Monday, January 26, 2009

Boo-boos and motherhood

As the photo tells, this foot is wrapped. Names have been excluded to protect doggie identities. The said doggie wouldn't want anyone knowing she has a boo-boo and is now wearing this turquoise bandage. But then again, maybe it's considered chic, and she'll learn to think it's cool and hip, and all her other doggie friends will want one too?

Kidding aside, this is obviously little Tovah's paw. Unfortunately, the wrap job is crappy but try holding a moving puppy in one hand, while attempting to stop the bleeding with the other by use of a towel. Then, opening the hydrogen peroxide bottle to clean the wound, putting EMT gel (great stuff) on the wound, and then having to use your teeth to rip the vet wrap. This is of course while still holding the said moving puppy who is not at all happy about this.

Then, I realize this vet wrap has no chance of staying on, so I add a few pieces of tape which more or less has somewhat kept the wrap from completely falling off. So far, she hasn't managed to tear the entire thing off, but that's only after attempting to wear her out with fetching and squeaking lots of toys! I'm hoping the wound will be sealed in 24 hours, and I can redo the wrap. This time, it'll be a lot better since I now have an idea of how she is in this type of situation.

So what exactly happened you may ask?

Honestly, I'm not sure. I let all the dogs out when I got home in the afternoon. Suddenly, I heard a yelp from her but thought one of the other dogs had run her over. I don't notice any blood until I see Daphne (my white Boxer) with a streak on her back. I look around and then see splotches of blood in the snow. I sort of turn panicky here, trying to figure out which dog is bleeding. I finally discover it is Tovah. Apparently, something sliced the heel of her pad on her front left foot. I have no clue what it was other than something sharp. Nothing was found in the yard when I checked.

It's funny, these situations really make you feel like a mother, even if it is just to a four-legged furry friend. You hope to mend the wound, not worry about it or her too much, and let her go on playing as if nothing happened. Yet, still, you keep a watchful eye as all mothers do.

*Of course, this was only a minor incident. If the injury would have been worse, then there would have been no playing but bed rest.

So what awaits me at my next therapy appointment?

I have a therapy appointment this afternoon and feel a bit of hesitancy, an awkwardness of sorts. In my "Invasion of..." post, I mentioned that my mother would be tagging along at my therapy appointment. Beforehand, my mom and I decided she would meet with C. for the first ten minutes, and the remainder time was my session.

It's weird sitting there, because you of course know they are talking about you. Even through the muffled thing C. keeps by her door, you can still hear the voices slightly. I kept trying to tell if I heard sniffles, a tell-tale bad sign that things have gone awry. I heard none, so I took that as a optimistic sign.

The session itself was okay but surely I've had better. It's hard to cram a month's worth of stuff in 40 minutes time. C. first started by saying that what my mother had said gave her better perspective about my situation. This threw me for a loop. Though what my mom said was the truth, I had not expected it. It's the kind of truth that you really only reveal when it is evidently needed, otherwise, you just leave it be. Now, I wonder if C. thinks I just happened to have overlooked this, but really I haven't. So you ask why would I have not mentioned these details of my life? The simple answer is SHAME. :sigh: I still struggle with this issue in a variety of areas of my life--aspects that shouldn't even matter as they do not represent who I am as a person. Still, it leaves me overly pondering what someone else is thinking about me.

The rest of the session was mostly about my career and job more than anything else. I relayed to her the situation when my boss was gone and how I felt which was the motivation for the feelings in a bottle post. By the end of the session, C. was apologizing to me, feeling like she was conveying the message I needed to leave my job. I told her she was not but only saying what is the sad reality which I have trouble coming to terms with.

So I have this next appointment not knowing what to expect or feel. I'm already worried anyway since I learned that C. will no longer be taking my insurance, and I'm only approved for four other sessions. Deep down, I keep wondering if it is my fault as I know she had a lot of trouble with them and getting all my paperwork correctly filed. I know my mother would help pay for my appointments, but then there is just so much guilt tied in that, it makes me cringe and cry at the same time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How are you going to finish?

It's the weekend. I think we all need a little inspiration. I was sent this video recently. It's a good reminder that even when we fall, we have the ability to get back up.

Are you going to finish strong?

Life is a series of rooms

So I was watching another repeat episode of House which made me think about life and its meaning. This is the episode, "One day, one room." about the girl who is raped and only wants to talk to House. The episode itself is full of philosophical debate about pain and life. One of the most poignant dialogues between the patient, Eve, the girl who was raped and House, is about life:

Dr. House: They’re out there, doctors, lawyers, postal workers, some of them doing great, some of them doing lousy. Are you going to base your whole life on who you’re stuck in a room with?

Eve: I‘m gonna base this moment on who I am stuck in a room with! It’s what life is, it’s a series of rooms, and who we get stuck in those rooms with, adds up to what our lives are.

