Eating Disorders: My Experiences

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I’ve been watching some intervention episodes and other documentaries about eating disorders recently. I have never been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder of any kind, and am not sure I would consider myself an actual bulimic or anorexic, although I have had destructive behaviors related to both illnesses in the past.

Growing up, my mother and sister were overweight, and I saw what they went through being “fat”. The self-loathing, the cruel mockery from others, the way they would pick on people who were even larger than themselves in an effort to make themselves feel better. From a young age I learned that “fat” was a very bad thing to be. Maybe the “worst” thing you could be in many people’s eyes.

Around the age of 12, right after my dad died, I started putting on weight too. At first I think it was mainly just puberty, but the grief and loss of my father also made me turn to food for comfort. My mother and sister worked all the time after my dad died, so I spent most of my time at home all alone. The loneliness and heartbreak I felt soon turned me into a chubby little girl. I started getting bullied at school for my weight and went from being a confident, athletic, competitive kid to being someone who wished they could just disappear.

When I was around 15, I started working for the first time myself, and the increased physical activity and less time spent lonely and eating soon had me losing weight. I liked what I was seeing and started using little “tricks” to help myself lose more weight. Restricting what I was allowed to eat. Using laxatives if I overate. Trying pills that promised to rev up your metabolism, even if they made me more jittery and anxious.

Over the years, I have had periods of time where I fell into unhealthy habits with eating. Times where I binged and then tried to starve myself. Times where I tried to not eat and lived on water or Diet Coke (one of these periods led to my first visit to a doctor for depression). Obsessions with exercise. Endless calorie counting. Times where I saw the scale falling rapidly due to medicine side effects or a health problem and secretly rejoiced at the thinning. Using medicines that I may not actually need because they help me stay thin. Fearing the use of other medicines I may need because they cause weight gain.

As of right now, I am not actively involved in all of these behaviors on a regular basis, although I am certainly not above them and am still tempted. I do still rely on “stimulants” sometimes that I know probably aren’t good on my heart and health. Pseudoephedrine (a close relative of the diet drug Ephedra) is a big one for me, which is easy to excuse since I do have allergy and sinus issues, but I know I probably overuse it. The last time I was in the hospital, they said I tested positive for Methamphetamines, which was likely the Pseudoephedrine, since I don’t touch any illegal drugs.

I also tend to still play mind games with myself when it comes to food. I have a huge sweet tooth and I’ll tell myself, “Sure, you can have the cupcake/brownie/doughnut/cake/etc, but then you can’t have any lunch or dinner.” In my mind I justify this by saying the junk food is about the same amount of calories as a healthy lunch or dinner, so it is ok to trade them out, but I can’t help but wonder if this may be why I am often deficient in certain minerals and nutrients in blood tests.

This is the first time I’ve publicly shared these things, but I feel like it is something I want to get off my chest and be honest about.

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Seroquel Zombie?

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So today I’ve mostly spent my time watching YouTube videos about Seroquel, especially videos about the side effects of taking it and the experiences of people who decided to get off of it. I’m not making any rash decisions about the medicine myself (which I do currently take). The medicine is a wonder drug when it comes to helping me get to sleep, which is the main reason why I am taking 50mg of it a day (which isn’t even a high dosage). I do like the warm, fuzzy feeling I get after taking the meds and the way it knocks me out within an hour of taking it. I’ve tried other sleeping pills and none of them worked nearly that well or dependably.

However, I am having some side effects that I assume may be from the Seroquel. I am sleeping at least 11 or 12 hours a night and still waking up groggy and just wanting to sleep all day. I normally get up, have breakfast, then lay back down on the couch and try not to fall back to sleep. I am exhausted constantly (even more so than just from my normal CFS symptoms). I am starting to feel a bit “zombiefied” as well. As I’m typing, I kind of feel disconnected from my fingers and feel like they are somewhat trying to do their own thing rather than what I want them to do. I wake up each day with a hangover feeling and often with a nasty headache that sometimes lasts all day. I am also HUNGRY all the time it seems, especially for sweets. I really fear gaining weight. I’ve been on the med about 3 months now and have gained a few pounds, but I fear I would gain much more if I lost my self control and ate as much as I wanted.

