Where do I begin.
I think I should make this blog with subtitles for each category that I’m about to word vomit.
Mental Health and Teaching:
I think students forget that their teachers, professors and ‘role-models’ also deal with mental health problems pretty significantly. This month has probably been the worst month of my life for mental health – and interestingly enough, I have found this to be pretty wide-spread among everyone. Living through a pandemic, through winter, through hard losses, is just everywhere right now.
I have students who need mental health breaks, and I get it, but I also almost want to say to them, “listen, I’ve been pretty deep in the suicidal thoughts [I’m not taking action, this is not a cry for help, I promise], but I am still showing up for you.” I also have many elementary teacher friends, and through this entire pandemic they feel unsupported and drowning, and they were like that before all of this prior to the pandemic, so this pandemic has really just elevated it. But here we are, underpaid and showing up everyday to show our students we are in it together, and we are also pressing through.
I think there is a balance, right? Of how much you give in to your depression, how much you let it own you, while also acknowledging it and giving yourself moments of passage. I think there HAS to be a balancing act. I say this as someone who faces OCD very severely, and depression [as of lately] pretty severely too. I could absolutely shut down and not move for an entire day, but I also just can’t give into it that way other wise it’ll make moving the next day even harder.
Opposite ways I work:
I do this annoying thing that when I am drowning the most I reach out to help others. I’m not sure if this is the empath in me, but making other people feel valued when I despise every part of my existence is my way of making myself feel valued? It’s very backward. Acts of service is how I show my love. Throughout this month I can’t tell you how many stops I’ve made to bring my husband home something – whether that be a growler of beer – a vegan oatmeal pie from a bakery – a coffee, you name it. I also really started to focus on my fine-art work which is really to help others through grief, or oppositely to make those in my Taylor Swift series feel beautiful and have fun. All while I’m slowly fading out on the inside.
I think the most important thing to note, is while I am drowning internally, that this is where my work thrives. I don’t want my couples to think that I am dealing with so much I can’t take on their wedding day, in fact it’s quite the opposite. I photographed a wedding on Saturday – and I couldn’t have been happier. I caught myself feeling so happy, 100 percent nothing wrong, while teaching this morning. My OCD thrives in the situations of being busy, being responsible, and being a leader. This honestly is one of the perks of OCD. In the work areas of my life, I can be absolutely 100 percent not okay, but while I’m working? I forget all about it. In fact, during weddings I seek out happiness and moments MORE, I seek out emotions MORE, because I am so numb to my existing life, it’s like I pay attention in ways I can’t when I am mentally well. Dumb but helpful in my profession I guess – specifically with students as well.
Last month I relapsed with my eating disorder. Let me do a full back up and fast forward in these next paragraphs. January 2nd I started a clean eating month. No sugar, no breads, no processed foods, no protein powders, no alcohol, limited caffeine – to figure out just why my body was betraying me. I had been to 6 doctors and absolutely no one, not even a colonoscopy or endoscopy, could tell or show me why I have been having issues, painful issues, so bad. I finally took it into my own hands to cut out foods I had reserves about, since I had felt some consequences from them but never isolated each food group to see what they do. So I cut everything out and one by one per week would introduce just one of the categories, consume it for 3 days and see the outcome. Through that experience I found I was in fact allergic or sensitive to substitute and refined sugar, too much quantity of bread [it seems I can have small doses per day or week], and definitely protein powder of ALL kinds.
The protein powder I attribute to 10 years of anorexia and living off of it for breakfast, lunch, snack and then having small dinners. My body just basically now is saying, I don’t care what form of powder, if it’s soy, pea, plant based, I’m not gonna take it [lol]. So basically I learned 100g of protein is my max for the day and if I exceed that I have severe problems that I will not place on you, information wise.
From this moment, after I figured everything out I went on a juice cleanse for a week to clear everything out. That week I was taking about 600 calories a day, and working out 2 hours a day. I kind of figured this would leave me in a place of fixation on numbers and a lack of control with not going to an extreme diet – and I was right. Instead of fighting this desire I fully embraced it. I liked being hungry again. I liked seeing the scale start to come down. I went from 172 to 166 in ONE day. Now, I know that’s not fat loss. I know that is water weight, but damn that’s so much water weight in a day. Ironically after that first day of doing it, that was the weight/water loss, and then after the first day it went back up to 168/169 and didn’t budge. Because of this lack of movement in number, I continued the 600-800 calories a day for 2 more weeks. I continued to work out 6 times a week, 2 hours a day. After the 3rd week I stepped on the scale, 169.
