Monday, September 30, 2013

Binge Eating Cycle

I’m unhappy.
I should lose weight.
Everyone is doing it.
Why can’t I?
I’d like to look like that.
I’ll start a diet.
This one looks good.
It worked for her.
OK, good food and bad food list.
I feel better already.
This will be fun.
Opps, I ate some bad food.
Today is ruined.
I must try harder.
I’m not a quitter.
I won’t give up that easily.
I’d like to wear that dress and those pants.
I guess I’ll start again tomorrow.
Yes, tomorrow is a new day.
I’ll eat everything tonight for the last time…last time ever.
I’ll wake up early and run.
Right, I’ll make up for it tomorrow.
I feel sinful eating all this bad food.
Now, I can’t sleep because I’m thinking of all the bad food I just ate.
Wake up late after multiple snooze buttons.
I’m such a loser.
Better skip breakfast.
I’ll do better today.
I must do better today.
I’ll show myself that I am not a weak loser.
It will make me feel better.
Avoid food…avoid food.
Late at night.
I’m hungry.
I’ll just have one cookie.
It looks so good because I didn’t eat dinner.
What harm can one cookie do?
Oh no, that was a bad food.
I feel ashamed.
I must have no discipline…no will power.
I’m a bad person.
I feel awful.
I’ll start over tomorrow.
Right, I’ll get a do-over tomorrow.
Better eat all the bad food tonight.
This is the last time.
Wake up.
Sick to my stomach.
Now, I’m really a loser.
I won’t eat at all today.
It’ll be a good jump start to my diet.
Yeah, you know, like a detox.
That will make me feel better.
I must lose weight.
That will make me happy.
Today, I’m moody.
I’m irritable.
I’m focused on not eating.
Nothing else matters.
All I can think of is food.
Late at night.
What harm can one graham cracker do?
Three full meals later, what have I done?
I want to die.
I am the most disgusting person on the face of the earth.
I won’t eat tomorrow.
I will exercise like crazy.
If I eat, then I will punish myself.
Get up.
All I can see is fat.
All I can feel is the food in my stomach.
All I can think about is how much of a loser I am.
I can’t eat today.
Just drink water.
I didn’t eat today.
I’m proud of myself.
This feels good to be in control.
Next day, I started eating at breakfast, and I can’t stop.
I’ve been eating constantly this whole day.
I thought I was on a diet.
I won’t eat tomorrow.
I’ll get back that good feeling of accomplishment.
Remember, I have to be in control of my body.
I can’t trust myself to eat.
Oh, and I’ll run until I drop.
OK, now that I got a plan, I can go to sleep.
Everything makes me cry.
I am miserable.
Losing weight will make me happy.
That’s the only thing that matters.
Good day.
Bad day.
Good day.
Bad day.
Bad day.
Bad day.
Bad day…

Been there?  You’re not alone.

Want to get off the merry-go-round?  Click the link: How to Stop Binge Eating

Friday, September 20, 2013

Birth Control and Depression

“Every Catholic is obliged to follow his conscience.  However, your conscience is not your opinion.  Your conscience is the quiet, inner sanctuary where you talk to God to determine what He thinks is right.  It is not, ‘what do I think is right?’  It is, ‘what does God think is right?” –Janet Smith

When it comes to having kids, I had a lot of hesitations.  Who am I “kidding”, I still do.  (Sorry for the lame pun.)  Who doesn’t have even a little reluctance?  (If you missed it, read Wednesday’s post on this topic.)  After we got married, my husband and I prayerfully discerned God’s will and decided to wait a few years.  The main reason was because I was struggling with severe depression.

However, even during that time, we were still open to life.  That means, even though we decided to wait, we put the decision in God’s hands 100% of the time.

God is God.  We are not.  He knows what is best for us.  And He will only give us what He knows we can handle.

A huge part of being Christian is placing your complete trust in God – in every aspect of your life – including your fertility.  Fertility is a gift, it’s natural…it’s not a defect.

I did some research about artificial birth control and depression because my counselors and psychiatrists pushed me to go on the Pill while being treated.  I think this is standard procedure.  You might be surprised at what I found.

The Pill, the most common form of chemical birth control today, has hormonal side effects.  (Click here for a more detailed study on The Pill.)  If you don’t have time to read the article, below is a short explanation of how it works and what it does to a woman’s body.

