Monday, October 25, 2010

Weighing the Facts

Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.*

Weather like we had this morning makes me want to cook and bake.  I was going to come home from work and make baked potato soup (my very own recipe!) and apple pie.  But then the sun came out.  Also, I had therapy at 4 and didn't get home til 2 and wouldn't have had enough time to make both.  So I'll be doing it either tomorrow or Wednesday.  

It's funny - no matter how depressed or upset I get, food never seems to lose it's flavor or infatuating quality.  Some people dramatically lose weight when they are faced with an unusually large amount of stress, but not me!  Nope, I stay the same weight, plus or minus a few pounds.  Interestingly, back in like 2004, I read that there is something about depression that causes a craving for carbohydrates.  I have not read anything about that since, but from my own experience, it makes sense.  I love fluffy foods like breads and potatoes.  Can't seem to get enough of them.  Although I do love a good salad, too.

And thus begets the issue I have with my weight.  For a long time, I didn't really seem to care about my weight too much.  It was the first time I tried to squeeze into a pair of dress-pants that suddenly didn't fit in around 2005 that it started to become apparent that I was gaining weight.  I've always been a pretty skinny girl, although never the stringbean that both my sisters are/were.  It also became apparent that my semi-sedentary lifestyle is partly to blame for my weight gain as well.  When I'm at home, I'm generally sitting or lying down.  And I'm at home a lot.

There are a few people I've met that have much worse issues with their weight than I have, and I sort of count myself lucky that I don't have the issues with my weight that they have, but at the same time, I wish I did so that I would be more vigilant about keeping my weight down.  For my height, I am at a healthy weight and body size.  I am by no means fat or obese or overweight, but I can't help but feel that way.  For a long time, my best friend and I were exactly the same size, to the point where someone looking at us walking next to each other at a distance couldn't tell us apart.  But then something happened in her life (and I'm not exactly sure what because I never noticed her having a weight issue before) that made her suddenly drop like 25lbs, and I think that when she discovered that she liked how she looked and felt, she continued to attempt to lose even more weight.  When I didn't follow suit, I felt like a whale sitting or standing next to her (which wasn't that often considering our geographic separation).  The other girl I spend enough time with to notice my own weight is Jen, and she's always been the tall, skinny stringbean type.  But when I put on weight and she didn't, it became even more obvious to me that something wasn't right. 

I wondered at one point if it might be a thyroid disorder, because symptoms of hypothyroid (underactive thyroid) are depression and weight gain.  So I got tested, and sure enough, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  I'm on medication for that (the Levothyroxine), and will be on it for the rest of my life.  There is no cure, and if I stop taking the medication, I could potentially develop peripheral neuropathy, go into a coma or die of heart-failure.

Even sitting here now, I'm having the urge to go to the gym and run myself ragged just so I can feel like I made some kind of attempt at fixing something about myself that I'm unhappy with.  Women have it hard in this technologically advanced age where pictures of singers and actresses and supermodels are literally ALL OVER the place.  I think it's just a genetically inherited trait for us to compare ourselves to one another, regardless of whether or not we know each other personally; and when someone who is at a pretty healthy weight for her age and height, like me, looks at someone like Former Bestie, who is the same height (she thinks she's an inch taller than me) but weighs around 35-40lbs less than me, it is an automatic hit to the self-esteem.  So then I wonder, would I be less depressed if I were more satisfied with my weight?  And if so, why?  Why shouldn't I just like myself as I am?  I can probably prevent myself from gaining more weight, if I weren't so unhappy about the size I am now.

When I voice my discomfort with my weight, I am met with reactions along the lines of "You're not fat," or "You're not overweight," and they're right.  But my stock reply is "I'm deceptively heavy."  Which is true.  If I were to disclose the actual number of my weight, I think it would surprise a lot of people.  I like the argument that muscle weighs more than fat, but I have a lot of fat under, in between and on top of my muscle.  If I were pure muscle, I'd probably weigh about the same, maybe 10lbs less.  I'd be happy just to lose 10lbs of fat.  My goal weight is to be around 20lbs lighter than I am right now, regardless of what my BMI actually is, I don't care if it's muscle or fat.  I'd just like to not feel as though my tummy fat splooges over the top my jeans and feel as though they are painted on.  I am mostly flat-out refusing to buy bigger clothes, because when I have to fit into clothes that don't fit quite right, that are just a bit too small, I want it to be incentive to lose the weight that I'm unhappy with.  What actually happens is that I become extremely aware of the fact that the clothes don't fit right and end up being very uncomfortable wearing the clothes.

