Ease-in To Motherhood 2

Yesterday, I wrote about how becoming a mother lead to my sewing most of my own clothing as part of Ease-in to motherhood motherhood sewing blog event.  Today, I’m going to talk about something else.

I’ve struggled with depression for most of my teen and adult life.  One therapist, and I’ve had many, thinks that what happened was a long slow descent into severe depression that started when I was a young teenager.  In addition to depression, I have an eating disorder.  Most of the time, I’d have been diagnosed with bulimia, and like many bulimics, I considered myself a failed anorexic.  Eating disorders are complicated and are not easily categorized.  In addition, there is a popular mythos that has arisen.  I don’t fit that mythos, and most of my behaviors, be they restricting or purging, were masked as “being healthy”.  It wasn’t until I was seen by someone who worked in the area of eating disorders that I was diagnosed.

After my son was born, for a very brief period, I experienced what I call postpartum euphoria. In fact, for most of my pregnancy with Tony, except for some morning sickness in the first trimester, I felt really good.  But the euphoria didn’t last.  Before long, I was struggling to get out of bed.  I had no energy, and I wasn’t feeling anything.  It was like experiences had to be extreme to penetrate the depression before I would react to them.  And as the depression got worse, the eating disorder spiraled out of control.  I wasn’t eating, and when I was, it was like I was slipping off with my abusive, illicit lover, ED (for eating disorder), to have an orgy.  Of course, after the orgy, ED beat the crap out of me, figuratively speaking that is.  (Note: People with eating disorders often center their identities around the eating disorder, so separating one’s self from ED breaks that identification.)

Things got so bad that I thought I might lose my job.  I’m very lucky that my employer also employs the EAP counselor.  She’s on-site, and if she has space in her schedule, she can give you time even if you have exhausted your EAP benefit.  She is the one who finally, after about 30 years of having an eating disorder, diagnosed me.  I thought I was being healthy, eating carrots, apples, fat free yogurt, skim milk and drinking 2 gallons of water a day.  She helped me with the depression, and she helped me get into an out-patient eating disorder program.

It has been a long, hard road to recovery.  I think I damaged my heart when I was in my 20s and very bulimic, and I may have other health consequences from being sick for so long. But I am faithful to my therapy sessions, and I am able to manage things.  The recidivism rate for eating disorders is very high; official statistics say 30% to 50%, but based on my experience of 12 years of group therapy, I’d say the rates are much closer to 100%.  Very, very few people stay the course.  In my groups, more people have died from the eating disorder than have left the program successfully.  No, it’s worse than that: more people have died than have stayed in the program.  It could be that I am only exposed to those who have been sick the longest, and the longer one has an eating disorder, the less likely it is that one will ever ditch ED.  But I keep going to group.  I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to return to those behaviors.

The thing that has kept me going back to group is my children.  I want to see them grow up, graduate high school, graduate college, be successful adults, have children, or whatever it is that they choose to do. I’m a little apprehensive about what will happen when the kids leave home, but I have tools and support that I didn’t have before.  Fingers crossed.

Sewing and making friends with other women who sew has also helped me.  For one thing, they are a welcoming, loving, supportive group.  But they have also helped me restate how I think of my body because very few of us fit a pattern out of the envelope. They have railed against the term “figure flaws”.  They have bemoaned the fact that most of us shop and shop and shop, and still, nothing fits.  They have shown me the difference that well fitting clothing makes in comfort and, yes, in appearance.

And they have shown me how to buy lots and lots of fabric.  🙂  When I was depressed, I bought a lot of fabric.  I don’t buy very much these days.  I have a fabric cabinet, and I have tubs of fabric under our kingsized platform bed.  My goal is to only have as much fabric as the cabinet will hold.

Valuing myself enough to speak back to the eating disorder didn’t happen until after I had children, and in part, my relationship with other women who sew has also contributed to my valuing myself.  I’ll continue to mother my children, go to group, and sew up my fabric stash, and maybe, some day, I’ll be free of ED, have successful, happy adult children, have a fabulous wardrobe, and have all of my fabric in that cabinet … um, actually, it’s two cabinets, but still that is a worthy goal.

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I don't have to like it.

The first goal in No Weigh: A Declaration of Independence from a Weight-Obsessed World is

I will accept my body in its natural shape and size.