Chemical birth control stops a woman from ovulating because it supplies the body with imitation hormones that trick the body into thinking it is already pregnant.  If you’re pregnant, you don’t ovulate.  Some of the time, however, the woman’s own hormones win the battle and she does ovulate.  If she would then conceive while on the birth control, because of the inconsistent hormone levels from the Pill, the uterus would not be able to support the new life, and she would have a miscarriage before she even knew she was pregnant.  That is why the Pill is called an abortifacient.  It intentionally and directly causes a chemical abortion if by chance the woman would conceive.

The most common side effects of the Pill are irritability, depression, weight gain, and low libido - among many other more, life-threatening side effects.  (It’s right on the label, if you don’t believe me.)

Chemical birth control can either cause depression or make depression symptoms even worse.  Isn’t knowing this information counterproductive for treating depression?

It’s like this example: My doctors encouraged me to stay away from alcohol, a depressant substance.  Alcohol could make my depression symptoms worse.  If I would drink alcohol while taking the medication, I would be, literally, cancelling out all the benefits I would receive from the anti-depressant medicine.  I would be wasting my time and money had I not given up drinking.  So why then would birth control be OK?

In addition, psychologically and spiritually speaking, birth control takes away your trust in God.  By using any form of contraception, you are telling yourself that you know more than God when it comes to this topic.  If you are a Christian, then you are going against your beliefs every day.  Living with that kind of spiritual division is intense, whether or not you are aware of it.

So, what about the question of responsibility?  Overpopulation?  Women’s rights?  Third-world countries?  Wouldn’t taking birth control be the responsible thing to do?

On the contrary, I would argue that taking artificial birth control is not responsible.  It completely takes away your responsibility.  By using contraceptives, your actions no longer have consequences.  No consequences, no commitment, no responsibility.

Even in the context of a marriage relationship, all contraceptives and birth control methods diminish the sacredness of the bond between husband and wife.  “I love you but…”

God works with us, not against us.  He is on our side.  He wants us to do the right thing, but He is not going to do it for us.  You might have heard the phrase, “God can’t steer a parked car”.  Birth control is like trying to drive around with the parking brake on.

So, when it comes to having kids, we are COMPLETELY placing our trust in God’s plan.  These past few years, if He had decided to trump our waiting decision, then we would have known it was what He wanted.  Only He can create a new soul out of nothing.  23 chromosomes from the male, 23 from the female, but the soul doesn’t come from either one of those.  The immortal soul is created by God at the moment of conception.

I tell you what; it is way more peaceful knowing that God is in control.  Not birth control…

Practically implementing this belief is called NFP, or Natural Family Planning.  {Click here to read more about NFP.  And if you want to read the Catholic Church’s stance on this topic, read Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Letter, “Humanae Vitae”.  You can read it online if you click here.  And lastly, if you would like more information regarding how contraception if affecting our culture, check out Prof. Janet Smith’s audio CD, “Contraception: Why Not?” at}

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm Afraid to Have Kids

Ingrained in every woman’s heart is the desire to be a mother.  However, not everyone is called to be a mother.  Some women become nuns, sisters, or consecrated lay women and live out a “spiritual motherhood”.  And some women are never able to have their own children due to medical reasons.  Yet, adoption is becoming more and more popular and accessible (which is awesome, in my opinion).

Personally, I realize that I have a deep desire to be a mother.  Yet, this knowledge does not take away my FEAR of motherhood.  If anything, it makes me even more afraid.

I’ll give you two examples of what I worry about when it comes to having kids:

My first major concern is my scary / “what if” thinking.  I am worried that I will not able to handle having kids; that I would be in the middle of life, throw up my hands, and run away from it all because I was having a break down.  I am scared I will quit when it matters the most.

I know kids can be a lot of work.  I know they can really stress you out.  And I know they can take a lot out of you.  I heard someone recently refer to them as “life suckers”.

I have these scary thoughts about being a mom.  I am afraid of hurting my kids.  I am afraid of leaving them at a park and running away.  I am afraid of injuring them, or even killing them, if I can’t handle it.  I am afraid of going crazy and messing up my children for life.  I am afraid of being a failure.  And, most of all, I am afraid of not being a “perfect” mom.  I have so many expectations to live up to.  I have so many ideals of what my perfect life has to be like.  What if I didn’t live up to my standards?  “What would people think of me?”

