I have felt better this past month than I have in the past two years.
I am not "elated" or on some kind of high. But after being depressed for so long, the lifting of spirit that has happened to me recently is a tremendous improvement.
It has not been one thing. It has been many things.
First and foremost is therapy. Something happened after the "invisible/control" session, which includes the revelations in my blog post about my weight gain after Dad died. I don't know the science of therapy or how an expert would describe what happened. But to me, it felt like I opened that dark box and let the light in. And the light made room for better things to replace the dark box.
I still cry every time I think about that session (like, right now as I'm writing this). Which tells me the pain isn't gone yet, and there are still dark boxes that need to be dealt with. And that's okay. I've started the process and am moving forward; that's what matters.
Second is the Whole Food change. I still don't know what to call how I'm eating. And when I say that, I mean I don't know how to respond to people like my mom and my friends (although I haven't been in a social environment all month, so it hasn't come up with them yet) when communal food opportunities comes up. It's not a diet, because there is no end. I'm not eating processed foods; I'm eating whole foods.
I guess I don't have to say anything but "no, thank you." Explanations just sort of get in the way and bring out my prideful side anyway. An explanation from me can end up sounding like "no, I don't want to eat that processed junk you are eating because I'm only eating whole foods now, but you go right ahead and fill your body with that crap." Not the most gracious way to respond. I think I'll work on my "no, thank you's" and shutting my mouth.
At any rate, not eating sugar or processed foods has been a revolutionary change. The times I have eaten them, I have felt much, much worse emotionally. Now that could be a chicken/egg thing--I ate when I was very hormonal, when I was feeling bad emotionally anyway. But I know what sugar-rage feels like, and it is different from hormonal-rage.
There's also sugar-bloat and sugar-coma and sugar-cotton-mouth and sugar-rush and sugar-crash and sugar-craving and sugar-obsession and sugar-holy-cow-I-can't-wear-my-pants-anymore. Those things are gone.
I do not feel food deprived. I am happy to make and eat breakfast every morning. I love discovering that greek yogurt, strawberries+pineapple, and walnuts taste like heaven (and don't make me crave more, more, more). I love not spending money on drive thrus or take out. I love that my clothes are looser.
Third is (possibly, probably) the medication (lamotrigine) I started a little over a month ago. You have to titrate up slowly to avoid side effects. So the 1st two weeks were 25 mg, the 2nd two weeks were 50 mg, and then Monday we bumped up to 75 mg. The therapeutic dose isn't supposed to be reached until 100 mgs, but the nurse practitioner said that she wouldn't be surprised if I am seeing some relief from the lower doses. "Go slow, stay low" is the mantra for these types of meds, she said, so we are going to go to 75 for a month and see how I feel.
Fourth, I'm sleeping much better. I am not staying up until 11 pm or midnight. I get in bed around 9:45 or 10, and by 10:30 I am asleep. I usually wake up once to go pee, but I go back to sleep fairly easily for the most part. I'm not yet an early riser, but I could see me getting there soon.
Lastly, I'm blogging nearly every day. I'm relying on the blog community and my long-time blog friends for support and advice and real learning. I stopped blogging when I was depressed and gained weight; I felt like I didn't have anything positive to share. I started blogging almost everyday when I felt better and am losing weight. But... is this a chicken/egg thing too? What if I'd never stopped blogging? What if I didn't bury my head in the sand for a year and ignore reality? Would I have learned these things a year ago? Honestly, it doesn't matter either way. I can't change the past. But I throw that out there for anyone who reads this and isn't blogging because she is depressed and gaining weight. Maybe she'll read this and be ready to change, and start blogging regularly again to discover her own truths sooner rather than later.
So all these things (and probably more that just haven't come to mind yet) add up to me moving forward on a regular basis. I am making hay while the sun shines. For me, making hay means:
I cleaned my closet. Every day I get to see an organized closet with clothes that fit me, instead of being assaulted by what I can't wear and by the disorganization.
I stay on top of the laundry. I have been doing some kind of laundry activity almost every night. I did not spend last weekend up to my eyeballs in full hampers and overflowing baskets of clean clothes, because I had been working on it all week. All our hampers are only 1/4 full, and as of last night, mine was empty.
I keep the kitchen clean. I unload the dishwasher almost immediately and keep dirty dishes off the counter and in the dishwasher.
I cleaned up the clutter in my "hot spots" in the kitchen. Anyone ever follow The Fly Lady? I used to years ago; had a control journal and everything (which was just another excuse to plan and not DO, but that's a post for another day). She talks about living in "chaos"--Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome. She tells you to start avoiding chaos by shining your kitchen sink every night. Start with a clean kitchen, and the rest will follow. Keep the hot spots--where things gather and clutter--to a minimum by having a "one touch" rule. I'm a bit obsessive about it now, but I have to be or else it gets out of control in no time.
I started our vacation photo album last night. Not a scrap book, but using a scrap book quality photo album (from Creative Memories). I ordered the photos last week, which was a huge endeavor to begin with (we took over 500 pictures and a ton of video). I decided last night that instead of moping or eating or feeling lonely, I'd give our family the gift of memories by Doing Something with our pictures. It doesn't have to be done all at once. I am not in an "all or nothing" place with these pictures. I am not waiting until I've finished Luke's baby album and our Christmas album and the kids' school albums to work on our 2011 Vacation album. I am starting where I am, and will do what I can, and will work backwards until there's nothing to work backwards to anymore. I may be 60 before everything is finished. So what. I'll be 60 anyway someday. Might as well be 60 with photo albums completed than 60 with a "woulda/shoulda/coulda" complex.
I am running again, and planning for an October half marathon (my 6th) and a February half marathon (in Florida at Disney with 5 other women). I dug all my race medals out of my jewelry box the other day. They were tangled and unloved. I gathered them together and thought, "These medals are something to be displayed, not buried under a mound of tangled jewelry. They each represent 13.1 miles, and every race--no matter how slow or fast--is a triumph. Why on earth would I bury these symbols of my accomplishments?!"
So they are going to be displayed in my bedroom by my bedside table (I am looking for some display hooks this weekend). Not in the family room or the hallway--I do not want to appear boastful or proud. But I do want to remind myself that I am a runner. That every year since 2008 I have run at least one 13.1 mile race. And I want a place where each time I run a new race, I can honor that run for what it is--a personal miracle and gift.
It's not just about the races, though. Those medals will be there to remind me that
Every single day that I get out of bed and stand on my own two feet and move forward with purpose, it is a personal miracle--and a gift.