Archives for recovery
Sunday night, a LinkedIn request from a chap named Stuart Ellis-Myers popped into my inbox. "Hi Sandy - I just spoke at the Winnipeg Mental Health conference - May I Please Link In with you? - Stuart Ellis-Myers" After connecting, he immediately followed up: "Thanks Sandy Winnipeg . . . . icy cold brrrrrrr the conference focus was on suicide I live with Tourette's and the buffet table of disorders that comes along with the diagnosis so know the depression driven suicide experience well The audience were awesome, everyone from parents, practitioners, government . . even a school district leader I shone the light of recognition for attending. may I send you a YouTube shot from the conference? I just need your real email mine is firstname.lastname@example.org cheers and all the best would love to speak with you sometime soon Twitchy" The first thing that jumped out was that Stuart said he "lived with" Tourette's rather than "suffered from" it. I loved that. He signed his note "Twitchy." I loved that, too.
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.
I'm not dead. I'm still here. I'm not "away" in a mental hospital. I'm not manic and flying. You may have thought that and I wouldn't blame you.
Quite the contrary – I'm thriving on work...Work is the greatest therapy of all. Here's why: Work gives you a sense of purpose and we all need to feel purposeful and useful. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning, get dressed and get going. (I work at home, but I still get dressed every morning, no matter what. Otherwise I don't feel professional, and I'm a professional.) When you work you have to reach out and engage with other people. Connect with the world. That's exciting and exhilarating. The more you have to do, the more you get done. (That sounds like it should be an axiom with a name like Murphy's Law, which it is not. I cannot find it right now. When I do, I'll get back to you.) You feel a great sense of accomplishment, confidence, self-esteem, a wondrous natural "high" when you do a good job. You can't buy that feeling. It's truly priceless. I love it. You learn so much from the mistakes you make or the first drafts you have to rewrite. It's tough work. Writing really makes you bleed sometimes, it's so hard, but when you get it right, it's bliss. There's nothing better than falling into bed at night utterly exhausted after a hard day or night of work.
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.
My Dandie Dinmonts are a rare and endangered breed. Only 200, if that, are born world-wide each year.
That's why I'm so passionate about this breedDandies have tiny and fragile litters. Usually only two or three puppies. One of Lucy's litters was a singleton. The only litter Riley has ever sired was four puppies, but one of them died. Dandies, with their distinctive white topknots, black button noses and penetrating black eyes, are so beautiful, they're a natural people magnet. We're often stopped in the street. They are sweet-natured, loyal, fun-loving, mischievous and very sensitive little animals. They wag their tails in circles. It's the most charming thing to watch. Often, Riley's goes so fast I can barely see it. He's won tail wagging contests.
The most wondrous thing about my dogs is their innate "cuddle-ability." Riley and Lucy love nothing more than to be held and petted. They beg for it. And who can resist a face like Riley's?
My dogs have "cuddle-ability"...This is a Dandie Dinmont Terrier trait. They so love to cuddle that at all our Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of Canada public events we have a special "Cuddling Parlour" where anyone can sit down and "cuddle a Dandie."
What is so magical about cuddling a dog?It's no secret that petting any dog or cat, for that matter, creates a magnificent neuroscientific reaction in the person doing the cuddling and petting. A bonding hormone is produced called Oxytocin, the same hormone nursing mothers produce when they are breast feeding their children. It's also called the hormone of love.
This morning I saw my psychiatrist Dr. Bob for the first time since May 16. One month ago. "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. Leaving therapy...
"Writing is like playing the piano. It takes practice." Those were the unforgettable words of one of the brightest City Editors I ever worked with at The Toronto Sun. And he's right. Lately, I've gotten out of the habit of writing and blogging, so I've decided blatantly to copy Margarita Tartakosky, an associate editor and Weightless blogger here at Psych Central, and blog every day for 31 days. Margarita is my muse and my constant source of support and inspiration. Her blogathon ran during the month of May 2012 and was carried on her personal website here. It's definitely worth a gander. Today is the first day of my Blogathon... Mine is beginning today ~ Monday, June 11. There is no significance to this date. It's simply the day I'm beginning. And I've already begun, with two posts that went up earlier today. About Attuned Eating. And being attuned to my body and myself. Two parts. Some of these Blogathon posts will be short and spontaneous. Writing to be another of my self-soothing activities as long as I don't get too perfectionistic .Perfectionism invariably blocks me and stops me.