The Difference a Year Makes

It’s been a while since I have wrote on my blog. I just passed my one year anniversary of my suicide attempt and I have been reflecting on the last year. While I can’t say that I’m happy I can say that I’m in a better place mentally than I was a year ago. While I still struggle with depression it’s not as extreme and when I do have a flair up the episodes don’t last as long.

Someone asked me what changed things? I must admit I struggled with answering it and I still do. I think the biggest difference is taking an antidepressant, as well as therapy. I’m in the process of trying to find work and as scary as that is I’m ready to have purpose again. You can only hide for so long before you go stir crazy and that’s where I’m currently at.

I think the main reason I struggled answering the question of what changed is that I’m still in the process of changing as I haven’t got to the point where I’m happy. I must admit most of the time I’m miserable. I hide in my room a lot and I know that’s not very healthy. I miss having friends that I regularly see and do fun things with. That’s the struggle with living out in the middle of no where there’s nothing to do or see. It also presents a problem when meeting someone as most people don’t want to drive that far. Also not having a car puts a damper in going the distance.

I’ve learned once you get yourself in a deep hole it takes time to dig out of it. I’m learning to work on my patience and having faith. Having a job will be a huge step to my happiness. They say money doesn’t make you happy but not having any can make you miserable. A job will lead to a car and a car will lead to meeting new people…

I won’t lie that I still occasionally think about you know what… but it’s usually a quick passing thought when I’m feeling rather down. I’ve noticed lately having this coping skill of taking deep breaths when I’m feeling panicky or rather down. It’s been occurring rather naturally without thought. I also feel a stronger presence to my Mama. When I take those deep breaths I feel like she’s there with me.

A long time ago I learned to disconnect to cope with trauma. When you repeat a pattern over and over, year after year it becomes apart of you. Changing that pattern isn’t an easy task as it becomes hard wired in the clockworks of your mind. I’ve failed over and over but I never gave up. I made the conscious choice to reach out for help when I had the pills up to my mouth. I desperately needed help and that was the only way I could connect to it.

When you’ve been disconnected for a long period the harder the impact when you plug yourself back into an outlet. I’ve tried over the past nine years to get plugged back in but every time I would get shocked and run back into seclusion. Living a heart-centered life can get you hurt, especially if you don’t have a solid foundation and a toolbox of coping skills. That’s been my greatest flaw. I have tried to build a life on a flimsy foundation and an empty toolbox.

This weekend I took a leap of faith by entering an art competition called ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have always been artistic in some form or another. It’s always been my dream to have a career that I can utilize my creativity but I’ve always shied away from pursuing it because I didn’t feel I deserved it.

I put off registering for ArtPrize for days as I was afraid. Afraid of succeeding, afraid of being seen. Being a survivor of sexual abuse there’s a fine line between being seen and not being seen. I think about when I abused I was a happy child full of life and love. I was vulnerable. I catch myself still feeling like I’m that 10 year old boy still. I must remind myself that not only am I an adult now but that was a long time ago. I no longer have to hide because I can defend myself. All these years I’ve been the first to stand up for others but have rarely stood up for myself. I’ve waited a lifetime for others to stand up for me… when it was me that needed to stand up.

Registering for ArtPrize felt like running through the finish line. I’ve forced myself to not only look fear right in the eyes but to also push right through it. Fear is like a ghost. It’s just an illusion and much smaller than it appears. The further you push it away the bigger it becomes until one day that ghost turns into a monster and takes total control of your life. Whenever you try to change a destructive, negative pattern it will alert an internal warning system. That ghost will do whatever it takes to keep control.

So it’s doesn’t surprise me that today has been a rather difficult day. I had the sky is falling moment and my urges were telling to me to abort the mission and run back into hiding. I’ve noticed this determination to not give up. Perseverance to push through the storm. You can only put up with enough misery before you throw your hands up in the air and say that’s enough!!! Well THAT’S ENOUGH!!!

I can have my dreams and live a happy life. I deserve, everyone does. My goal is to live life fueled by my passion and live it through my dreams. I know the pain I’ve endured was not in vain there was purpose for it. I hope to be able to use my art and creativity to inspire and touch those who have been in my shoes. Those who feel lost, down and out…. who feel they’ve been left behind and forgotten.

My biggest challenge will be breaking the pattern that I deserved the pain and the actions that caused it. For too long I believed I was this hideous, unloveable monster. While I can’t say that I don’t see and feel that monster but I’m determined to shed that unwanted skin. I have and will always be a teddy bear. Someone who goes through life with an open heart, not afraid to be a big kid. Sure there are things I need to change in my life and most of it is just shedding away the negativity. There is a lot about me that I don’t need to change and that’s what’s deep within… my heart and soul… Those are gifts, not curses.

