Demons in my head

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I am heavy hearted. I have come to a ginormous realization, the kind that changes your life. I don’t know why it happened yesterday as nothing unusual was going on. But I have had a huge personal breakthrough.

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with my weight. My first Weight Watchers meeting was when I was 13. I can’t recall what I weighed but at the time I felt very large and had what I thought was a big tummy. Looking back I’m surprised they let me join. And since then, I have done almost every diet plan out there. I have ranged from 111-199 pounds in the last 32 years. Right now I am nearing my highest point again and this time it is REALLY REALLY bothering me.

Part of my big realization is the fact that I can not stand when I hear women berate themselves over their weight or their appearance. I am quick to correct them and tell them something beautiful about themselves or remind them that their legs work so they should be grateful. This pet peeve has come around in the last 5-10 years as I have watched the media destroy women over their appearance and it kills me. I used to be SO hard on myself at such an early age, and I let so much of it go.

Or so I thought… One part of my realization is that I still talk very ugly to myself but I do so way down deep, ever so quietly. Its almost worse to think you are kind and loving to yourself and realizing your thoughts are vicious. I am not nearly as outspoken about my disgust at my body, even in my own mind… I just call myself ugly things. I am my own bully.

In the apartment we are living in now, you come out of the bedroom and right in front of you is the bathroom counter with the mirror. You can quickly turn into the living space and not look at the mirror.  But if you are heading to the sink or the toilet, you are facing it head on. I see myself walk to the bathroom every morning and all I quietly think is ‘gross’ or ‘disgusting’. You see what I mean? My daily thoughts of telling myself I am worthless or lazy for not exercising have gotten so much better. I talked myself out of those thoughts… yet my demons still lurk.

As you all probably know, assuming you are all my friends that read this blog, my daughter has lost 135 pounds. She is 17. I have watched her transform herself by doing all the healthy things we are told to do: smaller portions, more water, no eating past 7pm, no soda, no snacking. She is a TRUE inspiration (130poundsgone on Instagram) and yet I lived with her and continued to gain weight. I am asked often ‘why did she decide to lose weight?’ which I think is an interesting question. I think she just got tired of being over 260 pounds as a teenager. And yesterday I got tired of being over 190.

Having MS is hard on a body. I remember when I was diagnosed at 27 and the doctors said I would ‘age early’. They said I would know the feeling of stiff joints and loss of flexibility before others my age due to the disease. I didn’t register what that meant. I educated myself on the BEST way to take care of myself with this disease. So I started on my regimen of MS medication and a new dose of supplements every day and I lost weight. I had lots of baby weight still on, as my daughter was 5 months old when I was diagnosed in April. By Christmas of that year I was down to 135 lbs and feeling really great. I thought I had this MS thing all under control.

And then the depression hit. By April of the next year I was so depressed I could hardly get out of bed. I was looking at a two story deck, while my children were playing next to me, and wondering if I would do enough damage if I jumped off it. I was not well. I put on 20 lbs in 2 months. I ended up having to change my MS medicine as we realized that was the culprit of the depression. I went from a weekly IM injection to a every other day SQ injection. I got better but never got as healthy as I was at the Christmas before. The depression monster started lurking around regularly, always reminding me it was right there whenever I wanted to chat.

Over the next decade I switched my MS medication again due to another bout of depression (this time it was a daily SQ injection), saw many therapists, took various doses of antidepressants and analyzed the shit out of myself. I beat myself up internally on a level that was never healthy. I acted strong and confident on the outside while I ate all kinds of junk late night and buried my pain and fear in all kinds of things. I searched for answers and slowly began peeling back the onion of my heart to figure out who I really was.

Then a few years ago I was introduced to Brené Brown‘s work. She is a shame researcher from the University of Houston and has written several books. Between my latest therapist at the time, and The Gifts of Imperfection, I started valuing myself a little more. Then in Spring of 2016 I did the Living Brave online class with my sister and Brené officially became my new (virtual) therapist. Her work opened my eyes to all kinds of things. I started seeing the world as a more beautiful place (and really meaning it.)

As my weight has slowly crept up again with this new move and living in a small apartment, I realized I am still not balanced. I was strong enough to give myself an injection everyday for 12 years but continued to secretly hide my pain in a bag of chips or popcorn. I made a million excuses to why I ‘couldn’t’ lose weight: MS, antidepressants, PCOS, you name it. I made excuses about how I couldn’t push myself physically because I couldn’t let my core get hot, while the whole time I was sitting with 50+ pounds around my middle and not exercising in the name of overall health. What bullshit.

I take a handful of supplements and vitamins everyday because I have read they help the brain. I am willing to do what it takes to be as proactive with this disease, yet I have held on way too tight to my horrible eating habits as a way of comfort. I overeat. I snack late at night. Yes, I’m gluten free, for my health…ha! But I can eat a whole box of GF cookies in one sitting. It’s not about what you eat, as my daughter has shown me, it’s about HOW MUCH. And more importantly, it’s about how much do you value and LOVE yourself? Food has always been my crutch, but no more.

I am committing to forgiving myself for the way I have abused my body. I am learning, at 45 years old, what balance really looks like. And no matter what we think, we have to dig deep down and ask ourselves what we are really thinking when we walk in front of the mirror, to the bathroom in the morning.

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