Monday, 30 December 2013

Looking Back

Tomorrow's New Year's Eve. I'll be spending it at home, most likely asleep by midnight, just like every other year.

But today, I'm reflecting, trying to figure out where the year's gone. It seems to've flown by while I've stayed stuck in the same place. There have been few big changes, but there were some. Let's start at the beginning.

On the 20th of January, we unexpectedly said goodbye to our beautiful 15 year old girl, Silky. It destroyed me. Part of me died when I saw the moment her life left her eyes. It breaks my heart everyday when I look at her collar, still on display on the back porch.

I stopped leaving the house in January, with the exception of appointments. For several months prior I'd only go to the supermarket, with decreasing regularity, but then I just stopped. Mum seems to link it to when a lady approached me in the meat section and started gushing in a shrill voice 'Oh my gawd! You're like a model! You're so tall, you're so thin, I wish I looked like you. Honey, come look at this girl...', as that was one of the last times I went out. I link it more to Silky's passing and the devastating impact it had on me. Since then, I think I've gone out three times; twice to the cheese factory, and once to the You Yangs for a picnic.

I turned 20 years old on the 30th of April. A week later I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, after being ill for quite some time. I was admitted to hospital, suffering from an exacerbation and an infection called Bronchiolitis. My lungs functioned at about 30%, and I was told I had to quit smoking. I'm getting there. Slowly. 

In July, I started sewing again, after three years on hiatus. So far, I've made a coat, a dress, two fitted skirts, two loose skirts and two pairs of track pants. After becoming more comfortable with my skills again, I started working on a historical project in November. 

As for my weight, it's been another relatively uneventful year on the scales. I've been between roughly 42-47kg (BMI 12.3-13.7) throughout the year. I lost a little at the start of the year, then started maintaining again in July, which I held for about four or five months until it started dropping again a few weeks ago. I don't know exactly how much I weigh right now, and I'm okay with that, though I do have a tentative weigh-in date in the back of my mind coming up in the new year.

As much as 2013 hasn't been a great year, there are some positives. I've met so many wonderful people on here over the past year, and friendships have grown stronger and closer. I know I say it a lot, but I honestly couldn't have made it through without you guys. This community has been my rock, my support network, my social life, my safety net to catch me when I fall, and it means more to me than words can express. 

So, here's to 2014. I've got my new notebooks; two for food logs, two to keep track of my smoking, covering six months each. I'm not one for setting resolutions, but I do have a few goals for next year. I want to work towards leaving the house more. I want to keep sewing, further my skill and build my knowledge, and maybe even get back into corsetry. I want to reconnect with some old friends. I want to try to move out of home. I don't necessarily have clear plans for these things, but they're something to keep in the back on my mind.

I have no idea where I'll be in a year's time, but there's only one way to find out. 


Thursday, 26 December 2013

Bah, Humbug!

Thank God it's over. I don't have many words about the day, so I'll just share some pictures instead.

I crashed in a heap yesterday after all was done, and am now back to just trying to get through each day, one moment at a time.

I saw the dietician on Christmas Eve. I have three weeks without appointments coming up in the New Year, which could be interesting. I see her next week, on New Year's Eve, but not again until the 21st of January. Last time she was away this long, my GP had to weigh me weekly, but I don't know if that's happening this time.

My weight dropped again this week, despite holiday indulgences over the weekend. 'Just a little bit' she said. I don't know exactly how much. I don't want to know, not for a few more weeks at least. I know I won't be losing quickly, and I don't want to trigger myself. It's never enough.

Exercise has definitely been helping over the past couple of weeks, in one way or another. It's cathartic in a similar way to self-harm, and it gets me out of my chair for a while. I've been keeping up with 60-90 minutes of step aerobics each morning, except yesterday, broken up into half-hour lots. The dietician wants me to keep it capped at an hour, and try for a minimum of 800 calories a day, but at the moment I don't know if I can.

Anyway, on to the Christmas pictures. I know it's a difficult time for a lot of us, but I hope you all had the best day you could. 

My shiny new full-length mirror. I've always wanted one, so I bought myself a little Christmas present.
Triple-layer chocolate cake, filled with buttercream and frosted with ganache. It was my second attempt at piping (ever). I gave a slice to my dietician, then realised I should've just made a cake for the whole clinic. Not only my GP and dietician, but the other GPs, nurses, and the girls at the desk have all been so good to me over the years.
Roast chicken with from-scratch stuffing, seasoned with fresh thyme and garlic. Duck fat potatoes.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Pandora's Box

I've started exercising again. Needless to say, it's not with my lung health in mind. 

