Some things are hard to talk about. Pocrescophobia

I’ve been struggling with something for a while and I’m not actually sure I feel comfortable talking about it, but there may be someone else out there struggling with the same thing who needs to know they aren’t alone.   I have an intense fear of gaining weight.

*****this post talks about eating disorders, this may be a trigger for some of you, please take care of yourself and read (or not) accordingly*********

As many of you may know, I lost 45 pounds in 2017.  This is something I have been trying to do for a long time.  I gained a lot of weight when I first got sick, on top of losing my independence, suddenly my body no longer felt like mine.  I weighed 225 pounds at my heaviest, and I didn’t recognize myself.  (I’m barely 5’5″ tall)  A few years ago I found out that I have Fructose Malabsorption and went on the appropriate diet to help with that, and at that time I lost 45 pounds, and kept it off.  However, I was not happy with my weight.  I was still overweight and it ate at my self esteem.  I tried and tried to lose weight over the last few years, but it just didn’t come off.  I had my yearly physical last year on December 30th, and at that time I weighed 182 pounds.  I was determined to lose weight, but I really wasn’t sure I could do it, and I was ashamed that I hadn’t been able to do it before.  Then I was put on a medication for my migraines that reduced my appetite.  Suddenly I was able eat much less and not feel hungry.  (Normally I feel hungry often.)  I lost weight, it came off slowly, but it steadily came off.  By the time I had my yearly physical last month I weighed 140 pounds.  (140 lbs at the doctor’s office, at home I weighed 135lbs)  The medication stopped curbing my appetite, now I’m fighting hard not to gain all that weight back.  I was able to bake for the holidays this year for the first time in many years, but I didn’t just bake, I ate, and I have been terrified that I’m going to gain….and gain…and gain, yet I can’t seem to stop eating.  I’ve gained about 5 pounds.  I know how quickly those 5 pounds could turn into 80+ pounds, and I’m desperate to not let that happen.  So many people will say that 5 pounds is nothing when you gain weight, they tell you not to worry about it, it’s really not that much, but those same people will tell you how great it is when you lose 5 pounds, how that’s a lot of weight to loose….  How can both of these be true?

When I lost the weight this year I found myself in love with my body for the first time since I can remember, if I ever felt that way at all.  I accepted that this body was not as I wished it would be.  Let’s face it, a 54 year old’s skin doesn’t really shrink back when you lose weight, but I was happy with what I saw, I loved all of me, saggy skin, cellulite, and all.  However, even though I felt that way, I was still terrified of gaining the weight back.  At one point, I went to the grocery store and started to buy some gluten free flat bread to make a pizza with, when I saw the amount of calories it had per serving I broke down in tears.  I was paralyzed with fear.  I simply stood there and cried.

Now, I see myself as fat.  I can see that I’ve lost weight, but I also see where I’ve gained some, and how much more I need to lose.  (10 pounds seems to be as hard to lose as 50)  I see photos of me and I think I look pretty good, then I look in the mirror and know that isn’t true; it takes a lot of effort to look good for the photos, on a day to day basis, I don’t look like that.  I look down at my body when I’m sitting in the living room and I’m appalled by the rolls of fat on my stomach, the bulges I feel under my arms, (back fat is not attractive), and the drooping of my breast.

I feel better since I’ve lost the weight.  I can get up from the floor easily.  I can walk further than before.  I go out with more confidence (most days).  I love wearing smaller sizes.  I think I look good…..sometimes.  Other times…well I covered that haven’t I?

I’m scared.  I’m terrified of gaining weight.  This is an intense fear, yet I can’t seem to stop eating.  I’m hungry all the time.  I’ve had a love/hate relationship with food for a very long time, my whole life really, I don’t want to go into detail about my past, but I need to let you know this isn’t the first time I’ve struggled.  Now it is even more confusing.  My weight seems to always be in a state of flux.  Since I was able to keep most of the 45 pounds I lost, I was encouraged that I would be able to this time, I’m afraid that isn’t the case.  I’m afraid I will need to track every thing I eat to make sure I don’t over eat or under eat.  I’m afraid I’ll need to exercise as much as possible in order to keep the weight off, but that is physically impossible because of my health, and I hate myself because of it.  I’m afraid I’ll fail and the weight will come back.

