband that started with happy chatting to angry barking to calm talking and finally to tears.  That was all from me and not him. He was happily chatting, then was on alert the rest of the conversation, looking slightly baffled.  I apologized AGAIN, and told him it was going to be a rough 10 years.  A DECADE OF THIS?!?  No one will survive if this is how it’s going to be.perimenopause

Tomorrow, a trip to the drugstore is needed. Have you heard of Estroven? It’s supposed to be some kind of natural supplement that can help “reduce hormone-related irritability.”  My doctor told me to give it a try. I know folks used to use black cohosh a lot to help with this stuff, but my doc told me to stay away from it. Apparently it can cause problems with your liver, and since I had pancreatitis this summer? Yeah. Let’s be good to my internal organs, shall we?

If you’ve experienced any of this perimenopausal craziness, I’d love to hear about it and what you did to help yourself.

And if you’re emailing from a prison or a mental institution because of the result of said craziness, I’ll be happy to send you chocolate….or maybe a box of Estroven.

 

Losing Myself

It’s come to my attention that I do *not* deal with stress well.  Even when I think I’m handling everything just fine, my body tells me otherwise. For the past 4 years, running has been my stress reliever. I’ve pounded the pavement like it was littered with all of my problems and I could obliterate them with my running shoes. Once my run was done, I felt like I could handle just about anything. I was more relaxed throughout the day and slept well at night. Currently, though, my body is unable to run more than once a week. I’ve walked more miles in the past few weeks than I typically run, but it’s not the same. Walking is not as difficult, which in turn, makes it not as satisfying for me.

I used to eat away my problems, which created so many more. I’m happy to say that I don’t do that anymore, or very rarely.  I would occasionally have a drink, especially on Friday night after a particularly exhausting week.  Yet now my pancreas tells me that I can’t do that anymore either. I did a poll on Facebook to see what my friends do to relieve their stress. The answers ranged from healthy (exercise, meditation, talking to someone) to unhealthy (eating, drinking, smoking) to just plain fun (dancing, singing, fucking).

For the past few months, I think I’ve tried to deal with all of the crap in my life by reading excessively.  Living in someone else’s world for an hour or two, seemed better than living in my own. Often the fictional world was not a fun place to be (war zone, poverty-stricken home, nuclear plant explosion), yet within those pages problems were solved and lives were changed. I could read other people’s thoughts and ideas about situations similar to my own. How did Alice handle her own Alzheimer’s Disease and what did her family do to help her in Lisa Genova’s book, Still Alice? (And what will we do when my mother’s dementia advances?) What did Allison do to help cope with work, home, and family in Jennifer Weiner’s All Fall Down? (I found out why Percocet is *not* the answer to my problems.) All of these dilemmas and their solutions may have taken years to happen, but I got to see it all pan out in a short amount of time.  It’s a form of “instant” gratification that I need. If my own troubles cannot be resolved in a timely manner, then at least someone else’s can.

But perhaps because I’ve immersed myself so often in other people’s worlds, I’m not dealing well with my own.

At all.

I’ve lost much of my inspiration at work. I don’t care if my house is that clean. I’ve made little effort to see my friends. My body seems to be getting squishier, and I don’t even give a damn.

This isn’t me.

I love my work, yet lately I dread going.  I *hate* this feeling. I used to feel this a lot at my old job, but not as a librarian. I love what I do and I’m good at it. So why not go to the place where I’m needed and feel like I make a difference?

And not cleaning  my house? I used to have a cleaning calendar, people. Having a clean house makes me feel….I don’t know. Proud maybe? And accomplished, I think. But right now I just don’t care.

whybother

Typically I love to see my friends, particularly my Ladies in Red. But I’ve stopped trying to get together with them. I’m fortunate enough that one of them set a date with our kiddos, so I’ll be forced to go. (Thanks, Tiff.)

 

And my body? Whatever. It’ll never be what I want it to be, so why keep trying?

 

I have to stop this. I want to care again. I want to *want* to clean my house or lift weights or go to work. And my god, I really want to want to be with my friends.  I think I’ve just tried to numb myself from the stress I’ve encountered over the past month–my family’s health, my son’s well-being, our finances–much of the same types of things you’ve all had problems with.  If you can deal with all of it, why can’t I?

I *need* to stop feeling like I have the world on my shoulders,  that it’s my responsibility to take care of everyone. Trust me. I suck as a caregiver. I do. I think I’m too selfish. I like to have time to myself, to read or run or walk or dance in my kitchen. I hate when my life is completely disrupted and that little bit of time I have is taken away.

Maybe the solution is extra Vitamin D or yoga or a counselor. I know I won’t stop reading. That bit of escapism is necessary for me. But I need to stop using literature to deaden my feelings. I need to use it to enlighten me or inspire me or to just bring me joy.