I believe the biggest thing that’s changed from last year is that I now I have hope for a better life something I didn’t have before my breakdown. I was drowning in my sorrow, pain and grief. Without hope I had no reason to live as all I could see was darkness. Hope has shined a light back into my life. I must continue to work on letting my own inner light shine.

Light is meant to shine, not hide in a box. Human’s are like flowers as they need sunshine and water to grow, without it they will surely wither away to nothing. I had convinced myself for years that I was a just a weed but now that I’ve brought back water and light into my life I realize that I’m a flower. Now I just need a space to grow and blossom into the rose I was meant to be.

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Prisoner in My Own Body

I’ve discovered recently how deep my self worth (or lack thereof) runs and how it connects to everything I touch. I have known for years that I suffer from poor self esteem and self worth but I didn’t realize how much of an impact it had on my life.

With depression and PTSD, for me, there comes this crippling isolation. The more depressed or triggered I am the more I crawl into my cave. This isn’t a new concept for me as I have been doing this for year. The closest people in my life become strangers, and strangers become monsters. It is a scary place to me. I lose all sense of reality and often I don’t even recognize myself.

I woke up early this morning (which is rare for me) and instantly felt the need to cleanse myself, as in take a shower. It will have been almost a week since my last shower. I wish I could say that was the longest I have been without bathing but it comes with the territory. The more worthless I feel the less likely I am going to care about staying clean. For most taking a showering is a no brainer but when I am in the low place it becomes like Mount Everest.

Every time I shower, especially if it has been a good while since my last one, I feel so clean and fresh. Pure. That doesn’t last very long, usually less than an hour.

Every time I was sexually abused I tried to wash off the dirty with soap but no matter how long or hard I scrubbed it wouldn’t wash away. My outside would be clean but the soap couldn’t touch or reach the dirty deep inside. So it makes sense when I feel the most worthless I allow my body to stay dirty because this is how I feel inside.

When I am depressed everything goes to hell from my personal hygiene to my eating habits, and everything else in between. You should have seen some of the apartments I have lived in, you would have thought it was a disaster zone. I would leave dishes in the sinks for months to the point where I would have to throw everything away. I haven’t gotten better about that but I still allow my living area to go out of whack. Whenever I would have anyone come over, I would go into a panic trying to clean everything. I couldn’t let anyone know the chaos my life was in. I had to give the appearance that everything was okay.

Today I realized that my body is a prison cell. I started to think my mind was the prison but in reality it is my whole body that is the prison. Certainly my mind has it’s own great big, dark cell but everything is contained inside the walls of my prison body.

I desperately want to break free from this cell but I have struggled for years doing so. I have been off my diet since my birthday (july 3) and I have struggled since to get back on track. I use to really struggle with compulsive overeating. There would be times that I would try to medicate my bad feelings with food. I would eat myself into oblivion until all I noticed was sickness from being full. Sweets and soda were my fair weather friends. This week I have noticed myself pigging out to the point where I just don’t care.

The more worthless I feel the more the need to make the horribleness go away, anyway I can. I become very compulsive and I have noticed an increase in my compulsion recently. Food and sex were two ways I used to compensate for my self worth, both always lead me down a dark road.

Sex has also been a struggle for me. I saw myself as an object for many years and gave the people what they wanted. It wasn’t always that way. I grew up believing I could find someone who loved and accepted me. I had dreams of having a family and spending my life with that one person. When that didn’t happen, I took what I thought was the next best thing… not realizing the damage it would cause. When I am triggered my mind tries to go down that road again.

I have been celibate since April 2012, which is the longest I have ever gone without sex. It is one of the few things that I am proud of. I have taken back my body in regards to sex. For me it’s a reminder that not all of me thinks I am worthless. Now that’s not to say that I haven’t had temptation or have had moments where I have tried to look for sex but thankfully I quickly snap out of it. I have caught myself thinking what the heck am I doing??? I don’t want to give my body up for one night of pleasure. I realize not only will I lose all that time of purity but afterwards I will feel like crap.

I went through a period of heavy sexual compulsion. I didn’t care about the risk, I just wanted to feel good but every time I would feel dirty… just like after the abuse. Every time I would run to the shower and try to wash the dirt away and every time I would fail miserably. Usually it would end in my feeling suicidal. With acting out sexually, I’m not proud to admit, I engaged in some very risky behavior. I was playing russian roulette with my health, body and life. I am thankful that to this day I am hiv negative, so many others haven’t been so fortunate.

