Like Ya Do

Depressed? Check. But we finally found a medication that helps. As long as I take it.

Vitamin D shortage? Check. Add in some supplement and see how that goes.

PCOS? Not that much of a surprise, okay, we’ll just deal with a new permanent diagnosis to go with the rest of them.

Okay, so we’ve got those things handled. And a few others. Seems like a perfect time to start going back to yoga, right?

Oops, instead it was the perfect time for back problems to flare up. Normally my back “outages” last about a week or two and then I go back to life as normal. Not this time. Oh, no. This time, I am completely out of whack and have been for going on 8 months now. I’ve been through MRIs, MRI reading second opinions, nerve conduction studies, and now I’m waiting on a neurosurgery appointment.

And the whole time, I’m trying to figure out what my new normal even IS. I try to stay mobile as much as possible. I try to push through the pain because who else is going to work for me? I have good days and bad days, and the bad days find me crying at my desk and not accomplishing much because I can’t find a position comfortable enough to let my brain focus on work.

And through it all, I have these people that refuse to give up on me. These friends and loves and people who remind me that I’m not alone, that even if this pain is permanent that someone should do something about it. They inspire me to do the responsible thing and advocate for myself. They remind me to take the meds that don’t make a noticeable difference, but might be working in the background. They encourage me to keep going when I start mentally self flagellating.

I don’t think I would survive pain at this level without those people. And I am so grateful that I have some of the RIGHT people around me. The ones who don’t judge me. The ones who validate me and remind me that we have concrete evidence that I SHOULD be in pain. The ones who don’t hesitate to go to bat for me when people in the airport are sneering at what looks like a perfectly healthy 36 year old fat woman in a wheelchair. The ones who help me find center when I’m upside down in my head.

I hope everyone who suffers from chronic pain of any sort has friends like mine. And if they don’t, I hope they can find some. I’ll share.

Advertisements

Setbacks

I need to write about this, and so I will. If you are friend or family, please know that I do NOT want to talk about it nor do I have any care to hear your advice or opinions.

I am depressed. The last three weeks have found me in a depression as deep as any I have experienced in my life. It is partly situational, partly exhaustion, partly due to injury that is toeing the line between acute and chronic by now. I could complain and whine about everything, but really that just reminds me of everything I have to be depressed about.

I have pulled away from my friends and family, away from facebook except for the occasional comment and sharing of other stuff. I am afraid to actually post a status update because I’m playing the “if you have nothing nice to say, you have nothing to say” card. I do not know what to say that isn’t complaining. It is easier to be a hermit than to invite opinions, advice, or really just plain interaction at all. I have been ignoring my friends because I don’t want to drag them down into my dark place.

In therapy yesterday, I broke down in tears. I had to go back to work afterwards and so I did with my head down and my hair in my face. I looked in the mirror and realized I hadn’t taken a shower in probably a week and a half, and my hair showed it. Yesterday was the first time I admitted that I am depressed again. I have been so excited and proud about my emotional progress with yoga that I didn’t want to acknowledge what was happening despite the fact that it was clear as day. It’s funny, acknowledging my depression was like removing the cork from a barrel of tears and anguish. Tears flow frequently and for little reason.

I’ve missed a month of yoga – not because I don’t want to go, but because I haven’t been able to move even remotely as well as I need to. I have gone to a few yin classes, but even those serve better to show me what I can’t do rather than what I can. I know that there is more than a little correlation between the two, although there is more correlation between the pain and my shitty attitude.

Many times in the last few weeks, I have cursed myself for being weak, for having a crap attitude, for being fat and stupid and ugly and worthless. I have cursed myself for joining the Army and ruining my knees. I have cursed myself for getting OUT of the Army. I have cursed myself for every choice I have made in my entire life that has brought me to where I am.

And yet the one thing I have not cursed myself for is finding yoga.

I can cry myself to sleep, throw tantrums (some of them justified), take everything personally and as an attack, and hate the image that looks back at me from the mirror.

And yet that hour in yoga, I have peace.

Someday, I will have that peace past the door of the studio again. I have faith and I know I will get through this.