I’ve been trying hard to not eat as much, and to eat nutritionally dense foods; this hasn’t happened, instead I’ve been going overboard on sweets and cereal, and I beat myself up over it.  The guilt and fear is so great that I have tried many times to make myself throw up. (I can put my finger all the way down my throat and not throw up.)  If I could just get it out when I eat too much, I know I would feel better, I would be back in control.  No, it wouldn’t take away the guilt (I’m sure it would cause more guilt), but the fear is stronger than the guilt.  I’ve exercised to the point of absolute exhaustion (not regularly).  I have taken laxatives when I feel I’ve over eaten (not often, but I have).  I suffer from chronic constipation and get obsessed with how much that makes me weigh (how much extra weight is in me), laxatives help.  I try hard not to have them in the house, so I won’t abuse them.  I’ve actually been happy when I’ve had intestinal distress, because it’s a sure way to lose weight.  I’ve wanted surgery to make me look better.  These actions and thoughts scare me.

I will work on these things.  I may go back into therapy, but first I am going to try to deal with it on my own.  As many of you know I can’t drive because of the sudden attacks of vertigo I have, this makes it very difficult to get to therapy sessions.  Stuart has to juggle his work schedule to drive me places so we try to keep my appointments to one a week, two at the most; if I have therapy every week how can I go to any other appointments?  I just want to handle this by myself if possible.

I don’t think I have a full fledged eating disorder, yet.  I do not avoid meals.  I eat when I’m hungry, even if I feel I shouldn’t be hungry.  I have not been tracking every calorie I put in my mouth. However, I do plan to, to make sure I’m not over or under eating, and I will admit, to loose a few pounds.  I’m not avoiding foods, I do plan to cut sugar out of my diet for a while, but that’s not a bad thing, right?).  I normally do not eat so much that others would find it unusual. (however, I feel it is)  I do not purge, but I do admit, sometimes I would if I could.  I have a lot of fears and I can see that my actions have been changing because of these fears.

I have Pocrescophobia (the fear of gaining weight); I know this fear could lead to serious health issues, I know it is causing extreme anxiety for me, and I know it is hurting the people who care about me.  I will get a handle on it, if I can’t do it alone, I will start seeing a therapist and talk to my doctor.  (I promise)  Right now, I’m simply trying to be open and honest about this.  I’m asking you to not judge, or worry about me, I simply ask you to be witness to my fear and support me while I deal with this.

I do wonder how many people who have a chronic illness struggle with these feelings.

For further information, or help, I’ve listed a few organizations that deal with eating disorders:

 

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3 Inspirational Christmas Quotes on Mindfulness Monday

christmas-tree color

 

“My idea of Christmas,
whether old-fashioned or modern,
is very simple:
loving others.
Come to think of it,
why do we have to wait for
Christmas to do that?”

~ Bob Hope

 

“Christmas is not a time or season,
but a state of mind.
To cherish peace and goodwill,
to be plenteous in mercy,
is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

~ Calvin Coolidge

 

“What if Christmas,
he thought,
doesnt’ come from a store.
What if Christmas,
perhaps,
means a little bit more!”

~ The Grinch (Dr. Seuss)

 

*artwork by W. Holcombe.  Please do not use without permission.

Merry Happy Joy to you all.

Mudita – Finding Joy in the Joy of others. (repost)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mudita recently and thought it was worth a look back at this post I wrote last December.  I realized that practicing mudita has freed me from the heartache that often came when I couldn’t do what others could (that’s not to say that I don’t still feel that heartache sometimes, I do, but not like I used to).  A friend of mine is planning a trip to Italy, a place I always wanted to go, I was a little surprised that I was not the slightest bit envious of her, I’m genuinely happy that she gets to experience this, and I can’t wait to hear every detail.  I can feel her joy, and it fills my heart.

I hope you enjoy this post from the past.

flowpaper_3

“Mudita is a word from Sanskrit and Pali that has no counterpart in English. It means sympathetic or unselfish joy, or joy in the good fortune of others.” (1)

I bring up Mudita now because those of us who are sick often find it very hard not being able to participate in celebrations this time of year.  We feel we are stuck on the outside just looking in, and as we look in we are envious.  We can’t feel joy.  Mudita is the opposite of envy.  When we feel mudita we feel joy in the joy of others.  We are genuinely happy that others are having a good time, even though we can’t join them.

