Monday, May 31, 2010

Food=Love.

I like being alone. I always have. At family events at my home growing up, I would come downstairs to make an appearance, then go back up to my room and shut the door. Maybe it's because I can do what I want when I'm alone; no one is judging me or telling me what I should or should not do. The funny thing is, I was never without a boyfriend in my high school years. I think the idea that even though I liked being alone, I liked the thought that there was someone that loved me, that wanted to be around me, and I could share my thoughts and ideas with. I was so co-dependent with guys. I felt like if we broke up, it was the end of the world. I'm pretty sure that's not the depression-I'm pretty sure it's because I was a teenage girl? As soon as a relationship would end, I would latch right on to the next guy that showed interest. It's funny, I started writing this blog to profile my love affair with food, and it kind of went in a different direction. The segue with being alone was the fact that when I am alone, I can truly do whatever I want, which includes eating whatever I want and how much of it I want without anyone watching me or telling me that it's wrong or bad.

As a teen, I was "average", varying between 130 and 140 lbs at 5'7". Of course I always thought I was fat because I was still wearing the higher junior sizes of 9 and 11. Food wasn't really on my radar; I can't look back and picture a day where I binged or went out of my way to eat copious amounts of food. Actually, I would get lunch money every day while some of my friends did not, and I always shared my food with them. When I got pregnant at 17, I was 150 when they weighed me for my first prenatal appointment-a true heffer. I ended up gaining 51 pounds because I subscribed to the fact that I was "eating for 2", "it's all baby weight", "I'll be the weight I was as soon as he's born", etc. On my son's first birthday I was 159, which was unacceptable, but I had never had to diet or exercise before. By this point I was not a teen, I was an adult working for a living, and I didn't feel like I could be careless as a parent. In my high school years I dabbled in drugs, but even the thought of doing them as an adult was out of the question because I have to be a role model for my son. I worked in a casino where all of the snack bar food was half-off, and they had my favorite foods: nachos, patty melts, chicken fingers with ranch, ice cream. My job was also a sedentary one, so I ended up putting on 20 lbs in a year. When I met my first boyfriend after my son was born, I would go to his place after work and we would rent movies and stop by Circle K and pick up Ben & Jerry's, pumpkin seeds, and one-liter Pepsi's. I was about a size 14 or 16 then, and even though I was "fat", I was still finding clothes that fit at The Gap, NY & Co, and Hot Topic, so it was okay.

Fast forward a few years and I'm in a bad relationship, not working due to stress and depression for a year, and barely making ends meet. My live-in boyfriend was out doing God knows what, and I was driving through McDonalds getting a large Double Quarter Pounder meal with 20 chicken nuggets and a McFlurry. Daily. It was the only time I would leave the house, and it was the only time I felt satisfied. I would bite into the burger and the comfortable feeling would flood into my head and I would be happy. I would continue to eat even when I was stuffed and the food had no more taste to it because there was still food on the table. By the time I left my boyfriend and moved home, I was 221 pounds and in a size 18/20 at Lane Bryant. When I moved back home, I had to sleep in my son's race car bed. I had to put everything I owned in storage. I had no boyfriend, and I needed a job. I needed to get my shit together. I went to the doctor and found out I was pre-diabetic, which meant my blood sugar levels were on the threshold of becoming out of whack. My best friend was my savior. His own diabetes helped me realize I really didn't need that cheesecake slice when we would go out to eat. (Doesn't that sound awful? "Your diabetes saved me!") He also was my object of pure love and affection, which he fought off on a regular basis due to the fact that I had a LOT of demons I needed to figure out before I could be in a healthy, stable relationship (summed up in this statement: "You're not girlfriend material"). He also happened to be a black belt in karate, and taught me how to kick box (hes a triple threat!). I had gotten back down to 180 pounds, had the confidence to get my dream job, and to also make it on my own by moving out of my parents house after three years and moving out and relying on myself. (P.S. We finally ended up together)

Now, everything is a blur. You may have read my blogs where "Old Hed" is not me. I don't know where it went wrong, but I slowly gained weight after getting into a truly healthy relationship where I was unconditionally loved. I'm pretty sure that's not the depression-I think it's because I was a happy girlfriend? I weighed 200 pounds on my wedding day, roughly 18 months ago. Something clicked in me shortly after where I realized I had the great husband, the great job, the great house. I started growing increasingly anxious, that something terribly bad was going to happen; that there was nowhere else to go but down. I quit my job without notice, stopped going to school, and shut down completely. I am now 260 pounds. Yep. 260. I haven't told anyone that magical number. I am now closer to 300 pounds than I am to 200. I am over 100 pounds overweight. I can go on and on. These are the thoughts that run through my head on a regular basis. I don't spend intimate time with my husband anymore. I wear sweat pants. I've stopped wearing make-up. If you're like me, you may have watched a morbidly obese person stuck in a bed because they are so fat and thought, "how could they have let themselves get that FAT?" Well, if you're also like me, you have just stopped caring. Feeling. Being happy. When I have slept so much I can't sleep anymore and my husband is away, I am alone. I binge on food. I immediately feel at ease and happy when I eat. Even the feeling of fullness afterward makes me happy. When the feeling goes away, I am left with myself and my body and nothing else to feel. I truly loathe myself.

I have mentioned more than once to my husband if something like heroin wasn't illegal I would definitely try it. I see the emptiness behind addicts' eyes and I relate to it. The only way for them to take the pain away is to be high. That's how I feel with food. At this point, I don't know what else to do because I don't have the energy or motivation to make a change. See you at 300 pounds.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The List.

So, I found something that oddly made me so peaceful: fishing. On a boat in the middle of a lake. When you're out there, all you hear is the lake, all you see is the sky and the water, and when you fish, all you are thinking about is if you're going to catch the next fish. While cruising from one spot to another, the wind and lake water was zooming right past me and I was so at ease, so calm, I didn't even have time to register how at peace I was until we got in the car for the ride home. I was exhausted and sore from keeping my balance, and driving into the setting sun I thought to myself, "this was a great day. I almost caught a fish, haven't eaten in nine hours, and I feel great".

