Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Ghost of a Suicide Attempt

I have spoken of my asthma numerous times. I have had people brush off the severity I attempt to describe, until they see my asthma in action. I have been denied admittance into a severe asthma study for my asthma being too severe. I sometimes get wheezy and short of breath if I chew certain kinds of gum. I can't breathe through my nose, even if I am not stuffy.

Some of these things don't make sense for asthma, and that is because it turns out I don't have your run-of-the-mill asthma. I have a type of asthma called Samter's Triad.

I have said it over and over in my head since I got my brand new diagnosis, not even 12 hours ago. "I have Samter's Triad" I have tried saying to myself. I have imagined scenarios where people ask me what's wrong with my lungs, and I respond "I have Samter's Triad", and they would say "What is that?"

To which the only response I can think of:

"Eight years ago I tried to kill myself by swallowing 90 aspirin, and apparently I had an adverse reaction to it that has been haunting me since 2006. I have severe asthma, paired with nasal polyps and an allergy to aspirin, and other chemicals. Really, it's just like asthma with two bonus complications, and a ghost of a suicide attempt that will haunt me for much longer than I ever anticipated."

All day, the words "Samter's Triad" have been plaguing me, but it's not my "new" asthma that is plaguing me. In fact, I'm happy I have a different diagnosis. Knowing exactly what it is will help me manage everything better, and I will be healthier than ever. So why, at 4:00 in the morning, was I sitting on my couch, staring off into space thinking "Why am I so discontent about this?"

Because it's not the new diagnosis, it's the fact that I tried to kill myself eight years ago, and I thought I had shrugged the whole thing off, when really, my suicide attempt has been running my life since then. Even now, as controlled as it is, aspects of my asthma still run my life. It feels like there has been a shadow following me for 8 years, and now that I finally see it, all I can think is "How did I miss this before?"

I have never been one for regrets. I have always (ALWAYS) said that I have no regrets, because every stupid decision I have ever made has turned me into the person I am today. I didn't even regret my suicide attempt until I learned what it has done to me, my lungs, and my peace of mind. It is now the one thing I regret.

The other reason I regret it now, is because my life actually fell into place. I have a job I love, a fiancee I can't say enough wonderful things about, my paychecks are growing, my waistline is shrinking, I have enough money to do all the martial arts I want to keep me sane, in a place where I have made wonderful and supportive friends. I get to be myself every single day, and make my own decisions, and do every single thing I wanted to do when I was 17, but couldn't, and was driven to try to kill myself because of it. I tried to end it, and a mere 8 years later, everything has become just the way I wanted it.

Now, what I'm saying is not "Finally! Eight years later, things are looking up!" No, it only took 6 months after my suicide attempt for things to start looking up. I am saying it took eight years for EVERYTHING to line up perfectly. Eight years to go from not being allowed to close my door in case I tried to kill myself again, to spending everything single day wishing it would never end, while simultaneously anxious for the next day to start because tomorrow is going to be just as good, if not better. That is not a lot of time for that much improvement.

There are ups and downs, but they pass, and I have more supportive friends around me than I could ever ask for, and a brilliant fiancee who listens to me talk, and express every single one of my feelings for as long as I need him to. My overwhelming amount of emotions has always felt like a curse of sorts, and I actually found someone who can lift the curse by letting me empty my cup of emotions, even if it will be full again hours later.

It got better, even my asthma is manageable, but it made my road harder. If I had never swallowed 90 aspirin, maybe I could have gotten through the last 8 years with mild asthma (or no asthma), and no weird allergies to foods and pain killers, and maybe I would have been able to go my entire life without having to Google what a polyp is. My suicide attempt made my road harder, and my path eventually got me to the place I wanted to go anyway, so why did I put up 1,000 hurdles in front of myself, just to go down the same road and get to the same place, but with more effort and trouble? Especially for something that settled itself out a mere 6 months later.

It gets better, I promise.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The absolute weirdest thing about weight loss.

Something about throwing away all of your favorite clothes in a bag is surreal. Throwing away clothes you've collected since you graduated high school, not to mention all the work clothes you invested in over the last year. I am shrinking, and it is apparently an investment. My underwear is too big, my bras are too big, even the rings I seldom wear are slipping off my fingers. I did not ever think any of these things would be a problem. I am swimming in my scrubs, and how awkward is it to have oversized exercise pants? I can't exercise in my exercise pants. Not to mention, the hours and hours (and hours and hours) I spent crocheting clothing for myself, that I can no longer wear, because they are too big for me, too.

I started losing weight last September, and with it now being May, and warm, I went to put a skirt on, expecting it to fit.

 photo losingweight_zps2e27aea4.jpg

It's also weird to find that my 'interview outfit' doesn't fit. My go-to 'nice clothes' are baggy and awkward. I have to re-invest in every little part of my wardrobe.

Now, please don't mistake this for complaining.

For such a gradual process, I can adapt my everyday things. I can pull the drawstring on my scrubs tighter, I can wear a belt, I can live with a T-shirt that's a bit oversized. It's times when I put things on I haven't worn in months do I really see how far I've come. 

So, what does this all mean? The now-giant bras, the feeling of my favorite clothes becoming relics of a me from the past? The resentment I feel when I see this, and think about how I used to WEAR THAT SKIRT. I have no idea what it means.

I guess it means that despite waking up everyday thinking about how far I have to go, I can see how far I've come.

