who the heck knows anything, anyway

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Need to Talk About My Stupid Body


About a year ago, now, I developed a wildly new sleep disorder. I didn't know it at the time. I thought it was jet lag. Even if it wasn't the adjustment from GMT to PST, this wasn't the first time I'd needed to sleep a lot: as a veteran depression-haver, my life has been a near-constant vacillation between three-ish week stints of insomnia, then hypersomnia, then insomnia, repeat. So I wasn't worried about it. This, too, shall pass, I thought.

Only, it didn't. I went a whole year of needing twelve to fourteen hours of sleep per day. Doctors were unhelpful, tests were unhelpful, and insurance in the US (which has never been "good") is particularly unhelpful when you are suffering from a chronic mystery condition. If it doesn't seem like it will kill you outright, then you can either shell out your life savings to be shuffled around hopelessly, or you can give up and learn to deal with it. It was a difficult year. The official diagnosis was Idiopathic Hypersomnia. "Idiopathic" is the medical term for "Mysterious." I went back to trade school to become a tattoo artist, and every day was a battle to stay awake, to memorize new information, and even to speak. I felt like an idiot. I lost words all the time. There was more than one day where I couldn't even remember the word "toilet."


My stomach issues started, in ernest, a couple of years ago. IBS is the diagnosis--Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is--without clear cause--also idiopathic. Another medical mystery. This one makes me feel nauseous constantly, causes my stomach to bloat. Diarrhea, constipation, constant pain. I've never been able to nail down my triggers, but when it gets bad, the diet suggested is white: white rice, white bread, simple sugars. The worst foods for your body are the only ones it can handle. Trade the bloat for the magic (havoc) of carbohydrates.


I went off my antidepressants at the end of June. It was another insurance-related situation, and (as a result of not having the meds) I quit cold-turkey. I don't advise doing this, but there are a variety of factors that didn't give me a choice. It worked out ok. In fact, for that first month, I felt spectacular. I felt sexy and alive and goofy and bouncy and like my old self--a self I hadn't reliably seen in six years. My sleep didn't improve--an interesting data point, as I thought it may have been the long-term use of fluoxetine causing the hypersomnia--but I felt alive, and that made the few hours I spent among the living totally worth it. I was tentatively hopeful that this was the new me: sleepy, but happy.

Now it's nearly September. August was rough. It started slow, I think, though it's hard to tell. I'm jetlagged again, for real, so who knows what my sleep is like, but before Daniel and I left on our ten day trip to Europe, I went a week or two being unable to sleep until 3 or 4am. I was still napping every day, but was up at 8am, so it seemed more like a normal distribution of sleep, albeit an annoying one. But that couldn't possibly be all! What would life be if my only issue was staying up late? No, something new and exciting was on the horizon!

I've flirted with disordered eating my whole life. I never crossed the line, but I considered it. I'd eat, I'd take pleasure in the food and the people I shared the meal with, I'd look at myself in the mirror and stare, and pinch, and sigh.

I miss July. I felt beautiful, confident, happy for one whole month.


Things have progressed. Progress, such a funny word: I've made progress, negatively. The IBS is a constant battle with food: I'm bloated often, and I'm gaining weight because what doesn't kill my stomach (organ) still kills my stomach (appearance). I look in the mirror and see an active distortion. It feels like a hallucination sometimes. I don't know when I can trust what I see. Some days, it's a straight-up Fun House mirror. Days when it's not, it's still bad. And I know I've gained weight. And I know I don't have the energy to exercise. This is the trick with depression and anxiety: you know you need to do healthy things, and you can't. I got as far today as putting on a tank top and running pants, and then I saw myself, and I couldn't leave the house. I am so out of shape. I can't handle being bad at anything, and I know I'll be bad at working out for the first few weeks, so I put it off. I can't handle the embarrassment. I feel the guilt and grief and anger at myself amplifying. I just want to feel good again. I don't care what I weigh--I very intentionally do not own a scale. I just want to feel good again. I want to look in the mirror and see me: not my thighs, my stomach, my chin. I just want to feel good again.

I read online that body dysmorphia can hitch its wagon very comfortably and easily to OCD. Checking, re-checking, developing compulsions custom-made to punish yourself. I thought I was in remission. Things just changed, I guess.

Why can't I have this. Why does my body have to be a constant shitsack of issues. I just want to feel good again.

Sometimes I worry that feeling good for that month broke me. That it's better not to even remember what your old self feels like. Is that pessimistic? Is it realistic? I just want to feel good again. There are people in this world who do not feel like this every day for years. They feel like Killian in July, and they have bad days, but not every day. I just want to feel good again.

I still laugh. I have brief moments--seconds, sometimes minutes--of distraction. I'm lucky that I have people who love me (and who I love very much) around me to reassure me or give me pep talks or to distract me. But it's not enough, and that makes me so angry and sad. It should be enough. My life, on paper, is great, and it should be enough.

I hate being a burden on my people, on myself. I get nothing done when I feel like this.

I just want to feel good again.


I ate a big dinner tonight, because I was hungry. I eat when I'm hungry. That's how humans are supposed to work. I'm doing it right, but it doesn't feel right. That's probably the white rice talking.

I want to punish myself. I won't--I know, logically, that's incorrect--but I very strongly want to. It's important to be honest about these things.

I just want to feel good again.

Please, God, just let me feel good again.