I guess the reason I am sharing all this is just to see if others who have taken it have experienced similar things? If so, did you keep taking it? I really debate whether sleeping regularly is worth all the side effects or not.

*Art by Maranda Russell

Bad Depression

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I’ve been really struggling with depression lately. And I mean really struggling. Like, can’t get out of bed struggling. Like sleeping more than half the day struggling. Even when I do finally get out of bed, I often find myself back in bed soon after, lying there staring at the wall and the ceiling for unlimited amounts of time. I do still have an appetite at least, but I think a lot of that is the meds, which make me hungry almost all the time. Of course, sometimes with depression I do tend to comfort eat as well. So along with the desire to do absolutely nothing, I am also plagued with anxiety about gaining weight from being hungry all the time. I don’t see the doctor again until the day after Christmas, so I am just having to muddle through the best I can, but it is really hard. I feel like I am constantly fighting just to function at all. Even washing my hair or brushing my teeth seems too much for me most of the time and I have to force myself to do it. This level of lethargy is ridiculous, and sometimes I wonder how I’m alive at all.

2 New Art Trading Cards, Mixed Media Collages

Here are two new, mixed media collage art trading cards. Both are for sale on my Ebay store page if anyone is interested 🙂 The first card was inspired by love, romance, and sensuality, and the second card was created partly just because I love wolves and partly because the new meds I’m on have been making me hungry ALL the time!

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Bipolar and Medicine Problems

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It seems that there is this stereotype about Bipolar patients not wanting to take their medicine or stopping medicine without consulting a doctor. However, like most stereotypes, perhaps there is some truth to it. I personally have Bipolar type 2 and often find myself wondering, “Do I really need these medications?” or “Are these medications actually helping or hurting me?”. Why do I wonder this? Mostly due to negative side effects. I can’t help but wonder sometimes if the cure isn’t worse than the disease at times. Weight gain, acne, digestive problems, being pushed further into depression or hypomania, anxiety, jitters, uncontrollable muscle spasms, irritability, crying spells, etc. Sometimes I really do wonder if I wasn’t better off before.

And about consulting a doctor before stopping meds, in my case at least, my psychiatrist is only able to see patients once every few months due to the shortage of psychiatrists in the area. He is EXTREMELY busy. It is unlikely I will hear from him in the interim, even if I have a question. Of course I can speak to his office staff, but that isn’t the same as actually speaking to a doctor. And even if I were to call and tell the office staff I wanted to stop taking the medicine, likely they would just request I wait until my next appointment, which may be months away. If the medicine is truly causing side effects I can’t stand or making me feel worse, why would I want to endure that for months before making a change?

I am not writing this post to encourage anyone to go off their meds or anything like that. I believe strongly in listening to medical advice, but I wanted to explain to those who are outside of the Bipolar loop why this can often become a legitimate issue. And no, right now I am not stopping my own meds, but I have been tempted many times, which makes me sympathetic to those who have.

Hypomanic Writing

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I wrote the following while I was pretty hypomanic. Thought I would share more as a glimpse into my life and hopefully educational about bipolar 2:

I AM bipolar, I’m officially crazy. I can’t seem to control myself, but on the medicine I feel SO much better, who cares if I’m hypomanic? Not sure I wanna tell the doctor the truth. Thank God I have my husband to keep me in check. I AM perpetuating the cycle. Thank God I never had kids. My muscles twitch and I can’t control them. I feel like I have Parkinson’s, but I’m good with that. I am stressed the fuck out, but I don’t care. I don’t want to sleep, but I have a magic bullet called Seroquel. I just worry I’ll get fat, but how fat can I get when I can’t sit still? Every dance in creation I think I’ve done today, even if it was spazzy. Some might look at me and say I’m a danger. I look at me and say I’m alive.