I’ve thought long and hard about why I didn’t care about the risks of having unprotected sex. Obviously it’s connected to how I feel about myself. When I couldn’t find a man to love me, I gave up and resorted to taking any kind of attention I could find. I didn’t feel I was worthy of love, care and attention so I gave men what they wanted. I learned very early on that a mans needs came before my own. The abuse taught me that my needs aren’t important. Obviously my mind knows that isn’t true but it’s something I still struggle with daily.

It’s amazing the lies your brain believes. Like you deserve AIDS. I didn’t go out looking to become positive but I certainly didn’t turn it away… nor did I want it. Every time I would get tested for HIV I would go into this panic. You would think that being tested negative would scare me straight but that only lasted so long before I started acting out again. I think in part having risky sex was my psyche trying to commit suicide, it certainly was extremely self destructive. I have often wondered why I wanted HIV. Maybe I thought it was the only way for someone to love me and show me attention? Was I so desperate to lose the weight to think having HIV was the only way to do so? Did I really want to die? I certainly wasn’t a bug chaser (someone who actively wants to become hiv positive) but indirectly I had to be trying.

The only correlation to all of this was when I came out of the closet in 1995. One of the many hurtful things my father told me that I was going to get AIDS and that all my friends wouldn’t be there when I was dying alone in the hospital. He also told me that I had always wanted to lose weight and that getting AIDS that would finally come true. Am I still holding on to the hope that my father will love me in the way I need, to the point where dying from AIDS he’d come to my rescue??? It’s been eighteen years since I heard my father spew his hatred towards me and it still feels like he just said them to me. I’m just thankful I have turned down another road but I fear when I get these urges that I will turn back around down that road…

Even recently I have started to walk down that road. I even created a couple of sex accounts, which I quickly deleted… I know that that road is a slippery slide to some dangerous behavior. Thankfully I have realized that is not the life for me, nor the one I want. That is the struggle with being single and feeling lonely. I miss human contact, intimacy. I watched a movie recently about this gay couple and I watched in awe as they made love to each other, as this is something I have always dreamed of but have never obtained. I’m realizing that something isn’t better than nothing. Nothing is better than something that will hurt me, it’s just learning to cope with the indifference.

While I have been able to fend off the sexual compulsion, I haven’t been so lucky when it comes to food. Food is my biggest battle and my biggest addiction. Food has been my biggest friend and defense. I have built this physical blubber of a wall to protect myself and it’s killing me. It makes sense to me that I have been struggling lately with eating healthy. This is really the first time since January that I have struggled this long. I believe in part is that I am getting to the core of all these bad feelings and untruths about myself. All this time I have seen it as digging a tunnel to my core, when I have been digging my escape route to expose it all. They say it gets worse before it gets better. This is the first time in my life that I have been actively working on my body. I am facing the truth in my own time, doing what I need to do to heal… going to therapy, taking my medicine, etc. I might not be moving as quickly as some feel and want me to but I am moving at my own pace… and I will get there. The road to taking care of myself is bound to be bumpy. I have to realize that occasionally I will fall off track, sometimes I will even take the wrong road but the key is to always get back on track… regardless how long it has been.

I’ve been living in darkness so long, that it’s only natural the dark force will try to pull me under. I have been living so unhealthy for so many years, so I must realize the road to healing isn’t going to be perfect. I will fall. I will get scratched. The difference I am no longer in that hurtful place, it is all an illusion. A way to keep me from what I deserve, which is love and happiness.

So I am going to keep moving forward and as a little fishy once told me… I am going to just keep swimming.

Struggling with my new Lifestyle Change (diet)

So I have been trying to become more healthier since January this year and I have been very successful, losing over 80 pounds. Up until my emotional breakdown in May, I really did a good job of staying on track. There were times that my emotional state was low and I still stayed on track in regards to my eating habits.

Ever since my breakdown I have struggled to stay on track and lately I have stayed off track for long periods of time. Plus I have started to care less about over eating and going over my daily calorie intake, which really worries me because that is how I always fall off the wagon. Twice during the past few weeks I have went days not watching my calorie intake and going clearly over my limit. The first time the time span was six days. This week I have been off my diet since Wednesday.

I have awaken something within me that has turned off my will power and I am struggling to turn it back on. I have gained some weight back and I find myself getting discouraged by that. I am also having problems with legs again, especially my one knee. I think one of my issues that my food choices while I am dieting are limited. I have been living off Smart One’s Chicken Fettuccini meals and as much as I love them, it is getting old. With my depression I find it difficult to prepare a big meal.