In truth, today was day six. I started on Sunday. I hadn't exercised for one year, three months and three days, nearly to the minute. 

I've been doing step aerobics for an hour a day, sometimes a little more. My breathing can't hold up for much longer, not yet anyway, so I haven't been going crazy with it. 

It doesn't matter how tired I am, how much I don't want to move, or how much I ache. It's one of the few things I can actually motivate myself to get out of my chair for. I just do it. Anxiety gets me started straight after breakfast. Exhaustion overpowers me the moment I sink back into my chair. It's just a case of mind over matter. I pop in my headphones, and don't stop until the timer does.

I never listen to music anymore. It's too emotional. I can't do it without crying. I listen to the 80's radio station in the car and the kitchen, though it's not the same as actually listening to music. But I do when I exercise. Pounding the step in time with the music, sweating the feelings out. My playlist has been the same for years, a mix featuring My Chemical Romance, Deadmau5, Marilyn Manson, The Doors, The Sisters of Mercy, David Bowie and Bauhaus. They all hit home the same way they did years ago, strike the same places in my heart.

I haven't been sleeping well lately. The nightmares are back with full force. I spend the nights tossing and turning on the couch, waking up every hour and fighting to get back to sleep. Summer is always bad for PTSD but I've never known why. It doesn't correlate with anything. It just is.

I had 400ml of Shiraz on Tuesday night, totaling 1,200 calories for the day. Wednesday was 550, yesterday was 650. I'm trading in sandwiches for fruit, sugar-free ice cream for hot chocolate, in an effort to keep my carb intake at a safe level while conserving calories (my blood sugars still fall at the drop of a hat). Yesterday I made something I haven't had since last summer, which I haven't a proper name for, but it's equal weights of nonfat vanilla yoghurt and frozen strawberries, blended together to make a low-calorie frozen snack. Try it, it's brilliant. 

Thank you to everyone who's been reading and sending kind words lately. You lovely ladies are the bright spot in these dark days. 


(Yesterday, it was 41°C [106°F], so I spent the day inside, slugging down water. Since that meant smoking less, I distracted myself by bleaching and dying my hair. I was a smidgen short on bleach, so I have kind of a two-tone thing going on, but let's call them 'highlights' and say I did it on purpose.)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Cracks Appear

There's only so much a person can take before they start to crack.

All the little things keep building up. I don't know quite how to explain it. The depression/anxiety/PTSD monster is growing daily, and I'm running out of ways to cope. So I cut back a little. 

Last Tuesday, I was a wreck by the time I left the GP, and had a few Black Russians, reaching 1,270 cal. 
On Wednesday I met 1,180, hoping the 100-calorie reduction would sate the urges, at least for a little while.
By Thursday, everything came tumbling down, and my intake's been between 500-800 since.

I was dreading seeing the dietician. I hate having to face her and say I'm struggling. I feel like I shouldn't see her at all unless I actively want to move forward, otherwise it seems like a waste. But I can't bear the thought of not having her appointments to break up the week, to remind me I'm living in the real world. Thankfully, she's been patient and kind enough to put up with me for nearly two years now. 

She asked what's changed to make me lower my intake. Friday night, mum asked the same. I couldn't give a clear answer. There is no clear answer. There was no one definitive trigger, no distinct turning point. I told them both the same things.
"It's just... everything."
"All the little things keep building and building."
"Everything's too much."

It's been lurking for a while, but I can't fight it anymore. I'm not coping. I want to lie down and wave a white flag. I want to be numb. I want to disappear. It feels silly that I can't pinpoint exactly why or what changed. It's just everything, and I can't take it.

The dietician wants me to try for an Ensure every second day, so I don't lose my ability to drink them, but I don't know if I can do it. I'll be having a glass or two of wine tonight, which seems to be a Tuesday routine, if that counts, but beyond that I really don't know. 

So it hasn't been a great week. I haven't been sewing. Haven't been cooking. My smoking's creeping back up and over the 40-a-day mark. Mum tried to get me out of the house for coffee on Sunday, but it was too much. Next year, I think I'll set a goal to try going out once a month. 

Apologies for the negativity lately, but at the moment I just can't see past the fog. 

