It Doesn’t Feel Real

It took me a long time to muster up the courage to write here again. Because of school, because of life.

I have a hard time keeping focus with so many things, yet I continue to do it to myself. But now I’m a college graduate, so that’s not an excuse anymore. And that’s all they were: excuses. Writing is something that is therapeutic for me, yet I, my brain, would make excuses. I could even go as far as saying that I didn’t feel like people were reading my blogs. But writing to me is something I’d never give up on.

The main excuse? I lost my best friend in January. I hadn’t talked to her in a few months and I regret it. But now she’s gone forever and I can’t text her anymore. I can’t talk to her about our dogs, video games, horror movies, and just… life. I can’t do it anymore. There’s no way around it…. and it sucks. It still doesn’t feel real. None of it will ever feel real ever again. And now, I am making new friends and I won’t lie and I say I don’t feel guilty because I do. I’ve even told them I’m terrified of getting close to them because I believe something will happen to them, which is wild. I know I’m not the reason my friends died, but I was the mutual. I was the one in the middle. I can’t get past the fact that if something else happens to one of my new friends, it would be my fault.

This is grief. This is loss. This is depression. This is anxiety.

Stay afloat, friends. I’ll keep treading water and staying afloat as well. Until then…. tell your friends you love them.

x Ali

Time to start fighting back…

I posted an update on my weight loss journey recently and it reminded me that I needed to get back on my diet. But guess what? I didn’t do it. Today, I walked from my house to my camper behind my house, which is about 50 yards away, and I was breathing hard and felt so out of shape. How sad is that? I mean, yes, it is hot outside but I feel like I should be able to walk 50 yards.

I immediately got on Facebook and asked my friends list what advice they had for starting to run and lose weight. Fortunately, I have some amazing people in my friends list so I got a lot of advice and tips.

I’ve come to realize that I am a doormat to binge eating disorder and frankly, I’m tired of it. I want to lose weight, even if only to be able to walk to my camper or go on a hike without feeling like I’m dying on a zero elevation trail. I want to be able to save money and not spend it on snacks throughout the month. I want to feel confident in the clothes I wear and want to wear. I want to be able to walk up to the mailbox without feeling the need to ride the golf cart up there.

So here it is: my pledge. I am going to start dieting again. I am refusing to use the golf cart to navigate around the property at my house. I am going to start exercising and training for a 5k (using the Couch to 5k app). I am refusing to binge eat at any time of the day, especially at night.

Because I want to not only be held accountable, but also actually see any differences, I created an instagram account strictly for my weight loss journey. Please go follow the account and seriously… hold me accountable. I’ll post photos and videos of my journey. This will help me be honest with myself; if I feel embarrassed about taking a photo of the food I am eating, then maybe I shouldn’t be eating it, right?

I have to do this for myself. I hate this photo of myself (to the right) because of how big I am. I know I shouldn’t care, but it’s for my health, both physical and mental.

Let’s do this.

www.instagram.com/alifightsback

A new approach

Taking a new approach to things and situations can be difficult, but sometimes it’s for the best. So in my attempt to do this, I’ve created a different way to get inspired to write more. This idea popped in my head randomly, even though I’m pretty positive others have thought of it before.

The idea is this: write down some writing prompts (it’s okay to get ideas from Google; write down the ones you’re most interested in) on some note cards, fold them up, and put them in a jar. When you feel uninspired, shake the jar, pick a lucky note card, and boom. Write about what’s on the note card. The writing prompt that I picked was “Find your most popular blog post and write a second series of it or an update on it.” For me, my two most popular blog posts are “Well, here goes…” and “Dear Kobe.” There is honestly nothing else I feel I need to write about Kobe Bryant because it’s still such a sad and tragic loss, and it’s still pretty fresh. This year has felt like two years to me, but unbelievably, at least to me, Kobe only died 5 months ago. Maybe next year I’ll have more to write. Until then, I’ll write about the first post I mentioned, “Well, here goes…”

Basically, in that post, I wrote about having trouble losing weight despite having tried everything to lose the weight. I talked to doctors, did tests, tried a million and one diets, and nothing worked. I decided to have weight loss surgery. This post was written May 11, 2018, and I had the surgery on August 10, 2018. I did the whole thing; the diet leading up to it, the psychiatric testing, the exercising, the seminars, the appointments, everything, leading up to the surgery. For the first few months after the surgery, everything was going pretty good. It was difficult, I won’t lie, but it was okay. I noticed I wasn’t losing weight as quickly as I expected, and frankly, as my doctor expected. I was doing everything right; my mom was helping with portion control, making the right food, and helping me mentally when I really wanted something unhealthy.