When I saw Dr. J the next day, I was still very tired and awfully sore. I apologized if I was loopy, and explained to her how I was feeling and how I had felt the previous day. She was happy I had found something that made me happy and mentally drained me. Even the time I was with Dr. J I was too tired to be anxious. We started talking about our usual topics: socializing more, finding ways to re-route the anxiety into something constructive (for example: when I think someone is staring AT me, find a positive reason why they would be looking my way, like my car is sexy. Something like that. Or when I get anxious, focus on breathing, or my hands, or a focal point.) I was doing my usual blabbing to her, and she had an epiphany: every time I said something positive about myself, I always finished it with "but" or "except". It's like every time I would give myself a +1, something negative would off-set it and I would be back to zero. It was genius and true. I never noticed it before. Even with that observation thrown out in the open, I was still doing it in our conversation. She stopped me and said, "this is what we are going to do. I want you to write down, right now, twenty things that you are good at". Seemed easy enough, right? Every time I thought of something, my brain automatically gave me a counter thought to squash that thought. We ended that meeting with thirteen written down, and even with those I have reservations on how confident I am with that list. Another thing that was noticed is that when I would say a characteristic, it would usually start like, "my boss said once I was good at..." or "do you think I am...?" I never once told Dr. J "I am good at (blank). I am kick-ass at (blank)". Everything I think of myself, I think of myself as that because someone thought that of me, I didn't think it about myself first. Just another reason that my entire self-worth is based on views by others. One reason I always thought of myself as a good manager was because I meld very well with lots of different personalities. The real reason I do that is because I don't have a personality. I almost base it on who I am with, or what I need to be that day. It's hard to write that down, because you don't want to think of yourself as this blob of Jello that is only molded when someone else puts their hands on it, but that's me. I have always been great at conflict resolution (ooh, I need to write that one down on my list) because even if I KNOW I am right I will still come to you and apologize. These problems with myself I have no solutions to. If I did I probably wouldn't be seeing a doctor every week, eh?

Here is what I have so far, and in parenthesis is why they are still not great:
1. Writing (I was TOLD I am a good writer. I think I am too, BUT I seem to lack a conclusion a lot of the time.)
2. Video Games! (BUT you won't see me in some world-class tournament, I'm not that skilled)
3. Love (BUT only towards others, not towards myself.)
4. Conflict resolution (Damn! It was already on the list!!)
5. Friendliness (BUT I am a terrible friend. I don't follow-up with my friends at all.)
6. Funny (I have been TOLD I am funny)
7."Sexy Time" (I have been TOLD [many times hee hee] that I am good at this, BUT it's been so long since I've felt sexy I wouldn't know where to start)
8. Smart (BUT my brain is so full of thoughts and ideas it's extremely hard to follow thorough)
9. Make-up (Yes, once upon a time I would do my friends' make-up for special occasions and just for the hell of it BUT I am so ugly now, I don't even do it on myself anymore.)
10. Bowling! (I love bowling, BUT I could use a lot of skill and technique)
11. Communication (EXCEPT my mind wanders so much it's hard to follow through, see #8)
12. Small Talk (I can BS with the best of them, BUT with my social anxiety popping up I usually mumble at strangers or acquaintances.)
13. Relatable (I have been TOLD I put people at ease, BUT I'm usually lying or I'm molding to whomever I'm talking to)

So that's the list I made with her. A couple of things I know I'm good at that wouldn't be on the list are:
14. Food (I can eat and eat and eat some more, and eat when I'm sick or sad or sleepy)
15. Being Lazy (I've said it a million times, if there was an Olympic sport for sleeping, I would win the Gold)
16. Depression (It's been six months straight, the longest run of depression I have ever had. It's hard to see a light at the beginning or end of the tunnel now.)
17. Bad Thoughts (every minute of every day I am convinced something bad is going to happen)
18. Being Fat (At this point I don't even recognize myself)
19.
20.

I can't even think of negatives at this point. I just wish there was a such thing as a brain transplant. Maybe you can tell me what YOU think so I can add them to my list. Oh wait, I'm supposed to figure these out by myself. I don't even know what "myself" is.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Random.

I've had so much on my mind the last week, yet I don't really have a "theme" for this blog. I guess I'll see where my stream-of consciousness takes me.

I saw my therapist Dr. J last Thursday, as I have every Thursday for the last two months at least. She is a student therapist, and part of her schooling is to intern at the clinic I go to for nine months. As of the end of June, her time is up and she gets to transfer to UCLA. I'm happy for her (and unbelievably jealous that she is in medical school to begin with) but also really upset. The sessions it took for me to really open up to her and the time I have had with her feel wasted now. Our last session will be with her but also my new therapist that's taking me on, who happens to also be female. That's a little comforting. I feel that if I break down in front of a woman it's okay; but in front of a man I would be perceived as weak. Even though a man psychologist would still be obligated to use his "psych" brain, I think in all of us we have subconscious cues about how we observe, judge, think, etc. My anxiety is overwhelming at the thought of meeting someone new who I have to pour my heart out to-again. What if she isn't welcoming? What if she doesn't do as good a job? Anyone who has ever been to more than one therapist in their life knows that they have to be a good fit for you. Dr. J put me at ease right away; she was honest, sincere, and laid-back-I think her essence always calmed me down. Wish me luck. I don't want to lose all the progress I've already gotten.

