**A lot has happened since my last post back in December of 2015. There is a reason I had been taking a break from my blog. To get an update on me, please keep reading….
So…. I lost weight.Not just a couple of pounds but at least 10 pounds have been shed from my body in the past 1 to 2 months. As a result, I am freaking out….and not in a good way. Why in the heck am I feeling negative about weight loss, of all things? Because it was unintentional and completely unexpected. I was already small and now I weigh under 100 pounds. Not good. Not good at all.
I first noticed the weight loss when I went to visit a Rheumatologist as a new patient. You see, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia back in 2010 but when I went gluten free in March of 2011, my pain miraculously disappeared (I did have occasional aches from stress or if I unknowingly ingested a small amount of gluten).
However, back in March of this year (2016), my pain came back and with a vengeance.( In fact, I am in a major flare today, as I type this.) I was still faithful to my 100% gluten-free diet so I felt like my body had betrayed me. I was utterly confused and frustrated. When I realized the pain and fatigue was not going away I decided it was time to see a doctor again. That is when they weighed me and I realized I had lost 7 pounds, but I did not think to mention anything at the time about the weight loss. The truth is, I was happy about it at first.
Then, I noticed how baggy my pants were getting on me. I mean, they were practically falling off and I did not want people to give me strange looks.On top of that, I couldn’t really afford to buy all new clothes! A flashback came to me of when I had anorexia in college and I got a twisted pleasure out of knowing my clothes were so loose. This was in part because I thought I was fat even though when I started college I weighed only 110 pounds. I had body dismorphic disorder and felt compelled to starve myself.
The fact that I have come to now realize that I don’t want to lose weight is a testimony to how far I have come in the past 20 years. (wow, has it been that long?) However, good old ED (the name for eating disorder) is very sneaky and has found his way out of his cage. With an evil laugh, he tries to tell me, “look at that thigh gap you have now, you should keep that and not eat so much.” Or, “you should be happy that you have lost inches in your big belly”. Ugh. “Go away, Ed!!” I yell in my mind.
Sigh…I wish that ED wasn’t the only villain trying to rent a room in my brain. My main intent is to talk about another enemy; one who has a greater hold on me.
This is the only time I wish I could build a wall to keep someone out. That “someone” has been torturing me a whole lot more than ED lately. This “person”, who does not deserve to be my “tenant” is my four-letter- word- enemy. Her name is Eris. Why Eris? Well, according to Mythology, Eris is the Greek goddess of chaos and discord.
So the battle is between Myself, the “goddess” Kellie, and the evil goddess “Eris”….. or in other words…. OCD. Yes, I was diagnosed with the contamination form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) back in January. It has helped to give my OCD a name. I am not my illness. My thoughts are not me…..they are sneaky, conniving Eris, trying to ruin my life.
It is probably fitting that the spelling of Kellie, means “warrior woman”. I have been in a battle with Eris and will not surrender. At times I wish to wave my white flag and just give up on life. Thankfully, I have fellow warriors in my life who have my back and who love me despite of my setbacks, but who at the same time, encourage me to fight for a better life.
It is hard coming out of the mental health closet. Many people know that I have battled eating disorders. However, hardly anyone knows about my secret struggle. I have an intense fear of germs which has been gradually getting worse over the years. My compulsion is constant hand washing and sanitizing. Imagine the whole world has Ebola and you are in a bubble and cannot touch anything unless you want to get sick too. That is how I feel. I don’t worry about Ebola necessarily, but I feel like I cannot touch anything; especially not in public, for fear of contamination. I know this sounds crazy, but at least I am not alone. Many people struggle with it, including Howie Mandel who is famous for his “fist bump” and who openly talks about how OCD affects his life.
I think the reason it has seemed taboo to talk about OCD is because it is not very well understood. Many of us sufferers feel irritated when we see posts about people making light of the illness, calling it a quirk or laughing saying, “I’m so ocd” when they are really just perfectionists and like to have a clean house or an organized closet. That is nowhere near close to the mental anguish we feel. (and don’t get me started on those Facebook quizzes)
Okay so, now that I got that news out-of-the-way, on to solving the mystery of both my Fibromyalgia coming out of remission, and my very strange, unexplained weight loss.
One theory is that my medication, Sertraline (generic for Zoloft) could be causing it. I read that extreme weight loss is very rare with Zoloft but I guess I could be that one rare case. Lucky me. (Don’t worry, I have told my doctors about all of this and they are monitoring me so we can figure this out.)
I am not sure about the pain and fatigue. Perhaps the meds triggered the Fibromyalgia to come back?? I personally believe that it’s a result of a culmination of stress; especially the stress of the OCD as it has been pretty severe in the last few months.
I am seeing a counselor but Exposure Response PreventionTherapy (where for me, I have to touch things and delay hand washing) has been literal hell. It’s worse than stepping on a ton of Legos barefoot in the dark. Maybe even worse than going without my coffee for a whole day!! It DOES help though….. if I put the work in. In fact, I have made quite a bit of progress! (as much as I hate it, if you yourself have OCD, I highly encourage you to do research on ERP. It is known as the gold standard for OCD treatment.)
The Zoloft seems to help my anxiety however. I have only had one panic attack since I started it. I used to have them on a regular basis, especially when I worked as a health assistant to the school nurse. What was I thinking??? I must have been taken over by aliens when I decided to work with sick kids, knowing full well I have a fear of germs. There were days that I was panicking in the car and thought I was going to die. (otherwise, it was a good job)
Here comes the part that is the hardest to share: I quit my job at the end of Feb. after battling suicidal thoughts and depression. One very late night, I was very close to choosing to harm myself. It was shortly after that, when I knew how badly I needed help and I started on the medication. I used to hate the thought of taking medication but now I feel no shame in it. (and I am so thankful I told my husband and chose not to end my life that night!)
So, what is the point of me telling you all this? Because first of all, I greatly value authenticity. It’s a huge goal of mine. I want to be honest and transparent. A good coach (or anyone!) is someone who talks about his/her struggles so people know they are not alone. Also, I want to break the stigma of mental illness.(In fact, May is Mental Health Awareness Month!) I want people to know there is no shame in talking about it. It’s just like talking about cancer or diabetes. It should be natural to discuss openly but society makes it awkward and shameful. I encourage you to at least talk about it with a friend or family member. We don’t all have to blog about it, but it’s essential to our well-being to let people know how we are doing (those whom we trust and who love us) so they can support us the best that they know how, and also, in talking about it, others know that they, too, can be brave and ask for help.
I used to think I had to have my act together at all times. I worried about what people thought of me. Now I say, “f**k that.” None of us are perfect and we all have a desire to feel accepted and understood. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Support and accountability is important. Feel free to keep me accountable. (eek!!) And… feel free to reach out to me as well. I am happy to provide a listening ear if you want to talk about any issues you may have that you feel are keeping you from fully enjoying your life.
I sometimes think about all I have been through and realize just how much I have survived. I am a warrior and I will continue to fight for survival. Will you commit to being more transparent and join forces with other warrior “gods and goddesses” in this battle toward letting go of the stigma and discovering greater Self-Compassion, Love, and Acceptance? See you on the battlefield. 🙂
~Kellie M., Body Acceptance Life Coach, Author, and HAES advocate
What is YOUR mental health story? I’d love to hear from you! If you feel guided, please comment below.
By the way, here are some important links to check out:
OCD Info: https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/
Treatment for Eating Disorders: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/treatment
Crisis Hotline/suicide prevention: http://www.crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices.html
Awesome website about mental health (also talks about chronic illness): http://themighty.com/category/mental-illness/