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.

Take Down Notice

I was served with a take down (takedown?) notice for an eating disorder worksheet, Burn’s Depression Checklist. Below is the e-mail, including full headers. It is unfortunate that the publishers are more interested in making money than in helping the mentally ill, one of the most vulnerable populations any where. This simple checklist is used by thousands of therapists to help judge their clients state with respect to depression. It is also helpful for the lay public in quickly understanding the difference between depression and being sad about something.

I don’t have the book in my hands, so I am unable to check the copyright and see if it is allowed to make copies for specific situations.



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Update

So today, I went to group and work, and took the kids to the dentist instead of going into my parents house.

It was really hard last night to say to Eina that I wasn’t coming in on Tuesday. When I say goodbye every evening, she looks at me and says, “You are coming in tomorrow?”

But it was really good for me to go to group. I dearly needed the support, and I found out about Sudden Unexplained Death in Children (SUDC).

Then I went to work. That was good for me, too. I really wanted to get a report out before the end of the year, but my manager is okay with it coming out in January.

The funeral home director suggested that we meet him at the mortuary in Alameda instead of us having to drive to Oakland. Little things like this help so much. So I recommend Grant Miller-John Cox Mortuary of Oakland or Greer Family Mortuary of Alameda.

It's beginning to look a lot like ..

Risky Situation: Family Gone = BINGE

Remeber when I filled out the Risky Situation Worksheet?

Well, today is the day! So far so good. It’s 9:15.

I am not on schedule. I forgot to take into account how late we were going to stay up last night. It was Parents’ Night Out at daycare. Robert & I went to dinner. He suggested the fondue place, which I would have loved, but we didn’t have time. So we went to Applebees. The meal was pretty cheap, quick, and the margaritas were good. Robert and I talked. Then we went grocery shopping (I got a pommegranite for today 🙂 ) and dropped pillows and favorite stuffed animals off at daycare for the kids.

We decided to go see the new Bond movie. We liked it. Our requirements are that we don’t get bored in a movie. If I don’t look at my watch, it’s a great movie.

Anyway, I didn’t get to sleep until 11:30 last night.

So, I didn’t get up until 8 this morning. Robert & the kiddos left at 9:00.

I don’t think I’m going to go hang out downtown or at Starbucks, not enough time. I’ll get a coffee on the way up to Walnut Creek. I think I will do laundry & watch TV, maybe clean a bathroom or just toilets. Maybe not. But I don’t need an AM snack. There isn’t that much time until I meet Janet.

Risky Situation Plan – family gone = binge

What is the situation?
Robert is taking the kids camping, so they will be gone overnight. The last time this happened, I binged on a chocolate candy bar. The time before that, I binged on cookie dough.

What are your expected urges?
A binge on something sweet & fatty in the evening, after dinner while I am home alone.

Schedule:
Date:Saturday, November 21 to Sunday November 22
Friday Night: Shower before going to bed.
7:00 Get up and eat breakfast (the usual oatmeal), meds, teeth
7:30 Help Robert get out of the house with the kids
8:00 Go shopping in PJ’s (special program in downtown Livermore) – warning dangerous food, maybe better to go to Starbucks and get my iced coffe or better to stay home until 9, then go to Starbucks and have coffee and snack (yogurt cup thingy & sweet thing? No. Going to lunch with Janet) and work on journal or read & practice art book exercises. Could get Starbucks and go sit at fountain.
10:00 Home to get dressed
10:15 Snack: see 8 am discussion_________________________________________________________
10:30 drive up to Walnut Creek
11:00 Meet Janet at sushi restaurant by ASG meeting
1:00 ASG stash sale
4:00 Home & Snack:_______________________________________________________________________
4:30 Walk Lily
5:30 Make Dinner:_________________________________________________________________________
6:00 Eat Dinner
7:00 Go to Joann’s.
8:00 Watch TV? This makes me nervous. But I would like to watch TV that I can’t watch with the kids. Maybe I just can’t watch TV this time … so I’ll surf the web. I won’t have a chance to surf earlier in the day.
10:00 Bath
11:00 Go to bed

Specific safety plan: How will you manage this situation? What strategies will you use?
I decided to manage the plan via schedule. Will present plan to group. Need input on PM snack and dinner.