I went to the follow up appointments and my stomach healed perfectly. I was sticking to the diet and losing weight here and there. I lost right at 30 pounds. I loved the way I felt and even looked. My face was slimmer and I even lowered my blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. I was so proud of myself, but in the back of my head, the depression said it wasn’t good enough. The thing is, it wouldn’t let me do what I had to do to lose more weight either. Eventually, I had that first bite of unhealthy food. It’s gone downhill since then.

I gained those 30 pounds back, plus about 5 more. I’m disappointed, I’m ashamed. I started trying to exercise again and I just do not have the energy to do it. I love hiking, but I haven’t hiked all year.

I went to my doctor about a month ago and asked her to check my thyroid because it can have a huge effect on weight loss and weight gain. I was even hoping there was something wrong just so it could be the solution to my problem. The tests came back normal.

I am starting to look into a personal trainer of some kind or even a nutritionist to help me. I will find out what I’m doing wrong or simply not doing to lose weight.

So that’s the update. The surgery didn’t work for me, but I have seen that it works for so many people. I would never discourage it, but don’t use it as an excuse to not put in the work. Having the surgery means putting in MORE work. It was the ultimate last resort for me. I am discouraged because of my weight loss journey, but I am not giving up. I just need to find what works for me. I’ve tried a lot of different things, but I haven’t tried them all. Finding the approach that works for me can be a life changer and life saver.

Ali

Mental health is just as important as physical health

Mental health is physical health.

I preach that a lot on my social media because, simply put, it’s true.

At the risk of sounding educational and writing this like a school paper, I want to inform you of just a few things.

  1. Mental health is physical health. I said this already. Got it. But knowing this could help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. There are still so many people that believe depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. are all made up and that people with those illnesses are crazy. And that’s another thing: stop calling people crazy that battle with mental illness. It’s not appropriate nor is it even remotely accurate.
  2. Mental illnesses are not only mental, they are physical as well. Ask anyone with an anxiety disorder. I’ll use myself as an example. I battle with pretty bad social anxiety. It keeps me from having a job like any other “normal” person. When I go out in public, I feel physical symptoms. It’s not just “Oh man I’m so nervous!” It’s also sweating, racing heart, and dizziness. That doesn’t even include the symptoms from a panic attack I may have.
  3. Depression can be fatal, just like any other physical illness. Yes for real. Suicide is not just something people do to “get out,” “get bailed out,” or do just for “attention.” I can promise you if someone dies by suicide, they suffered… bad. Suicide is the final symptom of depression, and some people never reach that final symptom, but that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen on social media, even on my friends list on Facebook, that people still believe that suicide is selfish and that the person that passed away “took the easy way out.” Come on. That’s not fair and it’s undermining the battle that the person fought literally on a daily basis.
  4. “You’re making it up to get out of doing (this) or (that). Just smile!” Okay… first, that’s just not that easy and you know it. Second… don’t you think if we could “just smile” and everything would be fine that we would have done it a long time ago? Depression takes away your energy. You have to make yourself do anything. So no… we’re not just “making it up” to get out of anything.

Think of it like this.

There are people in the hospital with cancer and they of course are getting the help they need. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking ANYTHING away from anyone and their battle with cancer and chemo. But just like you can see cancer on an MRI or PET scan, you can also see depression in an fMRI or PET scan. The scan can pick up abnormalities or different brain activity in someone with depression compared to someone without depression.

princ_rm_pet_scan_of_depressed_brain

People with cancer go to the hospital to get treated, and so do people with broken bones. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, to the person battling with it, it’s big to them (Again, I know cancer is a major problem compared to a broken bone, I’m just using a broken bone for the example). Just because depression is “invisible” to other people (because as we know, depression shows physical symptoms as well), does not mean you don’t deserve the help, whether it be with therapy, medication, or even ecotherapy. Broken bones heal and they’re good to go after a month or two. But unfortunately, mental illness is an ongoing disease.

Please stop thinking depression or any other mental illness is not as important as physical health, but it is physical health. The brain and the body should not be categorized into two totally separate types of healthcare. Mental health is physical health and physical health is healthcare. Healthcare is healthcare.

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

There is no health without mental health.