Delusions.

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Like most people with mood disorders, I’ve always loved reading books about other people with mood disorders. More than one of them have had a bipolar protagonist. And I’ve always thought, while reading: “Huh. That kind of reminds me of… me”. This is not to say that I’m inclined to wear a tutu to the grocery store or buy spur-of-the-moment tickets to Vegas on a newly opened credit card, but the way things tend to cycle inside my head has always made me wonder.

For example.

Syracuse, NY (home of my alma mater) is not known for its fine weather, but the perpetual slate-grey skies mirrored my dysthymic mindset to such an extent that I could only conclude that the pairing was meant to be. I went to class, kept my grades up, and partied like a rockstar, but, behind the scenes, my mind was an abyss. I sought help on more than one occasion, but no amount of talk therapy seemed to lighten my load. And, at the time, I was resistant to medication. The summer before my senior year things got so bad that I had to quit my waitressing job in Boston, bow out of my prizewinning internship at an ad agency, and move back to SU, head in hands. My boyfriend and I had just recently ended our year-plus relationship, and I was terrified of all that lay in store. That first semester was a nightmare. Horrible.

Then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

I remember the moment everything turned roses – it was the screening night for my film class – and finally, to quote the great Sylvia Plath,

“All the heat and fear had purged itself. I felt surprisingly at peace. The bell jar hung suspended a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating air. ”

It was wondrous.

But, as we all know, the only constant in life is change. And it wasn’t long before my euphoria plunged back to black despair. The moment the switch flipped back is just as clear as the moment it flipped on, and I cried on Katsu’s shoulder, knowing that my reprieve had ended. Not knowing when, or if, it would ever begin again.

Those switches are less clear now, but I’m beginning to think that some have flipped. The first was euphoria – living alone, freewheeling out to my new boyfriend B!, even moving home bothered me less than anyone could have imagined.

The second, of course, is now. The realization that all those good times were on some spectrum of yet another mental malfunction – a symptom of this suspected disease. All the progress I thought I’d made? Nothing but hypomania triggered by my stint in the Bin.

And you know what? That really feels like shit. Seriously.


Better Living Through Chemistry

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“It’s time to get off Abilify,” I thought to myself some time ago, and began the (supervised) process of titrating down. Abilify is the miracle drug that keeps me together like glue. It’s also a $500/month prescription that’s only available in brand-name. I mean, I could lease a really nice car for that much money, or rent a second home somewhere in Alabama. Priorities.

15mg down to 7mg? No problems whatsoever. Vitals were fine. Then, this past weekend, I forgot to take my dose for two nights in a row. Ever the overachiever, I decided to ride that wave and try to ditch the helper drug entirely. “What’s 7mg?” I speculated.

What, indeed.

Yesterday marked the 4th day of withdrawal. Waking up at 8:20am, having dead-slept through two alarms, I thought something might be off… just that feeling when you know there is no way you’ll ever be able to get out of bed. Driving to work, I noticed a distinct edge to things: my skin felt too tight, my jeans were itchy. As the day progressed it became clear that my mood was not just dark, but flattened as well – a patina of disaffection shielding the turmoil in my mind. Coffee? No thanks, I’m so over everything.

Small problems began to seem insurmountable. Answering an email became a sisyphean task. That familiar numbing of the brain and extremities that requires you to take life breath by labored breath. I recognized these signs. I knew them. And, though I’ve worked to become strong, I still don’t know how to manage these moments when I can’t pull myself up.

It is a related truth that my car is a disaster area. Unpaired high heels, a video tripod, and a pile of Diet Coke cans that would be shameful if I weren’t so excited about the eventual bottle deposit – people have stopped asking me for rides. Lucky for me, a quick rummage through the mess turned up a half-full bottle of my wonder drug. I knew it would take awhile for my body to absorb the medication, but just knowing I’d taken it made me feel better. And then, later, it made me feel worse. I’ve never had any illusions about being able to go med-free. But I did think I’d really be able to do it with this one thing, this one time.

Kind of disappointing, if not entirely unexpected. Sometimes, I guess, 7mg is at least 5mg too much.


TBH, sometimes it’s like, FML. And that’s OK.