The therapist noted that accepting it doesn’t mean that I have to like my body.

So what else about me do I accept even tho I may not like it? Well, my eyes. I’m terribly near-sighted. I can only see about a foot (30 cm) without my glasses. What’s worse is that I need bi-focals because I can no longer thread a small-eyed hand sewing needle with my glasses on. I have to take them off, which is a pain because I can’t see anything else with them off, so they have to go back on almost immediately, and I can’t put them up on top of my head because it tangles in my hair, and then I have hair in my face, and so on and so forth.

I don’t like any of that. However, I don’t hate my eyes. I don’t curse my ancestors for being myopic. I’m not mad that I’m aging and getting farsighted. I’m not saddened by the fact that my grandmother was myopic and farsighted. I don’t care that I wear glasses. I suppose I am a little sad that I can’t wear contacts; I can’t bear to touch my eyes, so even after practicing for 6 months, I couldn’t get the contacts out. I don’t like the way my glasses look in pictures, but I can just take off my glasses when someone else takes a picture of me. I don’t need to be able to see to do that. Have I considered laser surgery for my eyes? Yes, but even thinking about someone else touching my eyes makes me faint and nauseated. (I’ll deal with that one when I have to have cataract surgery.) I’ll stick with the glasses, thank you.

I love my glasses. Without them, the world is a big, blurry, scary, unknowable unknown. I’ve accepted my myopia. I’ve never felt like I was a failure or a loser because I wear glasses.

Next step, apply this concept to my body.

If only it were as easy to do as it is to say.

Tuesday is Eating Disorder Day

I’m depressed. The weather is grey and gloomy. We had some sunshine yesterday, but it’s back to clouds and rain today. I’ve been having a terrible time getting out of bed, and I don’t want to eat.

I have been waking up every couple of hours for the last week or so.

I had an ASG meeting on Saturday, and I was able to get myself out of bed and up to Walnut Creek. I was late, but I made it. Usually, getting out with my sewing friends gives me a lift, but not this time. It was a struggle to engage with the other members. I was helping Janet with her sales; she did a trunk show and sale for this meeting. She grossed about $800 which she said was good. Last time that I helped her, she grossed about $1500, so I was thinking we hadn’t done as well. I was bummed that Janet couldn’t have lunch with me after the meeting.

When I got home, I didn’t have any energy to do anything. DH put the kids down for quiet time, so I was able to veg for 2 hours. When they got up at 4 pm, Pulguito was spoiling for a fight. I tried to head off a meltdown by taking them to the park with Lily. We had a mini-meltdown that resulted in Pulguito’s spilling of his potato chips. That helped to get him to think about his actions for a little while. We played at the “sand” park for a while. LARPD took out the swings. 😦 Then we walked around-about way home, so I got a little exercise (yay me!). Unfortunately, Pulguito had a major meltdown during dinner and had to go to bed at 6:30. I did the dishes, listening to him cry, beg, bargain, and cry some more. After the dishes, I decided I needed to get out of the house, so I took Chunguita to Joann’s to get some big-eyed needles to embroider with pearl cotton. When we got back, I remembered that Amanda was having a party for Partylite and some other things. I want to get that votive thingy that you can put a child’s artwork in, so Chunguita and I went in. I had a binge on these scone-cookie things. Pulguito was asleep, and DH was watching TV when we got home. I went back to my computer to veg out and play a computer game until bedtime.

On Sunday, Pulguito wakes up at 4:30. I manage to keep him in bed until 5:30, at which point, I take him out to the TV and turn on Dora. I go back to bed. DH had taken Pulguito and Lily to the puppy park and Lowe’s. They came back with a decaf latte for me. I still feel like I’m dragging. It takes me a long time to eat breakfast and get dressed. I run to Trader Joe’s to get scallions, parsley, and whole wheat pasta for DH to make dinner. On the way back, I stop at Starbucks for a regular latte. I’m not supposed to have caffeine, but I’m really tired of feeling like I’m dragging. I get DH a decaf one. He’s happy when I get home because I brought him a latte. It takes me an hour to wrap (ha, ha, put in a gift bag) the gift for Riley’s birthday. Then, finally, I am interested in sewing .. shit, interested in doing anything. Alas, it’s time to go to Riley’s party with Pulguito. I still feel crappy. I decide to indulge in more caffeine, a diet coke, at the party. At last, I feel normal again.