I think this is certainly true, but it also makes me wonder, "what if the only person you're stuck in a room with is yourself?" What then? We all say we can't run away from ourselves, so therefore we must learn to be stuck with ourselves. Why is that so hard though?

This episode also gives me the mental imagery of unlocking rooms or trying to figure out what is behind door numbers 1, 2, 3, and so on. What does each room mean to us and which one are we in in any given time?

Related post on this episode: Greythinking wrote about this episode several months ago, looking at the aspect of the promise (or not) of therapy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peanut butter recall

I really didn't pay too much attention to the most recent peanut butter recall due to possible salmonella until I realized that my parents had just bought peanut butter ice cream that was voluntarily pulled. And I ate some of it unknowingly! I'm not that worried about it since if any symptoms had appeared, they would have by now. However, what concerns me more is that this recall is expanding and now Clif Bar, one of my favorite energy bars, has voluntarily recalled several of their bars with peanut butter. Luckily, my palate likes a lot of other flavors, so this is only a minor nuisance. Still though, I hope this doesn't ruin my relationship with peanut butter as it has often been a love/hate, off-again/on-again type of thing.

The recall has also expanded to some pet food products with Pet Smart pulling their peanut butter biscuits. Store brands peanut butter jars are not affected by the recall, only products with peanut butter and peanut paste distributed from the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely, GA.

After reading the book Pet Food Politics, these recalls leave me a bit skeptical on the consumer front.

A full listing of recalled products can be seen on the fda website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The highlight of my week

We all know that my social life is pretty non-existent. This just further shows the point. The highlight of my week is tomorrow. It's the Lost premiere. I can't wait! I'm really dying to see what happens. So much so that I'm thinking of turning my cell phone off, making some black jewell popcorn and pretending to be in some dark movie theater. Okay, now who's joining me.

Sneak peak previews can be seen here and here. These are *spoilers*, so if you do not want to know, don't click the links.

*Other posts are in the works, but I'm still recuperating from my parental units' visit. Now, I must go make my bed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Human dumbbells"

I ran across this blog post over at RW Daily about a gym where the "iron pumps you." The Londonpaper reports a gym called Gymbox which now offers
human dumbbells as an alternative to traditional dumbbells. The proposed idea behind this was to give demotivated cityworkers an idea of what they were lifting. That and to motivate them to pump more iron!

These "human dumbbells" come in various sizes and weights (pictured above) with an optional "motivation feature" in which they yell out words of encouragement to ensure the best maximization of their workout as the gym-goer's request. Examples of words are not given in the article, so who knows whether it's positive or negative words shouted. I wonder how the "human dumbbells" would feel if the gym-goer requested mean, demeaning things to say?

The Gymbox owners says, "
We’re going to closely monitor the performance of our members and are optimistic that they will see better results from their work outs with our new human weight machine than they have seen with normal equipment."

I'm all for visualization of some things, and know it can be very useful. However, this seems a bit invasive? But then again, maybe that's just due to my private nature of working out. Maybe a better word is bizarreness. Thoughts?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Does smooth sailing exist?

I thought I'd give a quick update while I had a moment to myself. The weekend has been "interesting." My dad arrived on Thursday night, my mom the next day. The highlight has of course been Tovah. They have fallen head over heels in love with their new "grand-fur-child."

For the most part, Thursday and Friday were smooth sailing despite the extremely bitter cold temperatures which much of the nation faced. I used to think teen degree weather was cold, but damn, the single digit, below zero cold air really gives a new meaning to frigidly, ice cold weather. I don't know how those people in Alaska, Wisconsin (I heard Eau Clair is currently -22 degrees), Colorado, South Dakota, etc. handle all this type of weather.

Then, on Saturday morning before work, things began to not work correctly. Err plumbing that is. The likely culprit was due to the very cold weather. This wasn't too big of a deal, so I called my plumber in the morning. We all went our usual business. In the late afternoon while at work, I got a pitiful call from my mother, saying she tried to do a second load of laundry, and everything was backing up into the tubs. Great. I called my plumber again who I had not heard from (unusual for him) as well as left a message for my landlord.

By late evening, my landlord called back, saying he would come up early this morning and see if he could find the problem. I left to head to the kennel this morning, thinking my landlord would be there early as he said. Apparently, our definitions of early are different. He didn't arrive until 11 AM. Meanwhile, my plumber had already finally called back and was on the way to my place. They both thought frozen pipes, so a salamander heater (whatever that is) was placed by the pipes to warm them up and the furnace turned up. Now, it's just a waiting game and to clean up the tubs and all. This is so reminiscent of this past summer when something similar happened. That was a saga in and of itself. I doubt you really want to read about that, but those posts are archived in April.