Christmas is only a week away, and I don't want it to get here. I haven't finished gift shopping. I haven't even planned what I'm cooking. I don't feel festive or joyful. It doesn't feel right. I'm not ready. Somehow, it doesn't feel like the end of the year at all. 

I am sad.
I am tired. 
I am hurting. 
I am feeling too much. 


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Someone to Talk To

I saw my GP yesterday, and finally had a chance to talk to her about counseling and the Mental Health Nurse. I had a list of questions to ask, simple things, like 'why do I have to see her?', 'what will I talk to her about?', 'how will she help?'. I ran through them in my head before the appointment, but once I sat down and she asked me how I was, I lost the words. 

I couldn't get out clear questions, more vague fragments, like 'I just don't know' and 'I need more information'. Still, she said some reassuring things. She wants me to be able to talk to the nurse like a friend, for her to get to know me and build up a trust. It can start slow, with just one appointment a month and working up to weekly. There won't be any probing questions about my past or deep-and-meaningfuls. It's just to have someone to sit with and talk to to get things off my chest, which I do admit could be helpful.

Then she told me the nurse was at the clinic now, literally in the next room, and asked if it'd be okay to meet her quickly. She'd finished seeing patients for the day, and my GP had asked her to stay back for a few minutes to meet me. I said please not right now, that I needed time to think and process things first. She tried to talk me into it, but I ended up in a panic, head between my knees, hyperventilating, crying that 'you said on the phone you wouldn't push it today'. She's giving me a couple of months, which is a huge relief, but I have to start counseling with the nurse by March 2014.

We talked about my medications. I've been on Zyban for just under two months now. I think it might be helping a little, with my smoking at least. The last few weeks I've been smoking 35-40 a day, down from 40-50. I just don't feel like I need quite as many. I'm not sure if it's helping with the depression, but at least it hasn't made it worse like other meds have. Most days I still can't get out of my chair, though I've had a few days in the last month without self-harm, which is a change. It's not that the urge isn't there, but there have been times when I've just been too... I don't know... too drained to commit acts of self-violence.

The only problem is the script costs $160 a month. My heart sank when she told me that. My pension covers the first two months as a quit-smoking aid, but it's not covered for longterm treatment of depression. She really wants me to stay on it. She thinks it's the right med for me and could potentially help a lot with both smoking and depression, as does the psychiatrist she consults with. We need to check with insurance to see if they'll reimburse some of it, though apparently they don't usually. She said to not give up if they initially say no, to take it to the top, that she'll write a letter saying whatever it needs to say. But if insurance won't reimburse it, I can't keep taking it. Mum's said that she'll pay the full price for it, that if it helps it's worth every cent, but I couldn't shoulder the guilt. I carry too much guilt about money as it is. I just couldn't do it.

The dietician was yesterday too, which made for an overwhelming and exhausting day. I filled her in on the last couple of weeks, mostly about the cheese-trip to Warrnambool, and the 200 and 350 cal days when I was home alone. She asked how I felt physically on the lower days, and I told her my blood sugars dropped to 3.5 after the first day. I felt a little tired and shaky and slightly nauseous on the second day, but nothing too dramatic. She asked if I was still thinking clearly with the low sugars, and I couldn't help but giggle as I said 'as clearly as I normally do!'.

It doesn't seem like two weeks since I last saw the dietician. Normally when she's away it feels like much longer, but not this time. Time's blending into one big mess of undefined days and lost hours, speeding by while I sit frozen. I don't even know what I'm doing with myself anymore. Everything just feels like it's slipping away.


(P.S, since a couple of you mentioned it in comments on my last post, I feel the need to say; I've never really had trouble eating in public, no more than I do at home anyway. It's strange now that I think about it, but it's never been a huge problem for me. Maybe because I've never had to eat in public much, I don't know. It's just never been that big a issue for me.)

Friday, 6 December 2013

Say 'Cheese'

Yesterday I took a rare step out into the world.

You might remember a few months back, I went on a day trip to a cheese factory down the coast, which was the first time I'd left the house in a long time. I'd gone there with mum several times before, but that was the first time I'd gotten out of the car. Last time, we bought 5.5kg of vintage cheddar. Yeah, well, we've run out! So yesterday we headed off to buy more. 