The past two weeks have just been a complete spiral. Three Mondays ago I woke up miserable with a sinus cold or something, and I didn't have the discipline that day to plan my meals, so I ended up blowing my diet. My diets require strictness, because just like everything else in my life, if I cheat or falter just once I'm doomed. It's like a snowball effect. The day after that I binged at McDonalds. I mean straight up binging. After that all bets were off. I felt the change, too. I had the energy to first start the diet because I had started new meds that gave me a pep in my step, and after the toxic effect of fast food and junk food left my body I felt amazing. Two or three days after the binge, I am miserable. Thoughts of suicide have crossed my path (FYI-Not only did I make a promise to Dr. J I would not harm myself, I made a vow to my husband, and the love I feel for him is so strong I would never, ever want to cause him harm-so don't worry about me vs. suicide: I'll win.), I've slept longer, stopped doing regular chores like the dishes, the laundry, and feel unbelievably depressed at the most random times. Just yesterday I was in the shower and I just stood there and stared at the wall for about five minutes. I can't shut off my brain when I'm depressed or anxious, which is 99% of the time, so I always have something on my mind to ruin my 1% state of well-being. Friends tell me all about the wonderful effects of exercise, fruits and vegetables, schedules; they share with me their success stories and how it worked out for them. Are any of them bipolar? No, pretty sure they are all functional adults. I listen to their advice, and try my damnedest to follow, but when you can't leave your house or your bed, exercise is the last thing on your mind. Tomorrow I am going grocery shopping (my fridge is literally a condiment-and-diet soda only zone at the moment, and milk-less cereal) and I have no plans to buy crap food, so that's a start. Something I do before I shop is stop at the Starbucks and grab my venti macchiato before I cruise the aisles so I'm not hungry at all. My husband goes with me most of the time, and we get one "cheat" food, and mine is almost always ice cream. Because I am on disability at the moment, our food budget is limited, and it makes me SO MAD that good food is TWICE as expensive as crap food. I could probably write a whole other blog about why that is causing obesity in America. I want to buy a big balance ball so I can do something while I'm confined to this tiny apartment. Wish me luck on that too, please.

I think the worst thing ever about the past few weeks is that I am becoming more and more disassociated with me and my former self. I look in the mirror and see a stranger. When my husband touches me or kisses me, I start to cry. I don't want him to touch my skin, or look at my face because it almost feels like he is kissing someone else. If you read this you probably think I am going crazy. Well, that's how I feel too. I am Hed. But I am not. Even my brain functions are changing. Little glimmers of my former self pop up, but as soon as I realize that's not me anymore I stop feeling happy. When I kiss my husband more than once, I have to stop because it makes me sick, literally sick to my stomach that he is kissing this. I've tried to explain to him that I am not the person he married, that he should call it and leave me, but him being him, he is by my side. Fat Bastard from the "Austin Powers" movies, in a moment of clarity, says "I eat because I'm unhappy, and I'm unhappy because I eat. It's a vicious cycle". That describes me at the moment. I should name my present self "FB".

So this is the past two weeks in a nutshell. I don't see much change on the horizon. As much as I wish I could will it all away, I can't. I never have been able to. But don't worry about me, I'm stuck here and something will happen sooner or later that will make the present me become the past me and I will look back and have insight and wisdom. I at least know that. So, until that happens, wish me luck.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm Obese.

Sometimes I wake up to random songs in my head, and I'm always thinking of funnier song lyrics instead of what they are singing. Here's one of them, to the tune of "Imma Be" by Black Eyed Peas. COPYRIGHT! ©

I'm obese, I'm obese, ima ima I'm obese
I'm obese, I'm obese, ima ima I'm obese
I'm obese, I'm obese, ima ima I'm obese
I'm ob-be-be-be im I'm obese
I'm ob-be-be-be im I'm obese

Imma be at the next buffet
Imma be droolin' at the dessert bay
Imma be chuggin me some Mountain-Mountain Dew
Imma be full from all the food I'm gonna chew

Imma be up in Mickey D's
Eatin oreo flurries
And maybe a double-double cheese cause
Imma be eatin some fries
You gonna hear me "super size"

Imma be eatin them chips
Wipin my mouth and chins
Imma be the fattest chick (so fat!)
Imma be eatin chicken wings
Imma be dippin onion rings (dip it dip it) okay!

Imma Imma eatin this plate
Imma Imma Imma be eating that plate
It's fatty fat fat
Imma Imma eat me some steak
The Sizzler restaurant can't keep me away!

I'm obese, I'm obese, ima ima I'm obese
I'm obese, I'm obese, ima ima I'm obese
(Big baby big big) ima ima I'm obese
(A pig baby check me out) be ima ima I'm obese
(The last drop never stop) be be ima ima I'm obese
I'm ob-be-be-be im I'm obese
(Ima be freakin fat) ima ima I'm obese
I'm ob-be-be-be im I'm obese

Ima be upgradin robes and mumus
Ima be gettin extra large in my shoes
Ima be trying to see my toes
Ima be washin myself with a hose

Ima be thunder thighs watch my belly rise
No not with breathin just from me eatin
Ima be big from my diabetes
Ima be pourin sugar on my Wheaties

Honey and jam baby goin on my toast
I don't really mind if it gets on my clothes
Imma be ima be ima I'm ima be (big baby)
Imma be ima be ima I'm ima be
Sick from the food and the goal was to eat the whole bowl
Ima need some Pepto, Ima need some mo
Reason that I ordered all my food for "to-go"?
Ima shove all of it in my piehole

Ima be up in my house
Eatin whatever I like
Ima be eatin that nacho cheese
Eatin it every day of my life

Oh lets make this last forever
Goin on a milkshake bender
On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and...

Ima be eatin like this
Philly Cheese smothered in swiss
Munchin and scarfin like a slob
Eatin like it's my job

I don't care if it's old and stuff
Cold or hot or it's soft or tough
Finish it all, I'm not full enough
A million plus spent on greasy junk

I'm obese
I'm obese
I'm obese
I'm obese
Ima be eatin that fast food
Ima be eatin that food food (x4)

(Whip.....cream.....crave it)


I'm obese
I'm obese
I'm obese

(Nau-nau-seous)

Ima ima ima be eatin it
Don't care that my pants just split
E-A-T is definite
Hope that I do not vomit

Future is I'll probably be
at the nearest KFC
Bucket or a family feast
Throwin trash in my backseat

Across town is a Wendy's
Have room for a large Frosty
Hamburger, why not three
Throw on there some extra cheese

Reese's, Milky Way, Hershey's
In my purse for emergencies
Every day, you will see
Eatin food like I'm obese!