But right now? Today? I have to accept that no matter how hard I try to change my perspective and forcibly alter my attitude, I am still going to hate my life. For some good reasons and for some bad ones. It’s a funny thing, though, acceptance – when you can’t accept yourself at all, you also can’t accept how you feel.

No, I’m still not suicidal – that is one lucky thing I have kept safe in my heart. But I sure wish I could stop all this stupid crying.

 

Moving and Not Moving Enough

So, I have a new house. I’m sitting in my new house, on my new (to me) couch in a new(ish) neighborhood. I am buying this house. I’ve never bought before, only rented. This is sort of scaryawesome.

Kind of like starting yoga.

I haven’t been doing enough yoga for a variety of reasons – most of which are really probably excuses. I haven’t had time, I’ve been busy packing and moving and cleaning the old place, I can’t afford it, blah blah blah.

And then, my wonderful dear sock rocking friend introduced me to a small group on Facebook where everyone does one pose every day (probably more, but one specific pose) and takes a selfie of it, posts it to the group for accountability, and gets whatever lesson they need from it. Yesterday was Day One. We did Wild Thing. I could have taken a selfie of it, I have the technology on my phone. I didn’t. I did the pose, felt proud of myself for it and all that jazz, and didn’t post a picture.

Today, I recognized the Chicken Shittiness of what I *didn’t* do, and took the picture of me doing Three Legged Dog.

I was immediately horrified, complete with the visceral reaction of disgust and stomach turning.

I started making excuses for my crappy, ugly pose in my head WHILE AT THE SAME TIME denying myself any leeway for it. Sound strange? The arguments inside my head when anxiety is present are pretty epic, and logic is absolutely nowhere to be found.

I’m crying even now, and beating myself up for THAT.

No, really.

And then someone mentioned that even though I was only just seeing what gravity does to me upside down, pretty much everyone I know already sees me every day and sometimes even upside down, and they still love me.

Which got me thinking, why can’t I? I can look at a picture of my friend doing almost exactly the same pose in almost exactly the same way and be all cheerleadery for her. And I can look at a photo of myself and think that no one in their right mind would find that attractive. Wait. So my beautiful, wonderful friend can look almost exactly the same in the picture but I mentally assign kudos and attractiveness to her only? Great job, brain!

This must be the lesson I need to learn with this new project.

Self Acceptance Is Harder With A Photo Attached.

So here you go – a photo of my in my new (still fairly sparse) house, with no yoga mat, doing more of a standing split than a three legged dog because hardwood floors are SLIPPERY. And it doesn’t matter that I have belly fat, or that I think my rolls look super huge and even bigger than my boobs, or that I didn’t do something right or that I hate my fat arms.

What matters is that I did a yoga pose tonight.

What matters is that I found the courage to post a picture of my yoga pose.

What matters is that I am making the choice to accept myself as I am, where I am.

And even if I’m always fat (I hope not), I am still worth acceptance, especially and even if only from myself.

Image
I may not love how I look, but I love that I did it at all.

Fat Girl Doesn’t Do Yoga

And this is what happens:

I have been struggling lately with anxiety and stress. Some of it, I’m sure, is directly related to the lack of yoga in my life. I can’t quite afford a monthly membership right now so I’ve been rationing going to classes on the punch card I have.

I’m not going to talk so much about that today, although I wish I had the time and space to. It will come soon. What I’m writing about today is a rather interesting juxtaposition I’ve discovered in myself. It all starts with positive attention.

I crave compliments. I crave people telling me I’m pretty and I crave being the object of attraction to someone. This is something I might not acknowledge publicly, but it certainly is the truth. The dissonance happens when even when a compliment like that is forthcoming, I have a hard time believing the truth behind it. So I want to deconstruct it a little bit to explore how this relates to my relationship with the world.

What I find appealing, sexually or otherwise, doesn’t necessary align perfectly with the societal norm. It is nothing at all how I’m shaped either. It’s sort of a happy medium. Maybe how I looked in my teens before children. If my body were transposed onto someone else, I wouldn’t find it attractive. Because I don’t find me attractive, I don’t really understand how others would find me attractive. Take that and flip it around, though – just because I don’t find someone else appealing to my personal tastes doesn’t mean that I don’t think anyone else would find them attractive. I understand that the word “attractive” is subjective – and I’m overusing it today – but TO ME, it makes a difference. This is obviously a cognitive problem, but one I’m not quite sure how to rise above.