A few other things. My lovely menstrual cycle decided to appear early, so I'm feeling fat and bloated as well as dealing with eating out most nights. Oh, and did I mention that apparently, I must keep myself awake in case of passing out from the salamander heater and its effect of carbon monoxide poisoning! My landlord apparently told my parents that if we smell something or start getting drowsy to step outside. What he got wrong is that well, you can't smell carbon monoxide! Right now, I have a door cracked, so we shall see what happens.

I've also heard some off the wall comments from my dad. I'll have to post that another time.

On a positive note, my new satellite dish got set up yesterday, so now I have access to local channels and don't have to buy a converter box. I'm also well stocked on A LOT of food since both my parents decided to buy me groceries.

More later, that's it for now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Unload your guilt

Guilt is often a hard emotion to release. There is always something about it that lingers. One of my therapists used to tell me how useless guilt was. I'm sure there are certain instances where guilt is useful, however, for many of us, it only causes more anguish, feelings of less worthiness, and sadness. Then, we just continually beat ourselves up about it.

Psychcentral had an interesting post from blogger Therese Borchard of Beyond Blue
. She talks about the difficulty of letting go of guilt, especially in attribution to her OCD tendencies. She made a youtube video of a visualization her therapist gave her. The visualization is a backpack full of rocks representing all the things you feel guilty about. The rocks are different sizes depending on the amount of guilt you feel.

The idea is that when you are feeling guilty about a certain issue that you visualize taking that rock out. After you take out the rock(s), things will feel lighter, and hopefully some guilt is released. Therese does make the realization that the backpack may always be there, but it won't contain so many heavy rocks but maybe just a few smaller, lighter ones.

Take a look at the video and see what you think. Sometimes, visualizations can be helpful to expressing our emotions. It's one reason why I did the feelings in a bottle post recently.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Invasion of...

I only learned this last week, but now my anxiety has arose. Any guesses?

Hint: a mostly bald man, a red-headed lady, and a mini coop. Ding ding, if you guessed my parents, you are right (not that any of you would have known that my dad is mostly bald, that my mom has red hair, or that she drives a mini coop). Both will be arriving on Friday. Though they are divorced, they still enjoy these types of trips together. Honestly, they mostly want to come to see Tovah while she is still little. Since I don't have human children, my dogs are like their grandchildren, only in fur suits, literally.

I only agreed to both of them being here at the same time, because a) they can entertain each other while I'm at work (inevitably my boss is out of town this week, so I have to work more), b) I'll only have about five days disrupted instead of two weeks if my dad came down a week later, and c) with both here, there is less likelihood that my father will be an ass to put it mildly. So far he hasn't mentioned my future or career choices in almost two months, a new record for him! The last visit with him, he mentioned it something like fifteen times or so in a four or five day period.

Normally, because my anxiety with their arrival increases, my exercising or whatever other Ed behaviors that have remained dormant shoot up. There is just the thinking that I won't have time to exercise, so I must get it all done before they come. I take that back, the only time I'd really have to exercise is before work which means getting up earlier and running in single or teen degree weather. I figure I already have a hard enough time running in 30-degree weather, so this just does not bode well for me. This time, however, I'm going to try really hard NOT to lose insanity in the exercise department and instead just get the cleaning stuff done.

I think I'm also concerned, because my father's reactions about weight have kind of thrown me for a loop. He keeps talking about Oprah and not understanding how a person who has done so much can still be so focused on her weight. Then he'll say how really being fat is not a crime, it's not the end of the world, etc. This contradicts much of what he has said in the past, including remarks about other people. Supposedly, he is sort of better in this department, the comments have just turned towards being unkind about some people. His wife D. says it is from the stroke where he has lost inhibitions, but it is really hard to tell the difference. He was still that way before. Plus, if he can actually inhibit himself from not discussing my future and career plans with me, then there must be some ability to "control" himself. Okay, that's another post for another day.

Moving on. The other major thing is that I agreed to have my mom meet with my therapist, C. At the time, I thought this would be a good thing since she was in town, that maybe C. could offer her some insight into how I'm feeling since I kind of shut down talking to my parents about that kind of stuff. But then, I get nervous about the whole thing and think it really isn't the best idea. I called C. on Monday and told her and said I'd call her back at the end of the week about how I wanted the appt. to go.

The scenarios are:

  • My mom just meets C. just as a "Hi, I'm Tiptoe's mom."
  • My mom and C. have a brief maybe 15-20 minute session with the remainder time as my session
  • My mom and me have a session together
I pretty much scratch the third option, so it leaves the first two. In general, it's been a very long time since I had a therapist meet with a parent. C. did meet my dad in college once. I know the session was videotaped, and I wish later I had seen it. That appt. did give C.better insight into my father and the way he was. I no longer felt like I was exaggerating.