I'm obese

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sins of the Father.

So last night I was trying to explain to my husband that the lack of my father in my life isn't really a big deal to me anymore. He retorted, "don't you want to spend time with him? I mean, all that time he was with [name removed to protect the evil monster that is my dad's ex-girlfriend] you haven't really been able to connect with him". Because of my analogous nature, I explained, "Babe, what if you bought two lottery tickets every day for a year, and ticket A paid out like every other day, and ticket B over the course of a year paid a dollar. If by next year you could only afford one ticket, would you buy ticket A or B? You would totally pick A, and kick yourself for spending all that money on B in the first place!" Yeah that's how I feel for my mother and stepfather versus my father, respectively.

Growing up, as stated in my earlier blog "Blood", my dad was the cool guy. He let me sleep in his giant bed when he would be in his office with friends. I would ask him questions that he would answer speaking to me like I was an adult. He told me about the Donner Party (go Wiki it!), told me the story about how he smoked Opium for the first time and woke up on the airstrip of Edwards Air Force Base three days later, argued with me about politics when I was 8. I would wake up in the middle of the night and my dad would be MIA. I would find him at the end of our property in his shed building something. It was so cool that he was a free spirit, and people would be in and out of his house all the time, just to stop by because my dad was just kick-ass. Of course I didn't know at 8 that all of those events could be considered classic signs of meth-amphetamine addiction.

When I was a little kid, my dad would promise to come pick me up from my moms at a certain time. Both my mother and I remember what I did like it came out of a movie: I would have my hands pressed up against the living room window, looking onto the street and KNOWING that black car was my dad. Or maybe that next black car. Oh, it's definitely the next one. Three or four hours after calling him non-stop, or crying my eyes out, my dad would either call or show up and state that a)he got a flat tire, b)got pulled over for a speeding ticket, c)had to finish a job for someone, or any variations of the three. As soon as I saw my dad the tears would stop and I was in for a fun-filled weekend with my DAD! He would tell me about a museum an hour away that had this really cool exhibit he was going to take me to the next day at 11am. Before he would tuck me in I would ask "okay, so we're going tomorrow? Right? At 11? Can we get McDonalds on the way?" and he would tell me, "yes, yes. Now get some sleep!" 10am would come and I would wake up my dad, and he would tell me, "okay, come back in a half hour, I just need to sleep". 10:30am on the dot I would come back and it would be another half hour. After a while he would get angry because I woke him up so much, so I would just hang out in the living room, watching TV and eating whatever was in the fridge. Sometimes I would get bored and walk a block alone to my mom's parents house or go next door and play with my neighbor. My dad would wake up around 4pm and promised that we could go the next day at 11am. Rinse, and repeat.

I always ended up defending my father to my mother. I was a classic case of "stuck in the middle"-my mom would call dad a loser, or a bum, or make me ask where child support was, and my dad would call my mom a rich bitch and have me tell her the check was in the mail. He owned his own landscaping company when I was younger, and lost it. I never knew why until I was an adult (drugs). I always defended my dad, usually in an argument with my mom more than any other time. The thing was, when my dad would bad mouth my mom, I would usually snicker along or keep quiet. She did ask a lot for money. I mean, sheesh, she worked. She had money! Why would she need any more from my dad? Isn't my dad doing enough already? Looking back, I realize all I ever did was defend my dad, and for nothing. He was a drug addict. He lost his teeth and told me it was from "getting older". He went to jail on more than one occasion, which he always told me was from a parking or speeding ticket he didn't pay. One time he got arrested in front of me, and they handcuffed him and put the both of us in the back of the police car. I had to give them my mother's phone number through terror and sobbing and they dropped me off at a restaurant to wait for my mom to pick me up while they took my dad God knows where. When my mom did pick me up, she tried to rationalize the situation, and I was so mad at her for not caring that they picked my dad up! And took him away! And didn't tell me where!!!

When I was in fourth grade he had a job as the groundskeeper of a beautiful private university. He would take me with him to work when he was stuck with me on the weekends, and I got to see every bit of the college-the campus kitchen, the alumni house, the dorms. He said that as a part of his benefit package, I got a "free ride" to the university when I graduated high school. When the students would leave for the summer to go back home, he even showed me what "dumpster diving" was-when you hopped into the trash bins and picked up old walkmans, telephones, clothes, etc. I was too girly and grossed-out to ever hop in a dumpster, but I was fascinated by what people threw out and my dad was pretty much a treasure hunter in my mind. One day I found out he had lost his job. He told me that the morning last week he dropped me off at school he was late for work and they fired him. I was devastated for him, and felt just terrible for being the reason he lost his job. I am now 29, with an 11-year-old. If I got fired for any reason pertaining to my son I would never let him know. Ever. Who would put a burden like that on a child? I mean, 20 years later I pass by that university every day and think to myself, I could have gone here. I could have been successful.