Except that I love food.  I love to eat!  I could not be anorexic, ever, because I have a love affair with food that I am not prepared to change.  It's not an unhealthy love of food, either, I find it to be quite balanced.  I love fruits and veggies just as much as I love junk food.  I might have Wendy's for dinner one night and then have nothing but baked asparagus the next night.

The other part of this is that deep down, I don't really like to exercise.  I love to go out and play soccer, because while it can be hard and tiring, I don't ever feel like it's work.  I have a much harder time going running or going to the gym because while I'm there, I mostly think about how much I wish I were sitting around, not panting like a dog and sweating myself drenched.  And given the option, I'd rather go out and run outside than run on a treadmill, because it's much more interesting.  When it gets cold outside I have a much harder time hitting the gym.  Gyms are already horrible places - everything they have there is very heavy! - but the people there are pretty judgmental, too.  Mostly I don't care too much about people looking at me (I'm looking at them, too, surprise!), but I turn very red when I work out and according to my sister, I make weird faces.  Maybe that's why I've never been picked up at the gym.  The other part of why I don't like to work out is because it hurts!  It's not just being sore the next day, my joints are genetically crap, and so I can't run long distances, which is endlessly annoying to me.  I've had surgery on both ankles, and require surgery on both of them again.  I've also got low arches and require custom orthodics, and without them, my legs hurt like a bitch.  I discovered this while running almost every day last summer.  When I go to the gym, I use the treadmill and the stair machine to get a full cardio workout, but I really hate the treadmill.  I also feel like the elliptical is a cop-out exercise machine; it's too easy.

So I guess I'm just stumped.  I think I might be one of the bajillions of people in the world who wish that there were an easier way to lose weight without having to work out, but there's not without taking food out of the equation.  And so until I'm strong enough and mentally healthy enough to work up the motivation to get myself on a work-out routine that I can stick to, I have to just sit here hating myself because I think I look like a fatty slob, and be okay with it because I know that I'll only further disappoint myself if I try something that I can't stick to.

Ugh, that ended up being much yuckier than I thought it would be.  I'll probably be thinking about it for the rest of the night.  "Dane" has a free three-month membership to the same gym I go to, and I think it's much more fun going to the gym with a buddy than alone.  It's just that I'm worried that if he wants to go, I won't want to go, even though I'll want to see him.   Then I'll feel guilty for saying no.  Like I did last night - he invited me to a show where his very favorite band in the whole world was playing, but I was just not feeling physically great, so I passed.  I was excited that he thought to ask me to go with him, though.  We talked about going to the gym tonight, too, but I definitely don't want to go and I haven't heard from him so I'm guessing he might not be feeling like it, either.  And then I tell myself, I'll go tomorrow!  But then I think, oh I want to cook and bake tomorrow!  And then there's the event we're going to in Denver tomorrow night.  And the next night I want to go to trivia.  So then it's Thursday before I get to go to the gym and I just spent three days thinking about it and making myself feel guilty about it!  Blerg.

I think Phoenix ate some cat food yesterday, because he was sick again today.  Luckily for me, I left the door open for him because if I hadn't, I'd have been cleaning up liquid dog shit all afternoon.  I came home from work, and was changing my clothes and I heard a noise come from him but it sounded like a tummy growl, so I thought maybe it was me.  But then I sat down with him and his digestive system sounded like it had a tiny cat stuck inside it.  It was so noisy!!  I was really worried that his intestines might explode or something.  I went to my therapy appointment and he was still alive when I came home (I was picturing him lying dead on the floor with his stomach having exploded) and much less vocal.  He's not terribly hungry, but I think he'll be okay.  I was worried there for a little while.  Also, I was stressed last night because Jonas and Jamie lost Alvin, their beagle.  They went to run errands and came home and he was gone.  Jamie had taken his collar off earlier in the day (which I do with Phoenix all the time), and he got out.  I was so stressed about it that I actually dreamed about it!  But they put up fliers all over the place and a lady had picked him up and kept him over night.  Thank GOD.  I don't know what I would have done, but I was praying for them.

I think that's enough in-depth thought for today.  I have felt very tired all day and I'm going to try really really hard to just go straight to bed once I post this.  There's a comic that I saw in the Sunday paper that I thought was perfect: 

That pretty much explains how I feel most days.  And why!

*"NAMI | About Mental Illness." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. Web. 25 Oct. 2010. <>.

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