This was my “ah hah” moment.
I can literally starve myself for three weeks, work out religiously, and nothing? No weight loss, no budge, not body composition change? This isn’t a thing I can control, I thought to myself. At this moment I’d like to punch my past male personal trainers in the face for taking away all of my fat content from my diet when I wasn’t losing enough, because clearly this is not a weight or lack of moment issue, this is a hormonal and chemistry imbalance issue.
And I am going to say this next part not from a fat shaming standpoint to myself but just as a blatant fact: To feel this LACK of control – as someone who eats so clean, no sugar, does work out, I have said to my husband before, “I don’t get why I deserve this.” What a silly thing to say. But my point in my mind is, I am not eating cake, I am not skipping moments to cherish my body like doing yoga or moving it – I am not even enjoying life’s gifts – and I am still spiraling out of control. Or it feels.
I say that last paragraph with the utmost respect to my body in understanding that gaining weight is not the worst thing that can happen to a person – but when you have spent YEARS fixated on it – that mentality is very hard to let go. But understanding that for three weeks I can starve and not a thing changes? Well… that’s frustrating, but also, wow what a moment. To understand that this is simply hormonal, adrenal, or something larger than me? Actually it’s kind of liberating to be completely justified in my feelings. If I did eat like a typical American there is no doubt I’d be 100 pounds more without even trying, and thats not a good or bad thing, it’s just a fact. I have to restrict so much just to hold my weight, I can’t imagine what would happen to my body if I just simply didn’t care.
Again, this is why it took me so long to understand my anorexia.
This is why I have become such an advocate for speaking out against the normal body stereotypes. There are so many women I’ve recently connected with who also work out, eat healthy, move their body, try to sleep well, that have a lack of control from their composition. I honestly need to make work about this again – because the bullshit fitness industry always chalks this shit up as these women aren’t doing a calorie deficit enough and boy is that a bunch of bullshit.
Currently I’m eating 1100-1200 calories a day. I’ve been monitoring my macros. Yes, I know everyone is shaking their head at this – but currently until I figure out my hormones this is the only way to keep my clothes from not fitting.
As I read more about estrogen, and knowing I am already too high in that area, many things are making sense. I went through my starvation relapse when my mental state started to show the worst signs I have seen in my life. These things, are probably linked. The reason why I am doing so poorly mentally and am having moments where I just … don’t think any one would miss me, and the reason why my body can’t lose weight, and the reason why I am gaining hair in weird spots, ANNNDD the reason why my digestive tract sucks [also I had gallbladder failure] are probably all linked to too high of estrogen or / and adrenal fatigue. My cortisol levels are fucking through the roof when I wake up and I have been working on them for 3 years but cannot get them down.
Chemical imbalances and hormonal imbalances are so important, and no you are not crazy.
I saw my 7th doctor, an allegorist, in January. Besides the fact he found nothing, he also cut me off mid-sentence to every answer I was giving and when I said, “I know I don’t look like a runner but …” he cut me off in laugher. That was nice. That made me cry on the way home. I was explaining to him that during quarantine I was running 4 miles a day and by week 5 I was running 10 miles a day, and I gained 20 lbs that month. But, he laughed at me.
Remember that silence is louder than words post I wrote? It was kinda like that. When people DON’T reassure people who are in recovery, or stop complimenting them as they seek help… god that’s so loud. So that’s honestly what sparked my juice cleanse desire, and then eventually a full starvation episode that lasted for 2 weeks.
Two days ago I went out with my husband and friends for a Valentine’s day [friends love day] dinner. I put on an outfit that I wanted to wear, nothing fit.
I put on something else as a back up, too tight.
I cried in my closet for 10 minutes.
I went downstairs and my husband said he was ready to go, and I cried for another 5 minutes.
“I just want to feel pretty,” I said, and his eyes swelled up with tears as I bursted out in a sobbing fit.
At this same time, my mental health has me feeling drunk 24/7. I feel like I am outside of my body. I feel like I can’t tell a joke. I watch myself say dumb things. I am constantly disassociated. So although this dumb weight thing is on my brain, I’m gonna say that these massively depressive episodes are at the root of it all… but they also feed off one another.
Why am I writing all of this? I think giving people an internal view of constant battles being faced by others [me] can help create accountability in myself, but also give those that feel this same sense of urgency feel seen. Again, I have run into so many women with chemical imbalances, hormonal imbalances or adrenal fatigue that are all things I am going through as well, so misery loves company I guess? We are all helping each other through the mental gymnastics these things put us through.