I have also noticed craving Pepsi more. Wednesday I had a very strong urge to have Pepsi, the strongest yet to date. I ended up getting a 24 ounce can, though I really wanted to get a one liter. So I am still showing constrain and that’s good. In the past Pepsi is my gateway of giving up on my dieting, so I have to be very watchful of this. I am also eating pizza more often, which is another indicator. Whenever I get pizza it usually means going over my calorie limit, which is fine if it is on occasion.

I am worried because I don’t want to gain all my weight back. I know that it is common to take some step backwards, especially since I have been living so unhealthy for all of my adult life. I can handle the back steps because so far I always keep moving forward but what worries me is this feeling of not caring about overeating and going over my calorie count. That frightens me big time!!!

I have realized that how I feel about myself correlates to my choices and behaviors. The less I feel about myself, the less will power I have. My goal this week is to put up positive keywords all over my living space downstairs, to help encourage me. I also need to brainstorm and come up with new ideas for food.

I also need to push myself more, especially when it comes to physical activity… which is going to be tough with my hurt knee. I don’t have a choice, it is something I have to do…

Monday I am going back on track. I know they say it takes a good year to change a habit, so I just have to hang tight and expect this ride is going to get bumpy at times… and occasionally my cart will veer off the track!!!

 

Yay, I am 401!!!

The last time I was weighed was on Thanksgiving and I was 417lbs… So it is nice to be close to the 400 mark. I will be extremely happy when I am in the 300’s!

I am not as happy as I probably should be. I guess I thought I was under 400 pounds by now. Though chances are that I was over 417 pounds with the holidays, etc. So who knows how much exactly I have lost? So I really need to consider that when looking at my progress. I knew cutting the Pepsi out of my diet would drop a decent amount of weight.

So this weekend I really struggled with my will power and self control in regards to eating. It was like this weekend all my will power disappeared. Saturday was particularly rough as I felt a lot of anxiety that day. I was constantly wanting to drown my feelings out. I found myself over eating on certain items like Pringles. Even though I struggled I still stayed on target for my calories. My sister got the kid’s hot n’ ready’s from Little Caesars. I really wanted to pig out on pizza, as I was craving it all day, but I still only had a couple of slices.  I really had to fight my cravings.

Sundays battle was an apple fritter. I wanted it so badly. I mean really bad!!! It was calling my name, loudly!!! I resisted and thankfully my niece ate it before I could cave in.

Today I did not win the donut battle. There was one lone donut left, a glazed bow tie donut. Wow, even my spell checker is trying to take donut out of my vocabulary by saying I have it spelled incorrectly… I really resisted a good part of the day but then something just clicked and I grabbed it, not after checking the calorie count on my phone. (300 calories) I won’t lie it tasted delicious.

I think I might be trying too hard, not allowing myself to have things I like. I need to be mindful of this as it can lead to me quitting all together. Even with having that yummy donut I still was still well within my daily calorie limit. If I tell myself I can’t have certain items I will eventually cave in and pig out… Another option is only having half of the donut, which I didn’t do… 🙂

I am still surprised on the calorie count of certain food, like butter and margarine. 100 calories for 1 tablespoon of butter??? What??? I am learning to still have the food I like but modifying the ingredients to make it more healthy. Like for example Kraft Macaroni & Cheese I only used one tablespoon of margarine. By doing that I was able to cut down on the calorie and fat contents.

I am learning to maximize my calories and thinking about my choices. Like a ham sandwich with wheat bread can save me over 100 calories, instead of white bread. I am also realizing what food items will fill me up and choosing those items when I am most hungry.

I have been rather lax on my vegetables and fruit lately, so I need to pick that back up. Though I have been trying to drink some amount of water each day.

I have also started to incorporate some exercise. I have learned to not exercise at night as it keeps me up all night. The last time I really danced a work out I was bouncing off the walls for hours afterwards. I am finding myself feeling guilty when I don’t do something. I have to be careful with dancing as I have noticed my knees hurting lately. I can’t wait for it to get warm outside so I can start walking.

I think the biggest thing I need to learn with this process is to be gentle with myself. I have a tendency to be very hard on myself and that is probably where I have gone wrong in the past. I feel let down and the negative voices chip away at my self esteem. Eventually I cave in and pig out, and then give up.

It is all about balance and moderation. Bad days are going to happen but they aren’t the end of the world. Tomorrow is another day to start a new. One bad day or one bad choice does’t take away from all the hard work and progress I have made the last few weeks. It is about the big picture.