As a teen, my mom met with one of my first therapists, and that didn't go over too well. My mom felt very pounced on which I know was not that therapist's intentions. I know C. would not be like that, and I do know my mom is looking forward to at least meeting her.

So this is what I'm facing this week. I really haven't thought a lot about what my original goal in therapy was: to learn to move on with my life, to find some career path, to have less anxiety about it. I know I'm just distracting myself with other things, and I really do need to face the music so to speak.
Damn fear and anxiety!

Anyway, my posts towards the end of the week may be a little less since they'll be here. The one positive out of all this is it's good a training opportunity for Tovah. We can play "round robin" in recalls. Okay, I know, I'm very geeky when it comes to my dogs and training.

Caffeine in the news again

According to a recent poll, Tampa, FL is the most caffeinated place among 20 metropolitan cities surveyed. Seattle, Chicago, New York, and Los Angelos round out the top five. This poll looked at caffeine consumption of products such as coffee, teas, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, pain relievers, and caffeine pills, as well as surveyors' attitudes and habits.

A few interesting results arose. About three-quarters of those polled did not believe they were addicted to caffeine. Though Tampa had the highest overall caffeine consumption, residents there ranked first in saying they were not addicted to caffeine. Tampa was also first in pain reliever consumption and third in consumption of energy drinks. Seattle still had the number one spot for highest coffee consumption which makes sense as it is home to Starbucks.

Although this survey only included 2,005 people, not a huge study by national standards, I still think these outcomes are useful in general terms. I think most people would not consider themselves addicted to caffeine. There are many people who really need their cup of "joe" in the morning. Not that it is a bad thing, one or two cups of coffee a day. (truth be told, I drink about 4 cups of decaf in the morning, sometimes half-caff) However, people forget about the hidden products which contain caffeine, albeit maybe not as high as energy drinks, but I know I would not have thought of pain relievers or eating a lot of chocolate.

For the record,
residents of Riverside/San Bernardino, California, Atlanta, San Diego, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Dallas consumed the least amount of caffeine in the country, according to this poll.

In another interesting twist with high caffeine consumption, a study in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences discusses high caffeine intake and the propensity to hallucinations. By "high," this is the equivalent of seven cups or more of instant coffee. In this study low caffeine users were equivalent to one cup or less of instant coffee--about 57 mg for one rounded teaspoon The study took into account caffeine products such as coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate, and caffeine tablets.

Assessing both the caffeine consumption and stress levels, some participants had hallucinatory responses such as hearing voices or seeing things not there, and sensing the presence of dead people. Researchers think that because caffeine may possibly exacerbate the physiological response to stress, more of the stress hormone cortisol is produced, thus leading to a tendency to hallucinate. Though I don't have concrete numbers or specific information, I think this is still a good look into how nutrition and stress play a role on the body and mind.

One important thing to mention as the authors do indicate is that hallucinations aren't necessarily a sign of mental illnesses. Some people have brief bouts while other have them their entire lives. Personally, I've had those moments where I thought I was hearing a certain voice or seeing something that wasn't there. However, I'm not so sure if it was related to just coincidence, caffeine consumption (yes, I was once a caffeine junkie), food or sleep deprivation. Probably a combination of the last three, but I do remember a specific incidence not too long ago where I continued to hear music everywhere. That was bit unnerving and it really made me feel weird, but it did go away.

Related post: Should energy drinks be regulated?

Giving cheese another look


As bloggers who have been reading my blog for awhile know, I am NOT a cheese fan. And if you didn't know, now you know another fun fact about me. For the record, if you read that linked post above, amazingly, my landlord did not give me cheese this year!

I ran across this article from Livescience how cheese is basically becoming an even more processed food than it already is. Most know that bacteria is injected into cheese in order to add flavor. I have no problem with this. After all, some bacteria is good for your body. Just think of yogurt or kefir and how many live strains of bacteria are in them. What I have problem with is the fact that more pesticides are being used to disinfect cheeses. Does this outweigh the possible good effects of eating cheese?

In general, most people probably do consume a good amount of pesticides everyday and have no problem with it, but still, it worries me. While it is true that our stomach is very acidic, it still doesn't hold up to something like a dog who is known to eat three-day roadkill.

So what's your opinion? Does information like this deter you from eating cheese or another favorite product?

Fat is what gives cheese its taste, and 70 to 80 percent of the calories in cheese come from pure fat.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No class, nor shame!

Since my recent posts have been full of various emotional expressions--everything from sadness to happiness to morbid curiosity to deep thought provocation, I thought readers (and myself) needed a light-hearted post. So I bring you a funny/cute picture of Tovah.