The anxiety tapes that I have talked about before have helped me to confront my issues with these anxieties and scary / what if thoughts.  “OK, so I have these thoughts; they’re just thoughts.”  I also learned helpful coping skills to get me through the most difficult times when fear is rolling over and over my brain.  (It’s called The Seven Steps to Calm, click here for more info)

Most importantly, I learned that many other people have the same worries that I do.  Maybe, you are one of them.  Many mothers have gone through the same scary thoughts about having kids and come out on the other side.  It is such a relief to know that I am not the only one with these twisted, messed-up thoughts.

Also, the tapes helped me realize that even though I have scary / what if thoughts, doesn’t mean I am going to act on them.  I’ve learned to separate myself from my thoughts.  Thoughts come and go, like the weather; I cannot control them.  Thoughts do not determine who I am.  My thoughts do NOT dictate my actions.  Just because I have scary / what if thoughts doesn’t mean I have to obey them.

My second major concern is my eating disorder history / body image issues.  To put it lightly, well, I am DEATHLY afraid of gaining weight.  Pregnancy is going to be a challenge if only for the growing belly.  I have always been concerned about my appearance and my weight, so this is no surprise to me.

I heard something a while ago that really struck me.  I can’t stop thinking about this phrase when I think about being pregnant:

I read this line while reading “My Child, I Love You” blog.  And it hit me right-smack-dab in the heart.

I have such high expectations of myself to look a certain way.  It’s been this goal that I’ve wanted to accomplish ever since I was young.  I’ve always tried very hard to be thin, to fit in a certain size, to be in shape, to run many miles, and to look a particular way.

This “thin” goal is a goal that offers empty promises.  It won’t make me ultimately happy.

When it comes down to it, I have to remind myself that I am still going to get old like everyone else.  I am still going to die like everyone else.  I am still going to have to give an account for my life when I die.  “Well, God, I did fit into a size 4 when I was 40.  Doesn’t that count for something?”  Sorry, sister, I don’t think so.

I think the desire to be thin is a temptation from El Diablo himself.  This “thin” ideal is an unrealistic, unattainable goal.  However, it takes up so much of our time, energy, and resources.  I believe the devil uses this trick to distract us from what really matters.

I will still respect my body because I am a child of God.  No matter how old I am, I am still His daughter.  I still belong to Him.  And He has a purpose for my life.  God has given me this body for a reason.  He has given me life for a reason.

God has given me this body to be a mother.  Not a supermodel.

My body is not my own.

Remembering this phrase will help me to cope with pregnancy struggles when (if) that time comes.  God knows I am going to struggle.  I am going to have ups and downs and everything in between.  But, I know He knows what He is doing.  And that is a huge relief.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday All You Can Read Buffet

I’ve recently read several very good articles, and I can’t help but share them with you.

This one from the blog “Weightless” titled Body Image Booster: Mirrors and Mantras is about how looking in the mirror has become a traumatic experience for some people.  We subject ourselves to harsh criticism and beat ourselves up over supposed “flaws”.  If you struggle with keeping a good body image like I do, then looking in the mirror or even encountering a window reflection can be agonizing.

Margarita, the writer, explains how to begin to change your reactionary habits when you see yourself.  She says, “When looking in the mirror, try [repeating] the same mantra. Or if saying “I am beautiful” is too hard, maybe you can say something else that’s positive and feels true.”

The key word is “positive” in that quote.  Become aware of how much you torture yourself when you look in the mirror.  Then, realize you don’t have to put up with that kind of abuse, verbal self-abuse.  You can change the way you talk to yourself.  Use positive phrases when you are looking at yourself in the mirror.  Hopefully, with time, seeing your reflection will not be so much of a horrible experience.  You are worth it.

The next article I want you to check out is “Being Married to a Person with Depression or Bipolar: 6 Survival Tips” .  I particularly found #5 to be helpful, “Learn the Language of the Illness”.  Therese writes:

Sometimes I forget how hurtful my words can be when I’m expressing how anxious or depressed I feel. “I just want to be dead.” “I don’t care about anything.” “If only I was diagnosed with cancer and could make a graceful exodus out of this world …” Oh, no offense. Thankfully my husband knows that it’s my depression speaking, not me. He has been able to separate his wife from the illness. That is the result of lots of research on his part and a few conversations with my psychiatrist.

After I read the above paragraph, I wanted to make sure that my loved ones, especially Craig, know that depression can take over a person like weeds can take over a lawn.  I am not saying that I don’t have to be responsible for the things I say.  I am saying that I am going to need extreme, saint-levels of patience and forgiveness.