This feeling doesn’t happen over night.  It’s hard to overcome those feelings of envy.  We don’t want to feel this way, but we have to admit, that’s the way we often feel when things come up and we can’t join in the fun.  We don’t feel joy in the fun the others are having, we feel sadness and anger that we can’t join them.

I first read about mudita when I read How To Be Sick by Toni Bernhard.  At the time my husband was playing games with a group of friends and I used to be envious that he had this group and I didn’t have anything like it.  He’d call me from there and I’d get this knot in my stomach and feel horrible because of this envy.  Then one day I realized how much he needed this time, how much he loved this activity and how much my envy hurt him.  (even though I thought I hid it well)  I remembered what I learned from reading Toni’s book.  I remembered mudita.  It didn’t happen overnight, but in time I started feeling joy when hubby would call from his game and sound excited about how things were going.  At first I faked it.  I knew I should feel joy for him so when I talked to him I put on a smile and told myself how happy I was for him and how much joy this made me feel.  Did I feel this at first.  No.  But after a while when he called I was truly happy.  I felt joy hearing how the night was going.  I was no longer faking it.

When trying to practice mudita start small.  Start with someone you don’t know.  When you see someone win a competition feel joy in their joy.  Then when you give a gift, feel the joy the receiver feels (that’s an easy one, I think).  Take it one step at a time and you will be surprised at how much joy you can feel when others feel joy.

It may not happen this holiday season, but perhaps when you can’t participate in the next celebration you might be able to find mudita, and feel joy in the joy of others.

I recommend all of Toni Bernhard’s books:  How to be Sick, How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness, How to Wake Up.  If you are chronically ill and haven’t read it yet, be sure to read How to be Sick.  I’ve read it over and over and keep going back to it.  It helps me live the day.  It makes me feel like I can get through this and thrive.

For further reading on Mudita, of course you can check out Toni’s books, but also check out.

 

*drawing by Wendy Holcombe. Please do not use without permission.

Christmas My Way – Redux

I posted this last year and I just read it again.  It made me happy.  I hope it makes you happy too.  This year, it’s Christmas my way again.

christmas-treeWhen I was 30 Christmases as I had known them changed forever.  That was the year my mother died.  Everything changed that year.  When the matriarch of the family dies the traditions die with her.  We tried to keep things alive, we had Christmas at my sister’s house as she had the only grandchild, things weren’t the same, but they were still nice.

Then there was a falling out between me and my niece.  Well not a falling out really, she got mad at me and refuses to be in my presence.  There isn’t much I can do, not that I haven’t tried, I have.  I could speculate all day what has happened between the two of us, but at this point it doesn’t make much difference.  This has however, ruined many relationships for me in my family.  Family Christmases became a thing of the past.

After Stuart and I became a family we started having Christmas celebrations with friends, as Stuart’s family lives a long way away and they don’t do much for the holiday anyway, again they are without the matriarch.  We normally celebrated Christmas day alone, just us, but leading up to that time, we went to parties and had people over to our home to celebrate.  It was a joyous time.  Then I got sick, and things changed.  We no longer got invited to parties.  I no longer felt that I could throw a party.  Then we moved so there is no likelihood of rekindling that time.  Truthfully, we’ve all changed so much, I don’t think there could be any rekindling even if we do move back to our old city, or if I miraculously got better.  Let’s be honest, my old friends really are just that, old friends.  They aren’t a part of my current life.

The last few years I’ve tried to be okay with the holiday.  But truth be told, I’ve been very depressed.  Depression runs rampant during this time of year and I was not immune.  I tried hard not to feel bad that I wasn’t surrounded by people.  I’ve had the one person near me who means the most to me, why should I be depressed?  Because Christmas is a time for friends and family.  A time for gatherings.  It was the two of us, yet I felt lonely.  And I felt guilty that I didn’t feel that it was enough.  I was depressed and felt guilty for being depressed.

Over the past few years I haven’t cared about decorations, we had no tree.  Why hassle with it?  No one would see it.  No one would care.  We’d have a little celebration.  We’d try, but it all seemed like we were just going through the motions.  Christmas is for groups of people, not just the two of us, and we didn’t have a family.

christams-decor

a little decorations making the holiday our own

This year has changed.  No we still don’t have a family, and we aren’t celebrating with any friends.  (We still don’t have any locally)  I changed.  I realized that Christmas really isn’t about family and friends.  It’s all about how you feel inside.  It’s not about giving the biggest gift it’s about giving to those in need.  It’s not about being with a bunch of people it’s about caring for those you are with.  It’s about caring for mankind.