It is apparent that Tovah is not lady-like, at least when she is asleep. She just has no class nor shame.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Your body: opened up

This is the second post related to the book Final Exam. I forgot to mention in my last post that Dr. Pauline Chen has an excellent column in the Health "Doctor and Patient" section of the NY Times. Dr. Chen discusses a variety of issues related to medicine and patient care. In my opinion, she offers some interesting insights.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I find the topic of death fascinating. Not just for the physical aspects of what happens to you after death, but also how people perceive death. In the first chapter of the book, Dr. Chen begins her medical school journey. As with every medical student, the gross anatomy lab is required as well as dissecting a cadaver, a human being that once was. The main objective for the medical student is not only to learn human anatomy, but also to depersonalize themselves with a human being. After all, would they really be able to just cut someone open?

Many cadavers medical students use are from people who have donated their bodies for this purpose. Because some students have emotional difficulty with this particular lab and others develop poor bedside manners, it's one reason why more medical schools have implemented death and dying courses in their curriculum. Other schools also hold ceremonies for their cadavers, understanding the "gift" the individuals have given them.

The cadaver Dr. Chen had (and she goes into lengthy detail as to all the parts of the body which I won't get into here) was a woman who had end stage ovarian cancer. This was not evident until they found the masses in the cadaver's abdomen. For many of the students, Dr. Chen describes it as they were already looking at this as "voyeuristic art."

One of the last parts of the cadaver dissection is seeing the face which had been previously covered. Dr. Chen says:

"somehow I felt that seeing her face--her eyes, her lips, and her final expression--would confirm the life I had tried to re-create in my mind...The eyes, I hoped, would finally tell me the rest of her story. I would be able to look upon her as those who surrounded her during her life had."

Unfortunately, for Dr. Chen, this did not occur, because there were only empty eye sockets where the eyes should have been. The likely case was that her corneas had also been donated. The brain was also removed for a later time for dissection.

As I was reading this chapter, it made me think about my own body. Hypothetically, if I or anyone one of us were dead right now, how would others view our bodies? Would our bodies and eyes tell the tale of our eating disorders?

More than likely, for many of us who live in that "in between" life, it would be hard to tell that an eating disorder lived there or was once there.
I think the same would be true for someone who has recovered or is in recovery. Internally, I don't know how much our organs change unless there has already been extensive damage done. And even with that, if someone did not know the history of that cadaver, there could be a variety of hypothetical guesses and diagnoses.

Then, the question is would it matter? We all hear about the survivor stories of cancer, of some horrible medical illness, some awful trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, etc. People find all those to be important, to mean something, to realize they have fought and taken their lives back. Though people use the terminology "I survived anorexia" and such, it's still not seen as a really big accomplishment. I think it should not be discounted as it takes a lot of hard work. Certainly, this isn't the only accomplishment in one's life, but it does matter.

I guess in some ways I think it is kind of sad. I obviously cannot predict when I die, and I'm hopeful that I have recovered by that point. But sometimes, there is a hope that my body will leave some mark that I once did have an eating disorder but survived it. Knowing my body, all that will be left are my outer scars--the scars from my hand surgeries, scars from scratches (from dogs, not me), and a scar from what we think was a hot water burn when I was very young, at least that's what I told my parents. These are all external. The internal scars wouldn't be seen. They'd be invisible.

What I find ironic about this is that I go to lengths in hiding the eating disorder both in forms of past and present. But yet, there is part of me after death that wants someone to know--almost like a way of releasing a secret. But then again, maybe my life will be so different at that time, that it won't matter to me anymore. It'll just be another "did this, did that, and got the t-shirt" deal.

What are people's thoughts on this? If your body was opened right now, how would others view it? How would you want others to view it? Does surviving an eating disorder matter to you? Is there importance in leaving a mark of it behind?

*For the record, I have not decided yet whether I will donate my body, but if I do, I hope it is treated with the utmost respect as donating really is a beautiful gesture of generosity.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"In between"

Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality

I finally got around to finishing this book. If you can't read the small print in the title, it's "a surgeon's reflections on mortality." In the book, Dr. Pauline Chen writes about the paradox in medicine between caring for the ill and systematically depersonalizing the dying. Though the book is about medicine and mortality, there were a few instances where I thought eating disorders could be applied. The next two posts are related to the book.

I should first preface this with acknowledging that my head is in an okay space. It's not like years before when all I could think about was death. These days, those thoughts have lessened, aren't as powerful, but yet, I do still find death a fascinating topic!

Anyway, onto the blog post.

Somewhere halfway through the book, Dr. Chen talks about the difficulty in knowing when someone is really dying and when is the right time to "let go." She says one of the "misconceptions of dying, it is this belief--that death is a certain, discrete event completely distinguishable from life..."

