Fighting the Hard Battles

Friday, October 4, 2013

So, one of my favorite quotes has been wildly misattributed to... everyone, apparently.

It's attributed to Plato, mostly. It's also attributed to Philo of Alexandria. I did some researching and found out that it has also been attributed to Ian MacLaren and John Watson, both of whom I didn't know existed. The post that I found that goes through the history of the quote is here, but to me, I don't particularly care who said it; the sentiment remains true. We all have it hard, in one way or another, and even if you meet someone who seems to have it "together", they might be fighting their own demons underneath.

I've talked plenty about my battles with depression and anxiety. Fortunately, I've been able to control that demon pretty well. I've been in and out of therapy since I was 12, and continually in therapy since 2009 with my amazing therapist, Danna. (Seriously, if you are in the Philadelphia area and need a therapist, go to Danna. She will change your life.) I have... a mess of issues, but a lot of them boil down to one of the following:

- Not being able to control everything (and subsequently freaking the hell out)
- Never being satisfied with anything (and subsequently being neurotic and depressed)
- Being overly hard on myself, as in, way harder than I would be on other people in the same situation (and subsequently being unhappy about everything)

And then on top of that, it's fall. Yes, I love fall (even though I don't like pumpkin, deal with it) but the fall does weird things to me. Fall is my favorite season, and yet once September is about halfway over, I start to feel this weird slide in my mental state that continues in an achingly slow fashion until December, at which point I generally either get physically ill, have a complete mental breakdown, or both. Once again, The Bloggess put it rather aptly:

"Last night I wrote on twitter about how everyone I talked to this week seems way more broken and fragile and paralyzed than normal.  Why?  My guess is that the moon is way too close to the earth and all of the water in our body is getting sucked up into our heads and most of that water is filled with hormones and repressed, angry memories of junior high rejection that we’d been storing in our kneecaps.  Trust me."

So yeah, perhaps the moon is way close to the earth, or the planets are aligned weirdly, or the magnetic field of the sun is changing, or whatever, but fall does weird things to me, and apparently other people as well. The past few weeks have definitely been hard on me mentally, although it wasn't like anything crazy had happened.

I currently just feel... off. Unsettled. Wrong. I described it to a friend as feeling as though I am okay right now, but very soon, I may not be okay in a very bad way, although I'm not sure what way that is, but it's bad. I have been in a pretty negative head space, which is hard to shake because... hi, this is my head, I live here. It's just a feeling of not being a productive human being or a "good adult" in any realm of my life.

I am unfulfilled by my job and I have been impressively unproductive as of late. I hate my body and yet, do nothing to fix that problem. I am exhausted by the day to day activities of living, but get upset at myself when I am unproductive or don't accomplish things that I want to accomplish. I feel like a bad wife because when I get home from work, I don't want to do anything but be alone, possibly while watching TV. I feel disconnected from myself and my life. I feel WEIRD.

Some of these problems have easy solutions. Unproductive at work? Make a to do list and do it.
Hate your body? Go to the gym and stop eating crap. And yet, I don't do either of these things. I feel nearly paralyzed by the possibility that very soon, THINGS MAY NOT BE OKAY. I am a person of plans, and for "things might not be okay" there are no plans, other than... try to make them stay "okay". Whatever "okay" means that day.

Part of the problem is that whenever I "solve" a problem, I immediately move on to another one without actually giving myself any credit for solving the first one. For example, I needed to retake the MCAT. I studied (a lot) and took time off of work to ensure that I had enough studying time, and I took a ton of practice tests, and then I took the exam and my studying paid off and I got the score I wanted to get. Instead of saying, "Wow, that was pretty great. Look at this cool thing you accomplished!" I said, "Well, you did what you were supposed to do, no need to have a party, let's get on with life." I'm not saying that I should have thrown myself a party, but the fact that I improved my score by 4 points, to a place that will very likely result in me at least getting some interviews for med school, and then acted like it was as exciting as getting the mail for the day... is kind of weird.

Another part of the problem is that I am never satisfied. The MCAT was an interesting exception to this rule, as I was actually okay with the score I received and really, there was nothing I could do about it even if I wasn't (besides take the damn exam again which... no thanks). The more amorphous goals are the harder ones. When I was a freshman in college, I weighed 110 lbs. Maybe 115. I wore a size 4. Even then, I hated my body and wanted to "lose 15 pounds". I'm not sure why, but I did. I never lost those 15 pounds. In fact, my body grew bigger hips and bigger boobs and I got heavier, until I was a senior in college and I weighed around 130 pounds. Then I wanted to "lose 15 or 20 pounds" but again, I never did. Then med school happened and I lost a bunch of weight (thanks, major depressive episode) and secretly, I was so happy to weigh under 130 pounds that I didn't really care that I had spent four days in a psych hospital and how happy I was about losing weight might indicate that I needed to be BACK in the psych hospital. Then my endocrine system decided to go on strike, I gained 45 or 50 pounds, and I hated my body in a way that I had never hated it before. Then a doctor finally figured out that my endocrine system was the problem (and that it wasn't that I was lazy/crazy/unmotivated) and I lost a bunch of weight, bringing me back to 140. I went from being a size 14-16 to a size 8-10. I've been around this weight for about a year. I gained 7-8 pounds on our honeymoon because a week of restaurants and wine and dessert will do that to you. My clothes all still fit, and I was feeling "okay".

