Archives for eating disorders
Hello, again. It's been a long time. I thought I was finished with this blog and with "Coming Out Crazy." I thought I had turned the page on my mental illness, since I'm so stable. I really never think about it that much, other than when I take my medication, along with the many more pills I take to keep my transplanted kidney stable or at my occasional "oil checks" with my psychiatrist, Dr. Bob, who is about to semi-retire. Life goes on and now I have other issues and passions to explore. The truth is, I haven't been writing much at all lately. I've joined my local library, though, and I've done a lot of reading and much of it good fiction. So, why am I here, now?
This past week I had the second of two cataract surgeries on my right eye – they're doing this for younger people these days. The left eye was "done" a month ago. 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.
I never weigh myselfThen, 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.
Getting Buzzed3. 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.
Okay. It's not white and snowy up here yet, but if you're beneath the 49th parallel, Canada is definitely north and in many ways, great. For one thing, today is Canadian Thanksgiving, a national holiday that always corresponds to your Columbus Day, and a great season for thanksgiving, too. Harvest Time. 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.
This Thanksgiving Is My Happiest EverLast 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.
He Was A Poster Boy For Morbid ObesityNo more. 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.
A Self-Described "Emotional Eater""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."
Brass buttons were bursting with pride at last month's 33rd annual Robert Land Academy graduation ceremony. 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.
School Stresses Academic ExcellenceNestled 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."
Students Struggle With ADHD, ADD, ODD and Other IssuesRLA's safe, structured environment often dramatically transforms its students, like Burrill, psychologically and physically. 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.
In front of me I've placed two dog-eared, yellowing paperbacks from my library. I've kept them for years. Wallflower at the Orgy and Crazy Salad (first editions) both by magnificently multi-talented, versatile, prolific and relentlessly funny Nora Ephron. Ephron died yesterday of "pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukaemia," her son Jacob Bernstein told the New York Times in today's edition.
No one is forever...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). Nora went beyond journalism into screenwriting, novel writing, directing, producing, and blogging. When it came to writing and a comic, but always humane vision, there was nothing she couldn't do.
Although I do not have any clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder, I live with anxiety all the time. It's my default mode, part of my emotionally sensitive complexion. 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...
Okay. I decided to do this blogathon on an impulse. No posts were in the bank, so they're going up late in the day. For this, I apologize. 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.
My formal psychiatric psychotherapy is ending. I've been reflecting on some recurrent themes. 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.