She goes on to quote Doctors Joanne Lynn and Joan Harrold from their Handbook for Mortals:

Perhaps the classifications as "dying" is really more like height than it is like gender. Some people are clearly "tall" or "short," but many are "in between." Likewise, some people are clearly "dying" or "fully healthy," but many are "in between." In fact, most of us will die without having a period when we could readily be recognized as "dying." or "terminally ill." The new reality is that most of us will die from complications of a serious chronic illness that we will "live with" for years. There will only occasionally be a transition from the"living with" to a time of "dying from."

I found this to be quite a thought provoking quote which could be applied dually to eating disorders in the state of disorderedness and in recovery. In an eating disordered/disordered eating state, unless someone appears skeletal and emaciated, people are not naturally going to think they are physically dying, that they are living a "slow death." Although this has certainly been disputed as anyone can suffer from an eating disorder and we don't all have to look the stereotypical part, still, it's hard to define "dying." Thus, so many live in this "in between" state.

The same holds true for recovery. Recovery is like a spectrum. It seems only a small percentage reach the end to be considered "fully recovered." (I know that statement can be a bit controversial) However, most seem to live in this "in between" state of not yet truly healthy nor completely consumed by their eating disorder. It can leave many individuals in a constant state of flux and ambivalence.

Then, as the last part of the quote mentions, those who don't recover or even ones who are "functional" may wind up with the label "chronic." In this sense, it can mean living with the illness versus dying from it.
Neither seem like great options, so it's hard to tell whether one seems worse than the other.

If it is true that so many of us live in this "in between" state, how do we get ourselves fully out of it?

What is your opinion? Are so many of us living in the "in between" state?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Thirty-two kilos"

A new exhibit called "Thirty-Two Kilos" opened tonight at the Goethe- Institut in Washington, D.C. It is a collection of digitally manipulated photos looking like emaciated, anorexic models (posed by her friends, not real models) by German photographer, Ivonne Thein. Thein says this was her response after feeling shocked at pro-ana websites.

However, as with many creative expressions of art, it is not always intended as it is meant to be. You can better believe that the pro-ana websites have taken a liking to these photos, calling them "thinspiration."

One commenter said, "Those pics are beautiful! I want to look like them! They look so fragil [sic] and like an angel."

Thein says,
"That's not what I wanted. It's important for me that if I show my pictures, there's a statement that it's a critical position and I don't glamorize anorexia."

Although I know this photographer is not trying to glamorize eating disorders, it is unfortunate that this is part of the outcome. It seems just like another "shock" value content in perhaps preaching to the wrong audience. Then again, maybe I'd feel different if I saw the exhibit in person. There is always a different element with that.

If anyone sees this exhibit in person, I'm interested to hear your thoughts. Do you feel like the photographer made her point? Is shock value the way to go for change?

Sources: Pro-anorexia
websites inspire controversial photo exhibit
'Thirty-Two Kilos': A stark look at anorexia

Other photos from the exhibit here

*Thirty-two kilos is about seventy pounds

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Capacity to love

I was just thinking about something my mother said to me during my sobfest yesterday. It is not a secret that I have a hard time with allowing emotions fully, feeling validated in many areas of my life, and am a typical minimizer about situations. I made the comment that my anguish over losing Tovah was similar to when I lost MyGurl, another dog whom I thought I was keeping, several years ago. However, with MyGurl, I had her for four months, so it felt validated to me. I only had Tovah for two in a half weeks, so my sadness didn't completely feel justified.

However, my mother said, "
No Tiptoe, what it shows is your capacity to love."

I reiterated, "well, at least with animals. And I probably cry more over the loss of an animal than a human."

This is very true indeed. It seems easier to love an animal versus a human sometimes. Animals don't necessarily talk back at you, judge you, or abuse you like a human can. I guess it is my hope that I can love or find love similar to how I feel about an animal with an actual human being, aside from family and already established friends. I realize it may never be the same, but I know my capacity is there. It's about allowing myself to be open to it which is often a scary place.

Neurocircuitry in bulimics

New research in an article on the brain differences in bulimics appears in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study consisted of 40 participants (20 with bulimia who had a median duration of illness of nine years and 20 healthy controls). While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging, participants were shown pictures with arrows pointing left and right and were asked to identify which direction the arrows were pointing, regardless of where the arrows were on the screen. This is also known as the Simon Spatial Incompatibility Task.

The results showed the bulimics were faster but less accurate on more difficult trials which indicated impulsivity and less self-regulatory control. During correct trials, those with bulimia had less activity in their frontostriatal region than healthy controls. In incorrect responses, bulimics activated the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex more often. This contrasted from the healthy controls who activated the anterior cingulate cortex while responding correctly more and the striatum during incorrect responses.

The importance of researching the frontostriatal region of the brain is because it regulates both serotonin and dopamine. Research has often implicated serotonin and bulimia, but dopamine hasn't been studied as frequently.

