Sunday, March 1, 2015

It's Not Poison

Nursing makes you really hungry...really really hungry.  I think I have a bigger appetite now than when I was training for my marathon.

Being able to eat a lot can be fun...if you let it.  However, if you struggle with an eating disorder, being uncontrollably, perpetually hungry can be terrifying.

Since having a baby, some eating disorder thoughts have crept back into my life.  I was anticipating having minor setbacks because of post-pregnancy body image issues.  I also knew it would be difficult to control negative feelings with not being able to use my coping skill because of the responsibility of taking care of a baby.  For the most part, though, I've been ok.

The other night I was really down because I ate a huge dinner.  I was beating myself up and having a hard time moving on.  I was upset, tearful, discouraged.  I felt ugly, worthless, defeated...all too familiar feelings, making things worse.

Craig reminded me of an important fact.  He said, "You ate food, Mary.  It's not like you drank a gallon of poison.  You body will use it as energy and food for Dominic."

Food is not poison.  Eating food does not make me a bad person.  And repeat until it sinks in.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Post Baby Post

I’m back!  …for anyone who is still out there.

I thought maybe I was done with the blog.  It had served its purpose.  It helped me get through some tough times.  And hopeful it helped others in the process.

But now I’m thinking it might have a little more time left.

Our little miracle, Dominic Michael, came into the world on November 23, 2014.

Having a baby changes everything.  I could write and write about the wonderful and terrifying experiences of being a mom.  But there are much better mom-bloggers out there doing the job.

I’ve had up and down moments with my mental health since that day.  More down than up…but the ups trump the downs 100 times over.

Subconsciously, I was hoping to be forever cured of all things depression, anxiety, and eating disorder related after having a baby.  Unfortunately, that has not been the case.  I was hoping that becoming a mom would ultimately fulfill my destiny and, therefore, motivate me to be that better person I want to be.  Not that that was the reason I wanted to have a baby – I just had underlying expectations of myself.

But I’m still me, I’m still human, and I’m still struggling with the same-old-same-old.

Having a baby challenges both parents, yet the mom takes the brunt of it early on – especially if she breastfeeds.  For the dad, his life is changed in the fact that something is added.  His life generally stays the same except for his new little “addition”…literally.

For the mom, her life is completely changed.  Nothing is the same.  The smallest tasks become difficult.  Showering is a luxury.  Even going the bathroom has to be properly timed.

For someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, the demands of motherhood can be extra challenging.  It’s so much harder to take care of yourself.

I know it will get better with time and experience…but, true to my nature, I am caught up in the “its-going-to-be-like-this-forever” thought.

The fear of not being able keep up causes me all kinds of anxiety.  Instead of just taking it one day at a time, I'm getting overwhelmed by all the days to come.  I don't know what it's going to be like tomorrow or next week or next month, but I imagine the worst case scenario.  I'll never get to do anything ever again.  I'll never feel like a normal person ever again.  I'll never get more than two hours of sleep put together ever again...

I'm afraid of failing my son.  I’m afraid he won't trust me if I let him cry.  I'm afraid of making mistakes and causing him to be scarred for life.  This little tiny person, who I love so much, scares me to death.

Living with all this anxiety can be debilitating if I let it get out of control.

I hate the catchphrase "God won't give you anything you can't handle".  It's not true.  He certainly does allow things to happen to you that you can't handle.  It happens all the time all over the world...on a much more dramatic scale of course.  You can’t say that line to a person living in a country stricken with famine and war.  You can’t say that to someone who lost a loved one in car crash cause by a drunk driver.  You can’t say that to a women who has been raped and beaten.  No, God doesn’t expect us to handle our problems on our own.

More accurately, “God won’t give you any trial to handle that you can’t ask Him to help you with.”

My little problems are nothing in comparison to what some people have to go through.  However, I still struggle with what I have been given. God allows me to struggle because good will come from it - even though I can't see it now.

Feeling so helpless and out of control makes me pray more, ask God for help more often, and put everything in His hands because I can't do it any other way.

It’s easier if I lower my expectations.  I tell myself that I don't have to do anything else besides take care of Dominic's needs.  If I don't expect anything more then I won't be so disappointed when I can’t get to the dishes or the laundry or the countless other things I want to do.

“Lord, help me let go of control.  Through the intercession of Mother Teresa, help me get done today the things that you want me to get done.  And help me to let go of the rest so that my mind can be free of anxiety and stress.  Fill me with your peace."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Will "being thin" make you happy? (Re-published)

(I needed this reminder myself, so I thought I'd re-post this one.)
 
Why do people all over the world feel the need to lose weight, to be skinny, and to diet? I think it ultimately comes down to one thing. I think it is because everybody wants to be happy.
 
For a long time, we have been told that achieving “thinness” will make us happy. But will it?
 
I promise you, being thin will NOT make you happy. For that matter, being thin will NOT make you healthy, accepted, popular, rich, famous, a good person, or a saint either.
 
To be healthy, you have to eat nourishing food, exercise moderately, minimize stress, get plenty of sleep, and realize that a lot of things are out of your control. Just because you are doing everything you can to be healthy, doesn’t mean than you will not have to accept healthy problems tomorrow or down the road.
 
To be accepted, you must first realize that “you are enough”. You only have to please the Lord. You do not have to earn respect or dignity - you received inherent value from God when you were conceived. If other people do not accept you, that is their problem. How others treat you say more about them than it does about you.
 
To be wealthy, you have to be responsible with your money. It has nothing to do with how you look. It has everything to do with not trying to look a certain way. If you are too concerned with your appearance, you spend too much money on cars you can’t afford, too big of house payments, and ridiculous name brand clothing...just to keep up with the Jones'.
{St. Thomas Aquinas}
And to be a saint, you have to stay in the heart of the Church. I do believe that St. Thomas Aquinas was a rather large person. I highly doubt that he was concerned with dieting. I also highly doubt he was gluttonous, since he is canonized. His weight had nothing to do with the state of his soul.

I have never heard anyone say, “Gee, I am so glad I spent all that time and energy trying to be thin.” Being thin will NOT make you happy.
 
Some people attribute gaining confidence with losing weight. If you do experience a boost in your self-esteem because of weight loss, it will only be temporary. The affirmation you receive (praise, compliments, etc.) from losing weight is from the world, and the world is fickle. If you look for affirmation from the world, you will be in a never-ending, losing battle. There will always be more weight to lose, there will always be skinnier jeans and smaller sizes, and there will always be someone thinner than you.
Losing weight doesn’t mean you will be happy. I think, if you gain more self-confidence, you will be happier with yourself no matter what size you are.
 
So, how do you improve your self-confidence?
 
For starters, accept the way you look now, even with all your imperfections. Separate your self-worth from your appearance. Get rid of the “should do’s” and the expectations. Remember that you are enough. Realize that you can have peace and happiness without worrying about your weight.
 
So the next time you find yourself fighting with the scale and wanting to lose weight, remember that a smaller number will not make you happy.
 
Challenge of the Day: Throw away your bathroom scale. Your scale is not the boss of you. Your scale does not determine your value or whether or not you are good enough. So, if it doesn’t matter what your scale says, then why not throw it away? Think you just have to know? If you just have to know what that number says, then you are still equating your self-worth with that number. Knowing what the number says eases some kind of anxiety about having to look a certain way or be a certain weight. Having certain expectations concerning weight or appearance will only lead to unhappiness. Want to be happy? - throw the scale away.