Moving on……….this post “Formerly Obese Teenagers are at High Risk for Eating Disorders” was a really good, quick, and insightful read.  The authoress, Lindy, writes:

Today in America's Holy War on Obesity, teenagers who "beat" fatness and manage to become thin (MISSION ACCOMPLISHED BANNER) are at a significant risk of developing eating disorders and unlikely to have those disorders diagnosed. Because, hey, thinness is the goal—not health. Thinness is everything, thinness is the be-all and end-all, and thinness signifies health whether actual health is achieved or not. Sure, you might be starving to death, but at least the public doesn't have to look at your big thighs anymore! WORTH IT.

Can I get an “Amen, Sister!”  I am really hating all this emphasis on weight loss in our country, particularly, all of the campaigns the First Lady is doing in the schools.  It makes me so sad and angry and frustrated and sad again to see these young people subjected to false information that could potential hurt them for life.  Maybe that’s why I loved Lindy’s poignant sarcasm in her post.  You see, I was a chubby kid, at least, chubbier than my peers.  I noticed because the adults noticed and could help but point it out when I was standing close enough to hear.  You see, I was the kid that tried to please everyone by doing the best I could do.  No one seemed to care whether or not I was healthy, but everyone noticed that I was losing weight.

OK, second last one: “12 Things Selective Eaters Want You toKnow”.  I don’t have kids yet.  But, I’ve said this before, one of my worst fears is passing on my disorder eating tendencies to my children.  So, I like to read articles about being aware of how you affect others with your words, actions, and habits.  The post is from the blog, “Mealtime Hostage”.  The author wrote 12 reminders in the perspective of a child when it comes to eating.  Number Five is, “Embarrassing me (or allowing others to embarrass me) based on my eating habits doesn’t encourage me to eat. I really don’t want to be the center of attention. This only makes me feel uncomfortable and less likely to want to eat in a social setting.”

I can totally relate each one of her 12 points.  The quote above particularly reminds me of when I was going through the worst years of my eating disorder.  Being the center of attention definitely did NOT help at all, and, sometimes, even hurt my progress toward “normal” or “healthy” eating.

The last article I think you should read is titled, “Our Diet Bias”.  This post is from the blog, “Building Family Counseling”.  Dawn, the writer, very clearly presents the problem with “weightloss”.  She says:

For some people, trying new fruits or vegetables is a health goal. Meeting this goal may (or may not) lead to weightloss but it will certainly give that person insight into their wants, wishes and will expand their nutritional horizons. For some people, learning to eat a cupcake without becoming mired in fear, anger, regret and guilt is a health goal. Meeting this goal may (or may not) lead to weightloss but it will certainly give that person relief, freedom and will expand their self-acceptance. When we talk about diets and health we need to go beyond the idea of restriction and weightloss.

Being healthy is about way more than what you weigh.  I can’t get enough of this positive message.  I think it’s because I feel like I’ve lost 10 years of my life to this disease of an eating disorder and I want to do everything I can to stop other people from falling into the same trap.  I see so many people hurting from this terrible lie that you have to be thin in order to be good enough.  Don’t believe the lie.  We have the cure!  Come and drink the medicine.  Stay away from women’s magazines, diets, and poisonous weight-loss propaganda.  The tonic is learning to love yourself for the way you are.

I hope you enjoyed the smorgasbord.  Have a wonderfully nourishing weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Asking for help can improve your relationship with God

Thank you for all your prayers and support concerning Monday’s post.  I am so grateful to have this community of readers (known and unknown) who share their encouragement with me when times get tough.  It means more to me than you’ll ever know.  Thank you!

Because I’ve been down in the dumps, I’ve been doing more reading verses writing lately.  The ebb and flow of life include times for giving and times for receiving.  Recently, I am more in need of help.  I feel like I am taking and taking and taking.  This dependency has left me feeling self-centered, weak, and inadequate.

My husband and I were reading the Meditation of the Day in the Magnificat last night and came to a reflection on “dependency” that really struck us.  The article was written by Tiffiny Gulla, a composer and choreographer who was working near the WTC on 9-11.

“My Life is no longer who I know, all my contacts, what I can do – because I can no longer do what I was able to do physically.  Now my life is just Him, on whom I fully depend…I have to give everything to everyone because I am so dependent.  But if I had not already been in a relationship of dependence on Christ, accepting so much help would be unbearable.”

