One of those things

[written sunny Saturday 9th July, 2016; updated 12th July, 2016]

Today I brushed my teeth.

It shouldn’t be a big deal should it, but it is. No one can remember the last time that I brushed my teeth…last year? It’s terrible I know, and doesn’t exactly match my pharmacists’ health promotion ethos, does it? And it’s not something my husband relishes! Or others, possibly; I haven’t heard! But it’s just gotten to be one of those things. You know, those things? Things that you should do, but it’s just a bit too hard. So they’ve slipped down the priority scale, and dropped off the to-do list. I know I have new cavities from being so slack; I can feel them on the lower left side of my mouth when I eat hot food, drink cold drinks, eat something sugary etc. It’s going to need some attention and I’m happy to give it that, but I’ve got an insurance situation to sort out before I can afford it. Soon. Interestingly, or not, I pack my toothbrush every time I go away. I even pack my dental floss, the same dental floss that I’ve had since no one knows when! That’s extreme optimism for you, right there! I don’t know why I think it’s going to be different on holidays, why I think I’ll get it done. I guess it’s something to do with believing I’ll have more time on holidays, that I’ll feel differently on holidays, that everything will fall into place on holidays. But that’s not how it works, is it? What you have at home, your routines, your schedule, your habits, you take on holidays with you. So it just gets put off a little longer, and a little longer. I’ve never been great at this, but I’ve been a heck of a lot better than this, even committing to daily bleaching my teeth for 3 weeks once! It’s probably one of the bigger of those things.

Today I washed my hands.

That, of all things, should NOT be a big deal but washing and drying my hands has become a stand off with myself! It’s like a rebellion against something, I don’t even know what. But you’re supposed to wash your hands, yeah? Well I won’t! Terrible, childish thought process, I know. But it’s there, and it takes a lot of overcoming! Every time I should be washing my hands, this something rises up in me and I just sneak away without doing it. So silly, yet it persists. Obviously because I work in a hospital there are safety limits but a pump of alcohol or chemical based cleaner is a lot easier to me; maybe I should install a couple of home! It’s just one of those things. It’s not that I never wash my hands. If I think an activity warrants it, like dirt from gardening, dusty or greasy hands from my bike, food matter etc then yes they get a good wash; or a good rub down on a hand towel that will disguise it! I’m practically a kid when it comes to this! It’s the little times when my hands aren’t dirty, but its tradition (and probably hygiene!) like before a meal, after a meal, little things. In my mind. Probably not in others minds, but it feels like unnecessary energy that I can’t afford to waste, so I save my efforts for something more essential, as least to my way of thinking. It’s one of those things which seem like why wouldn’t you just do it, but I feel like it will take too much energy. It’s a fight with myself.

Today I walked one kilometer.

Walking, any walking, has become a big deal since I got sick. I never used to think about the things I asked my body to do. I walked as long as I needed, I ran for exercise, I loved swimming for fun, weights were my favourite form of exercise, I’ve done a couple of bootcamps including one at a boxing gym, pilates was my relaxation, and so on. But now, I struggle a lot with it! For various reasons, I suppose: I’m fat and heavy, I’m slow and sluggish, it takes energy and effort and motivation, I’d rather catch ANY other form of transportation, my legs rub together and chafe til they’re red raw unless I wear undershorts or leggings, it drains my mind and my body, and I’ve come to associate it with pain and suffering. I know, a little over dramatic! But there you have it, it’s one of those things! This walk in particular was slow, and it wasn’t for exercise; it was for bird watching and photography. But hey, it was outside in the sun and breeze, and it was a kilometer. I take it however I get it, and don’t sneeze at the little bits of exercise however they come. I’m meant to be exercising more. Well that was more than yesterday, more than the day before, and more in one go than I’d done for the whole week and probably longer so I’m counting it as a win!

Today I rode my bike.