And maybe all I need is talk to you more. Why pay for a therapist, when I have you? :)

 

 

 

Tic, tic, tic…..

Have you ever seen anyone that has a tic? Not a tick, the little black insect that burrows under your skin, but body tics–brief, repeated movements or noises that a person makes.  Very often tics are associated with Tourette’s Syndrome.  Do you know what I’m talking about? Sometimes it can be mildly annoying to be beside someone that is always clearing their throat or squeezing their eyes shut, or it can be fascinating to watch someone continuously shrug their shoulders or rub their head or even blow on their hands. But if you don’t understand what’s happening, it can be very unnerving to watch someone go through a series of these movements or sounds.

Now imagine that person with the tics is your child.  You don’t know why he does it, nor does he.  You hear other kids talking about him, “What’s wrong with that kid’s eyes? Why is he doing that?”  Then adults ask him directly if his eyes are tired or if needs glasses.  You watch him shrug his shoulders or say, “I don’t know,” or in one case, you feel him lean against you as he hangs his head, just not knowing how to respond anymore.

And then, you walk him into his classroom for the first day of second grade.  He’s told you he’s very excited, but also a little nervous.  “That’s all completely normal, son. I always felt the same way, too.”  Yet as the teacher greets everyone and you watch your son place his backpack in the appropriate place, you see his face.  He’s blinking….constantly.  He can’t stop.  The blinking, the scrunching of his face, it’s continuous. It’s like a loop that he just can’t get out of.  You know he’s nervous and inside, you are freaking out.  You rub his shoulders as he finds his seat, telling him he’ll have a great day and to have a good time and you’ll see him at dinner that night.  He only nods his head in reply.  Then you walk very carefully as you leave the school, trying to keep it together. You climb into your car and try to take a deep breath, but you’re already crying.  You have a blurry ride to work.

For several years, my son has had these occasional tics.  I’ve always mentioned them at his doctor’s appointments, but I wasn’t overly concerned and neither was his doctor.  I often thought it was just some bad habit he picked up somewhere. I tried to get him to *not* do whatever it was he was doing, whether it was the constant blinking, the shoulder shrug, the waving of the hands, the humming or the blowing on his hands.  Last year his teacher commented on a few of the more disruptive ones (the humming/clearing of his throat in particular), but mostly no one seemed to notice.   But this past summer, his eye blinking/tilting of his head became so obvious, that everyone mentioned it.   And after that first day of school, I just couldn’t deny it anymore.  I spent part of that morning looking up body tics in children, and what everything told me was that it appeared more in boys and in nearly 25% of the population.

Yet I really needed someone else, preferably a medical professional, to tell me that my son was really ok.  And that he would grow out of it, hopefully, and he wouldn’t be ostracized by the other kids.  That, in all honesty, was my main fear.  Kids get a helluva lot meaner the older they get. They become less tolerant of any kind of difference.  My boy is already a giant among kids his age and although he has certainly embraced his height, body tics are harder to accept.

At the doctor’s office, I told our physician what was going on. He already knew about the tics but I explained my concerns from the summer and the beginning of school.  We talked about anxiety and stress and how it can aggravate tics more.  He himself had a humming tic when he was in medical school.  We talked about transient tic disorder, which is what it appears my boy has.  Stress makes it worse, and for Bri, being tired also makes the tics increase and rotate.  (During the first week at school, when we were reading just before bedtime, he would have 4 or 5 tics in a rotation for several minutes until he could finally settle down.)  If things get worse, if the tics become so distracting to himself or to others in the classroom, then we can try medication.  But until then, if the tics are not too bad, particularly on “normal” days (not during a stressful event) then we do nothing.  We just wait it out.  And in all likelihood, the doctor said, my son would grow out of this.  It may not happen until he’s a teenager, but he still should grow out of it.

briticI will tell you that I was greatly relieved when I left that office.  I know that it’s possible my boy will always have one or more of these tics for his entire life. (In fact, my husband has a little tic that most people don’t know about because it’s pretty minor, and he usually only does it when he’s stressed out.) And it’s also possible that he could develop more verbal tics and be the beginning of Tourette’s.  I’m hoping it’s not.  But you know what? Even if it is, I hope I can help him deal with it better than I have.  I know now that I did everything wrong. Telling my kid to try to suppress these movements, makes them 10 times worse. If he did suppress them, he would get to the point where he’d nearly scream with frustration and tic even harder.  I had him take deep breaths to try to slow them down at least, but that didn’t work either.  “I just can’t help it, Mom,” he has said on many occasions. I didn’t believe him.  I really did everything wrong.