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I had it all set in my head to write this great “I Overcame My Eating Disorder” post, and then, unexpectedly, I had cause to watch some of my wedding video. It totally took the wind out of my sails, people. I was so thin then, and I mean, I LOOKED happy enough.

The gist of it was that my aunts came in to town last weekend – three of them – and of course it made me think about how my body has changed since last they saw me. And like, I don’t go around all the time feeling bad about how I look, but let me tell you I tried on my entire wardrobe before deciding what to wear when the whole family met up.

Thing is, I don’t know how to write about this. I don’t know how to write that sometimes I look in the mirror and literally do not recognize myself. I’ve been eating disordered since I was 14, and I always want to stay positive and light for teh interwebz but sometimes it’s just not that easy. If I want to keep writing, if I want to keep being honest, then I really have to admit. It is not that easy all the time.

Why do I want to share this? Why do I want to expose myself in this way? I mean, everyone’s weird about their body, right, why put it out there? Because nobody TALKS about how they’re weird about their body. Nobody TALKS about how it feels. And I think that’s important. At least, it makes me feel better to think that.

So we went out to dinner, my aunts and my parents and me, and we all had Bloomin’ Onion and steak and what have you, and the whole time I was feeling like this huge whale that probably should have gotten a salad instead of a filet mignon. And at the end of the meal, my aunt leans over to me and tells me how amazing I look. That I really look amazing.

This, from the woman who probably remembers me as I was in my wedding dress, all thin and beautiful. This is me then, just after the wedding, on our honeymoon in Mexico. What you don’t see in that picture is my bulimia. And now I don’t have that. It’s cause to be happy. It’s a reason to be proud.

Right?


Free Advice: if you don’t know, probably just don’t ask.

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It’s no secret that I’ve gained some weight since B! moved out here. All told, there’s around a 35 pounds from lowest to highest. And, you know, I’m not in love with it, but it’s not like it’s wrecking all my time. I just ate a fro-yo cone with sprinkles. So, there.

But it’s gotten a little awkward lately. More specifically, people have started asking me if I’m pregnant. And I’m not talking like “that random stranger this one time”, I’m talking PEOPLE. Like, best friend people. Like, coworker people. People people. More than a handful. And it’s never just like, oh are you pregnant? It’s always like:

“Boy or girl?”

“When’s the due date?”

“I hope she has your hair!”

For any readers who may themselves have asked the burning question in question: it’s not the asking that bothers me. I’m well aware that I’m no longer the lithe sprite of yesteryear, but I’m also no longer smashing dishes or throwing glasses of wine at things. My eating disorder is in remission. I have a full set of dinner dishes. Weight gain is a small price to pay for sanity, I think, although it’s not always appropriate to say in the moment.

What bothers me is the whole awkwardness of the situation. Like, they say it, and then I have to say, you know, “no”, and then they get all flustered and I just laugh and smile because really – REALLY? It’s funny. Come on, you know it is.

That said, I’m still thinking of getting a couple T-shirts made that say “NOT PREGNANT, JUST FAT”. It’s summertime now. Anything goes.


An Anniversary, of Sorts.

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So I’ve never been much for Valentine’s Day, although I’ve never had a horrible one. I just don’t really need another reason to spend money on people, and they probably don’t need to spend any money on me. Given my ambivalence, it’s a little ironic that my self-selected anniversary with Katsumi fell on 2/14/02. Four years later, we got engaged. Remember that? I do. Vividly.

It seems an ocean of time ago.

And I’m sitting here thinking about it, and it’s kind of blowing my mind. We didn’t have Jake, things hadn’t yet fallen apart, and everything looked pretty damn rosy. Who knew then the way our lives would take us? It’s kind of cruel, when you think about it, that innocence. And it’s all here – it’s documented. Most of it, anyway.

But whatever. Onward and upward. Tonight B! made me broccoli rabe, which he hates and I love, and I’m sipping some Malbec and promising myself I’ll go to bed early tonight. It’s certainly not where I thought I’d be on that night ten years ago when Katsu and I first knocked chopsticks at Betty’s, and definitely not where I thought I’d be the night we got engaged. But it’s not all a downer. I mean, after all, tonight I *did* get the broccoli rabe.


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