And it reminded me that I do love my bike! I’d forgotten that. I quickly forget the joys, and never-endingly remember the pains; it’s not a good way to be! I keep planning to ride with Wheel Women and sign myself up for rides optimistically hoping I’ll feel like it by the time they comes around. But then I pull out closer to the day as it becomes clearer that not having left the house or changed out of PJs for 2 days, it really isn’t going to be likely that I’ll be up and dressed by 8.30am ready to drive 45 minutes across the city! Or I heave a sigh of relief when a planned ride is cancelled due to rain, path flooding or wild weather. Then I roll over and go back to sleep. Well that’s been the pattern lately while I haven’t been well. Before today I hadn’t ridden or been on my bike even since the 3rd of June! Five weeks out of it! I think I’ve had 5 weeks out of a lot of things, to be honest. It’s been reasonably bleak for me and with me, and that’s when all of these things, those things, fall away because it’s too much effort to keep them going. But flying downhill brought on that high, that endorphin burst and suddenly I was in my zone, loving it! And I flew all the way home, even up the hills, and that was that, I was back, mentally. And when you’re there mentally, you’re there!

Today I climbed hills on my bike.

If you know me and my riding, you know about me and hills; we have a difficult relationship! Frankly, right now, I’m not built for going up hills! My weight is very much against me when trying to defy gravity by going up. Nevertheless, the hills are there and they do come across my path, and at the end of the day I do have to get up them somehow. So when Wheel Women ran a class on climbing, cornering and descending, it sounded like exactly the skill set that I could benefit from! So how did I get to that class when I hadn’t gotten to any other rides? My innate cheapness!! I put down money for this class, little though it be, but it’s a powerful motivator in someone with Scottish blood, however diluted it be! And I did learn some super helpful tips to help me up those hills. And then I flew down them again, but that’s the fun bit, the bit that gives you a rush! The other bit, the climbing is different, but I guess it’s a means to an end if you like. It’s still hard. But I did it today! I conquered one of those things, at least for now.

At the end of the day, what a day?!

Better than I’ve had in quite a while! I’ve been struggling with depression lately and it has sucked, but suddenly on Thursday night when I woke up from my nap, something shifted! I was high, elevated in an energetic and motivated frame of mind. Just like that! If only I could click my fingers and get that result! Who on earth knows what it was that tipped me over, impossible to figure out. But YAY!

So what you’re seeing here is the chemicals in my brain giving me a booster shot to actually manage to do some of those things. I even cooked tea one night this week! Rare event these days! When the chemicals all line up, life is good. It’s easy, way less effort, far less forcing myself around. It just happens and we’re all relieved. And vice versa, you understand. But for now, for however little time I have this little break, it’s nice to use it to do something. It’s not perfect. My ride was still hard! The hills still hurt. My walking was still slow, although that was more for the sake of finding birds, and it wasn’t far, but still. I washed my hands but not all the time. And I brushed my teeth.

What I didn’t do today was shower. It’s probably the hugest of the things. To get into our shower you have to climb into the bathtub. Every time I think of having a shower, I think of having to hoick my leg over the side and it just seems like too much effort! It’s such a small thing, right, but it literally seems like it’s impossible. Once I’m in its great; I love a nice hot shower and feeling clean again, once I’m there. It’s just the getting started, which is after all, the issue with all of these things; getting started. It’s pretty much classic depression: issues with motivation, energy, self care. It is amazing what lengths I’ll go to not to have a shower, and how long I’ll go between showers. And by amazing, I also mean embarrassing! After Bali, I had a mega battle and I almost lost count but I think I went more than two weeks and no shower, and unwashed hair! You may have noticed! I still used deodorant and perfume so hopefully I didn’t stink, but it wasn’t a nice episode and finally my husband had to drag me to the shower and make me get in. And it was delightful! All that fuss and bother and argument, vanished, and I had a lovely time and came out feeling wonderful! It’s one of those things!!

That’s today [read: Saturday 9th July]. Tomorrow we have to wake up and do it again so we won’t get too carried away, but today those things have had a bit less hold over me.