Back-up safety plan: If your initial safety plan doesn’t work out, what alternate strategies will you use?
I will send an e-mail to Robert, right now, to ask him to either take the great big chocolate bar camping or to toss it. Done. That should do it. There isn’t anything else in the house. Cross fingers – can’t hurt.__________________________________________________________________

Date of exposure practice: __________________________________________________________

Outcome: How well did your plan work? What did you learn from this exposure practice?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Revised plan for next time: Based on your exposure practice,
what do you need to change in your safety plan for the next time you practice
this situation?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Thought Record

Today was Food Log Day. So I brought up a problematic day. On a recent Saturday, I went out on the boat with DH, Chunguita, & Pulguito. For breakfast, we went out to the Railroad Cafe where I had 2 eggs, canadian bacon, pancakes, coffee & water. We went to see the mothball fleet and got back to Pleasanton around 1:30. We had lunch at McDonalds. I could have had the oriental chicken salad sans dressing, but, no, I had the grilled ranch chicken burger w/fries, and a soda. Then around 4, I took the kids to Starbucks where I had some sort of baked good. I don’t even remember what it was, but I do remember thinking something along the line of “I’ve already blown the day …” I did not feel out of control.

I called the day irresponsible and indulgent. But the therapists were sure something deeper was behind the eating.

I don’t call the boat “The Damn Boat” for no reason. I really didn’t want to go out on the boat that day. Yes, I wanted to go see the mothball fleet, just not in October. We went camping in October, we hosted a Halloween party, we had Halloween (which is a big deal at our house), my father got very sick. I think I wanted to stay home and rest that weekend.

My therapist asked if I would have felt comfortable saying no to that outing, and the answer is no. The only time that DH wants to spend with me HAS to include the kids. I don’t know if it that he doesn’t want to spend time with me or if marriage means 100% family and 0% couple to him or what, but when I’ve suggested that we could use some couple time, he has said no. When I said that I started to cry.

So therapist suggested that my not wanting to say no to boat/family activities that he plans is co-dependent, strongly driven by my self-imposed need to please him.

So here goes, thought record:

Trigger: Need to please DH/inability to say no

Thoughts:
This is the only time I get to spend with him.
If I want to stay married, this is the only choice I get.
I don’t want to give up on my marriage.
he doesn’t seem to care if he hurts me.
I do want to spend time with him and the kids.
He doesn’t like me.
I’m a lousy wife.
I’m selfish to not want to go out with him.
I hate the boat.
He spends too much money.
I will do pretty much anything he wants to get time with him.
I am a doormat.
I am weak.
I can’t stick to my foodplan around him.
I was exhausted.
I did enough without the mothball fleet trip.
Why doesn’t he see me?
Why is it never enough for him?
Why can’t he accept me the way I am?
Why doesn’t he want to spend time with me?
I can’t tell him the truth; he’ll just get angry.
He doesn’t listen.
He only wants to do things with me that he wants to do.
I’m tired.
I’m fat.
He thinks my activities are stupid/trivial.
My activities that he participates in are family obligations.
Sometimes, I don’t want to go to family obligations.
Go along to get along.

Urges/Feelings:
Sadness
Anger
anxiety
Eat Whatever
Give-in

Interpersonal: DH

Resistance

I went to see the EAP counselor yesterday to talk about exercise resistance. I learned that resistance is its own field/area/category? in psychology. It seems it goes back to Freud.

Anyway, she said that if a person is resisting, then the person is engaged.

I didn’t really get this until I applied it to a different issue. Purging. I resist purging. I often feel the urge to “get rid of it”, and there’s more to it than just thinking it. But I resist. So I am still engaged in purging, at some level.

That means that I’m engaged with exercising when I resist. Too bad you don’t get the benefits from resisting exercise, too.