In seventh grade my mom remarried and I chose to live with my dad. The year before he let me have a party at his house and let me invite boys. He left us alone and we played spin the bottle. Coolest. Dad. Ever! My thoughts when I packed up my stuff and showed up on his front porch was he's gonna leave me alone and I can just do whatever I want. How right I was. After about a day he dropped me off at his parents house, who I had a history of not getting along with, and they gave me the guest house. I was totally a grown-up. And never felt so alone. Most of the time my dad wasn't around, and my grandparents left me to my own devices. I walked to school, ate what I wanted, and pretty much did what I wanted. (Note: Thank God for Pearl Jam's album "Ten" during this period; I don't know what would have happened if I didn't have that tape.) One day my grandma was taking me to my Saturday sports league-something my dad was supposed to take me to every week, but was too sick to go this week (drugs). Once we got in the car she started yelling at me about how selfish and ungrateful a child I was, and that my dad is sick and needs help and I only cared about myself. She pulled the car over, grabbed my head, and repeatedly slammed it into the passenger side window. I was shocked and stunned. She dropped me off and told me she would pick me up three hours later. I had a friend call my mom, and she picked me up right away and I was not allowed to see my father for a very long time. When I tried to tell him what his mother had done, he told me I was over-exaggerating, and said "I have no choice but to love my mother. You don't have to like your parents, but you have to love them." He or my grandmother never apologized for what they did, and the aftermath ended up with my first therapy sessions at 12 years old.

When I became a pre-teen, my dad told me on more than one occasion, "you are going to become a teenager soon and we won't have these talks anymore. You will be too busy with school, your friends, and boys, and hanging with your dad will be lame". I thought he was out of his mind. I would never stop loving my dad or wanting to see him. All these years later I realize the statement was true. I just didn't think it would still hold as an adult.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The power of....Pine-Sol?

I've stopped praying. I started when I was 10, and I memorized my prayer in my head to try and make it habit. One day I saw my cat Mojo get hit by a car, and in my mourning it occurred to me that the night before I didn't pray, and that's why he died. I didn't ask God to make him safe. After that day, it stuck. The prayer stayed the same, with additions and removals of family, friends, animals, boyfriends. If I had a super special request I would throw that in after the prayer, and in the beginning I would always start with, "Dear Lord, please forgive me for everything I've done wrong". I don't know when knocking on wood started, but I would think of something bad at random and I would knock on wood three times and say to myself, "please let (insert fear here) not happen". After a while I would knock on wood about all the things I was worried about and then pray. It was a long process. Many a time I was staying at a boyfriend's house they would say, "what's that knocking sound?"

In the middle of my last depressive episode, I just stopped praying. I don't know if it was the fact that I was exhausted every day, or if by this point I realized God wasn't listening. For anyone wondering, I grew up in a house that didn't talk about religion or incorporate it, and I did go to church and Awana weekly as a child. I remember every time I would walk into a church I would be very uncomfortable. I would fidget and my mind would wander until the service was over. My ex grew up in a strict Christian household, and we made a compromise where I would go to his "mega church" on religious holidays like Easter. I hated it. I hated that they made God so commercialized. I wanted to go in a quiet church, stand and read hymns then sit and listen. These people would mumble to themselves, raise their arms in joy and I felt like I was soaking in sin. I wanted to run out screaming.

I'm happy that my parents didn't raise me with any specific religion, as now that I'm older, I can look at religions with no bias other than my own. On the other hand, I look at my best friend who is a born-again Christian and I absolutely envy that she doesn't fear death. If something goes bad in life, she can surmise that "that was not the path that God chose for me", and move on. I only have myself to blame for anything that goes wrong. In my opinion, if you are inherently good, you go to Heaven. My grandma never talked about whether or not she believed in God; what I do know is that she was a good person, and she has to be in a good place or the whole concept of the life we choose to lead would be a joke, and my head would explode. In regards to religions and which one is the "right" one, I believe that Heaven is a series of land masses in the sky where the Jews have one continent, Hindus have another, and so on. I know, it's completely a juvenile way to think of it, but I'm always thinking, "if I commit to the fact that Jesus is the 'real' Lord and savior, how can 6,000,000 Muslims be wrong and automatically go to Hell? What if I'm wrong?"

Anyway, I was sitting here and thinking about where times have gotten really bad, and I still don't really blame God. I sometimes look up and think, "C'mon! C'MON!" I know I am an inherently good person, I wouldn't hurt a fly, yet I am cursed with this useless brain that likes to play tricks on me. I chose to have a child and he happened to be autistic. But I still know that there are children that die from starvation, or live forever as a vegetable, and even though you would think I would be giving props to God for sparing my child, I get even angrier that these innocent children have to be born just to suffer. I think that's ultimately why I chose to stop praying, because as we all know, life will go on whether or not you tell God daily, "I know I ask for a lot, but I appreciate everything you have done for myself, my friends and my family and the good people around the world".

My mind is my enemy.

At 20, my great-grandma died. She was 92 and raised 5 girls who in turn had 15 kids and countless grandkids and great-grandkids. My brother was the first great-grandchild, and he called her "Moo-mama", which we all ended up adopting. Her funeral was a packed house of her large family and neighbors and friends through the years. The pastor presiding over the service kept calling Moo-mama Mrs. Hill, and a longtime neighbor came up and read a poem about his nice neighbor, Mrs. Hill. Towards the end of the service, the pastor asked if anyone else would like to come up and share some memories about Mrs. Hill, and the crowd was dead silent. I was sitting in the front row wedged between my grandma and mom, and as I went to stand up they actually grabbed my hand for a second to stop me, then let me go. I walked up to the podium overlooking at least 300 people, and said, "Hi, I'm Hed, M's grandchild. I keep hearing everyone up here talking about Mrs. Hill and I don't know who that is. I know Moo-mama." As soon as I said that, I looked over at the pew I was sitting in and my mom, my grandma, my sister, my aunts etc.-who for the entire service were composed-were just bawling their eyes out. I felt awful, I just wanted to share a few memories I had spending time with my great-grandma!