So, the next day: Sunday morning, the hardest morning of the week. Mainly because I ideally would aim be up and going earlier than I may have done for the other 6 days of the week. But today I was up by 9am and actually feeling like I was up and going, not sluggish or doped out. My anticipation of the coming Sunday can mean that I go to bed late, and so not take my tablets til late just before I go to bed, and so I can be a bit sedated by the effect of my tablets lasting well into the morning. I have this contrary thought process that not going to bed will prolong the next day’s arrival…obviously it’s just the opposite. But it’s another reason why waking up Sunday is a complicated thing. Sunday morning is also traditionally when I wash my hair. I should really change that, if common sense prevails. It’s just another thing to get past to get to church: waking up, clearing my head, getting fed and watered and tabletted, showering, dressing and getting out the door not long after ten.

But today was pretty successful. I actually had a shower, and even dug out some moisturizer and did my legs! A miracle of a day! I’m energetic but not irritably manic, the best way to be. Touch wood for more days like these. I’m active, I’m wanting to fill in my day instead of hiding from it; I’m like a normal person!! YAY!

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“Are you…?”

Today it happened.

Someone patted my stomach, raised their eyebrows, smiled suggestively and asked, “so, are you…?”

“Oh no”, I laughed, “it’s all fat”.

“Oh, too bad, I had my fingers crossed”.

Well it is too bad, too bad that I give the impression of a fairly pregnant lady! My husband told me so last week, and I know it. I’ve known it for a while.

In my life up until a few years ago any weight I put on was fairly evenly distributed over my body so that I never got the fat belly look, but maybe I’ve filled up all the other spaces because now it seems to go onto my belly really easily!

As a kid I could always eat as much as I liked and not put on weight. As a teenager and adult it took me a while to work out that this system no longer worked!

I’ve put on a lot of weight over the last while. There’s a few factors to blame but of course at the end of the day the only real cause to be found is food entering the body in excessive quantities. Something that I’m good at!

I love food. I’ve always loved food. I love looking at food, touching food, eating food. I love buying food, cooking food and I sometimes dream about food! I am a food person. A foodie.

I’ve always been this way, apparently right back to when I was a toddler and was easy to feed because I just liked food. As a little prep student, when the other kids were ordering 2 or 3 party pies for lunch on lunch order days (Mondays and Thursdays) I would order two full size pies and eat the lot.

But it’s more than just liking to eat and liking food.

I have a bit of a ‘thing’ about food. When we were little there was no “junk food” in our house. No lollies, chips, soft drinks, salty sugary high energy low nutrition lovely tasty food. We would have takeaway sometimes, KFC, charcoal chicken, fish and chips on a Friday night. I loved takeaway nights and hoed right in with gusto! Had to make the most of it.

We would go to the local agricultural show every year and get a show bag, the “quality” Search and Rescue for-a-good-cause type not the junky ones with lots of lollies. Still they had a few lollies and usually a Whiz Fizz. I would go home and immediately eat everything out of my bag til it was all gone.

I remember a school friend’s 7th birthday party clearly. There were Cheezels, chips, snakes and sausage rolls. I always got right in close by the table and ate as much as I could; you never know when you’re going to see Cheezels and snakes again! So I would eat mouthful after mouthful enjoying the luxury treats. Then a game was organised and everyone ran off to the next room to start it; but I stayed to cram in a few more mouthfuls so I made the most of it!

I  remember eating calf milk powder because it tasted like skim milk powder. I would take a cup full into the garden and eat it dry by the teaspoon, so it would form thick slabs on the roof of my mouth.

Then there’s my Uncle’s 30th birthday. Instead of hanging out with my cousins I hung out by the table glorying in the rare and amazing foods: cheese, fruits, lollies, chips, and one fabulous honeycomb! I stayed and ate and ate and ate. That night we drove back to the hotel where we were staying and on the way I started to have stomach pains. Stabbing, burning, hard hot pains. I had gorged myself til my stomach was literally stretching to bursting point! I rolled in agony for a couple of hours before enough food passed out of my belly to release the pressure and ease the pain. Not a great moment.