This year I decided to decorate.  I never go all out like some people, that just isn’t me, but we put up a tree, and did a little decorating in the house.  It has made all the difference in our home.  We are in the spirit.  I understood just how much when my loving husband was looking through Amazon and found the National CASA Association Wish List, they provide Toys for Foster Kids, and told me that if I hadn’t purchased his presents yet he wanted the money to go to buying these kids presents.  How special is that?  So we took most of the money we planned to spend on our Christmas presents and bought Toys for Foster Kids.  Realize I did say most, I decided we needed a little gift exchange between the two of us, just a little something.

charlie-brown-puzzle

this is the actual puzzle we put together

We also have other traditions we are going to make sure we revitalize.  We always watch, It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.  This has been a long standing tradition.  This year we are bringing back putting together the Charlie Brown Christmas puzzle, and our LEGO Christmas Train.  The train will be put together this weekend.  The puzzle goes together on Christmas day.  I don’t have a lot of traditions.  We cook a few little things as the time goes on, and health permits.  We’ve made some cookies so far, we’ll make spiced nuts to give to our neighbors, we’ll make a special breakfast on Christmas day….  The point is we are making this Holiday season ours.   And if at any time I can’t do something because I don’t feel like it we can postpone until later, or just decide not to do it.  All is good during our holiday celebration.

How can you make the season less depressing and more your own?  Remember that it really isn’t about family and friends, it’s about love and giving.  Love everyone and give to those in need.  Honor simple traditions that make you happy, we watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  Make new traditions, like putting together a themed puzzle on Christmas day.  Put up decorations if you want.  If you aren’t able to put up everything you want to, then either ask for help, or try to pick out your favorite decorations and put those out.  We have a small tree, and not all my ornaments fit, so I sit my favorites around as decorations.  The point is to make the holiday your holiday now.  Don’t try to make it what it was when you were well, or what it was when you were growing up, or any dream holiday you have been trying to live up to.  Make this holiday something special, on your own terms.

Sometimes no matter how much we try to make the holiday a pleasant thing for us, it just doesn’t work, depression takes over.  For those who get depressed during this time of year, remember that you are not alone.  If you need to reach out, please do so, there are numbers at the end of this post if you are in need.  If you need a friend to talk to please feel free to contact me.

  • U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255  If you are having thoughts of suicide, call this number immediately.
  • Kristin Brooks Hope Center Hopeline: 1-800-784-2433  This hotline can help you cope with a range of depressive feelings.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1)  Responders understand the unique experiences of veterans.
  • United Way Helpline: 1-800-233-4357  They can aid you in locating a therapist, healthcare or basic necessities such as housing and food by directing you to local services.

It takes how long?

When you have a chronic illness chances are it’s an invisible illness, others have no idea what you have to do to get through the day.  With my illnesses some days I look sick, some days I can’t get out of the chair and you can tell, I’m sick.  Other days I can get it all together and don’t look sick at all.  It’s those days that confuse people.

I’ve learned that it takes me longer to do things than it does the average human.  There are many days that I can’t accomplish anything, but let’s not talk about those days.  I want to talk to you about the days I am able to do a few things.  The days I appear normal.

Yesterday I started to do the dishes.  The dishwasher needed to be emptied, and there were dirties that needed to go in.  For a normal person this would just take a few minutes.  I started to unload the dishwasher, I got the top unloaded and put away, then I had to rest.  I came back after a bit and started on the bottom, I put away the silverware, and needed a rest.  After about 30 minutes I went back and finished up putting away the rest of the dishes, and started loading up the dishwasher.  While loading it up I took 2 breaks.  Therefore, at the end of this it took me over 3 hours to unload and load the dishwasher.  At this point all I could do was make myself a cup of tea.  This was the end of my ability to do chores for the day.  No one would think that doing the dishes took 3 hours out of my day.  I must say that I’m okay with this.  I’m grateful I can do the dishes at all.  I only wish I could do them every day.