After the service, people were leaving to the cemetery, and so many people stopped me and told me "you said exactly what I was thinking, I just didn't have the courage to stand up there." In a day of mourning, I felt good that my great-grandma, my Moo-mama, was loved and cherished by so many. If Moo-mama died this year, there is a strong chance that I wouldn't even be at the funeral. I am grappling with what my psychologist is calling "social phobia". Me. ME! The person voted "Most Outgoing" in junior high. The person who was a bingo caller in a large casino with 500+ customers daily. The manager who steps in and fixes problems. I haven't told my friends that I am terrified to leave my house, and when I do leave, it's because I have to. I think they would all say something along the lines of, "you're pulling my leg, right?" I don't go to family events, I didn't go to a funeral for a very close friend of my family recently. I didn't go to my niece's and nephews first birthdays, or second, or third. When I was younger I was always a homebody, but I went out and hung with friends when I could. I didn't make excuses not to see them. I have lost jobs because I couldn't leave my house. Up until last year, the phobia was mild enough that I put on a happy face and went to work, or saw friends maybe once every three months. The cracks started around March. I had taken vacation time off to take a road trip with my husband up north. I had started taking Cymbalta for anxiety in January, and it made me go from anxious to extremely depressed. My boss took me aside and offered to give me a "vacation" where I was on medical leave. I couldn't get out of bed. I started seeing a psychiatrist who upped my dose of Cymbalta and also gave me the mood stabilizer Lamictal. Five weeks later, I was back at work and better than ever. I was working, I was solid. Even my employees saw a change. You know how they say hindsight is 20/20? I'm so stupid that I didn't realize I was in a "manic" sort of phase. Since I was 15, I have been in and out of doctor's offices and hospitals for severe depression. I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and in my twenties it was revised to Bipolar II. The difference? Regular bipolar people, during their highs, or "manic" stages, will do things like stay up 5 days straight, compulsively gamble, eat, have sex and then crash. People with II have more of a "hypo-manic" state, which is instead of these bouts of crazy, "It is believed to be underdiagnosed because hypomanic behavior often presents as incredibly high-functioning behavior. Indeed, to a physician or psychologist specializing in mood disorders, highly confident ambition might appear to be symptomatic of hypomania if that individual's goals are viewed as unrealistic." (Taken from Wiki) That was me last summer in a nutshell. I took on college courses while working a 50+ hour a week job. I started a diet that had me organizing and labeling all the food in my house at 4am, and keeping a food diary. I offered to organize all of the shelves at work, and work on employees Human Resource files, and everyone just thought I was at 100%. If you know me, if you REALLY know me, you would know that that's me at like, 300%.

Anyway, my 300% self crashed and burned around Thanksgiving. I quit my job without notice. I withdrew from all my classes. I started calling in sick to my brand new job, giving them excuses like, "oh I have a flat tire and I...I uh, can't leave my car behind." There was a point where I just couldn't get out of bed anymore. When I did, I ate, I would try to function, and I would end up crying and going back to bed. I saw a doctor twice a month ($100 a visit because I no longer had health insurance), who tried to prescribe better medicine, or told my husband things like, "make sure she is praying, and tell her she's pretty and that you love her every day." I was suicidal. I started cutting my arms because I didn't know how to function anymore. And instead of this going away after a month like other depressive episodes in my life tended to last, it lasted five months. By this time I was so distraught I couldn't even talk to friends on the phone. My doctor finally got the meds right: Celexa in the AM, Elavil and Lamictal in the PM, and I'm sitting here typing to you all. She also referred me to a low-cost counseling center where I see Dr. J once a week. (I mentioned this before, but I was supposed to come in twice a month, and her supervisor recommended twice a week.)

The residue of this last depressive episode is social phobia. I have turned so inward that I can barely speak to strangers. It sucks. I used to be the life of the party, the one who always had a joke to tell, the one you could always count on to cheer you up, and now I feel like I have nothing to offer to anyone. Dr. J is working at the moment on cognitive and relaxation based therapies so I can at least leave my house and do things, but at the moment I am broken. The Hed that friends and family know is on life support, and I'm desperately trying to bring her back to life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My grandma.

(I was the person that eulogized my grandmother when she passed, and it was the first time I wrote something so close to my heart. The 18th of May will be four years since she died, and I'm still not over it sometimes.)

My grandma was awesome. I hope that everyone in this room had a chance to meet her and know what a great person she was. She was the kind of grandma that you imagine in a movie: sweet, kind-natured, soft voiced, and would spoil you rotten. She even had a little plaque in the house that said, “If mother says no, ask grandmother”. Growing up, my brother, my sister and I lived with my grandparents during different points in our lives. They raised us like we were their own, and my grandma would call us girls “sister” and my brother “son”. When my mom was a single mom working as a waitress, we would all stay the night at Grandma and Pop’s. The routine was always about the same: Pop would watch his shows until he went to bed pretty darn early, grandma would crochet and watch her shows later in the evening, and us kids would hang out in the living room or go in the other room and play Nintendo. By the way, grandma used to sneak in Nintendo when we weren’t around-or when she thought we weren’t watching. It was just about the funniest thing ever-watching her play Super Mario Bros. She had to move her whole body in order to play! She had a sweet tooth, too. She made Kool-Aid so sweet and sugary that my mom wouldn’t even let us drink it most of the time! And she was such a worrywart, always worrying about everyone. I used to stay at my dad’s house, which was just a block away, and when I got bored I would call them up and ask if I could walk over, and of course they always said yes. I would walk up the little path to her house and by the time the house came into view, there was grandma, standing on the front porch, making sure I was okay. The mailbox was across the street from the house, and when I would offer to go get it for her, she would have to watch me out the window and make sure I looked both ways. I know what you are all thinking, “that’s normal, keeping an eye out for a little girl”, but I was 23!

As my siblings and I grew into adults, she and Pop were still there as much as ever. If you were ever in a jam, they saved the day. If you were in the hospital, they were in the waiting room. If you locked yourself out of your house or your car, there they were to open it with their spare. My sister used to be a preschool teacher, and during the Christmas programs, they would be in the audience. When my brother would play baseball, my grandma would be there, standing and shouting, “Go Bubba!!!” when his friends were probably saying, “who the heck is Bubba??”. Speaking of friends, my grandma knew the names of all of your friends and would ask how they were doing and genuinely cared about their well-being. Most of our friends knew grandma, too. She became a great-grandma when my son was born, then soon after with my brother's boys. She really enjoyed her boys; she would crack up when they would dance to “shake shake shake your booty” and they would turn on the dancing cowboy she had and dance together to “Achy Breaky Heart.” My grandma had the best laugh, ever. Her laugh was so booming and boisterous that when she laughed, you knew it had to be funny and it made you laugh too.