The other interesting question this brings up is what Daniel le Grange, author of the new book Help Your Teen Beat an Eating Disorder asks, "
Does the abnormality occur because someone has bulimia nervosa, or does it contribute to developing it?"

This reminds me of the chicken and egg syndrome which invariably can be different for everyone. Depression and eating disorders is often used as an example. Some will say it was the depression that set off their eating disorder, while others say it was vice versa. I don't know if there is one right answer. But what I do think is that the perceptibility to an eating disorder already exists, whether through genetics or neurocircuitry, and perhaps through engaging in more disorderedness, the brain further changes. I could be completely wrong though too and maybe it's just rewiring from the beginning. More research is already underway looking at adolescent brains whose onset of illness is of less duration than those in this particular study.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Some things have a happy ending

I thought I'd give a quick report to what happened to Tovah. After talking with my mom about it last night, she suggested I talk to the guy again and see about geting her back. I wasn't sure about this since it seemed like the cards had already been dealt. However, I thought giving it one last effort would be a good thing and at least make me feel like I'd tried my best.

I went down this afternoon when I knew the guy would be back from work. I saw little Tovah standing there in the driveway in the rain! I was so so sad for her. I picked her up and knocked on the door and asked to talk to the guy. I told him how I attached I was to her, and he said how he saw that last night and how he hated to take her from me. In the end, he let me have her and just asked that his boys could see her every so often which I said was completely fine. He knew she was going to a good home, better than what he could have provided. I also offered to help him find another dog that would suit his lifestyle better if he wanted.

By the way, they have three puppies from the same litter, and the litter was originally a dump off in a cardboard box a kid was carrying in another county!

So here's the lesson I've learned:
Sometimes, you have to fight for what you want, even when you are unsure of what will happen.

So little Tovah is now mine! You all don't know how happy this makes me feel. My eyes will now not be damp with tears of sadness but tears of joy.

Thank you for all your support.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Can't stop crying

Well, apparently, little Tovah actually belonged to someone. This literally happened 30 minutes or so ago. The guy who said he was my neighbor asked if I'd seen a little dog that he was missing that looked like Tovah. She was out with me on the porch, so he immediately saw her. He said they had not had her very long and missed her. Then, I heard his two kids in the car yell out, "Dad, is that Sparkles?"

My heart sank. I questioned him as far as how she had gotten out, told him what a lovely temperament she had, how I had started training her, etc. I hate to judge, but he was keeping an eight week old puppy outdoors since she wasn't fully house trained and his work schedule doesn't allow for him to come let her out in the middle of the day. He also feels like dogs should be primarily outdoors dogs from what it sounded like.

I really had no choice since Tovah belonged to them. What was I going to do but give her up. I mean he had two kids. Was it fair to them to take her way? I know he hadn't had her very long at all--it sounded like maybe a few days.

After I shut the door, I just began to bawl and am still continuing to do so. I never thought I'd be so upset. Maybe if it had only been a few days, even a week maybe, it would have been different. And now, I just can't stop crying. I know this will pass, but I'm just drowning in emotion.

Right after this happened, my father calls. Not a great time to call. Though he tried to comfort me, all he said was I did the right thing. I guess so perhaps, but I also know that the home she had here was a great one.

Since I guess he is my neighbor or something, yes, there is still the chance of possibly seeing her, but it won't be the same. There is the saying that you have to let some things go, and if they come back, then it was meant to be. Maybe that will be the case with Tovah, maybe not. But in the end, all I can believe in is that there was a reason for this happening.

Nonetheless, I'm just broken with emotion right now.

Food, anxiety, and no real point in this post

For most adults and children, Monday marks the return to work and school. I've already heard the groans miles away from several people, wishing for more vacation time. It's hard to get back to normal when you haven't had to worry about it.

For me, even though, I'm actually off for two days, I feel this "need" to begin anew with a slew of things on my "to do" list. Maybe I feel this way only because it is the start of a new year and my anxiety has crept back in, asking for more of my attention. The last several weeks with the addition of the new puppy, my anxiety was at least geared towards her versus me and my future. Perhaps, I'm thinking about it more, because I actually talked about this very issue with my friend, the physical therapist S. And for me, talking about it fuels the anxiety.

Then, my anxieties move on to other things. For example, I've decided this year to try to be more social in simple get-togethers with people. Today, Tovah and I had a play date with S. and her miniature schnauzers. Tovah had a wonderful time playing, and I enjoyed catching up with S. and her husband about their holiday. I also found out S. was 12 weeks pregnant which was exciting in and of itself. That leads to other feelings, but that's another post for another day.

