Bell Let’s Talk Day: Some Snippets from My Story

This is a bit of my story about being a highly sensitive person who struggles with depression. There’s lots to share, but I’ve limited it to this particular piece, because it’s not like depression is one giant black hole, but a continuum of ups and downs.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had big dreams. One of these dreams was to be an actor, or a writer. After a short time in First Grade of wanting to work at McDonald’s the girl realized that her real dream was to shine brightly either on the stage or on the page.

The little girl decided that the best way to start making her dreams come true was by participating in any opportunities that came her way.

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

She entered speech festivals and speech competitions, winning trophies and accolades. She auditioned for and received parts in community theatre productions. The little girl was even featured in her local newspaper as an aspiring actor with big dreams.

Then High School happened. After a particularly hard Drama course where the girl felt shy among her older peers, the little girl’s dream of being an actor was somewhat deflated. Her drama teacher used words and misunderstandings to begin to break down her dream. She had known about the power of words, but hadn’t experienced them in such a hurtful way before.

The little girl told herself that she could still attain her dream, but in order to do so, she would need to travel far away to a small university out of province, where the echo of her teacher’s words would be erased and where the shadow of doubt could not follow her. She believed that her dream of being an actor could still be fulfilled.

Then one day the little girl’s dad got sick. During this time she let go of her dream of going to a university far away. In fact, she didn’t want to go to university at all, but her dad, who understood his little girl better than she understood herself, told her that it was best if she did, so she enrolled at the large anonymous university in the nearby city.

Within the first few months of attending classes, the little girl’s father died. At the time of her father’s death, the little girl was lost. She couldn’t hold onto her dreams anymore and so she let them all go.

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Note: Each time you tweet today using #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives. You can find out more about Bell Let’s Talk Day at http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/bell-lets-talk-day

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

A-B: Anyone Can Have an Eating Disorder

I’ve been considering doing this A-Z blogging challenge and I’m already 2 days behind, so I thought I’d knock off two letters at the same time. It’s a topic I’ve written about before but tonight I stumbled across the following article:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/16685-im-a-fat-woman-who-had-an-eating-disorder-and-no-the-two-are-not-mutually

In the article, McCarthy talks about how her eating disorder went unnoticed by doctors, friends, and family because she was overweight. I find her story to be really sad, and I completely relate to it. In a way, I was lucky. When I began my long journey through anorexia and bulimia, I was thin. When I was considered as “cured” as I was going to be by doctors years later, I was even thinner. For many years, when I opened up to people about my eating disorder, they immediately felt sorry for me and had nothing but words of comfort and support.

Over the last four and a half years (basically since I had the twins) I have gained a lot of weight, and many would now consider me fat. It’s what I call myself when I look in the mirror, not in a “You go, girl!” sort of way, but in a “You’re pathetic!” way. I’ve noticed something though in the last few years. When I open up to someone about my eating disorder, I am now met with surprise, off-colour jokes, and outright disbelief. (“Everyone thinks they had an eating disorder.”) and I’m pretty sure the reason they respond like this is because of my weight. Many people assume (and tell me) that I was bulimic only and not also anorexic, because, well, I’m fat.

This harms and hurts me more than these people can know.

When you have experienced an eating disorder, the issues never go away.  I weigh more than I ever have in my entire life and yet I continue to have eating and food issues every day. There is never a day when I am free from feeling disgust, shame, guilt, or disappointment about eating. And when I try to reach out only to be pushed away because of my weight, it really affects me.

This is a very real issue. The bottom line is that anyone regardless of size or shape can have a serious eating disorder and if someone reaches out to you, listen. Don’t judge them based on your misperceptions. Believe them and believe in them. Everyone deserves this, not just the stereotypes.

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

Five Reasons I Fell Off the (blogging) Wagon

Dear friends, family, and random people who found this blog by accident:

So according to my calculations, I haven’t written a blog post in almost 80 days, which I think is basically considered death by blogging. However, I’m here to (very quickly) tell you that I’m back and that I promise (cross my heart) that I’ll be better in the New Year! In the meantime, here’s a quick list of what’s been going on and (possibly) what’s been taking my time away from writing (or blogging, anyway).  In random order:

  1. My youngest, fractured his elbow and we spent all weekend waiting for it to be operated on. Gotta love that Canadian health care system.
  2. I finished my last university course for my Master’s degree: LGBTQ* Issues in Education and Community, which involved a lot of essay writing.
  3. I presented at the International Symposium for Poetic Inquiry (more writing!) where I met many like minded researchers from around the world, some of whom I am now lucky enough to call friends.
  4. Depression. Yep, that son-of-a-bitch never seems to want to let me go. Although I’ve been feeling pretty good for a fairly long time now, I met up with Depression’s little sister: Seasonal Affective Disorder. So basically I’m sad because it’s winter.
  5. Pixy Stix: Not the candy, but our new puppy. (Pixy for short, or Pixie if we’re being posh) She’s a whippet, like our last dog Hudson was, and right now, she’s a bit of a handful to say the least.

So in a nutshell, that’s what I’ve been up to for the past 80 some days. When I type it out, it doesn’t really seem like any of those are good enough reasons not to be writing here, especially when it feels so good to be writing here, right now. I blame it on #4. Four’s a bastard, who fights hard and dirty. Four might have won the 80 day battle, but I’m back to win the war. I hope you’ll stick with me. (If you haven’t already given up on me, and I hope you haven’t)

Best,

Judy

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74@gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

Eleven Ways my Eating Disorder Continues to Fuck with me Twenty Years After the Fact

The other day I was at my University class, which happens to occur right over the dinner hour. I was starving, but didn’t eat anything. I sipped at my Diet Coke and tried to concentrate on the lecture. It’s not like we aren’t allowed to eat–it’s pretty much par for the course in an evening class and all around me people were snacking on grapes, opening zip lock bags full of cookies, and peeling those tiny BabyBel cheeses. I couldn’t. I can’t.

