Wrestling with mental and physical health.

Sep 17 2020

This isn't easy for me to write because it involves my mental health.  So, if it's not your bag feel free to skip this post.

Helping my mom since her cancer diagnosis has left me in this peculiar state where I don't actually know what I'm feeling.  I call it "running on wires," as in, the silicon I'm connected to is running me, and the organics are off doing... something, maybe.  My therapist calls it alexithymia, and reading about it that's as good a word for it as any.

I've been fighting with clinical depression for most of my life, ever since my grandmother died in 1987 or 1988.ev (somewhen around fourth grade).  I've been in and out of various forms of therapy for most of my life, and while everything seems to help for a while it never lasts.  I've also been fighting with my body's weight (hang on... my weight) for about as long.  When I get depressed my diet goes to hell in a handbasket, and I know that I've put on some weight during the time I was in Pittsburgh.  I don't know how much because I haven't weighed myself, and I haven't wanted to weigh myself because I don't know how I'd react to seeing just how many pounds I've put on.

Under the cut, discussion of eating disorders.  Punch out if you want.

Depression and being overweight have always gone hand-in-hand for me, for as long as I can remember.  When I started high school I joined Weight Watchers because I wanted to do something about my weight and appearance, and by the time I graduated I didn't look half bad, or so people tell me.  I think I was around 165 or 170 at that time, and in those four years I'd lost quite a bit of weight.  But in college I went a little overboard... my freshman year I got sick, probably from something in the dining hall (go ahead and laugh, but it was the only place I'd eaten that week), and between running to the bathroom, not eating, and sleeping with a fever I lost even more weight.  I think I was around 150 pounds by that point.

And for the first time in just about ever, I looked into the mirror and felt pleased with myself.

To say that I was obsessed with my weight by trying to stay between 150 and 155 pounds was an understatement.  I'm pretty sure that I'd crossed into anorexia nervosa at that point, and was eating just enough so I could function in class and do my homework (because I didn't want to fuck up college).  I distinctly remember getting really upset when I'd hit 155 because the clothes I was wearing were too tight (and they were skin tight to begin with).  And I'd starve myself back down.  Over and over and over and over again.

My knees hurt constantly.  So did my back.  I was tired all the time and had very little endurance, which I didn't let stop me when it came to taking aerobics classes to burn off everything I'd eaten.  I had very little body hair at the time, probably because my body was hoarding every scrap of protein it could lay claim to just to not fall apart in a heap.  You could count the old rib fractures through my skin (and a few people did).  I think I was living on 900 to 1000 dietary calories a day by that point, which by even the most liberal perspective was well into WTF.  To say that I was unhealthy would be polite.  I was really hurting myself.

It wasn't until I met Lyssa at a Yule party in 2002.ev and we started dating seriously that this started to change.  She fed me.  I was snacking at parties (something I never did).  Eating decently.  Putting on weight.  My back and legs stopped hurting.  The RST I'd been struggling with for years even mostly went into remission (though stopping MUDding and leaving IRC most certainly helped) because my body started having enough resources available to repair itself.  I even developed body hair (Lyssa likes to joke that she put me through puberty at long last) and my hairline started coming back (though it's gotten fed up with my bullshit in recent years and is packing its bags and leaving, taking my functional hair follicles with it).

Thinking back about my behavior in the last two months I've observed that I've been overeating... Two helpings here, two helpings there, the odd mid-afternoon snack... I don't remember the last time I had ice cream, but I've had more in the last week than in the last ten years.  Two or three bowls, but still.  I know I'm compensating for something.  I know something's wrong inside.  I can't tell what it is, can't feel it, can't isolate it, but I conclude that it's depression, and I'm putting on weight because that's what I do when I'm depressed, I eat.

I don't recognize the person in the mirror any more, and I cringe every time I see myself without a shirt on.  I do want to lose weight, I probably need to (I'm 42, it's probably not healthy for me), but on the other hand there's that little voice in the back of my head saying that I can get back down to where I was in college... svelte.  Pretty.  Amazing looking.  All I have to do is stop.

For those of you saying "For fuck's sake, talk to your therapist about this," I will be.  This post is me trying to process everything going on in my head by making an end run around the feelings that I can't grasp.  Maybe I can figure something out.  Maybe I can convince myself that everything will be okay.

Maybe I can convince myself that I need to accept that I'm not the skinny-ass goth kid I was in college, never will be again because I'm twice as old now, with a whole new life and set of circumstances, and come to terms with it.