I feel okay on Monday and this morning. I do not continue the indulgence in caffeine.

Finally, we are to Tuesday. Group day. There’s a guy in our group. YIKES! He’s painfully thin, and I can tell he’s terrified. So I put aside whatever bigotry against men abides inside me, and along with the rest of the group, I welcome him as another person who is in terrible pain from an eating disorder. Turns out, he’s pretty much exactly the same as the rest of us. Poor guy. Poor us.

It’s the last day of the month, so it’s “Body Image” day. I hate body image day. We were supposed to do a thought record on body image, like every month, and, yet again, I did not do it. This month, I managed to come up with a trigger. I decided that I would just do something on “body”. Sunday night, I decided to do yoga with DH (I thought he was going to faint when I said I wanted to.) My flexibility is good, a natural ability. DH’s yoga tape is a Yoga For Wimps tape, so it’s mostly just stretching. I do good, but then I get all bummed out because I am so fat that my tummy gets in the way. And my bad knee, that I fell on for the second time last summer, hurts and makes it so that I can’t do any exercises on my hands and knees. Do I feel good that I exercised? No, of course not. That’s why it’s called an eating disorder. Did I do the thought record? No, but I have a topic. That’s further than I’ve ever gotten before.

So today in group, we get this lovely handout on body image, and we get asked how are we doing. The first thing that we discuss is “I will treat my body with respect.” So how are we doing? I think I’ve improved because instead of not eating, I’m making myself eat on a schedule. “So how about exercise?” asks the bitch therapist. Well, right now, I want to get into bed and cover my head with blankets and hide, so I’m not going to push the exercise. Just eating is hard enough. “Exercise is the best remedy for SAD; blah, blah, blah.” continues bitch therapist. No, it’s just too hard right now. “Just get out and walk around the block …” the therapist continues to push.

💡 Hey, I have been exercising. I walked with the kids and stretched with DH. In the ED frame of mind, it didn’t count because it didn’t go on long enough and was not of sufficient intensity. It is so hard to let go of that all-or-nothing mindset. “It must be the perfect exercise to count.”

Ah, well, baby steps.

Wednesday's Quiz

Ah, the difference between self-esteem and self-confidence. I don’t feel sexy, and I don’t think I’m sexy. However, I do know how to handle myself, and I know I can manage pretty much anything. It all feels like an act, tho. I tell myself that I am the act, but I don’t really believe that.


You Are Very Sexy


Damn! You are one hot number. You have a lot of sex appeal.
You know you’re sexy, and you’re not afraid to put it all out there.

And while you’re very appealing, you’re careful not to be trashy or over the top.
Sexy is all about attitude. And you totally have the attitude that people love.

How You Are Sexy

Your modern look is sexy. You don’t give people too much of the same old thing. You like to change it up.

You are secure in social situations, and you definitely have a confident vibe. And that’s very sexy.

You keep your body fit and healthy, and that’s hot. Plus, sweating is also sexy!

You are open to all sorts of experiences, and you have a taste for the exotic. Your adventurous spirit is very sexy.

Types of Eating Disorders

Recently, in a comment, I was asked about different types of eating disorders. Eating disorders are not well understood by the treatment community, and in the lay community, the level of misunderstanding is even greater.

In my opinion, part of the problem is the name. Because the disease is called an “eating” disorder, people think it is primarily about eating and food. Further, the DSM-IV, the primary tool for diagnosis and insurance definitions, doesn’t consider an eating disorder to be a diagnosis until the person is so sick that they are displaying severe physical and behavioral symptoms. In my opinion, that is like diagnosing breast cancer when the cancer has so deformed the breasts that they are no longer recognizable and there is a very high probability the cancer has metastasized. At that point, chances of recovery are unlikely, and treatment is largely ineffective. But this is only my opinion, as a sufferer of an eating disorder and a mechanical engineer.

However, if you are wondering if you have an eating disorder, here are some sites that offer definitions.
EATING DISORDERS at the Office of Women’s Health
Eating Disorders in Figure Skaters and others
Eating Attitude Test
Something Fishy (My therapist’s favorite ED site)
How is an eating disordered person different from a non-eating disordered person? This was good.

Some of the tools that I use to treat my eating disorder.