I know that for many people, intelligence and wit are a big part of someone’s draw. I am intelligent, and witty, and well spoken. And on paper or in text conversations, I can very easily “bring the boys to the yard”. But without them seeing me with all my faults, I often operate under the assumption that as soon as they lay eyes upon my figure, I am off their “to-do” list. Experience tells me this is only partially true, but the mind recalls negative experiences more clearly than positive.

Not all fat girls are cynics. I’m not ALWAYS a cynic. Some days I’m perfectly comfortable being this weight. But lately, my underwear all slips beneath the huge roll of fat that is my belly and my clothing all fits funny and I’m not eating as healthy as I’d like and my stress levels are super high leading to mirror hatred as well. We’re working on moving into a new house, and in the process of clearing out stuff I filled a 45 gallon contractor’s garbage bag with clothing that doesn’t fit me right anymore and should just be gotten rid of.

Juxtapose that with the fact that I’ve been receiving some positive attention lately, as well as some negative attention (or positive attention followed abruptly by absolutely nothing), and I think I’m wandering around in a state of confusion.

I’ve struggled emotionally in yoga lately too. I’ve caught myself making competitive comparisons to other people in class (whether or not I actually see them or know them and/or their struggles) and I have caught myself comparing myself to what I think I *should* be able to do. That tells me a few things:

First, my anxiety is too high. It was much lower when I was going to yoga more regularly. This means I need to find space in my budget for the monthly membership again. I also should consider trying to do yoga at home again – the problem is the lack of me-space currently. I CAN’T do yoga with a thousand distractions and people sitting in an easy chair watching around their electronics. I just can’t do it. The benefits are gone. Maybe once we move, I’ll have some space I can call my own. As long as the rest of the family doesn’t take it over.

Second, as much as I wish I could be the island of self-care I would like to be, I do desire positive external interaction on a romantic level more lately than “normal”. I need to do something about this, but in order to do so I am going to have to open myself up to the possibility of pain again, and that is almost as hard to accomplish as self-acceptance. In that same vein, I need to go to yoga more (are we sensing a theme here? Probably.) because yoga is probably the best self-care I can give myself and it does tend to reinforce my faith in myself, which ends up in me relying less on others for validation.

It’s funny how I can recognize these themes in myself now and realize that more yoga is really the answer. I just need to find the time for yoga to be the answer again, and right now that is insanely hard with trying to get ready to move, being geeky, and fulfilling family responsibilities. Oh, and that annoying thing called work. There’s that, too. I love my job, but it sure cuts into my fun time! Haha.

It might surprise you to note that before I sat down and set finger to keyboard, I hadn’t actually processed that I need to get to more yoga and quick. I recognized that I missed yoga, and I recognized that my “need” for compliments was increasing, and I recognized that my anxiety is higher than normal (which in itself is perfectly understandable). But I didn’t recognize how it all seems interconnected now, nor did I see how yoga could affect it all if I would just go. It’s funny how when you have a jigsaw puzzle floating in your head, it all seems disconnected, but once it gets down on the table top and put together, everything has its place and it all works well together. Go figure.

More yoga it is, then, and I’ll find a way to fit it into the budget because this fat girl wants to like herself again.

Pictures and Perception

My best friend called the other day, and something she said during our conversation really hit me hard. I’ve been thinking of it since then, and it is driving me crazy.

I can look in the mirror and think I look pretty good, but I see a picture of myself – any picture of myself – and my head screams to get the harpoon.

I can relate. Oh boy, how I can relate. Except here’s the thing – I think my best friend is gorgeous, even in her pictures. I have seen a few unflattering shots of her over the years. It happens. But for the most part, I think even in pictures she is a stunning beauty.

Wait.

People say that about me too. Of course, being a slave to societal impressions, I know they are wrong, because how could a fat girl like me ever be considered beautiful, even fully clothed and made up?