Now I’m trying to do something right.  My friend, Denise, a former special education teacher, suggested I give my boy a “line” he can say if someone asks, “What’s wrong with you?”  I told him to just say, “It’s called a tic and it’s no big deal and *nothing* is wrong with me.”

And if that doesn’t work, I also signed him for Krav Maga lessons. So that might help, too.

 

 

No more

I have something to confess.  It’s taken me a few years to finally admit this to myself.  I’ve whispered it under my breath to try it out, to hear it out loud.  I choke up when I say it because it doesn’t sound right.  But I know it *is* right.  It’s who I am now, and it’s ok. 

Here I go…

I am not

fat.

*phew* I did it! I said it!

So…are you done laughing now? Done scoffing? Telling me what a bitch I am?  If you’re done, then let me explain.

Being a fat girl and woman for 37 years, is not immediately undone when you lose weight.  I’ve talked about body dysmorphia before, when I look in the mirror I often see myself 85 pounds ago.  But now that it’s been over 4 years since I’ve lost that weight and kept it off, I’m starting to see my true reflection in the mirror more and more.  And I like what I see.  Most of the time. 

And now that I’ve admitted to the world that I am no longer a fat girl, it’s time that I cleaned off my book shelves, too. I’ve been holding on to a collection of books and journal articles about losing weight, getting fit and a bunch of inspiring photos of folks who have lost massive amounts of weight. I actually pulled the books off the shelf several weeks ago, but haven’t been able to take them from my home.  I kept thinking that I might need them again soon. I know how quickly one can gain a few pounds, but I also know how anal retentive I am, particularly about my weight. So finally, today, I decided that enough was enough. I put the books in a bag and into my car.  I’ve decided that it’s time to stop looking elsewhere for inspiration.

To the library book sale you go!!

Just look in the damn mirror, Holly. 

And that goes for you, too. Think you can’t lose those 10 or 50 pounds you’ve been complaining about?  Bullshit.  Not enough time to exercise?  Do 5 jumping jacks before you take a shower or jog in place while waiting in any line.  Don’t want to look like an idiot?  No one gives a damn what you do or what you look like, so stop thinking that they do.  Can’t run a 5K? Just put one foot in front of the other.  I promise you, it is *really* that simple. 

If you need a cheerleader, I will be there with pom poms and a bull horn, just don’t expect me to do a high kick.  And if you really want a book for extra inspiration, I’ll keep the bag in my car for a while.  Don’t make me quote Nike, ok?  You know what to do.

Just a little update

Thank you to everyone who has inquired about my health and my husband’s.  You’re a good bunch!

My pancreas is still a bit cranky, but not what it was.  Just in the past two weeks, I’ve finally felt like my old (or rather, young) self.  Most of my energy is back and I can run more than I could before.  This healing business has been a horribly long process!

As far as my husband’s health goes….well…it’s not the best.  He’s had to increase the amount of insulin and the amount of times he injects himself.  He monitors his blood sugar more now, and I think that’s a good thing.  He’s more conscious of what he puts into his mouth and tries to make better decisions.  I still have hope for the old fella!

You know, the funny thing about his blood sugar?  When he sees that the number is low and he’s done something right the day before as far as eating, it perks him right up.  Yet when he gets a pretty high and to him, a discouraging number, he feels bad about himself.  For those of you who have struggled with your weight, does that sound familiar?  Each time I weigh myself, I have those highs and lows, too.  My husband has become a smidge more empathetic to my constant struggle. (And hopefully, I’m a bit more empathetic to his struggle, too.)

And for you animal lovers?  Your comments and hugs (virtual and real-time) have been overwhelming.  We talk about Stanley often, and my son has done tremendously well, especially once he took part in Stanley’s burial.  Our other cat, Miso, is doing a bit better now, too, although he “talks” much more than ever before. Stanley was always the *loud* talker of the two.  Maybe Miso feels like he can finally get a word in edgewise?

Thanks again, folks.  Hopefully there won’t be any more health or death-related posts for some time!

 

 

 

Stanley AKA Ninja Kitty

sweetstan&miso

This is my sweet Stanley.  Beautiful, isn’t he?  Each day, Stan and that other sweetie you can see a glimpse of behind him, Miso, goes outside to roam our land, catch mice, play with bugs, and do anything they want to.  And each evening, both cats tend to meet us at the door, or they will come when we call with a bag of treats before bedtime.  This has been our routine for the past 2 years.  So when Stanley didn’t show up one evening, we all began to worry.