Last week I had an hour to take a bath before a TV show came on that I wanted to see, I thought that would be plenty of time.  Boy was I wrong.  I need to have help getting in and out of the tub because of my balance, that takes a little bit of time, but not much.  I started to take a bath as normal, a little rushed because I wanted to make sure and get out in time, but just a normal bath, then I got dizzy.  Very dizzy.  Try getting a soaking wet 135 lb woman out of the tub when she’s very dizzy, it’s just not that easy, but it’s something that happens a lot around here.  (the reason I am dirty a lot of the time 😉  Getting me in the tub, taking a bath, and getting me out of the tub, took over 2 hours.  Luckily I did have the DVR set for my show.  I know that getting dizzy in the tub is a fairly regular occurrence so I should never put a time limit on it.  But how many people do you know that can’t get a bath done in an hour?

20171028_182659

I don’t look sick.  Taken at a wedding, July 2017

Then there are days when I seem to be able to go non-stop.  Recently I had a weekend like that.  We went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  On the day of the wedding, I had my hair done, then I rested a little bit, then we had the wedding at 3pm.  The wedding didn’t actually get under way until about 4pm.  Luckily, I was just sitting talking with people.  After the wedding, we had the reception to attend.  On the walk over, I had a mini vertigo attack, because of my vertigo we didn’t intend to stay long and we had planned to have dinner with my sister and her husband.  Then I started seeing people I have known for over 40 years, and adrenaline took over, about 2 hours later, we were finally leaving  (know that all I did was sit and talk with people).  We went back to our hotel, changed and were off to dinner.  We were finally back to our hotel around 9pm.  I was going full out, all day long.  Boy was I beyond tired.  Not only was I exhausted from the simple physical exertion of it all, and the mini vertigo attack I had at the church, I was completely off kilter from trying so hard to hear all day.  (I did find out that my lip reading skills have improved dramatically.)  Of course, I couldn’t sleep due to painsomnia (insomnia due to pain).  There was only 1 station on the TV that would show captions (yeah, what was up with that?) so I was stuck for hours, watching something dumb, I can’t even remember what it was.  This trip was very enjoyable, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but boy did it take a lot out of me.  It took a week or more to recover fully.  For a “normal” person they could have made the trip in one day.  It’s about a 3 hour ride (I can’t drive).  We could have gone down for the wedding and come back that night, if I were a “normal” person.  Instead we went down Friday night, so I would be well rested for Saturday, and we stayed until Sunday so I could recover as much as possible before the ride home.  I had a lot of support for this trip or I never would have been able to make it.  My neurologist (headache specialist) sent me home with a series of shots to be given over the weekend to help with migraines and cluster headaches, both of which have increased dramatically recently.   The specialist I’ve been seeing for my back called in extra meds for me for the weekend.  If these two doctors had not increased my treatment for the weekend, I would never have been able to go and enjoy myself.  I will be forever grateful.  While there my sister took me to have my hair done, she made sure I could understood everything, even though I couldn’t hear in the salon.  She then came back to our hotel and ironed hubby’s shirt.  Without this help, I don’t know if I could have made it.

To summarize: We don’t always look at bad as we feel, we often need to rest more often than what is considered “normal”, sometimes we have to have a lot of support to do things that “normal” people do without thought….and that’s okay.   We normally appreciate things much more than “normal” people.  We care deeply.  We can still live a full life, it’s just different than a “normal’s” life.  and that’s more than okay.

 

 

Mindfulness Monday – Pooh

 

Pooh and Piglet with dragon fly 2

Today’s quotes are brought to you by Winnie the Pooh and A.A. Milne

 

“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today.” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day.” said Pooh.

 

Piglet – “How do you spell love?”
Pooh – “You don’t spell it, you feel it.”

 

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry.
We shall get there someday”

 

*Drawing of Pooh and Piglet with dragonfly is by W. Holcombe.

 

 

I’m number 44!

award

I received a message from Feedbot, that they named Picnic with Ants one of the top 100 chronic illness blogs.

You can see all of the blogs and websites who are honored to be listed in the top 100 here. 

This is the introduction from Feedbot explaining their ranking criteria:

“Chronic Illness Blogs List

chronic illness is a human health condition or disease that is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects or a disease that comes with time. The term chronicis often applied when the course of the disease lasts for more than three months.

These are the Best Chronic Illness blogs from thousands of top Chronic Illness blogs in our index using search and social metrics. Data will be refreshed once a week.

These blogs are ranked based on following criteria

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review”

 

There are some great blogs listed, so be sure to check the 100 Best Chronic Illness Blogs according to Feedbot.