There have been a lot of stories in blogs and the news lately intended to make people feel better about their shape and size, but until society as a whole embraces healthy bodies at whatever size they happen to be, we’re screwed. And thus it is left to the individual to approve of themselves, no matter what they hear from anyone else.

Yoga is helping me embrace myself better. I’m reading a book right now (I’m not telling you the name until I’m done) that purports to eventually help me embrace myself better. And I am handling the mirror better lately than I have in over a decade, despite being at my heaviest right now. It’s all about attitude, and mine is slowly changing. That stupid mirror isn’t even my biggest barrier, though.

Old pictures are.

I look at old pictures of myself, reflect (pun intended) on what I looked like the last time I saw myself in the mirror naked, and curse myself for feeling fat “back then”. I was skinnier, had a flatter stomach without stretch marks, didn’t have armwings yet, my boobs weren’t as saggy, et cetera. Does it matter to my thirty four year old heart that I was YOUNGER at that point? Heck no! Age does things to bodies. I know I can do better, but if I’m honest with myself and look at my genetics, I will never be a skinny thing that looks astounding in yoga pants. But I can feel good in my skin, feel good in my yoga pants, and that is what I am trying to do. Care less about looking good, and care more about feeling good.

I wish I could tell you that I’m way better than I ever was ever day, but I’d be lying. I still think I’m ugly as sin some days, despite evidence otherwise. I’m on a journey, though, and even though I wish I could go a lot faster on this road I know speeding won’t get me anywhere either.

Holy. Crap.

When I began this yoga journey, I didn’t realize at the time that my life is so full of win. Just for the fun of it, I feel like doing a quick recap of how awesome my life is and has become, then we’ll get to the meat of the deal…

  • I found the strength to leave an unhealthy relationship (what, I haven’t told you? Oops.)
  • I have regained flexibility and strength I thought was gone forever
  • I have found the energy to actually work on my attitude and self image
  • I have hit a year of not smoking
  • I have gotten my credit from in the 400s to around 650
  • I have found a house I want to put an offer on.

What??? Yep. I’m gonna buy a house! I am so excited right now. To be fair, we’ve been watching houses go on and off the market for over a year now. The first time we wanted to look, we found out that my credit was barely 500 by that point. I was heartbroken, as I had checked my credit with a popular free tool only to find out it was apparently wrong.

So I buckled down, got to work, and now we’re waiting for final prequalification to put an offer in on a house we absolutely love. I don’t want to jinx it, so I’m not telling you about it. But I WILL tell you that I love it, I want it, and I hope to heck that we get it because then I can tell you all about my home improvement projects I am already lining up!

I know that I can’t really blame yoga for the awesomeness that is my life, but I can sure as heck blame yoga for being able to SEE the awesomeness that is my life. Gratitude is so much easier now, and when I am having a crap day it’s not as crap as it was before I discovered gratitude. I understand what my friends have been saying all along much better now.

It’s an awesome feeling, one that brings tears to my eyes on a daily basis lately. I hope that all of you get to experience gratitude of this level regularly. You deserve it.

Always So Much

It’s funny – I find myself thinking about What I Want To Write several times a day, but when I have time to sit and write I don’t have the motivation to do so. Go figure. 

It has been more than two weeks since I returned from the yoga retreat, and I still have so much gratitude in my heart for it. I left you just after morning Hatha Yoga on Saturday, so there’s still a full day to account for. Yin Yoga after lunch was one of the neatest things I’ve ever done – holding each pose for a long time gave me the opportunity to settle in and also really take inventory of where I felt tightness. I really, REALLY noticed how unbalanced I am left/right. Since then, I pay better attention to each side and while I don’t know how to even out yet, I am aware and trying to listen to my body better.

Another restorative yoga session in the evening found me with the same funny full head feeling as the previous night – Almost as though I was developing a cold.

Hatha again in the morning, then it was time to go home. How sad… and the travel home itself was awful again, but I’ll get to that in another post – or not at all, since it would mostly be whining and complaining! 

All in all, I had time to relax and get to know some really amazing people in between and during yoga, meals, and fun time.