I spent the next morning looking for him while taking a walk, calling his name occasionally.  The day after that, I ran up and down the road while checking all of the ditches.  By day three, I had pretty much given up hope of finding him.  When my son asked me that night if I still had hope, I just shook my head no.  As he choked back his sobs, he yelled at me and told me I couldn’t give up yet.  “Mom, maybe somebody took him in or maybe he’s been out there fighting in the night.  He *is* Ninja Kitty, after all!”

bri&stan

Because of the words of my little boy, I *did* have hope.  If I started to think about the situation rationally, I thought Stanley would never be back.  I grew up in (and still live in) a rural area.  Coyotes have taken/eaten several of our cats before.  We have bears and foxes in the area, too.  And we have people…in cars.  BUT, maybe somebody really *did* have him at their house.  It was possible.  Anything was possible, right?

A day or two later, a week since we last aw Stan, we made “Lost Cat” posters and put one up outside of our home.  Bri and I set out to walk to the stop sign at the end of our road to put another poster up there.  Everyone in our neighborhood would see that one for sure, and maybe someone would have an answer for us.  As we started down the road, though, I started to smell something.  I knew whatever I was smelling was dead and decomposing.  If you run or walk much outside, particularly in Maine, you know this odor.  As I neared the area where the smell was the strongest, I held my breath, hoping to find a bird or a groundhog.

And there he was.

I wasn’t sure at first.  I thought it was a large bird. Then I saw glimpses of his beautiful grey fur….and his lovely tail.

Briar was lagging behind me, so he didn’t see anything.  I told him I needed to go ask his Papa something.  I walked into the house and whispered, “I need you to look at something for me.”  Walter looked at my face and said, “Oh, no.”  He went out and confirmed what I already knew.  That’s when I started to cry.  I tried to hold myself together, but as Walter told Bri that Stanley had been hit by a car and was dead, my son started to howl and I cried along beside him.  Bri kept yelling, “I want him back! I want him back!  It’s not fair!”  He cried and screamed as we walked back to the house, then threw himself on his bed and cried some more.   He threw things around in his room, as he continued to cry, “It’s just not fair!”

I completely agreed with him and told him so.  I didn’t say anything about Stanley being in a better place, because I don’t believe that.  I just told my son that he was right.  It sucked, it wasn’t fair and I wish we could have him back, too.  But we can’t.  So we talked about how great Stanley was and how sweet and cuddly he was and how he really did have a good life with us.  After Bri calmed down, he asked to play a video game for a bit.  I immediately said yes.  I wanted him to just “escape” for a while, and maybe I could, too.  While my husband stayed home with our boy, I took a walk and listened to a trashy novel and just tried to get away for a bit.  We now knew what had happened and we could have a little bit of closure.

But there was still a problem.  How do we bury him?

Poor Stanley’s body was not what it had been.  Although I had looked in the ditches for nearly a week, I never saw him the entire time.  Yet now that I knew where he was, it seemed so obvious.  There’s a spot on the road and the grass is patted down in front of where his body lay.  Why didn’t I ever see it?  How could I have missed this?  But I did.  Many times.

But now I needed to get his body across the road to my yard, where he can be buried under our spruce tree.  My husband didn’t think we could do it.  He used a term to describe Stanley’s body that I refuse to repeat.  It made me angry and I couldn’t think of our beautiful cat in that manner.  So when my husband went off to work this morning, I found a box, gloves and a shovel.  I told Bri we would bury Stanley later in the morning, but I needed to get him ready first.  Briar agreed and would stay inside until I told him it was ok to come out.  And as I was getting ready to go outside, my lovely brother called to say he would be down to help me.  His timing is truly impeccable. :)

As I started to dig around and under Stanley’s body, I thought that it was amazing (and fortunate) I had never had to do this in my life up to this point.  I thought of gardening and digging in the dirt and anything but what I was really doing.  After a few minutes, I knew I needed to try on the other side of the ditch to get a better grip on the dirt underneath Stan’s body.  But…that’s when I saw his face….his profile….and I started to talk to Stanley.  “Oh, sweetie,” I whispered and I started to cry.  I kept digging and realized that I just couldn’t pick up all of him.  It just wasn’t possible.  Which made me cry even more.

My brother arrived at this point, took the shovel from me, and lifted what he could of sweet Stanley, and placed him in a box.   It was just too much to do any more.  It was too heartbreaking.  So I closed the box, carried it across the street, and dug a hole.  Briar came outside at this point, and after I placed the box in the ground, the three of us buried Stanley together.  We talked about what a great cat he was and how much we’ll miss him.  It was simple and cleansing in a way, you know?  In kind of felt good.  I did the best I could by Stanley.  I refused to let his body stay in that ditch, and I allowed my son to take part in a brief ceremony that helped him say goodbye.

And helped me say goodbye, too.

You were a damn cool cat, Stanley, and impossible to forget. I love you.