Friday, March 22, 2013

Not pretty but pretty honest

I just realized as I got on my laptop that the last time I posted was four days ago.  Sorry I have been incommunicado.  I had a killer mid-term last night so all my energy had to go to that.  Graduation is in two months for me, so I definitely need to at least pass the classes.  I had been procrastinating on the readings and just not devoting enough time to studying.  Bad Kathy.

This week has been a whirlwind of heavy emotions.  Although I can't go into specifics, this past week at work has been beyond difficult in dealing with the feelings that came up surrounding a near tragedy.  All I can say is that I work with an amazing group of people that make me feel blessed to be there.  We all care about kids so much and I honestly couldn't imagine being in any other line of work.  Speaking of which, I have the entire next week off because of Spring Break.  Well, I have work off but I still have school.  Ain't complaining though!

The other emotions that I have been dealing with is all about me.  I have been really hard on myself, especially in this last week, about how I have been doing since getting off Optifast.  As most of you know who have been following my journey for some time, I was (and still am) having some medical issues.  Some happened while I was on Optifast and stopped as soon as I was done with the products.  I didn't talk in too much detail about the issues I was having while I was on products because, for one, who wants to know the TMI type of details and, two, I was losing a hell of a lot of weight.  190 pounds in something like nine months.  Frankly, if I wasn't having all those medical issues, I would have stayed on the program all the way until I hit goal weight.  God had other plans for me, though.

So what happened instead?  I gained weight.  Most of it had to do with being put on medication that had a lovely side effect of weight gain.  Yeah, I know, great side effect for someone that was trying to lose weight.  That's just swell!  Then, I didn't help anything by not dealing with things very well.  It wasn't just all the medical stuff I was dealing with.  Yes, the physical pain I am in everyday is very difficult to deal with.  Between the unexplained chronic pain in my legs, the back pain, the carpel tunnel and tendinitis in my hands ... well, it's just a lot of pain.  Imagine trying to put exercise on top of that.  It actually makes me feel better, but it never takes the pain away, just takes the edge off, and sometimes it's very difficult during.  In fact, it makes me sweat more because I am doing everything I can to just breathe through it.  Then I add in things like going to school at night while working full time in a stressful (albeit great) job, dealing with a worker's comp system that is essentially calling me a liar at every turn and it's all just too much.  I have not been handling frustrations very well and, as I put on weight because of the medication, I put it on for other reasons, too.  That's not to say I'm not losing.  I actually am and I'm grateful for that.  But it's a very different experience than Optifast.

I didn't talk much about this at the time, but about a month ago, I went and saw a therapist.  I just had been feeling so blue.  Actually, therapy should have been a part of my life prior to this, but it's difficult.  I have been in therapy before, didn't have a good experience and so I didn't go back.  Regardless of the coulda/shoulda/woulda's, I made the decision with the help of a very dear friend to revisit it.  I have insurance so I decided to start down that road first.  I only have $10 co-pays every time I go for an unlimited amount of visits, so why not.  At the time, I wasn't ready to share it here, but I realize I need to, at least for me.

You see, weight loss is not easy (I know, news flash!).  Anyone who says it is does not truly have a weight problem.  It's not just mind over matter.  Sorry, it just isn't.  I was 420 pounds at my highest recorded weight.  There is more there than the love of food.  When I was doing Optifast, the majority of people I have met have had less than 100 pounds to lose.  So, when they got off of the products and then could go about with their lives as if nothing happened, they had a different experience.  For me, the food has been tied in with emotions.  I have always been an emotional eater.  So when I started gaining weight after getting off of the products, I felt like a huge failure.  It's not like you can hide the problem behind closed doors - you wear your weight.  As more weight was coming on, the more I hurt inside.  And I have been all but shunned from people who supported me during that time.  Relationships have definitely changed with some, although strengthened with others.  I can't describe the sacrifices I went through, the time I spent in exercise just to lose the weight.  It did not happen just because I had five shakes a day.  Nope.  It was blood, sweat and tears.  In comparison, though, it was easy compared to this.  

Then, all of a sudden, my clothes started getting tighter.  In my night classes, the desks are tight.  My Wednesday night class has a desk that feels like it's digging into my body and I have red marks on my body after getting out of the desk.  Last night, as I was taking my mid-term, I was sitting in a classroom that I was in last semester.  During that semester, I was able to cross my legs under the desk and fit very comfortably with room to spare.  As I was trying to write two hours worth of essays on Socrates, Marcuse and other philosophers' take on the value of art in society, all I could think about was my legs crossed under a desk then and my tummy now.  I feel shame.  And that's why I went to see a therapist.  Tied in with feeling blue, my feelings about myself after the weight gain, lack of sleep and Lord knows what else, I do not want to be another statistic.  I don't want to be a Negative Nancy on here, either.  Honestly, it's not my intention to do that.  But, we all have good days and bad days. 