During my first university degree, I had a pretty serious eating disorder. Somehow I managed to get up, take two buses to get to the university, sit through class drinking Diet Coke, and return to my apartment 8 hours later only to collapse on the couch from exhaustion. I remember that it took too much effort to lift my arms to wash my hair, so I didn’t. If I caved from hunger in the evening, I ate what I could find in the fridge and washed everything down with a carton of chocolate milk. Then I went to visit my aptly named bathroom fixture: American Standard. The next morning, I would begin again.

So of course, during those days, no one ever, ever, ever saw me eat. On dinner dates, I would pretend that I had already eaten previously and therefore couldn’t partake in the meal. I know there were more than a couple boys and girls who were frustrated/confused by my refusal to order anything other than a salad, which I then left untouched on my plate. These days–almost twenty years later–I can eat in public with very good friends, but I can never eat in public around strangers. Some things stick with you.

And that got me thinking about how those four-plus years of my life have affected the rest of my life. In random order, here’s my list of how an age-old eating disorder continues to fuck with my now happy life:

  1. Waking up in the middle of the night to throw up . . . for no apparent reason.
  2. Retching until I throw up first thing in the morning . . . for no apparent reason.
  3. Swallowing a pill . . . and then immediately throwing up.
  4. Coughing during a cold . . . and then throwing up, not because I have the flu, but just because.
  5. Keeping an empty bucket in every bathroom . . . just because.
  6. Brushing my teeth and tongue. . . and then retching. And maybe throwing up.
  7. Eating a little too much at a party . . . and then throwing up. Not because I want to, but because my body thinks there is no alternative.
  8. Looking in the mirror.
  9. Scales.
  10. Looking/Not looking at old photos of the thin but unhealthy me.
  11. Daydreaming about recovering the sense of power and control I felt I had, no matter how unhealthy it was.

Long ago, when I was in Recovery, the doctors told me that my “trigger” for vomiting might be compromised and that it would always be easier for me to throw up. Turns out they were right.  But retching and throwing up are the easy part. The hardest part is looking in the mirror every day and trying to convince myself that I am indeed better off now than I was. Fuck you Anorexia. Fuck you Bulimia. Fuck you. I am better than you.

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74@gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

Just Not Good Enough

Just not good enough:
That old familiar refrain
Rattles around in my head
As I survey my surroundings–
naked Barbies and broken Lego spaceships
litter the living room floor;
children run by with can openers and spatulas
to be used as weapons of some sort–
The voice sounds off:
You’re just not (a) good enough
Mother.

Later that evening,
I shower and stand in front of the mirror
Examining myself–
Stretch marks abound on my round, twenty extra pound belly,
The gap between my front teeth seems more prominent somehow,
And my eyebrows are in dire need of some attention,
As are the grey roots poking out from my blonde hair.
The voice taunts me:
You’re just not good (looking) enough.

I sit down at my desk,
Determined to get some work done on my latest project–
A lecture on living and studying poetically–
But I’m stuck on words that won’t come
And hung up on the idea that the other scholars at this conference
Will be smarter than I am.
Are they?
I really don’t know yet I know it must be true, for
The voice whispers:
You’re just not good enough.

Sometimes the words are altered slightly–

You’re just not:
Thin enough
Intelligent enough
Pretty enough
Strong enough
Dedicated enough
Fill-in-the-blank enough.

The meaning’s the same though:
I’m just not good enough.
I get it.

How is it possible to
Continue day after day
Hour after hour
Moment after moment–
When everywhere I look
Reminds me that
I’m just not good enough.
When all I hear (all the time, all day long) is
The voice in my head:
You’re just not good enough.

I don’t know.
Yet somehow I continue to exist
In this time and space
That surrounds me,
Envelops me,
Keeps me here.

Sometimes,
Maybe,  just maybe,
I allow myself to think
(for one short, brief second, perhaps even to believe)–
I am good enough.
And maybe that’s just good enough
To keep on going.

Notes: I feel as though I have so much to say about the power of these words that have ruled my life for so long but I can’t adequately express them. This poem just isn’t good enough.

And, if you want to know what the voice sounds like set to music, have a listen to Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” and replace the lyrics with “Just Not Good Enough” and you’ll have a fairly clear idea.

 

 

Welcome (?) Back

Can’t (creatively) live with you.
Can’t (realistically) live without you.
So, what’s a girl to do?
Welcome back, Wellbutrin™.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/smkybear/5363999563/in/photolist-oZ9NL-dvdgn5-dCiTQA-5VJY5s-qCKVf-dh84Ho-7ds57d-dZyUAp-e1hCR2-9UY6Ni-noA3g-2jFCLo-dpuPLz-7CMnDt-dxB3L3-poc91-9aZUc6-6tezq-f9LA2u-4bT3A2-fcNkFV-dinaed-f5Yybh-ffzmi9-bseQtP-oviYe1-5Kp1Td-obbYcT-obbXVk-e4ghiW-oFJV42-dz7pue-e8iGd3-dgHcWf-4bSZ9x-4bT1T4-o8qgF3-5X4NeP-4bSVxv-4bSVxk-oqSEeM-4bT3zX-opTFyf-4pF1TK-4bT3zZ-5HPwpS-4bT1Ti-5HPwpA-4bSZ9r-xa1bK

Broken Life by Wendy on Flickr (smkybear)

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74