Some things that you all should know about my grandma: She loved poker. When it would be her turn to choose a game to play, she almost always chose “Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”. She liked watching poker, too, and watching golf. She used to religiously play bingo! She loved to fish as well on the many trips Pop and her would take to Lake Skinner, Pismo Beach; or later on in Bishop, Lake Tahoe and Big Bear with my mom and stepdad. She never cleaned anything, she “warshed” it.

The one thing, though, that I think I will miss the most is when you would visit, when you pulled up she would be out her front door, ready to help you with whatever it was you had with you. When you left her house, she would always, without missing a beat, say “Don’t forget to call me when you get home!” and she meant it! If you were supposed to be home at 4:00, and you didn’t call her, you better believe that at 4:01, on the button, your phone would ring and you’d go, “Aw! I forgot to call her!”. And if you got stuck in traffic, there would be that message on your answering machine: “Hi, this is your grandma. Give me a call. Bye”, like we didn't know who it was!

I know she wouldn’t want us “to fuss”, as she would say it. My grandma was my hero. She made me want to strive to be a better person. I sincerely hope that she was proud of me, as I am with her that she helped instill the values that I carry with me in my life. Our whole family would be different people if my grandma was not a part of our lives, and we should all cherish that and be blessed that we knew her.

D.M.R May 14, 1932-May 18, 2006

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blood.

When I was three, my mom and my dad got married. When I was three, my mom and my dad divorced. Yes, I was one of those kids that always hoped their parents would get back together. My dad was a cool dad, the one that would never spank you-he would use logic like, "tell me why you think I'm upset you ate cookies before dinner?" On the weekends I would visit him, I would drink Squirt cola at two in the morning and get the 10 pack of burritos from Del Taco. My mom was the bad guy. I always had to spend the night with my grandparents because my mom had to do things like work double shifts as a waitress. She would make snide comments on the Monday after my dad's weekend like, "God I hate when you come back from your dad's! He doesn't give you any rules!" During my early years, we lived on Avenue E with my grandparents. Then 16th Street. Then Avenue E. Then Avenue G. Then Avenue E. Then Avenue F. Then Avenue E. I made friend after friend after friend because I was shuffled around schools so much. I didn't have time to be shy. I remember, in fourth grade, going back to the school I spent second grade in, and a girl came up to me and said, "Remember me? I was your best friend when you went to school here!" I thought to myself, "I was? Geez, I don't even know you."

Before me, my mom had a son and a daughter from her previous marriage, and my dad had a daughter, so technically I wasn't an only child, but I never felt like I belonged in my own family. My brother is 8 years older than me, so I barely know him; who wants to hang out with a 10-year-old when you're 18? My oldest sister is 5 years older; the age difference growing up was a little too wide for us as well-she loved The Gap and U2; I loved Hot Topic and Nine Inch Nails. My grandparents loved and raised us like we were their own, and even though they loved us unconditionally, they were not affectionate. We would hug Pop and say "I love you", and he'd pat our back and say "uh huh". My mom and dad are huggers. My siblings? Not so much. Hugging my brother and sister is awkward; it feels forced. Don't get me wrong, I love them-but we just never hugged or were verbally affectionate.

The sister I shared with my dad was only 2 years older than me; in theory we could play Barbies together, and listen to the same genre of music and go to the same school-in theory. My dad also had weekends with her, and either we didn't share the same weekend or she didn't come over. Eventually her mother remarried and her stepdad petitioned to adopt her. I was maybe 9 when this went down. I always thought, as I still do sometimes, that even though she was gone she was still my sister. I mean, it's not my fault that she got adopted, right? When I was 11, my own mother remarried and I was asked if I would also like to be adopted. By this time I hadn't seen all the opportunity my sister was able to receive by not having my dad as her dad, and I threw a FIT just even being asked. I would never do what she did and bail on my dad! That would make me a monster! Who cared that my dad didn't pay child support, or pick me up when he was supposed to! He lets me stay up until 3am! I get to watch scary movies! When I got engaged, my fiancé and I sat down with my mom and I casually asked her, "Mom, what made you marry my dad? I mean, I was in the damn wedding! Why didn't you just stay dating?", and she casually told me "It looked better if we married so your father could get full custody of your sister". Her words sank in, and just ended up a checkmark on the list in my head on why I shouldn't be alive. Other reasons on that list? My parents and my siblings all got delivered by the same doctor and the same hospital. Before I was born, that doctor died. My sister and brother went to three schools in their entire lifetime; I went through twelve. My brother and sister both have no traces whatsoever of depression, and their kids all came out healthy with no developmental problems. Yeah, these reasons might sound trivial to you, but to me these are all rational and logical reasons why I feel God made a boo-boo.

Anyway, about the "long-lost" sister. I always tried to catch up with her. She lived a town away, and was only a couple years older, but it was like pulling teeth. I don't consider that her fault, I honestly believe that her mother wanted all residue of my side of the family dissolved in her brain. I came across a picture of her when I was 12 and she was 14. She was blonde, and slim, and tall; I was curly haired with braces and a flat chest. I immediately and instantly looked up to her. My oldest sister, well, I didn't look up to her per-se, knowing her dad was reliable and dependable and a DAD was proof enough she was a good person. My other sister for all I know could have been shooting up heroin in high school and I would still have thought she was AMAZING. She had this whole life, these prospects that I wasn't able to have. She went to a University. She double majored and then got accepted into medical school. My mom had to work double shifts to pay for my braces and counseling and summer camp that my dad promised to pitch in but never did. Not only did I feel like a black sheep for a) Not having the perfect life, b) Not having the perfect dad, but also for a) Not having perfect teeth like my brothers and sisters, b) Not having a perfect mental state like them either.

