Thursday, October 22, 2015


Mental Health Awareness week was 12 days ago.

It's been a month of mental health for me. I started blogging again. I've been writing quotes and short recounts of pain. I went to a forum yesterday called "Breaking the Silence." It was nice to hear stories from others and to hear the enthusiasm for gaining understa5fnding on mental health.

I have come to accept two more disorders. I still have to talk to my doctors but I can pretty safely say I have Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and Nightmare Disorder.

I avoid eating. I tell myself I can eat later. I restrict the foods I eat. I have about 50 safe foods so I'm better off than most people with the disorder. I have foods I have trouble looking at, even think about. My throat will start closing up and I get anxious.

But I make myself get food when I can. I force myself to eat just a little more. I'm trying to figure out what foods I can always eat. 100% safe foods. My physician told me not to go under 120. I don't know what's going to happen if I do. Right now that's 1 pound away. A 1 pound buffer, if you will. Can I keep from losing that safety net?

I was really worried about my weight from 6-9 y/o. I was in the 60s for about 2.5 years. I was terrified I'd never gain weight. That I would look gross. That I wouldn't grow correctly. That I wouldn't be average height or weight. I was used to being average.

I remember going shopping with my mom. I would choose foods that looked good to me. She'd ask about things I usually ate and I'd say no.

One memory from 2nd grade haunts me.

Mom: Purple Owl, get your backpack and come to the dining room.

Purple Owl looks at her backpack and sighs. School, again.

Purple Owl: Here I am. Do I have to go?

Mom: Yes. Here's your lunch.

Purple Owl takes the bag and opens it. Ew, a sandwich, fruit, and juice box.

Purple Owl: I don't want this.

Mom: Purple Owl, you need to eat.

Purple Owl: But I can't eat this.

Mom: Do you have your lunch ticket?

Purple Owl nods.

Mom: You can take the lunch and then you'll have two choices.

Purple Owl: But what if I don't want either?

Sisters: Mom, we're ready.

Mom, packing her bag: Okay girls. We'll be right there. Purple Owl, you have to eat something. We talked about this. You want to gain weight. You promised you'd eat lunch everyday.

Purple Owl's eyes light up.

Purple Owl: I want a Slim Fast.

Mom: They’re for weight loss or management. It's for adults. You don't need it.

Purple Owl: You've let me have some before. And if the serving size is for adults, it's different for children.

Mom: You promise to drink it?

Purple Owl bobs her head up and down.

Purple Owl: Yes. It's yummy.

Mom: And you're not taking it just to be like me?

Purple Owl shakes her head and entire body.

Purple Owl: No. It makes me hungry but it's also filling. I want to drink it.

Mom: Okay you can take it. Put the lunch bag in the fridge. Maybe you'll have it as a snack.

Purple Owl opens the pantry and chooses a chocolate Slim Fast. She makes room for it in her school bag. Purple Owl puts the lunch in the fridge. She wrinkles her nose. Not eating that today.

She skips to the living room and joins her family.

The lunch lady asked me three times if that's all I had for lunch. I think she thought my mom was neglectful, forcing me to diet, or unaware of dietary needs. She didn't know that my mom just wanted me to eat something, anything. She didn't know that I fought for the Slim Fast.

As for Nightmare Disorder, I thought everyone had nightmares, especially children. I blamed it on an overactive imagination and any intense movie or story. I didn't know that 1 to 3 bad dreams a night was a problem. I didn't know that remembering dreams for years was odd.

I have about 6 recurring dreams that started at some point in childhood or adolescence. A few years will go by between them. And each time they come back, it's like I'm welcoming an old friend. As I squeeze myself into a ball and wrap up in my blankets, I feel slightly comforted recalling the details. At least my dreams always have my back. They always want to visit.

Is that a normal way to relax from nightmares? Well it's my way. And it's not like I can go talk to someone about my bad dream in the middle of the night. Talk about my fear of going back to bed. Talk about my fear of what my brain is going to think up next.

I know about these disorders now. I'll work to get more information on them. I'll work to understand what they mean for me. And I can work with my doctors and others to find ways to face them head on. And that's a better place than I was in before.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Worst Day of 2015 - 10/14/15

So far this year I've dislocated my knee, had a reaction to medication, dreamt I was assaulted, and had a major withdrawal.

But today was the worst day of the year.

So yesterday I slept in by accident. And then I laid in bed for more than 2 hours, not wanting to live, let alone think about school projects. I had an okay day, once again not accomplishing or eating all I wanted to. And then, I had to spend time with people. People I love but don't understand me. By the end of day, I was wondering if I'm the weirdest person on the planet or an alien. I'm different and a waste.

Anyway, I was up until 1am getting ready for school. Then my meds and night routine. And off to bed.

I woke up at 5:30 am to a hazy version of my repeat assault dream. I got down from bed and started my morning routine. Drinking water I hate to start my metabolism and prepare for the heat. Eating though I don't want to. Packing food I won't want to eat. Getting my bags ready for a school day and project I don't want to go through. Trying to find clothes that fit the temperature throughout the day and my body that's wasting itself away.