It's been on the cards for a while, but I've kept putting it off. I decided to bite the bullet and do it this week since I didn't have any appointments, which I thought might make it a smidgen less stressful. We'd actually planned to go on Wednesday, but didn't make it out of the house. I nearly backed out again yesterday, but in the end I decided to go, even if I didn't get out of the car. I'd still be better off than I would be stuck in my usual rut at home.

I did manage to get out of the car, which was nice. We weren't there for long, just long enough to buy the cheese and have some lunch. We bought 6kg (13lbs) of vintage cheddar. I actually remembered to take a photo this time before it was opened (posted below). For curious bunnies, that's a total of 24,180 calories.

We had lunch in the cafe. I ordered a plate of cheese and crackers to share with mum, and a big long black to wash it down. It was the easiest option to calculate, and the safest amongst a menu of fried food, giant sandwiches, baked goods and sugary drinks.

I felt like I was in zombie-mode (for lack of a better term) for the time we were there. Even now, it seems surreal and dream-like. Heading out to the car, I dropped a block of cheese, and that was when it all came crumbling down. I'd been holding it together so well, but it was just too much. The floodgates opened, the zombified feeling suddenly lifted, and I broke down. I couldn't stop crying, for hours even after we got home. My back and butt are literally bruised from sitting in the corner of the kitchen because I just couldn't get to my chair. 

As stressful as it was, it was still a nice change of pace to get out for the day. We weren't at the cheese factory for long, but it was about five hours in the car. When I think about it, I've only really gone out twice since early this year. Once to the cheese factory in September, once to the You Yangs in October. Each time has ended in tears, and it makes me doubt whether it's even a good idea to try going out. The concept of leaving the house on a regular basis seems so foreign now, it's petrifying.

In other news, it took me a few days to get back on track after the weekend. My blood sugars and calorie intake were back to normal on Monday, thanks to an early morning Ensure, and Wednesday was my first day back on track with my regular meals (approx. 700-900 food, 400-600 Ensure).

This Tuesday is the dietician first thing, followed by the GP in the afternoon. I hate having two appointments in one day and try to avoid it, but oh well. I need to write a list of questions for my GP, especially about the mental health nurse. I have so much to say, but I just go blank during appointments. 

Anyway, for now I'll leave you with a few photos from my little adventure. I'll try to remember to take more next time.

Water crackers with assorted cheddars: vintage, tomato & chive, and herb & spice.
They also make garlic & pepper, chili, and cracked pepper flavoured cheddars (though I haven't been game enough to try any of them).


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Home Alone

I've been home alone for the weekend. I know it sounds pathetic, but these days I struggle with being alone for more than a few hours. The house is quiet, and it amplifies every thought and emotion. Time drags on, painfully slow. Everything just feels empty and sad. I don't know what to do with myself.

Food is always difficult when I'm home alone. I lose all structure. Yesterday I ended up having an apple in the afternoon and made some veggie soup for dinner, though I'd had breakfast with mum before she left. The soup was a tin of tomatoes, a couple of roughly chopped carrots, frozen onion, vegetable stock powder and basil, all boiled up and puréed. 46 calories a cup. I would've added some celery if we had any, but I did the best I could with what I had on hand.

I spent most of yesterday curled up on the couch, marathoning The Addams Family. I couldn't really focus, but it was noise to have in the background. I tried to do some sewing, but didn't get very far. I'm working on a late 19th century dress (picture below). Historical costuming will always be a passion of mine. I have no idea when it'll be finished, but I wanted a challenge, something I could learn from.

It's Sunday afternoon now. Mum will be home in a few hours, and I'm making a stir-fry for dinner. I had a Weight Watcher's fruit-in-jelly cup earlier, which was a bit of a nostalgia trip (for the first year of my ED, all I ate was vegetable soup and these jelly cups). Yesterday totaled 200 calories, today will be closer to 300. I couldn't bring myself to have an Ensure. The real challenge will be trying to get back on track tomorrow.

In other news, Tuesday was the dietician. My weight stayed the same, to the 100g, for the third week in a row. I'm always amazed by it, but it happens more often than you'd think. She wanted me to move up another 50 calories, but it feels far too soon after only two weeks on 1,250-1,300.

She's away this week, so I've got a fortnight with no appointments and no reason to leave the house. Both she and mum have been suggesting I try going out again at some point soon, so I'm thinking about that. I haven't gone out since my little picnic at the You Yangs, and that was two months ago. I don't know. We'll see what happens.