As an adult, I found my long-lost sister on the Internet, and to me she is still AMAZING. She is beautiful, in a state of great health, and livin' the dream. I am terrified to ask her if she thinks of me as her sister. Her mother ended up having another child, and even though his blood and my blood are in equal proportions towards her, I have no doubt they are brother and sister.

So here we are, in the NOW.

Last night, I heard the song "Adventure" by Angels & Airwaves, a band I wouldn't normally associate myself with, and I said out loud, "this song makes me want to go to Hof's Hut!". In case you are not familiar, Hof's Hut is a Coco's-type restaurant that exists in Orange county. Thinking of Hof's Hut on Chapman in Orange made me think of my old apartment off of Main Street, next to the Children's Hospital in Orange. I immediately got a pang in my belly. Moving to Orange from the Inland Empire was a HUGE deal. My family is very close-knit, and everyone is generally twenty minutes away from one another. When I got the urge to move out of my family's house, I started looking outward. Way outward. I happened to stumble upon someone who already lived in Orange, and wanted a roommate. I told him I could only afford $600. He said, "that's fine". This was the spring of 2006, when I worked at a Hot-Topic type store and had a hoop in my lip. I ended up moving away from my family two weeks after my grandmother died, which was also a HUGE deal. No one in my life other than my great-grandmother and some distant cousins have died in my family, and my grandma was like my mom.

I had a sense of independence I had never felt before. I had lived away from my family before, but it was with an ex-boyfriend, and we were always struggling. This felt different. I was in charge of my life. If something broke, there was no one around but myself to fix it. I ate whatever I wanted. I did whatever I wanted. I was free. The room I had was massive, literally as big as the entire apartment I share with my husband now. I had my own bathroom, my roommate was never home, and I could hear the fireworks from Disneyland every night out my window. The Starbucks closed at 1 a.m.! I still worked in the I.E., and every time I drove home, I would hit the 55 freeway from the 91 and it was magical. When I was a kid, hitting the 55 freeway meant we were almost at the beach. Now I lived off of it! I wish I could explain in more detail how amazing that time in my life was. I don't ever recall having depression during that time (well, except at the very end of the 9 months I was there-but that's a whole other blog). I had a "friend with benefits", I could do whatever I wanted.

After thinking of my time there, I said out loud, "I miss Orange County. I miss my life". My husband turned to me and said, "are you serious?". I told him yes, I was. I had no one to rely on but myself back then. I had no crutch when things went down. I WAS FREE. The thing is, was I? When I was in that time, did I not stress about money? Did I not have work woes? Did the "friend with benefits" not break my heart time and time again? Of course they did. But I happen to believe, as I always have, that the past experiences are always better than the present. At that time, when that time was the present, I probably would trade it all in for my grandmother still being alive. I probably cried myself to sleep every night for a month. The whole time I lived 20 minutes away from the beach, I never went. But yet, I always glamorize my past, and my past is always better than what it is now. I hate my life at the moment. I am afraid to leave my house. I am 100 pounds overweight. I have missed friends and families birthday parties, baby showers, holidays. Just six months ago I had a townhouse, a great job and nothing to worry about. I miss my life then. 18 months ago I was planning a wedding, was only 50 pounds overweight and after a long struggle, my fiancé was living with me. I miss my life then. It goes on and on and on. I am never satisfied with how I am feeling NOW. I have always had the option of change, and now I have to be concerned with how that will affect my husband. I don't know how to love myself and appreciate the things I have in the moment. My life is always yesterday.

P.S. The Hof's Hut down the street from my house? It closed down.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Hi, I'm Hed.

I love to write. I usually have so much stuff stuffed inside my brain that it seems like I have ADD. Look, a blue car! What were we talking about? Oh yeah, me. Good subject. I'm like a Chuck Palahniuk book-on the surface, normal, but when you dig deeper you realize it's more fucked then you could have ever imagined. I try my best to hide the fucked-up part, and I'll bet that a lot of the people that know me, even the really close ones, would think that I'm overreacting. I'm not. At all. I'm like a good, law-abiding senator who gets caught in a gay bar with his leather daddy. You should also know that I'm good at analogies.

a·nal·o·gy   [uh-nal-uh-jee] –noun, a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based

My whole life, my being, is a comparison between me and something I'm not. I'm constantly running a checklist off in my head when I think about others vs. myself. "Oh, she's married, like me! And she owns a house." "See? I'm better than her because she's single and I have found someone. But she has a master's degree." I've been doing this as long as I have been living, and nine times out of ten I'm the one on the short end of the compare stick. When I visualize my feelings about this, I always picture myself as the Silver Medal; and everyone else is either a Gold Medal or a Bronze Medal. I don't know if I've ever thought of someone as my equal; you're either better than me or beneath me. It takes a LOT to be the Bronze Medalist, by the way: you need to be snorting heroin on a street corner for me to look my nose down at you. I am an unbelievably forgiving person, even when I know I am right. I will bend my will to make sure people like me. It makes me a good manager for the most part; employees love me because they can walk all over me, customers get whatever they want. I go home with an anger bubble so deeply logged in my stomach that I usually eat or sleep away. Oh, the manager thing? Since about 2001, I've been in some form of retail management: a video store here, clothing store there. I am currently not working. I recently broke down, and don't have enough money for a full overhaul of my system (Like that one too?). Two months ago, I started seeing a psychologist twice a month to figure out why I do the things I do, and to really get to the core of who I am. The funny thing is, my doctor's superiors, after reading her files on me, urged her to make me come in twice a week.
Writing to me is cathartic. It's either that or sleeping, and I can't sleep at the moment; eating (which I have finally tried to take control of-more on that one later); or zoning out with mindless video games, which I will actually do after I post this. So that's about it for now, I felt like posting about my core so I can work outward when I write. Hi, I'm Hed.