So, when I went to see the therapist, it was just a screening appointment to talk about what's going on and then to set forth a plan of action to move forward.  As I was filling out the patient questionnaire, I could feel the tears in my eyes as I realized that I needed to be there.  Why?  Because the questions spoke right to me.  Not all of them, but some of them were right on the mark.  By the time I made it into the therapist's lovely little office, I was in tears in about three minutes.  I realized that all of my feelings, the deepest part of my soul and heart, were being kept inside.  Of course I do talk about things here, but most of us feel things more when we're in front of another person looking into their eyes than in front of our laptops.  I obviously needed to be there and I obviously needed to talk about what was going on because the tears would not stop coming.  The thing that has broken my heart the most was the weight gain.  I was cursing Optifast but I was also counting it as a great blessing to me.  I know, confusing!  I cursed it because it felt like a band-aid with the shakes.  Sure, if I don't eat food and I drink just shakes, of course I'm going to lose weight.  But I felt like I didn't learn what I needed to to be successful in keeping it off.  Yet, at the same time, I was praising it because it gave me a really good jump start.  Although I have gained a lot of weight back, I have not gained as near as much as I think I have.  In my mind, I'm right back where I started but that's just not true.  I still fit behind the steering wheel of my car without the need for a seat belt extension. There is still lots of room to spare.  I am not wearing size 34 pants.  More than that, Optifast gave me a glimpse of what could be.  Even though I was not down to goal weight, I was able to buy clothes in any store and I was starting to feel like a human being.  When you weigh 300, 400 or more pounds, you just don't feel a part of the human race.  At least that's what it felt like for me.  Now I'm much more aware of bigger body parts that I just don't like.  So, anyway, back to the counseling session ....

The therapist asked me questions so I could talk more about certain facets.  Then she said to me, "Kathy, it appears to me that you're going through a major depression."  Now, I don't know if the word "major" was the actual word she used but it could of been some other adjective that closely resembles it.  It might have been "significant" or "serious".  She asked me how I felt about medication.  I was prepared for the possibility of having this conversation.  I told her that I am okay with it, provided it is necessary and it is not used as a crutch to solve a problem.  If I was to go down the road, I would want to do that in conjunction with individual counseling sessions.  I have been struggling with weight my entire life.  If you've looked at my photos link at the top of the page, you'll see a little girl with excess weight from early on.  We discussed some options and I will be seeing a doctor as well as a therapist.  As I walked out of there, I literally felt like the weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders.  I told myself that if I was going to do this, I was really going to do this, leaving no stone unturned.  It does take a bit of waiting to get an appointment, but I finally get to see the doctor on Monday and the therapist on Friday.  I don't feel like I'm ready and, at the same time, I am beyond ready.  There have been some major issues in my life that have contributed to the weight and those very issues helped keep me there for a very long time.

When I originally started this blog, it was about transparency to myself.  I didn't imagine many people would find my little blog, let alone be interested in my journey.  Yet, I do know that I have a story to tell and I am finding the courage to somehow put myself out there.  My story isn't one about getting on Optifast, losing all my weight and then going on with my merry little life.  That's a storybook ending.  Instead, I'm a real person battling through a real fight.  If you know anything about me, you at least know I am a scrappy little fighter, Kick Ass Kathy some have called me.  Geez, after four days of not blogging, now I'm chatty Kathy ;-)


Melissa said...

Bearhugs for you dear friend...perhaps one of the most poignant, heart-felt posts I have read are our little "scrappy Kathy" and have boldly faced issues head on, when many would have just given up a long, long time ago. I feel so, so strongly about the benefits of therapy, as you know, and I am beyond thrilled you are courageously pursuing this path. Hope is found here; and we are eventually "freed" from the demons that held us captive for so long. I am struggling mightily right now, and my therapy sessions anchor me in a choppy sea of emotions. You are in my thoughts and prayers -- always.

Kim said...

I am so glad you wrote this Kathy. A lot of what you said really hit home with me. I have been dealing with depression a long time and as you went along in this post, I could see it in your words. Seeking help is so important and with time you will feel so much emotionally lighter. Medication is not a good cure, but it helps you get through until you start changing through therapy and life/self changes. I am sure a lot of the regain is the depression. To be honest, the fear of failing is why I partly have only told 3 people. Being hard on myself and feeling like a failure when I know in my rational mind that I'm not is something I've been struggling with (but getting stronger at) for my entire adult life.
You are right, she would have said major depression. This is just another term for clinical depression.
Severity of symptoms and stress have always predicted the severity of my emotional and binge eating in the past. I don't know if you are aware of this, but much of the pain you are in may be due to (or at least be worse because of) the depression. I was first diagnosed when I was seeking help for physical pain, some got better with depression treatment but most just hurt less/I was better able to handle it.

Kathy said...

Melissa, thank you so much for your continuing support. I remember when we were both fully on the products and people would say that it was the easy part. They were right about that! But we're moving forward, even if it has to be baby steps.

Kim, thank you so much for reaching out and responding to this post. The label of "depression" is a hard one, especially for a bull-headed girl like me because there's a part of my brain that thinks I just need to tough it out and it'll be just fine. Then there's another part of me that feels pretty sure that that's exactly what I'm going through. I have also heard of people who have had the physical pain go away after treating the depression. In fact, the therapist told me that many fibromyalgia patients that go on the meds actually have relief of their pain so it's highly possible that my unexplained leg pain could find much relief. I really hope there will be help for me there. Beyond that, though, I know that tackling the things within will help me continue on my path. I completely understand about not wanting to tell many people about being on products. That's the road I took at first and then that changed. I really do wish you continued success being on the products, as well as life afterwards. As you've probably seen from my blog and others, it isn't easy but we can be successful as long as we don't stop trying.

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