Thursday, February 23, 2012

eating disorder=health anxiety=?

I was thinking today about my struggles with health anxiety (or hypochondriasis), which I have blogged about a few times in the past year, and my eating disorder. There are so many similarities between the health anxiety and the eating disorder, particularly the anorexia. In both situations, I find myself caught up in thoughts and beliefs that are so distorted that they are completely at odds with reality. What I think is really interesting is that these distorted thoughts pervade my thinking even as my rational mind knows that they are false. Let me explain:

First, the anorexia:

I knew, logically, that I was not overweight. I read the height/weight charts. I knew that I was underweight. I knew that my BMI was below normal. I knew that, technically, there was NO WAY that I could be "fat". But that was knowlege, not belief. This is hard to explain, but just because you can know a thing, doesnt mean you believe it. Despite my knowlege of the facts, I believed I was fat. I believed it, I saw it, I felt it. I experienced it. It was this belief, this experience, which dictated my behavior. I restricted, excercised, took pills, and purged, despite knowing that I was not fat, because I believed that I was. I know it is hard to wrap your head around....but then again, who said that eating disorders are logical? They are quite the opposite.
So, following this theme, here is a bit about my struggles with health anxiety:

I know, logically, that I do not have cancer (or congestive heart failure, liver disease, internal bleeding, blood clot, bowel obstructions, or whatever else my anxiety might currently be focused on). In the past two years I have had x-rays, ekgs, lab workups, and physical exams, all yielding normal results. My doctor has even done testing for heavy metals toxicity at my request (normal, by the way). All evidence points to me being a relatively healthy specimen. But even armed with these lab results, this knowlege, my mind refuses to believe it. I live under a sort of cloud that is born out of the belief that I am, in fact, terminally ill with some as-yet undiagnosed disease, and it is just a matter of time before it is found out. I try not to think about it, but it is in the back of my brain all the time. That is why every new symptom sends me to the doctor's office, so sure that "this is it". It is a fear that can't be argued with, because it defies logic.

So what is to be done about this brain of mine? I seem to have an issue with believing reality as it pertains to certain areas of my life. When confronted with cold, hard facts, my beliefs remain unchanged. This is problematic, as belief tends to influence behavior. I don't want to keep running to my doctor with my crazy claims that I have a tumor, or appendicitis, or some obscure, one-in-a-million syndrome. I know what I look like. I can almost hear his receptionist at the clinic rolling her eyes when I give her my name and birthdate. They know me by voice.

I can fight this like I did the eating disorder. I can not give into the behaviors, even when the thoughts are strong and scary. I can quit researching diseases and treatments, much as I stopped reading diet books and memorizing calorie charts. But I have to ask....will that be the end of it? Or will my anxious mind go from eating health something else? Something....worse? It might be worth noting that before I developed the eating disorder I had a pretty fair case of OCD going (checking, symmetry). Before that I struggled with a seperation anxiety disorder, which caused me to believe that every time my mother left the house she was going to die. This is the problem that first sent me to therapy at age 11-12.

It seems to me that, whether it is the eating disorder or my health or whether or not I unplugged the toaster, my brain has a habit of latching on to anxious thoughts and churning them around and around instead of just spitting them out when disproven, like a so-called normal brain would do. I need to find out why I do this. I suspect it is a combination of biology and personality. There must be a therapy that can help (and please dont mention CBT because I have completed enough Thought Records to paper the Empire State Building).

Or maybe the best I can hope for is to learn to live with it?

Saturday, February 18, 2012


My former social worker at the University of Iowa Hospitals eating disorders program partial hospital program. This man has said some truly awful things to me and about me. But of course he was this Big Time Social Worker at a Big Time University Hospital and I was just a lowly eating disorder patient (and we ED patients all lie and manipulate, don't you know), so nobody took my complaints about him seriously.
 Now the whole world knows the Frank that I knew.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


well, here is the situation:

I have purged 5 times this week. Boo.

Prior to this, I don't remember the last time I purged. Possibly, I have only purged maybe twice in the last 12 months (before this).

I am reeling a bit, just trying to figure out what is going on. I thought I was "recovered"; is this a relapse? Is it too soon to say? I will tell you this: I have NOT missed puking! It sucks big time. My sinuses are all messed up, my throat hurts, and I have a perma-headache. Not cool.

My body image had been really bad lately. But it has been really bad before without me resorting to behaviors. I might just be at my limit though, as my weight is higher than it has ever been in my adult life (except pregnancy). I am even over my UIHC target weight. Only a smidge over, but considering that the UIHC sets my target higher than any other treatment center I have been in, that is really saying something.
I am also wondering if being off my meds has something to do with it. Specifically the Lexapro. I remember one time when I started Lexapro, I had been purging every day, several times a day, and as soon as I started the Lexapro I stopped. The compulsion to vomit just stopped. Ok, so it only lasted a few days...but that was when I wasn't ready to give up my ED anyways. Maybe the Lexapro, combined with my desire to be in recovery, has been making more of a difference than I thought.

