2014 Hurdles Have Made for Some Strong Legs

What a year 2014 has been thus far, and we still have a few months left of it! It’s been filled with ups and downs. The ups: landing my first big girl job and LOVING it. Buying our first house and new car.

But, the downfalls have made me a stronger person. Metaphor time: all those hurdles have made my legs, my body stronger to move forward and to prepare for the next hurdle.

I love metaphors. And running. So that analogy suited me well.

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First, let me start off saying that I know people who have been through some far worse “hurdles” this year. I was not diagnosed with incurable cancer nor did I lose someone I love. I feel for and empathize for people who have gone through those and similar experiences. But, these are my hurdles of my year. I am thankful for my health and family.

So, let’s start with my Celiac Disease diagnosis. How has that made my “legs” stronger? Well, now I know why I’ve had stomach issues all my life! Though I’m not 100% better after a few months of being gluten-free, I know what I need to do to keep my body healthy. I’ve already started improving my times in the races I’ve done this year too!

Next…. I’ve been on Celexa for well over five years and it decided to stop working for me. My anxiety and depression increased. I would break down in tears randomly, not want to get out of bed and felt alone (no matter how many people were around me). On top of that I starting feeling this strange sensation in my head that I describe as brain zaps. This usually happens when one is having withdrawal from an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) antidepressant (such as Celexa). But, I was still taking the highest dosage of it.

So, after consulting with my doctor, he switched me to another SSRI, telling me that after being on certain SSRI for a long period of time they just stop working. The brain zaps were still there, and one day at work, they intensified. As did my anxiety. I couldn’t think straight, felt dizzy and shaky. Not knowing what I should do, I went into my supervisor’s office (who thankfully is wonderful person – and counselor!). When I started explaining what was happening I began to hyperventilate and cry. I had my first, and hopefully last, anxiety attack. And at work… Again, THANKFULLY my boss is super understanding and took me to the ER. During the anxiety attack, I had no idea what was going on with me.

How has an anxiety attack made me stronger? Well, I think it’s helped me see just how real and scary a panic or anxiety attack really is. This increased empathy towards those who go through this will make me a better instructor of Mental Health First Aid and as a person in general. Since then I’ve been on two different medications and think I’ve finally found the one that works for me.

I also have turned to the wonderful practice of yoga due to my anxiety as well as the pain from my scoliosis. I’ve been doing yoga for about a month now and can already feel the difference not only in the physical sense, but the mental and emotional sense as well.

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Lastly, my computer’s hard drive crashed and I wasn’t smart enough to back up my files… This means that my book I was writing “My Marathon to Recovery” that I’ve been working on for 2-3 years now is… GONE. I’ve looked through my e-mail accounts, old flash drives and asked around to see if I’ve ever sent a copy. Zero, zip, nada… All those years of putting my heart and soul into that book is gone, disappeared into nothingness.

“You’re boyfriend is a computer geek though.” Yeah, I know, he tried EVERYTHING he could. The hard drive was dead…

I wouldn’t say I got “stronger” at first from losing my hard work. More like infuriated, upset, feeling hopeless. Later, I took this as a challenge. This just means I need to revisit those thoughts, those memories I once had about my struggle and triumph over my eating disorder. Gotta strengthen those fingers through LOTS of typing!

Again, this post isn’t to ensue sympathy, but about how we can turn our downfalls or hurdles into something positive. It’s about being optimistic.

One of my favorite quotes, and another great metaphor,  by Jimmy Dean demonstrates just that, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

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We cannot change the things that happen to us, but we can adjust how we deal and see these things. Instead of struggling with the change, we need to just adjust our sails, whether it be our diet due to a diagnosis or our mentality about something that we cannot change. We need to stop fighting against a powerful force that will simply not letup, and adjust our sails.

Back to the hurdles metaphor… We will always be presented with hurdles on our path. The more hurdles we jump over, the stronger we become. Don’t let a hurdle, no matter how big or small, stand in your way of your happiness, health, or your goals.

 

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Fighting Relapse

It’s been about two weeks that I’ve been gluten-free – or at least attempted to be. At first, my diagnosis of Celiac Disease was a relief, but now it’s a reality and more than ever I need to fight relapse from my eating disorder.

Also when I received the diagnosis, I was in the midst of becoming an intuitive eater. What’s that? According to Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating:  A Revolutionary Program that Works, “Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant ‘food worry’ thoughts. It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as ‘bad’ or ‘fattening.'”

I bought the book after hearing about this amazing concept, not diet, and started to go through the steps. I was getting good at it! I was eating what I wanted WHEN I wanted. I felt great. I had overcome and recovered from anorexia AND orthorexia, now I was an intuitive eater. I was kicking my eating disorders’ ass! I even coach others through my job’s employee assistance program to become intuitive eaters as well! I have two clients so far and so far they’ve reported doing well.

But then this diagnosis came along… It’s been MUCH harder to eat WHAT I want… There are some alternatives to my favorite foods, like pizza, frozen yogurt, bread. The pizza is disgusting and the bread will take some getting used to.

The symptoms I’ve been experiencing have gotten worse too — not sure if it’s the process of going gluten free or if I’m already more sensitive to gluten than if even a little bit is in some foods I’m getting sick. The symptoms I’ve experienced that are heightened include:

  • Brain Fog
  • Bloat and stomach pain
  • Gassiness
  • Fatigue (it’s been much harder to get out of bed…)
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Weakness

I’ve had these symptoms for a few months now, but they’ve gotten worse over the past couple weeks.

Another concern is relapse. I sought out a new psychiatrist, mainly because the one I’ve been seeing since I was 12 wasn’t working for me and I didn’t feel like he really listened. So, I actually went to a Board-certified advanced practice psychiatric nurse practitioner recently and truly felt like I was heard. Meeting with him was when I truly realized the possibility for relapse. He recommended I see a psychologist there that sees patients with eating disorders. And I agreed. I also agreed to see a nutritionist who can help me go through the process of being totally gluten free.

That was another moment of relief. I don’t need to go through all this on my own. I have GREAT support from family and friends, but it’ll be even better with professional support.

I have been an advocate and spokesperson for eating disorder recovery and prevention for years now. I can’t let myself slip back down the hole — it’s not just for me, but for the others I advocate for. I’m not super human and I need to take care of my physical and mental health.

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Maybe I will relapse, though I will fight to prevent that from happening. But, if it does happen I’ll have people there by my side.

I spoke with a friend from college the other day who was going through relapse to her eating disorder. Talking to her too made me realize that it is real. Relapse CAN happen. But, she is proactive. She reached out to me to talk and see if I can offer advice as to what I do and sought professional help as well. Talking to that great friend gave me the courage to seek help myself. We were both going through some transitions that have sparked a possible relapse to our past eating disorders — I am SO glad she reached out to me when she did, because it not only put her mind at ease but mine as well. THANK YOU, friend. You know who you are. 🙂

As always, I’ll keep this blog up to date with my road to recovery.

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