Pushing yourself

Obviously within reason…

Tonight I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. It was about 8pm and I was getting really tired… I mean fall asleep at the couch tired. My first thought was to go right to bed but I started to think about this video game for the xbox called Just Dance. So against my better judgment I asked my nephew if he wanted to play. I kind of hoped he would have said no.

Well he said yes… after he finished his current game. The day before I had got a bottle water with a filter in it to start drinking water. I really had a mental block against drinking water. All day I couldn’t get myself to fill it up and start drinking h2o! Well if I was going to commit to some exercise I figured I best commit to drinking water, as I would need it from the dancing.

My nephew popped the game in and the first song we danced to was Rock Lobster by The B52’s. I am sure he had no idea who or what the B52’s were? At the end of the song he wanted to know what a rock lobster was.

This dance number had kicks, turns, and various other dance moves. At one point I had to get on my knees, which wasn’t a fun or pretty sight. It took me a while to get to my knees and then even longer to get up… Thankfully I cheated and just did the hand motions. I am great at jazz hands! By the time the number was done I was exhausted to the point where I could barely breath. I kept saying OMG… over and over. I think my nephew thought I was about to die.

I was for sure I was done. I was too winded to think about doing another song. My chest felt like it was filled full of rocks and my legs felt like jello. I will admit I had a blast. Even though I barely could breath I was like damn that was fun! Earlier my nephew he is skinny said he was in shape already and didn’t need to eat the green beans I made him. So it was a super victory to beat him, especially being how out of shape I am. I mean I am over 400lbs! 🙂

Exercise is not in my vocabulary. I sit around. I have master the art of coach potatoing. If it was a subject I would not only ace the course but teach it as well. So the fact that tonight I exercised for a little bit was huge. Though I do try to get some by doing things like parking further than I have to when I go shopping but that is minimal.

So as I was dying on the couch, trying to drink the water out of my bottle faster than it was prepared for, my sister and four year old niece joined in on the action. I will admit it was fun to watch my niece dance. She did very well. She will die to know that you can download Gangnam Style, as that is one of her favorite songs to dance to.

After a few songs the music got to me and I was back up kicking up on the dance floor, I mean living room floor… I was back on top and dancing my heart away. I was having so much fun, that I forgot it was exercise. One song turned into four by the time we were finished. I had pushed myself to do three more songs than I planned too. Now I am wide awake and full of energy.

I told my sister that Just Dance is now apart of our get healthy campaign. It is so much fun. Dancing is one of my favorite past times. As I gained all this weight I stopped going out dancing. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would dance again, especially with the shape my knees had been in lately. Dancing is one thing that I have always been confident about. People could say what they wanted about me, call me every name of the book but they couldn’t call me a bad dancer. Well they could but I wouldn’t believe them. In High School I was known as the dancer. I would love to go out on the dance floor and lose myself in a world of music.

So now I am hooked. I need to buy the other four previous versions. They have such great songs. I think Just Dance is going to become a big part of my exercise routine and a big boost in helping me to lose weight…

So not only did I push myself to exercise tonight but I started drinking water and I pushed myself further in exercising longer. Like I said at the start of this post pushing yourself is good as long as it is in reason. I knew when to stop. If I would have done any more songs I would have felt it.

So I really need to work on incorporating this idea of pushing myself in other aspects in my life. This is a great start. I guess we can say this is my training to take on the world. Once I am ready nothing will be able to stop my awesomeness!

I really have to give myself a lot of credit in the progress I have made over the last few weeks. Yesterday I had pizza which was the first time in over a week. Typically when I get pizza (which was often) I would usually overeat. Even with getting pizza yesterday I still stayed within my calorie range. Even today with having the last few pieces I stayed under 1k of what I could have in calories. Plus I ate lots of fruits as snacks and some green beans for dinner.

After my work out I was starving so I made myself a ham sandwich. It felt like the best ham sandwich that I had ever tasted. I really wanted another sandwich, it tasted that good. I still had 1k calories left, so I could have had another sandwich but I thought about it being almost 11pm. So I had to will power to say no. That is new territory for me. A few weeks ago I would have had that second sandwich in a heart beat. So more progress!!! Sorry if I am tooting my horn but I think I earned it. I call it positive reinforcement! 🙂

I also pushed myself to not sleep the day away, even though I hadn’t gotten a full night’s rest. It feels great to be taking care of myself. Loving myself feels even better! Keep it up!!

If you are in my boat and are trying to get more healthy, you can do it. Trust me I know how tough it is. Keep at it. Find what works for you. Be gentle. I will be your cheerleader!!! Support is huge I am learning. It has helped to know that my sister and brother in law are eating more healthy too. We are all in this together. exercise