I don't know. I haven't thrown up yet today, so keep your fingers crossed for me. I have therapy tomorrow and I am sure we will discuss this. I am sure it is a combination of things: stress, depression, body image, anxiety. I just hope I can nip this thing in the bud. I was reading back to some of my blog posts from 2008/2009 and I do NOT want to be in that place ever again

Thursday, February 9, 2012

weekend with my NAMI peeps

This weekend I am going to Des Moines to recieve training to chair NAMI Connections meetings. This is something that I applied to do about a year ago, and just a few weeks ago someone called and asked if I was still interested. At first I wasnt sure if I could get the dates off (it is three days) but then things at my job started to go south and I put my two weeks notice in. Today was supposed to be my last day at work, but I was asked by my boss if I would like to stay on, and I decided to give it another shot. I think I will only work part time though. Going straight  to full time was a bit much for me. And working as much as I was, I wasn't able to schedule therapy appointments (I have been to see my therapist ONCE since I started my job in November), and I haven't been able to be as involved with NAMI as I want to be. I know it sounds cheesey, but I need to be able to spend some time with my peers. It is important for me to have a place to go where I can just be myself. That's what NAMI is for me. I didn't realise how much I have missed my NAMI peeps until I stopped in to say "hi" a few weeks ago. I am really excited that I am still going to be able to work, but that my schedule will be lighter so I will be able to do the things I need to do to take care of myself.

Speaking of which, did I totally just miss National Eating Disorders Awareness Week? I had alot of drama going on this week and sort of forgot to stick my head out of my own little misery hole to see what was going on in the world. How did I miss NEDAW??? I know that there was stuff going on on campus. They usually get a good speaker...last year Jenni Schaefer came and she was amazing. I think another well known author was coming this year but I am not sure. I hate it when I get so busy that I space something like that that is really important to me.

There is just so much that I want to do. I want to start going back to that ED support group that I told that lady I would help out with and then sort of just never showed up (boo lisa). I want to be more active in my local NAMI, beyond even doing the Connections group. They always need people to help on committees, like fund raising or event organizing and stuff like that. I want to work....a little....mostly because I need money. I want to organize my house and learn to sew and grow a fantastic garden and take my kids on camping trips and be a great mom. There is just so much stuff I want to do, and then there is the everyday stuff I have to do. How does one know where to begin???

Well this post was sort of all over the place. Mostly I just wanted to share about my NAMI training this weekend. I am excited to meet new people from different NAMI chapters, and I think that just getting away (I am staying at the conference center) and focusing on doing something for me, that I want to do, is just what I need right now (even if that sounds a bit selfish).

BTW typing this has been awful, because last time I used the computer I was eating nuts (the kind you have to crack first) and now there are bits of shells under certain keys and they wont go down all the way, so I have to keep going back and fixing words that are missing letters. That'l teach me!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

fight night

Chris and I got in a huge fight last night. A really bad one. I cried so hard I though I was going to puke. I woke up this morning with a "crying hangover". You know, when you have a huge headache and your eyes hurt and you feel like someone punched you in the stomach like a billion times.

The flipside of being in love with someone is that they have the power to hurt you.....way worse than like a friend or aquiantance. And you can hurt them too....really badly.

Sometimes love sucks.

The stupid things is, our fights always start over something small. Like, so insignifigant, it's almost funny. But sometimes little things can be symbolic for big things. Last night it was "I'm not good enough to ask for help, I don't deserve unconditional love and caring, I am worthless", which is a HUGE distorted thought that I have. I know it is distorted, but it is a hard one for me to kick (been with me since childhood), and it seems to pop up in my relationship with Chris alot. Sometimes I feel bad for Chris as he has to deal with alot of my baggage.

Someday, Chris will be able to ask me to make him a sandwich, and I will say "ok", or I will say "no, I am tired, I don't want to", and it will just be about the sandwich. That would be fa-reaking awesome.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Update Part 1: psych meds

Hey there! Well I think that the day that I wrote that last blog post probably was the worst for the med withdrawals. I have been feeling better since then. In fact, for about the past two weeks I have been feeling just fine and dandy. The physical discontinuation symptoms are gone and emotionaly I dont feel much different than I did when I was on the meds. The only thing I have really noticed is that I have been getting frustrated a bit more easily. Like, if I am looking for something and I cant find it I skip "annoyed" and go straight to "hot burning rage", but I am aware of it and just breathe deeply and chill myself out and so its manageable.
I do feel I have more energy and I also have not felt as "foggy headed", if that makes any sense. I did see Dr. Steenblock and he said that he wishes me the best, but that he thinks that my depression and anxiety will come back and I will have to go back on the meds. He is leaving my file open for a few months so I can get an appointment quickly if I need one. I totally agree that if I do get really depressed or anxious enough to interfere with my functioning, I will take the meds again. I am NOT anti-psych med.

And here is something I must say: I do not, DO NOT recommend going off meds "cold turkey", like I did. It was stupid, stupid, stupid. It's always better to taper, WITH your doctor's supervision. I just feel I had to say that. This is my disclaimer, if you will. I would feel terrible if someone read this and thought "hey This Girl did it and she turned out fine so I think I will just go off my meds too!". But seriously, anyone reading this blog should know that:

#1. I am not qualified to give out any sort of medical advice


#2. I am not trying to be a role model

This blog is a personal journal and a way to connect with others who struggle with eating disorders/mental health/life. That's about it. Oh, except that I also use it to brag on my awesome kids from time to time.

up next:
Update Part 2: work situation

so stay tuned to read all about THAT hot mess........