Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Asking For Help is the Hardest Part

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 01:  A woman sits...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife
A few weeks ago I went to see my doctor. I've been so frustrated over my inability to stick to any sort of healthy eating/weight loss, I wanted to see if there as anything she could suggest or recommend to me. I don't really know why I went to see her about it, but I've tried so many different things that I thought I may as well add one more to the list, and as my doctor is a bigger lady herself, I felt a small amount of trust for her in this regard.

In tears I made my case to her - it's so embarrassing and upsetting for me to actually talk about it with anyone in person. She looked at me helplessly, halfheartedly suggesting weight watchers and 'getting involved with a group'. I explained to her that I've tried all of this and more, but she didn't really have anything else to contribute.

I needed her to understand how seriously I wanted help. I decided to take the plunge, and I mentioned the D word.

For over 15 years I've contemplated talking to a professional about my depression - something I've never had officially diagnosed, but boy do I know it's there. I have never felt able to ask for help in this. I don't know if it's shame or a feeling that it's 'not that bad' or the belief that nothing I've tried has conquered it so it's unconquerable or just plain discomfort in talking about myself in such a way or something else altogether, but something has always stopped me.

I don't know what changed that day either, but I decided to do what all the ads and recommendations tell you to do - talk to your doctor, right?

I stammered it out, "I think I have depression."

Her expression immediately became skeptical. She asked me a few questions - was I sleeping badly? Yes. Had I experienced any major recent changes? Yes. I don't remember what else but all were answered in the affirmative.

I shamefully added, "I don't even feel as attached to my daughter anymore."

This was gut-wrenching for me to admit.

She sighed. "Would you like me to prescribe you something?"

I almost laughed. "Is that the only solution?"

She went on to again recommend finding myself some sort of support, and suggested I call her in a few weeks to let her know my progress.

My husband had been with me during the visit, and in the car on the way home I cried my frustration. "I just did exactly what I was supposed to do and it was no help at all! Do you have any idea how hard that was?"

He didn't know how to handle it, and he turned on me, suggesting that maybe I just needed more 'willpower' and 'tough love'. It turned into a huge argument for which he later apologized...I think the face of my hopelessness and the response of the doctor was just too hard for him to deal with.

And so it ends. I took the step I'd been contemplating for years, and got absolutely no help at all.

I have no desire to just start taking anti-depressants without even talking to a therapist, and I don't know that I can afford an actual therapist. And while I don't doubt that group counseling is effective, it's not something that's going to happen for me - certainly not in the beginning. I've communicated to all of 2 people in my life that I feel I suffer from depression - there is no way I'm walking into a group of strangers and confessing that.

There is one possible step I see now: a friend gave me the number of a place that provides individual therapy and charges on a sliding scale. It's been on my mind for weeks now to call, but as difficult as it was asking for help the first time, it feels even harder now. I reached my hand out and got burned - badly - and my instinct now is to keep it more to myself than ever before.

At this point in time, I'm not sure. Part of writing this post is a rejection of that instinct to pull it all back. I've never written candidly of this and the anonymity of this blog is the only thing that gives me the freedom to do so - along with the high trust I have in the love and support of the readers here.

I want to call the therapy place, but I know it may not happen.

I mostly just wish it could all be fixed - or over - without me having to ask. Why does it have to be so hard?

Monday, 5 December 2011

When I Look in the Mirror Now

Photo Credit: on Flickr.
Being thin wasn't always something I consciously cared about. But I do remember my struggle with weight began very young. My mother was an alcoholic (that's another story) and because of this, my sister and I were raised by our grandparents and our father. My grandmother was always critical of my mother, and the fact that my mom was over weight was something she mentioned a lot. I was always reminded not to eat too much. "You don't want to end up like your mother," my grandmother would say. And so I learned that my physical appearance had a lot to do with my self worth.

As a young girl I knew I wanted to be a model. I was constantly being told by family friends how beautiful I was and these comments became addictive. I was always so eager to please. I took modeling lessons and entered pageants. Both of which I did well. And being a model was all I ever talked about. During this time my father had remarried and moved out of my grandparents house. His new wife was nice, but just like my grandmother, she was constantly reminding me about my weight.

I loved barbies and playing dress up. My best friend and I would often dress in my stepmothers heels and makeup and play runway down the hall. Then at the age of twelve my father divorced  again and moved away. He became depressed and started using drugs and was never home. And my sister went to live with my mom. One day I decided to go on a hunger strike just to see if he would notice.

This is how my eating disorder started. I went almost a month without eating any real food. Crackers if the hunger became too much, and only drank water. My father never noticed, but others did. Other girls would tell me how jealous they were because I was so skinny. And so I kept on not eating. I liked the attention, but I soon realized how hard it is to not eat. Sometimes I would clean or even cut my self, anything to take my mind off of food. After a couple years my dad ended up moving back in with his parents. It was a lot harder to hide around them.

I would wake up early and pretend to have already eaten. Take my food into my room and pretend to eat it there. And sometimes I would just have to eat to not raise suspicion. That's when I discovered throwing up. This was like a god send to me. I could eat whatever I wanted and just throw it up! As I got older and started dating it was always a struggle. I found myself having to throw up a lot more because of dinner dates. I would take dangerous amounts of diet pills, laxatives, and even these pills I ordered that claimed to prevent your body from absorbing fat. I felt sick all the time. I wasn't happy. Food became this sick drug to me. I remember driving to a fast food place and ordering tons of their most fattening foods. Then sitting all alone in an empty parking lot, eating it as fast as I could. Of course not long after I would have to throw it up. I hated myself. My obsession caused me to lose sight of my dreams, and I never became a professional model. I never went to rehab or therapy. I never even told anyone. To this day nobody knows just how bad life was for me.

I got pregnant at 20 and everything changed. Suddenly my body wasn't just mine anymore. I had a life inside me that needed me to take care of myself. Needed me to eat and be healthy. I decided to do the very best for my baby. Be the parent mine never were. I started to appreciate my body. It created life, it was beautiful. And now, two kids later I still love my body. I exercise when I can and try to eat healthy, but I don't care about the extra weight anymore. I am accepting of myself. My body might be soft and not nearly perfect. But when I look in the mirror now, I like what I see.