Body changes in women over 30
Something that I have been thinking about lately are things that people never told us when we were younger. I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about how we are both around 30 and are noticing things in our bodies shifts that we were never warned about. That conversation has actually helped me… a lot… in the last few weeks. That our hips are getting wider, but our weight may remain stagnant. Our jeans may feel tighter around our thighs but it’s not because they are getting ‘fatter,’ but because we are aging. I think this has grounded me a lot as I try on all my favorite clothes that just feel, different. And oppositely some shirts I have had since I was 19, still fit.
I did want to take a moment and tell you all of the things I am trying currently. Mostly for digestive care and also for adrenal fatigue. I am DESPERATELY trying to find something to resolve my high cortisol levels and opposite time-zoned adrenals [lol] that I cannot control.
Supplements I am on:
– Thyroid support [Called Thyraid] which actually has helped my thyroid numbers increase. My t4, t3 and transmitters were actually NOT functioning at all last year and they actually are working again, and it’s just a supplement. However, this makes me definitely believe that maybe I never had hypothyroidism, but maybe my main issues are presenting in this way. Even a metabolic test I took told my my adrenals were fucked.
– Prebiotic by FLO
– Probiotic by FLO
– Bcomplex by FLO
– Beyond Greens by Live Conscious – a little mix you take previous to any food in the morning
– Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies – Vegan gummies by Goli [these actually help with so much]
For Mind and Adrenals and sleep:
– Ashwagandha – I really like Goli Gummies for this too, but I found that the pill forms are better for before I go to bed so I can TRY to sleep.
– Melatonin before I sleep
– Ginseng – Apparently this is supposed to target your adrenals and pituitary glands
For the Body:
– Magnesium complex – I like Magwell a lot- and I see they have a ZENwell for ashwagandha that I am kind of interested in.
So those are things I am currently on. I am talking to my dietician tomorrow to see maybe what other things I can test or manage for either adrenals or hormonal. It would be lovely just to get some sort of definitive answer but I know that’s hard to come by.
Throughout all of this I’ve also had my eyes opened to my husbands struggles- as he is feeling a lot of mental block too, but also he is dealing with some effects of Long Covid which is another challenge in itself. In these moments I am somewhat fighting to stay alive, well and here [as in, present] I also need to remind myself to make sure he is okay too. Last night we held each other in the kitchen for about 10 minutes. He told me he “loved me so much,” and we both kind of broke down in tears. As of lately life has just felt pointless. I don’t know why I am here. I don’t really even want to be here, but I also don’t want to leave, but I found out that he too is kind of feeling down in the dumps, and I just know so many people facing this right now – that if you are too – you really are not alone.
The world is really hard right now:
So as an exercise to you – write down all the shit that really makes you happy and makes you feel alive. I wanted to do this for myself today.
– The way Josh double wraps his arms around me
– Memories and moments of us sitting at a brewery or favorite places to visit, in the sun, just talking, without any where else to be
– Capturing important moments and memories for my couples
– Hyping up my gals in front of my camera and seeing their confidence soar
– Teaching my students new complex ideas that aid their work, but more so, grow them as a human
– The way my cat greets in me in the morning, or instantly purrs the moment I put my hand on her
– Making new foods and desserts and seeing the way people react to them
– Knowing I am not contributing to animal cruelty in any way, shape, or form
– My chosen family [my friend group] and our crazy ass group chats – and knowing how fricken rare it is that 6 people, 3 couples, get along, can travel together, and love each other as much as we do even despite our differences
– Giving others a sense of value
– Gifting others things for no reason at all or surprising them for their birthday to show them how much I love them
– Seeing my family and cherishing every moment that passes by understanding they are unique days, that we are a unique dynamic, and these are times I will never be able to recreate
– Appreciating my pets every day, a day at a time, and embracing their full warm cuddles even when they are being annoying [lol] because some day these moments will vanish… and probably sooner than I’d like
– Watching my nieces grow and ask to see their crazy cat obsessed aunt who always changes her hair
– Watching my brothers lives grow and blossom and celebrating on days they feel cherished, loved, or happy
– Anytime I get a message about my influence on people’s diets or lifestyles. From just a simple meatless monday, to a full conversion of veganism
– Making art that just… matters.
Anyways, those are all my good – feel good reasons. My reasons I love my life. My reasons I stay here in dark times.
What are yours?