Monday, May 7, 2012

Losing It

I'm losing it; in pretty much every permutation of the phrase.  But specifically, I'm losing it.  The weight I've put on since I was diagnosed.  The weight gained from six years of metabolism-killing medication.  Six years of not only medications, but of bouts of binge-eating and crappy eating habits.  It seems easy to blame the weight on my disability, that doing that is an easy way out.  Doing so is a half-truth though; not the only reason I am where I am, but a good portion of it.

The weight was gained because of my disability.  I was never overweight before; I was never a small child, but I was healthy and active.  Then I started binging.  I'm an emotional eater, and baker... and then I eat what I bake.  But when I was clinically depressed at 14, I was a binge eater.  It seems soooo overtly cliched, but it's a cliche because it's true.  I ate because it was something I could control in my life.  In a world where you can't control anything except your food intake, you binge.  This went on about a year until I got on medications for the depression and anxiety.  The meds made the depression go away and with it the binging, but on medication I gained 50 pounds in 6 months.

It was during all of this that I was being diagnosed with Tourette's (lucky me).  Then we started the battery of Tourette Syndrome medications; Tenex and Orap then Clonidine and Risperdal.  The anti-psychotics (Orap and Risperdal) were the worst offenders for weight gain, and while I was only on Risperdal for 48-hours, I was on the Orap for months.  Fast-forward again about a year, now I'm off all the Tourette's "treatments", but they put me on Pamelor, an anti-depressant, for my chronic migraines.


The migraines go away... more or less.  But in there place, more and more weight.  I knew the pills could cause weight gain; but I was scared of the migraines.  I didn't just have migraines; I had MIGRAINES.  Migraines so bad I wished I were dead because at least then I wouldn't be in pain; so bad I wanted to bash my head into the floor or into the walls because that pain would take my mind off the migraine for a few moments.  So bad that I would spend days throwing up and unable to eat because I was nauseous or because my teeth were so sensitive it hurt to inhale cold air, much less eat.  I was terrified that if I got off those pills the migraines would be back; and that future was too scary.  And surely the weight gain would stop eventually... I could be happy at 180 pounds.  195.  200.  220...

Except the weight gain didn't stop.  No matter what I did, no matter how well or how badly I ate, I gained weight.  Maybe the weight gain would be slow, maybe it would be quick, but it was always there.  Omnipresent.  So that in 6 years my brain trained itself not to care.

(And now the teacher in me is going to come out for a moment...)  I am a behaviorist; I study behaviors: what leads up to a behavior, what the function of a behavior appears to be, and what the consequence for that behavior is.  I know that I was being punished for trying to get healthy.  Punished, because the consequences (weight gain) were decreasing the likelihood that I would continue trying to be healthy.  In the last six years there have been prolonged times in my life I have tried to get healthy; times I have counted points and calories and worked out regularly.  Times where I have been fit.  And there have been times where I will eat ice cream for dinner and not work out for months at a time.  What I'm saying, is that I've run the gambit in six years for health; but none of it mattered.  I gained weight no matter what because of the pills.

And I'm sure some of you are shaking your heads saying, "but you were healthier".  "That's no reason to stop trying to get healthy".  "Maybe you just didn't try hard enough."  I have been accused of many things, but lazy has never been one of them.  Put yourself in my shoes for a minute; no matter what you do, you get heavier.  Every few months or so you have to go up a pants size.  Even when you're toned, you're still gaining weight.  On top of that you're in chronic pain.  Your body is always exhausted because it moves in ways it's not supposed to; your legs and arms are constantly moving even when you don't want them to.  The mere thought of working out is tiring.  Eventually the "so what" mentality sinks in and you give up.  It's gradual; you have bouts of "this time I can do it" and then you try again for a few weeks or months, until the number on the scale keeps rising and you have to go buy a new wardrobe. 

Today, I weigh 259.6 pounds.  I hemmed and hawed about writing that number and putting it out there.  But, really?  The things I wrote on my other blog are so much more personal than that.  Than a number.  259.6 so what?  It's just a number.  It's nothing to be embarrassed about.  Putting up videos of me losing control of my body and voice?  Embarrassing.  Writing about how out of control I feel and how the only thing keeping me sane during the last week before graduation is medication?  Embarrassing.  Writing how much I weigh?  Not so.

This isn't about me losing weight though; it's about getting healthy.  It's about feeling comfortable in my clothes.  About knowing that even though I'm going to be in constant pain, that I will be giving my body a fighting chance.  That I'll be alleviating unnecessary stress on my joints, hopefully delaying the onset of arthritis and carpal tunnel (which if you saw the way my hands and legs move, you would agree are at this point inevitable).  It's about trying to help my body function as best it can, because truthfully, Tourette Syndrome is just the tip of the ice berg; nothing I have is life-threatening, but it's not good either.

I have all the tools necessary; I am finally once and for all, off the pills.  I'm taking - a butt load of - supplements.  Glucosamine to help my joints; green tea supplements to boost my metabolism and energy; vitamin D because I live where the sun never shines; homeopathic migraine pills...  But nothing that could even remotely cause weight gain.  I'm starting graduate school in a month, and as backwards and stupid as it sounds, I will have more time on my hands then I do now.  And I have motivation.  I'm going to have to be able to keep up with a dog in 5 months.  I'm going to have to make sure that it gets enough exercise on days that I'm not working.  I want to do agility with the dog so that it has time that isn't just about work.  But for this, I need to be healthy.  And I'm going to hold myself accountable to the internet; do I expect anybody to be reading this?  No... not really.  But I'm going to keep posting regardless.

I'm not going to weigh myself again until I am back in Spokane for memorial day weekend.  Not because I'm giving myself a reprieve until then; I'm not planning a huge binge between now and then.  I know though, that if I say I'm going to start now I will fail.  I am barely in a good place with my mental health, I'm still taking anti-anxiety pills to sleep at night and to ward off the YOU'REGOINGTODIE thoughts my brain is so great at producing.  I'm tired of setting myself up for failure; I have all the things in place I need to succeed except my mental health.  And I'm giving myself three weeks to get that in place.  Three weeks to sleep and rest my brain and body.  Three weeks without work and school to stress me out.  Three weeks to eat relatively healthy and be active; but I'm not getting on a scale or doing anything else to gauge my progress.  Because if it goes the wrong direction, I will be discouraged and I will fail again.

259.6 and never again.