S. and her husband were also the same people who made me my mystery dinner, you know the one I had major anxiety over. Again, she challenged (unknowingly of course) me in that she ordered pizza! I think she felt a little weird about that too, because she thinks I'm some health food nut. It's similar to those people who all never want to curse in front of me, because they think I'm some sweet angel. Ha, I guess I have everyone fooled. Seriously though, I'm not a big profanity fan in general, only at appropriate times.

Anyway, pizza isn't entirely a fear food for me, but it's one that is very low on my list to eat. I find it too cheesy, too greasy, and just leaving me burping the rest of the night. However, I obliged and ate two pieces with two breadsticks. It was good for the most part. Unfortunately, it didn't sit well with me, having to use the toilet more frequently than expected. But the good thing is that in the past, this would have been a food I would have purged without any further thought. So this will more than likely just meet my one of two times of my quota this year for pizza. Silly, isn't it to have a quota? It's the only way my mind wraps around eating a food like pizza. Maybe not completely the "right" nor "recovered" t hing, but it does get me by for now.

However, now that I've had this spontaneous moment with food, another friend asked to treat me to dinner on Tuesday night. I actually had something else planned but haven't decided what to do yet as this friend and I have been trying to get together for awhile. Plus, this would also be my third outing in three days (Monday, I'm visiting a friend).

This just ramps up the anxiety. Maybe scheduling three possible social events in three days was too much? I'm suddenly also recognizing my size again. Part of this was due to weighing myself a few weeks ago which was just stupid in the long run. But instead of restricting like I normally might, I actually ate more which now leaves me slightly panicked. My running routine has also been out of sorts too which leaves me feeling a bit on the guilty side even if the reasons were valid. And on top of that, I really need to go grocery shopping tomorrow. I'm in a bit of a funk with that too. I don't want to necessarily buy what I normally buy as I feel bored with it, but at the same time, I don't know what to actually buy that I won't freak out over or regret buying later.

I know this post is kind of all over the place and does't really have a focal point, but I'm too tired to try to deal with it for now. Hopefully, I'll post some other substantial stuff soon. I have other post ideas in mind from my current reading selections that I want to address.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Accepting compliments

I signed on quickly to check my e-mail before my run this afternoon and received an out of the blue comment:

Subject: so pretty.

Tiptoe, You are Beautiful actually.

The comment came from my cousin on my mother's side who recently found me on facebook. It was so surprising as I had just sent a message to him telling him how my mother should join facebook since he is on there now. (I really don't want her to be, but it seems she has some other friends who want her to join). I'm not particularly close with this cousin, and have only talked to him a handful of times in my life. However, I think if we lived closer, he'd be my type of guy to hang around with. He's a bit of a care-free spirit which helps me be less serious at times.

I've never taken compliments well, especially compliments that surround beauty and physical attributes. They are probably the hardest for me to digest simply because I don't feel that way about myself. And I can't realize how someone else might think that of me. But for this moment, I'm going to try to accept and swallow this compliment. Maybe there is something to be said for "fake it until you make it." Perhaps even allowing a little positive belief to seep in will reap rewards in the end.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Not a message in a bottle but feelings in a bottle

The first therapist I went to in my teens used to tell me, "Tiptoe, I imagine that all your feelings are stuffed in a bottle, sitting on a shelf way up high. They just stay there until one day, they just all explode."

This sort of happened a few weeks ago after a specific incident where I felt very angry over lack of communication with someone. At the time, it felt justified and others validated those feelings. However, several days later, guilt, doubt, and anger with myself set in. And then, I regretted the way I felt, that I just shouldn't have felt that way. So now, it leaves a sticky, uncomfortable feeling with the said person above where I don't know what to say or do, waiting for her to make the first move. Will she completely ignore what happened, acting like nothing ever happened or will it be held against me?

Over the years, I've tried to unleash those feelings in a variety of mediums--in therapy, through talking with family and friends, and through writing in various forms. It's never been an easy thing for me. Rather, it's something I have to work at, knowing how the repercussions can manifest. Yet, even after all these years, I'm still left feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. There continues to be a "judgment" of my own emotions. That somehow, they're really not allowed.

Every year, (not as a resolution--don't believe in them, but more to just work on) I tell myself I'm going to be less harsh with myself and simply recognize my emotions without judging them. I don't know why this is so difficult for me to do completely. I seem to do okay with some emotions like sadness but anger and frustration, you know all those "fire color" emotions just leave me feeling ill.. The truth of the matter is that somewhere, somehow I've learned those types of feelings were wrong, that I saw other people who had these emotions and became afraid of turning into them, and instead kept them all in a bottle. It's like I'm afraid of fully unleashing those emotions, like they are Pandora's Box. In essence, it's being afraid of the human nature of myself.

*I took many photos of this bottle and had quite a number of emotions in it. These emotions are ones that I don't necessarily allow myself to feel or feel like it is wrong to feel. I wanted the photos to show more emotions, but the little slips of paper were not cooperating.