I got to the bus stop, 85% convinced today would be good. Had a nice enough conversation with a guy about what time the bus was coming. And started listening to my beautiful music. The bus came. I got on.

Three minutes into the ride, I realized I couldn't do it and closed my eyes. (My sleep aid was probably still kicking in.) Music, breathing, and waiting for my stop.

Off the bus now, I went across the street and put more money on my card. Trying not to think about my account amount. Sitting, waiting, and reminding myself to breath. When the bus finally came, I sat down and immediately closed my eyes. I got off soon enough, my knee hurting form the harsh stop.

Up to my classroom, not caring about stares for mouthing and gesturing along to my music. Smiling at my teacher and sitting in the classroom with 5 other people. Putting out water and tea I didn’t want to drink but would force myself to. My headphones stayed on. My music is my lifeline, my central gravity. I did some class reading. Decided to get my grades before class, like everyone else.

Class was good as usual. My teacher is wonderful. Only problem being students not majoring in child development complaining about the discussion topic. I shouldn't let it bother me but it does. (Like everything.)

Realized after class that I really should follow through with asking my 1st teacher for the last thing I needed in my 2nd class' first aid kit. "It's just borrowing." "She's a really nice person." "The fact that you failed to obtain this one thing isn't going to ruin her opinion of you." She didn't have it. Slightly stressed (about a project I didn't care about yesterday). But talking to her made me happy. She's a nice part of my day.

Off to my next class. Started a waffle sandwich because I hadn't eaten in 2.5 hours. Forced myself to eat half. Very worried about this 20/300 point project. (If you're going to do something, you have to do it right. Right?) And then, we don't even start with it. But that's alright. My teacher is fun to listen to and very informative. My tablemates are engaging. The grading waited until the end of class.

Then I realized I didn't plan how I was get home. Found 2 buses with the least walking. (Knee hurts, after all. Want to just cut it off. And wearing full length jeans in 90+ degree weather.) But it wasn't coming for 50 minutes. Waited on campus. Music. Continued reading. Started doing my hair to do something with my hands (even though I don't believe in doing hair in public. It's amazing what you get over when you're out of energy to care). Off campus to my bus stop with my hair 70% done. Waited 20 minutes mainly in the sun. Worried my phone may die. (40% scares me while I'm out of the house.)

1st bus was 15 minutes late. Rode listening to music trying not to panic about missing my 2nd bus. Trying to convince myself to get off at my stop and not ride until wherever. (After all, I had work.)

But the 2nd bus was also late. So it was okay. Waiting in the sun, drinking juice and chewing jum. (I'm developing an oral fixation.) I got on the bus, glad I put more money on my card than I had originally planned. Once on the bus, I realized I was sweating too much (minor withdrawal and overheating). I didn't have much left.

Got off the bus. Saw my house and kept my eye on it as I tried to just get inside. Upstairs, in house, took apart my bags, and took a nap.

Woke up 3 times from a horrible food guilt related nightmare. I was having trouble breathing. Couldn't tell if it was physical or mental but it didn't matter. I was late for work. Got dressed on the coolest thing I could find, got water, and left.

I walked down the street singing my favorite calming and reassuring song. Tried to relax, turned the corner and fought a panic attack. Can't have an attack with a child (#1 fear). "Put it off."

Both of us were a little off so it wasn't as enjoyable as usual. As I walked home I told myself to just get home. It didn't work, completely.

Crying on the street has always been another big fear. And today it was realized. Twice.

Straight to the bathroom, ignoring my sister. Cleaned up, calmed down, went out and apologized. She understood. We sat together for a moment. I got a cold pack for my head and went to bed to lay down and relax. Up 30 minutes later, picked out comfortable clothes that make me feel less disgusted with my body. Cold shower, repacked my food and bag. And out I went.

I took my hair out as I walked. I changed my mind about having it up. ("So did I waste that energy earlier, the precious calories?") I smiled at an older lady because smiles are contagious and she has earned a right to joy by surviving life so long. (Is it narcissistic to think of my own smile as a gem? It's only because people tell my it's cute.)

And at this point I realized I was overreacting. Yeah the week, month, year (lifetime) hasn't been going according to plan. But moping isn't going to help. Worrying about my lack of energy (calories and patience), possible panic attacks, and bouts of misery isn't going to delay any of it.

Both my charge and I were more conversational. I enjoyed the time.

I had dinner with friends. (My excitement had been going back and forth all day.) I had fun.

I came home and got to be truly alone for the first time today. Peacefully and unstressed alone, favorite music and my phone.

Once people came home, there were moments I was unhappy with the conversations. But I was ready. Finally.

So yes, it was the worst day of this year. Yes, a couple of my biggest fears were realized or close to it. And yes, the bad part of the day takes up most of the space but I'm here.

And at the moment, don't mind being alive. What more can I ask for?

If I can make it through today, I can make it through any day.

10/15/15 update: wasn't so neutral about being alive most of the day. Woke up continuously for 3 hours with nightmares. Weak all day, physically and emotionally. I was so sure I would faint at some point. A period, 400 calories, and lots of walking will do that to you. But today (well, Friday morning at 0:31), I'm kinda liking existing. Hope I wake up feeling the same.