Archives for resilience
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.
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.
UPDATE: It is now 4:52 p.m. on Monday, June 25. It is Day 15 of my Blogathon. I had planned to continue the discussion I began yesterday, when I arrived home, but I just did and I'm exhausted. I took the bus and the subway. Therefore, I hope you'll accept that this is my post for today. Tomorrow, I'll finish writing Is "Texting Destroying Our Humanity, Part Two." This has not been a good morning because of all kinds of online demands have distracted me and kept me from my main obligations.
Emails. Texts. Research. Arrrrghhhh!I had a small emergency that had to be dealt with fast. Online. That takes time. It takes twice as long, online, actually. And not because I type slowly. I'm a 150-word-a-minute girl. Started on a manual typewriter. Do you remember those? Then another instant demand came through. And another.
There's little spontaneity online ~ you must wait...People do not always respond quickly. Instantly. Like on the phone. In live engaged conversation. True, emotions sometimes get in the way, but on the other hand, non-verbal cues are very telling. Frankly, they're as important as the words. Still, everything takes so much time. I'm not patient and I don't like waiting.
I had another blog post planned for you today, but it will have to wait. This one is about knitting. Ripping out knitting, actually. Thus far, I have encountered relatively few problems with my knitting and crocheting, but today was different. Today, it was knitting Hell in this house... Ninety-nine percent of the time, I adore knitting. It's a reliable self-soothing activity. Delightfully portable. I knit in the car. On the bus. On the subway. Whilst awaiting appointments. Usually I fall into an easy rhythm as I knit and meditate. It's mindful. Relaxing. Peaceful. It takes me back to my childhood summers when my mother and her friends would sit by the beach and knit together, keeping watchful eyes on us as we swam. Knitting in public is a great way to meet people... Sometimes, on the subway, people ask me what I'm doing. Knitting in public is not exactly commonplace with most people wired to their iPhones or glued to their iPads. It's fun to elaborate on the Zen of knitting. However, there was no Zen in my knitting this morning. Just anxiety, frustration, angst and apprehension. Was I ultimately a failure at my beloved knitting?
"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.
I regarded my body with disgust... Now, I'm actually beginning to luxuriate in my physicality. To feel a sense of compassion and empathy for my body especially when I consider how I abused it and detested it all my life. Not fair, considering how well it served me. This process is not linear. It ebbs and flows. I still have simply awful moments and days. But I swallow the discomfort and do my best to use the strategies I learned to carry on. (Delay. Food is Medicine. Distraction. Mindfulness. Self-Soothing Activities. My knitting and crocheting are perfect for this. You cannot eat and knit at the same time.) Walking my dogs morning and night is a magical mindful activity that calms me instantly. We walk for about 45 minutes at a time and it's the best therapy for me. Self-Soothing Activities... Other self-soothing exercises that work wonders for me are knitting and crocheting, caring for my plants (and trying not to murder them with my black thumb), grooming my dogs, looking at art books and seeing good movies. The Gym Is Off-Limits, Forever... Though I confess, at times I miss the gym, but going there would be analogous to a recovering alcoholic visiting a bar. Very triggering. For those of us recovering from eating disorders, during the first year following treatment, relapse is a real danger. We're vulnerable. So my gym membership is gone.
It's been a while since we spoke. Please forgive me. Lots happening here. Most of all, I've been coping with breathtaking changes, coming so fast it's hard for me to keep up. Settling into my body... Five months ago I finished the Toronto General Hospital Outpatient Eating Disorder Program. I'm settling into my body. It's exciting. I've learned to trust the eating plan. It works. But it's no cakewalk. I still have urges. Mini-subjective binges. I fight the "f-t" monster in my psyche. Saying that word hurts me because it is so bloated out of proportion these days. Recently reading about idiotic women using feeding tubes to lose weight sickens me. Will this craziness ever end? Why would anyone submit themselves to such indignity and self-abuse? Enough of that. Growing to accept my body... The big news is I'm actually coming to terms with my appearance. I'm not only tolerating my body, but accepting it. Very occasionally, I even like it. This is a first. The reason for these cataclysmic changes lies in my work with psychologist Kim Watson, my years of work with my psychiatrist Dr. Bob, and the work I'm doing myself as on healing my relationship with my body, an entity I separated from my consciousness for too many years.
Stress can't begin to describe how it feels to cope with being unemployed. 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.
Maybe there's hope for me... In today's New York Times, the lead article in the Sunday Review is titled Where Have All the Neurotics Gone? by health reporter Benedict Carey. Where are neurotics today? It seems they've become a thing of the past. An old, dying breed. According to Carey, "For a generation of postwar middle-class Americans, being neurotic meant something more than being merely anxious, and something other than exhibiting the hysteria or other disabling moods problems for which Freud used the term. It meant being interesting (if sometimes exasperating) at a time when psychoanalysis reigned in intellectual circles and Woody Allen reigned in movie houses. "That it means little now, to most Americans, is evidence of how strongly language drives the perception of mental struggle, both its sources and its remedies. In recent years psychiatrists have developed a more specialized medical vocabulary to describe anxiety, the core component of neurosis, and as a result the public has gained a greater appreciation of its many dimensions. "But in the process we've lost entirely the romance of neurosis, as well as it's physical embodiment – a restless, grumbling, needy presence that once functioned in the collective mind as an early warning system, an inner voice that hedged against excessive optimism."