It is so difficult to ask for help.  I think everyone struggles to let other people help them from time to time.  I know, personally, I want to do everything by myself.  I want to be independent and strong, and honestly, I just want to be super-woman.  For whatever reason, asking for help is synonymous with being a weakling or a failure.  But this is far from the truth.

The more we are dependent on God the easier it will be to ask for help or accept help from others.

In a certain paradoxical sense, receiving help is still giving.  It is the giving up of control and the giving up of your life to others.  When you ask for others to give to you, you are giving them an opportunity to serve Christ.

Keeping this reflection in mind, I am going to practice asking for help before things get out of control.

Prayer of Trust in the Sacred Heart
In all my temptations, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In all my weaknesses, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In all my difficulties, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In all my trials, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In all my sorrow, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In all my work, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In every failure, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In every discouragement, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In life and in death, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In time and in eternity, I place my trust in You, O Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Colorless Day

Today, I have no positivity, no do-better-next-time, and no encouragement for anyone else.  I am questioning everything.  I am miserable.  I am ready to quit.

Is this just a bump in the road?  Is this what they call a setback or growing pains?  It feels like more.

I guess I’ve always known that I would have to struggle with depression and anxiety for the rest of my life.  But these last several weeks have taken a turn for the worse.

I thought I was managing well.  I thought I had coping skills for this kind of thing.  But, nothing seems to be going right.  At least, nothing seems to be going my way.

I know this difficulty is rooted in the fact that I “feel” too fat to be loved and too fat to do the things I want to do.  It’s time to lose weight.  I’ll be happy again when I am thin.

These lies are relentless and I am so tired of fighting them.

How do I know when enough is enough?  What if my symptoms get worse?  Will I know if I should go back on the medication?

I really don’t want to go back to the way I was.

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t been blogging as much lately because, well, I haven’t been doing very well.  Life is tough for me at the moment.  I feel like I must always end my posts on a positive note, with some kind of encouragement, or resolution to do better.  So, I feel like I shouldn’t be posting at all right now.

Hang with me as I go through this - whatever it is.  Hopefully I’ll find it back – whatever it was.

Prayers are appreciated.  I’ll be praying for you too.

Friday, September 6, 2013

If you are a loved one of someone struggling with anxiety

What not to do:
Don’t make fun or be sarcastic about anxiety, panic attacks, or other things that cause obsessive worry.  Humor can be helpful in some situations.  However, making fun of another person or saying sarcastic comments are never productive.

Don’t be the anxiety police.  Meaning: don’t point out every single anxiety you see that could be handled differently.  Pick your battles, as they say.  And make sure it is done in a loving environment.  Most of the time, the person struggling knows full well that he/she is experiencing needless anxiety.  Pointing it out has no benefit.

Don’t tell other people about his/her problems unless given permission.  This breaks trust and will cause the person to be more reluctant to be open and honest, which can greatly hinder recovery in the long run.

Don’t baby him/her.  Compassion is good, but make sure you are not enabling certain behaviors or being a crutch to the anxiety.  For example, if your loved one is having a difficult time going anywhere without you, don’t be available to tag along every single time.  Work with them in creating a plan that sets them up for success in doing it alone.

Don’t get angry if your loved one has set backs.  Healing from anxiety can take a long time.  Don’t be impatient.
What to do:
Praise often, even for seemingly insignificant achievements.

Encourage independence.  Let him/her know that you will always be there for them.  However, by establishing this trust, they can confidently more toward freedom from dependence.

Compliment on progress made.  Every so often, remind your loved one just how far they’ve come.  Sometimes it is good to think about how “bad” it was in the past just to see how much progress has been made in the recovery department.

Reassure him/her that it is just anxiety and it will pass.  This condition is treatable.  And remind them that they are not going crazy.  There is so much comfort in the words, “You are not crazy”.

Stay positive.

Be patient, recovery is a never ending process.  You will grow yourself through these trials and tribulations.

Let him/her make decisions on their own.  But start slow.  Too many decisions in the beginning can be overwhelming.

It is important to keep things as “normal” as possible.  Routine is better word than “normal”.

Communicate about the anxiety.  Make it a point to check in and specifically talk about the subject daily or weekly or whatever is needed.  However, don’t spend too much time focusing on anxiety because that can cause more anxiety.  Dwelling is not good because it is not productive.  Communication is good because it has productive outcomes.  So, if you are unsure, use positive productiveness as a guide.