I think it means that even though I can feel an imminent eating disorder on the horizon, I can stave it off with knowing that I did this much without an exercise addiction, and while maintaining a very (very, very) reasonable diet. Except for that 2 weeks I didn't eat sugar (God, I was tired. So tired.)

It is a reminder that for 8 months, I had the willpower to lose some weight, so I can continue to do it. Although, it's weird how despite consistently losing weight, I feel like I am going on and coming off of diets almost constantly. Despite being on one very large diet since September, it really feels like 20 - 25 tiny diets that I kept screwing up on and having to try something different, or start over. 

So now, at a plateau, how do I move forward?

I've done so much already, I guess I just need to get a second wind and keep going forward.

More work on the horizon, along with the added bonus of knowing I am prone to eating disorders and exercise addictions, and avoiding them (because let's be honest, I don't have time for that right now.) I have a lot of things to figure out, and a lot of ground to cover without being held back by some self image issue, especially when I know I look awesome.

I guess its time to lift some heavy stuff and run really far and kick pads and do a burpee or two and drink more water and stop spending all the money I've earned from my recent raise on pizza.

Oh, the other weird thing about losing weight?

Buying clothes in a size SMALL.

I am considered a SMALL HUMAN BEING, and someday I will be an Extra-Small Human Being, and another blog post will be written about what kind of a mind-fuck that must be.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Stop telling me not to lose weight.

Even in high school, I didn't like the way I looked. Admittedly, looking back, I looked fine (yes, just fine), I was 165 pounds and 5'7" and under my jeans and T-shirt no one could see the details and the lumps and bumps that I obsessed over. One attempt to lose weight brought me down 20 pounds, but after I started eating actual food again and stopped exercising for 5 hours a day, I was back to 165 before I even knew it. 

Then, as if I weren't unhappy enough with myself, I moved out from my Dad's house in 2007 and decided since I was an official grown up, it would be okay to act on every food impulse I had, and wolfed down pizza and Arby's for just about every meal. In the span of just 6 months, I jumped from 165 to 210, then settled in right around 195 for the next 6 years or so.

Here's where you come in.

Last August I decided to get back into martial arts, and then in September I joined a gym to lift weights. The fact that I started spending a good part of my week at gyms, and a good chunk of my paycheck on working out, it came up in conversations. I would usually say something like "Well, I got back into martial arts because it's awesome, and I figured it would be a good time to lose some weight, so I joined Anytime to supplement that."

The response, from everyone?

"Why? You don't need to lose weight."
"You look fine."

No, I don't NEED to lose weight. Yes, I do look FINE.

However, I WANT to lose weight, and I want to look AWESOME.

My whole life, I have never looked in the mirror and thought "I look incredible." I have never had that moment, I have never been able to take a compliment. I have never had the confidence to wear exactly what I want to wear. There are pictures of me that I don't even know what my face looks like in them, because when I see them I gawk at my own arms and think "Good God, what happened to me?"

No, this is not the media getting to me. This is not peer pressure. Don't tell me I "don't need to look like a model". Good. Because I don't want to- I wanna look like Lucy Lawless and Sylvester Stallone had a super muscular love child. I don't aspire to be THIN, I want to be strong, and confident. This is why I kick things and lift weights, and why I don't spend my days eating lettuce and running on the treadmill. I am happy for the actresses and models with thin frames and flat bellies, but please trust me, they are not the reason I am doing what I am doing.

I am doing this for ME, and you telling me I look fine does not mean anything to me. If I was doing this for someone else, I would still be 195 pounds because I know I looked fine at 195. Unfortunately, I didn't FEEL fine at 195 pounds, and as I shrink, I feel better and I feel more confident, and I love how my clothes fit and that I can buy clothes I WANT and not settle for clothes that 'flatter my body type.'

Sitting here now at 164 pounds (31 pounds smaller than I was in August, and back to square one, my high school weight), I feel GREAT, but I do not feel AWESOME. People are still telling me I don't need to lose weight, and I believe you. I look good, and I'm happy with how I look, however, there are things I am still not happy with.

Why should I settle to be this weight? Because where I sit now, that's what the media and a lot of people I know are trying to get me to stay at. Every thing I look at nowadays is about how girls should be curvy, should have some meat on their bones, shouldn't be too thin. Well, again, I am not doing this for anyone else. I don't need to get the attention of men, and I don't need to impress any women. You know what I need? I need to look in the mirror and know that I have not settled. I would not settle for anything else in this world, so why would I settle on my being, on my self? It is so important for my confidence and my self esteem, and the world around me is trying to get me to listen to them. I only have myself to listen to, and when I look like a Chun Li action figure, you will see that I am not trying to be Kate Moss. I am not doing this for sex appeal, or to impress someone, or to model clothes. I am doing this for me, and me alone. 

The media doesn't want me to be too thin, too fat, too weak or too strong. I can't please the media, but I CAN make myself happy, and as long as I'm happy, what does it matter what size I am? Please stop telling me not to lose weight, and instead, wish me luck, and tell me that you are happy that I am trying to become a healthier, happier, better version of myself. Tell me you are proud of me for working so hard to lose weight. Tell me you are excited for me to get stronger. Tell me that you support me in whatever I do, as long as I go about it in a a healthy way. Ask me questions if you need to find out why I want to lose weight, even if I look 'fine', but whatever happens, please don't try to decide for me what size I should be at to be happy.