Then I had a major meltdown, decided that my body was disgusting, and I hated everything about it. I threw things around my closet, said horrible things about myself, and was generally a jerk to my husband, who was only trying to be helpful.

What prompted this? Who knows. All I know is that it's made eating and enjoying food incredibly difficult over the past few weeks. I can't decide what I want to eat, when I eat I feel okay but then feel guilty afterwards, and I'm constantly fighting with myself over whether I should really eat the ice cream bar that I so desperately want after a long ridiculous day, or how much better I'll feel if I just go to bed without eating it. And then there's the self-shaming about not going to the gym. I pay $45 a month for a gym membership that includes one personal training session a month and do I go? No. I like the classes they have, especially barre, and have I gone back? No. Have I taken advantage of the free trainer? No. WHY? I have no idea. Because I'm a terrible adult? That's all I can come up with.

All that to say is that part of this weight and body image issue is that there is no number on the scale that will make me say, "Ok, enough is enough. This is good." The fact that I lost 45 pounds and got back to a reasonable, not dangerous (albeit still overweight) weight wasn't "enough". I feel the need to be smaller than I am. Of course, when I weighed 110 pounds, I wanted to weigh less. It was this problem that got me into trouble in high school and had me weighing 90 pounds my freshman year (and passing out all the time from not eating). I keep "moving the goal post" so to speak. I know, intellectually, that one has to stop losing weight at some point or one gets sick and/or dies. I know that eating disorders are no joke. And yet, I can honestly say that I don't think there's a number on the scale ore on a tag that would make me "happy".

The same goes for money. I once said to Levi, "There is not an amount of money that I could have in my bank account that would make me stop worrying about money." A million? Two million? A hundred million? Part of the problem is that I've never had more than a few grand to my name at a time, and it's never been for very long because that generally means I've obtained the money to DO something with it (like buy a car, or put a deposit on a house, or send a large sum of money to a college) so it very quickly becomes "not my money". I can't even fathom what not having to worry about money is like, so I think that even if/when there comes a time when there is "enough", it won't feel like "enough".

These bottomless problems are ones that I fear will never go away. I am apparently bad at being content. It's interesting, because one of the things that I think has allowed me to get to where I am is that unending desire to achieve/do/have/accomplish. I like that part of myself. It keeps me going. It occasionally makes me seem insane (see also: reapplying to med school). But as we all know, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and that's when it becomes pathological and destructive. I have the hardest time living in this moment. I am always worrying about what is next, and I never acknowledge, let alone celebrate, what is going on right now. It's annoying. It's sad. It's frustrating. But it's life, and it's keeping my therapist in business, and I'm getting better at accepting that part of it is just my personality, and I'm learning how to temper that with some sanity. And that was a run-on sentence. Whoops.

Anyway, that's what's been rolling around in my skull lately. I haven't felt very inspired to post things, and in fact, it took me a whole week to write this post. To quote Mean Girls, "I just have a lot of feelings!" In talking to my close friends about how I've been feeling, it was brought to my attention that I like lists, and that perhaps making a list of things I want to accomplish will make it easier for me to get things done. Also, lists make me happy. So, here are some short-term goals that I'd like to accomplish in the various realms of my life.

- Finish creating data forms
- Submit IRB amendment for said data forms
- Follow up on hiring a tech (for the love of God)
- Get to work by 8:30 every day
- Finish spreadsheet of sample requirements for various studies

- Study on a more consistent basis
- Start studying now for my histology midterm in two weeks and my immuno midterm in three weeks
- Figure out my plan for the spring semester
- Organize secondary applications for med schools

- Do a closet purge
- Organize bookshelves/buy another one (because man, I have too many books)
- Get stuff hung up on the walls (ketubah, pictures, etc)

- Go to the gym at least twice a week
- Get blood work drawn for upcoming primary care doctor's appointment
- Only weigh self once a week
- Get 8 hours of sleep a night
- Bring better lunches to work (make them the night before?)
- Journal more regularly
- Get back into budgeting (it will make me feel more in control)
- Plan blog posts ahead of time (and blog regularly)
- Write more letters
- Go to synagogue more frequently (read: at all)
- Be as kind to myself as I am to others

And with that, I have to go figure out what I'm eating for lunch, which is one of my least favorite things in life to decide. Happy Friday, all.

- A


  1. " - Be as kind to myself as I am to others"

    That's why I always tell you we're the same size. Because I know you wouldn't let me hate on my body the way you're hating on yours.

    And yes. All of this except med school. I feel all your feels. *hug*


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