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.
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.
I want to stay hard and close to my subject, Coming Out Crazy, but there are times when I long to digress.
And if the truth be known, craziness is a wild and woolly subject. We’re all crazy at times in our lives. Being a bit crazy is quite liberating, I think. So I hope you’ll understand if I share some of the strategies that keep me sane.
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.
In today’s economy, with soaring unemployment rates, cut-backs, massive lay-offs and a consumerist culture shouts “buy, buy, buy,” it’s devastating to be jobless.
Furthermore, our cultural values are out of sync – how we value ourselves and our mental and emotional health versus the value of work, money and “stuff.”
(Ironically, volunteer work builds self-esteem more than a huge salary and it’s a great stress-reducing strategy while job-hunting.)
All this hit the headlines last week…
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen belittled Mitt Romney’s wife Ann and her full-time career as a housewife and stay-at-home- mom.
“Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said on CNN.”She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future.”
That comment rang alarms with everyone across the political spectrum. Especially women.
It is overwhelming for me to explain these differences.
They may not even appear to you, but they are shouting loud and clear to me.
Yes, I hear voices, all the time. Perhaps you do, too.
Or you do not to listen to them…
Today, you’re probably different that you were a few months ago, too. We’re changing all the time, if we’re lucky and open to change. I like change. If we’re buoyant, strong, “resilient” ~ that buzziest of psychological words these days.
When I broke my arm on December 14, I cut off all my hair. There was only so much I wanted to impose on my husband Marty who was doing everything there is to do around this place. Cleaning, cooking, caring for our dogs. Chauffeuring me hither and thither, here, there and everywhere.
Since then, and after another haircut, I am utterly shorn. I not only have “wash and wear hair,” I have “get up and go hair.”
The hair is but a superficial difference. Inside, where I have lived these 63 years, or made a semblance of living, the landscape is transformed. My ebullient personality, my default mode, is but a cover, I will confess. It’s a great mask behind which the real me lives. A me, no one really wants to know.
I don’t blame them. I’m getting a little tired of her, too.
So, naturally, I’m attempting to follow the meal plan designed for me in my Eating Disorders Program right down to every teaspoon, gram, ounce and millilitre.
I am trying to eyeball my portions, but my eyeballs are slow learners.
Plus the stresses of my life make this precarious…
I keep forgetting that I don’t have to be perfect. No one expects perfection.
I miss the support and camaraderie of the other patients in my group plus the expertise and advice from all the psychiatric, psychological, nutritional and social work staff who were always there for us, watching us, keeping us on track and caring about us.
Now, I’m doing everything by myself…
All my meals were supplied for me, with the exception of my breakfast.
By myself, alone, it’s a huge challenge to stick to this meal plan, which involves eating a wide variety of foods (anything, including my forbidden foods) at five specific times and in specific quantities.
I had a fresh, liberating understanding of what “normal” eating is for me. For everyone. We need a minimum number of calories for our bodies simply to function.
That number is always ignored by the diet industry. Though I no longer count calories or weigh food or even weigh myself, I know that my body needs 1,400 just to exist.
Because of my broken arm, I’m not doing any exercising. Not yet.
Risking a fall isn’t an option right now…
Furthermore, exercise is an activity I must work back into in a safe way, since I have used exercise as a form of purging. That kind of thinking, exercise in order to control weight or change body shape is no longer an option for me. It’s not healthy or realistic. It’s a specious way to try to control your weight. You can’t. Your genetics determine your optimal body weight. That’s a whole other story.
Today is typical. Though we have had some lovely, sunny, sweet un-November-like days, today is not one of them.
It’s grey and damp and drizzly.
Not a day to lift one’s spirits…
I have often said that I do not suffer with clinical depression. That is not to say, however, that I am immune to situational “sadnesses” or “the blues” or “the blahs” ~ and lately, that is how I’ve been feeling.
There are some solid reasons for this.
One is a feeling of worthlessness. Right now, I am not gainfully employed for the first time in my life. I am awaiting a call from an Eating Disorders Clinic that will tell me I must report the next day. I have no idea when that call will come, thus, it is rather futile to look for any kind of job.
I am not working. I am not writing, as you well know.
My posting here has practically stopped cold.