I remember stealing sweets at home on the occasion that they made in into the house. The art of finding the hidden stash, removing some of the loot and rearranging the rest of the food (dehydrated apples or apricots, fruit cakes, fruit chew bars, chocolate etc) to look as though nothing has been removed.

I remember eating frozen pastry sheets, sneaking cups of ice cream after work and eating them with a teaspoon; I loved teaspoons! Making soy and sweet chilli stir fries after work. Eating cups of cranberries and white choc chips.

Next vivid food memory: moving out of home. Getting my licence, a car and living a couple of minutes from the local supermarket. A quick drive, park and browse. I had my own money from scholarships and school holiday work and a whole supermarket. I developed some favourites and tried some new things. Twiggy sticks, brie, Shapes, Cadbury chocolate, sour straps, other lollies, chocolates, chips and drinks. And I could buy what I liked! No rules! No forbidden food. I could just go nuts!!

One favourite was Cadbury’s Peppermint Chip flavour, sadly no longer available. A fabulous combination of milky sweet chocolate with the crisp menthol tang in crunchy mini-chips. Ahhh. I would smuggle these past my chef of a Grandma and eat them in secret seclusion in my room where no one knew and no one could tell me no. Then, when tea was announced, I of course was already full but made myself eat the meal so I wouldn’t have to tell anyone that I’d already eaten, and also as a punishment for eating “naughty” food. A weird system.

So it’s been a battle of the “junk food” ever since. I read this week that 1 million Australians have an eating disorder. And I don’t think it’s only anorexia and bulimia; I think there are many over-eating disorders as well. But over-eating disorders are easily blamed on a person, calling them lazy or greedy. I’m not saying that I have an eating disorder, but I do have a certain amount of disordered thinking and eating  about food.

So that’s one factor, kind of a big one.

Second: anxiety/depression/bipolar. Lack of motivation, feeling down, feeling strung out, no energy, unable to enjoy anything. Comfort eating, eating to get energy, binge eating so that my body feels as bad as my mind, eating to enjoy at least one thing when I can’t get enjoyment out of anything. Many reasons and combined with absolutely no motivation to improve myself or keep fit at the time, make a fateful combination. Plus boredom eating.

So here I am.

9 months after I finished a 10kg weight loss over 12 months to get down to 76.7kg, my lowest weight since high school, I have put on 16kg!! I have a weekly weigh-in which is a non-negotiable thing; the theory being that at least I keep track of my weight. Yeah, that’s working! But it all happened pretty fast, with the binge eating, the medicines and the sitting/laying around the house.

So my current weight is 93.2kg. The heaviest I’ve ever been. Actually, not true – the heaviest I’ve ever been was last week, 93.75kg. Yes, I have lost 500g over the last week. It’s a good start. And I’m determined: right now I have energy, motiviation, I can get up in the morning and so it’s on!! Watching my food and exercising, here we go!!

I’ve always loved using the MyFitnessPal calorie counter. It used to work really well for me. It was a challenge, and I loved it. But now, as soon as I see the calories go into the red I just bust and go nuts! It’s not giving me the right psychology right now.

I used to love training myself. I did a three month Madison magazine fitness program where I watched my food, did 3 couch-to-5km training sessions per week, 3 strength training exercises per week and 3 stretch sessions per week. I lost weight, learned to jog and run and it was awesome. But now I just don’t have the motivation and energy. So now I need the gym – and I have an awesome trainer and a great bunch of girls at Urban Fitness doing the fab Fit Chicks program. I’ve just gotta get myself up and going and get there and it’s all on!

Third: medication. Both my antidepressant and mood stabilisers change my hunger sensors so that half an hour after a meal I can be salivating and my stomach can be rumbling even though I KNOW that I’m not hungry. Annoying, but something I can manage if I have the motivation and mental energy. Which I do now, but didn’t before.

So despite being confused for being halfway through a pregnancy, I’m pretty positive. In fact, I’m gunna go hit the gym now!! I’m psyched, I’m pumped and I love it!! I feel like a regular girl 🙂 I feel like I’m back to my old self 🙂 It’s awesome!!