This means I haven’t been walking my dogs or lifting anything heavier than 10 lbs. for weeks. I’m immobile. For the first time in years, my favourite exercise, walking my dogs, is verboten.
I don’t enjoy solo walking. Furthermore, the weather has been anything but walkable, so I’ve stayed home and fallen off my eating plan for my eating disorder.
Then, at my annual physical last week, I had a chat with my GP. I stepped on the scale backwards, so I couldn’t see the number. I didn’t have to. Although weight is one number you don’t need to know, I know I’m heavier and I don’t like the way I feel. I hate it.
My doctor didn’t recommend a diet, which for anyone with an eating disorder is a dirty word and a dangerous pursuit.
“Just get back on your eating plan and get out and walk, without the dogs if you must, but not too much,” she advised me sternly.
She knows how easily I can get obsessed and addicted to exercise, my form of purging.
Yesterday was my birthday. I’m not sad. Not manic, either. Just celebrating aging and a joyous day. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. It went on for three days, beginning Saturday. I had my hair cut. Very short. It’s a brush cut. I love carefree hair. Who has time to fuss with hair, so every eight weeks, I’m buzzed.
2. Then, I met my closest girlfriend and we walked to a tiny perfect new sushi spot for a delicious Bento Box lunch. Very intimate. We had the place to ourselves. This is our annual ritual because our birthdays are three days apart, though I’m one year older. We exchange small gifts ~ I knit her a scarf in her favourite colours ~ and we celebrate our friendship. Without fail.
3. Then I went home, worked for a bit – I never feel right unless I work everyday. We watched a great HBO documentary about Ethel Kennedy, made by Rory Kennedy, her 11th and youngest child born six months after the 1968 assassination of her father, Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
All over my neighbourhood, walking my two Dandie Dinmont Terriers today, I’ve encountered people harvesting or clearing out their gardens, a little prematurely placing Hallowe’en pumpkins on their porches and celebrating the splendour of the autumn colours. You have to see them to believe them.
Last Thanksgiving, I was starving, skeletal and anxiously waiting to start an eating disorder program.
Last summer, before beginning his first year at Robert Land Academy 15-year-old Peter Darwin (who requested that his real name not be used) weighed 360 lbs. Since then Canada’s only military-themed school for adolescent boys with multiple challenges has transformed him.
Darwin has dropped 105 lbs., and now weighs 252 lbs., since boarding at the 33-year-old school in Southern Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula. This summer he hopes to continue losing weight and ultimately reach his 210-pound goal.
Morbid obesity, an increasingly critical societal, cultural, medical and emotional concern, especially for young people, jeopardizes every sphere of their lives.
“At home, I used to raid the fridge whenever I wanted and I used to think I ate pretty healthy,” Darwin said, at this year’s graduation ceremony. “When I got sad, though, I’d eat a lot. Emotions controlled my eating.
“Robert Land Academy taught me a lot. It taught me how to set goals properly, to value my nutrition, to work out properly. Now, I eat three times a day. I like the food here. It tastes good. They don’t give you too much or too little. You control your portioning. Learn to make choices.”
Another class of mature, respectful, goal-oriented and successful young men completed their high school education at Canada’s only military-style boarding school for adolescent boys, some as young as 11 years of age.
Nestled in southern Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, these boys flourish in a school environment unlike any they’ve previously attended.
It stresses academic excellence, athletics, leadership and teamwork. Extracurricular activities “make it worthwhile,” said class valedictorian Paul Burrill, 17, from Burnaby, B.C., describing games and sports of every kind, plus rock climbing, boxing, wrestling, “even jumping out of a plane.”
Their family relationships heal. They develop confidence while achieving top academic marks that open doors to any university, college and career they choose.
Hailing from all over North America, Europe, Hong Kong and the Middle East, they arrive with a rash of challenges and diagnoses.
ADHD, ADD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and different learning disabilities. Some have critical physical problems demanding lifestyle regulation. Morbid obesity. Diabetes. Others have abused alcohol and drugs or flirted with the law.
Ephron died yesterday of “pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukaemia,” her son Jacob Bernstein told the New York Times in today’s edition.
But somehow, I always believed Nora would be. (She was just 71.)
She always brought a smile to my face. A giggle. Like another of my favourite resident New York writers, Calvin Trillin.
They’re both entirely different, but immeasurably engaging and amusing, at times laugh-out-loud funny because their writing in all its forms pricks our nerves, tickles us, speaks their truths with a visceral honesty that hits us where we live – in our heads and our hearts (and our tushes).
Today is one of those days.
Something’s going to happen…
Not here. Not to me directly. I’m worried about it and I won’t even be here to worry about it.
My anxiety and I will be traveling around downtown on the TTC again in the sweltering heat because that’s the way my life is these days.
Distraction is the best way for me to deal with anxiety…
I knit. I observe. I people-watch. I try to engage people in conversation, but very few people like to chat these days. People hate to pick up phones. I detest email. It’s toneless.
Conversation seems to be a dying art.
Later this evening, which is why I’m weighing in now at 8:30 a.m. with this post, I’ll attend a closing meeting of a charity for which I volunteer. Actually, it’s an evening to honour the dedicated teachers who work at the Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre (CCAC).
Volunteering is and always has been a part of my life. It’s important to feel part of a community even though, in this case, Cabbagetown is not my geographical community. I love being involved in community service.
And I love Cabbagetown…
Today, from the crack of dawn, I was out of the house and tramping around town in the heat. No fun.
I had an appointment with my psychologist and our next is in one month.
We’re winding down…
Then back uptown we had another appointment with our financial advisor. Never fun and games either.
In between, a quick trip to the pharmacy to have a prescription filled. Walks with the dogs. The stuff of daily life that helps to keep us running.
I was thinking about you…
Still, all along, you were in the back of my mind. I knew I would have to get my new installment in fast. And late. Really late. It’s going to be short, too.
Here’s what I have to report. It’s about The 10th Mirror. “The Mirror of Consciousness” or the inner mirror. It’s about body-image. The power of the inner gaze.
They won’t move mountains for you or transform your view of life. They’re not earth shattering. That’s a misconception about psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy doesn’t change you…
It’s gradual. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s a process that can change the way you feel about yourself, though you don’t realize it while it’s happening. You have to commit yourself to it.
You end up, I think, with a bit of insight.
People don’t change and you can’t change them…
This is perhaps the hardest, most challenging realization I’ve learned in my therapy. I’m constantly learning and relearning it. Really accepting it has made my life more peaceful.
This is as close to an absolute truth as any I know.
“My exit strategy”…
We’re spacing out our appointments. Seeing each other monthly. This is all part of my “exit strategy” from my psychiatric psychotherapy.
Dr. Bob and I began seeing each other in 1990. That’s 22 years of life-changing therapy.
This past February he spent six weeks at Addis Ababa University teaching psychiatric residents through an exchange program with the University of Toronto. Initially I was concerned about him being so far away for so long.
I was meeting with my psychologist Kim Watson and working on recovery from my eating disorder. So I was not working entirely without a net.
When Dr. Bob returned he couldn’t believe the change in me…
“You’ve done it,” he said during our first session on March 29. “You’ve been working very hard.”
That was when I began for the first time in my life to entertain the idea of what until now was unthinkable for me.