2011 Recap, of sorts

I have been struggling with how I wanted to do a “New Year” type post this year. There’s kind of a lot to sum up, but at the same time, it’s hard to place it all into context. Then I saw TJ’s post, inspired by Sundry‘s, and I figured the internet was nothing if not a haven for creative borrowing. So I’m creatively borrowing.

2011 Recap

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

A lot of therapy related things. A lot of self-compassion related things. I also had the same job in January 2011 as I had in December 2011, which hasn’t happened before.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I don’t really make “resolutions”, or haven’t in the past. My one goal for 2011 was to get better at asking for help when I need it, and to be more compassionate with myself, as an extension of taking care of my mental health, and I think I did both of those things pretty well.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


My best friend gave birth to a little boy, Caden, in October, and my coworker had her second little boy in mid-December.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My great-aunt Helen (Auntie) passed away in April, and a close friend of my family passed away very suddenly in December.

5. What countries did you visit?

None other than my own this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A better paying, career-oriented job, and more mental stability.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

No dates, but a couple of weeks and month-long spans are pretty well cemented, thanks to pharmacy roulette. I’m not sure exactly which date my doctors changed me from “Major Depression” to Bipolar Disorder (Classic, Mixed type), but the resulting change in medications was pretty dramatic and created a space where I’m now functioning better than I have in years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


I stuck with therapy, held down my job, and managed to stick it through all the craziness. I also hosted Thanksgiving for 10 and Christmas for 8, both of which I’m proud of, AND I threw parties for Halloween and New Years.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I’m honestly not sure I have a good answer to this question. There are some things I did that didn’t go as well as I’d like, but overall, I handled 2011 proactively and with as much grace as I could muster, and I’m pretty proud of that, even if it was kind of ugly sometimes.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Ongoing mental struggles aside, 2011 was the year of figuring out my joint pain. I was diagnosed with a very mild case of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (either classic or hypermobility) and am now operating 90-95% joint pain free most days. This is a big improvement over June, where I could barely walk and doing simple things like writing with a pencil or brushing my hair was excruciating.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Technically I bought my iPhone at the very tail end of 2010, but that’s probably been the best gadget of the year.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage (duh), though I did also spend a good bit of money on clothing, thanks to the weight gain.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Updating my Laptop, hosting holidays and parties, my little brother’s graduation with his Master’s degree. Having people come visit, especially my family. Lots of small things, really.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Yael Naim’s New Soul

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? much happier, though I still fight the depression and anxiety battles on a regular basis
– thinner or fatter? quite a bit fatter, thanks to the medicines
– richer or poorer? about the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Meditation, spiritual seeking, and self care. Also, going to the gym (which is hard, because I don’t get that “woo I feel awesome!” thing from exercise). Also playing the piano.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


Doing nothing, while wishing I wanted to be doing something (especially something I used to enjoy)

18. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family, here at my house and then up with my brother and sister in law in Waco. It was wonderful, even if it did push the boundaries of my “amount of craziness I can handle” levels.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Um. I don’t watch much TV? So probably Mythbusters or Dirty Jobs.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I really liked David Allen’s Get Things Done, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go There You Are, and rereading some of my favorite children’s and young adult books.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I didn’t listen to very much new music this year, and if anything, I spent more time listening to Audio Books (in my car) than I did listening to music. This is unusual, and I hope 2012 is more musical.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I saw only one film this year, so it gets to be my favorite (and it’d probably be my favorite anyway): The Muppets

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 27, and I had my mom here visiting. For my birthday, we put in my spring garden, and it was immensely fun.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Finding the right meds sooner. I’d like to say “not being crazy in the brainpan”, but I’m not sure that’s one of those things I can really change.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

I vacillate back and forth between “eclectic graduate student” and “nerdy bookstore clerk”. I’m slowly learning to be more grown up, and I’ve branched out most of the time from t-shirts and jeans, or at least I’ve started wearing fun and geeky t-shirts (mostly from Threadless or ThinkGeek) instead of just plain solid colored ones. I hope 2012 sees me learning more about style and putting together outfits, because I really enjoy doing it.

26. What kept you sane?

My husband, my friends, my cats, and my family. And my therapist. She’s pretty awesome.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.


That if you’re comfortable sharing your stories, it’s almost always worth doing so – supportive people are everywhere, and I’ve found so many to offer support and empathy that it’s made everything so much easier. So many people don’t talk about the ugly parts of their past or themselves, and I’ve found that sharing that – even though it makes me more vulnerable – nearly always brings me closer to the people around me who care and who matter.

Expanding

I’ve never really been a small person. I’m not massively tall, but I’ve got an athletic build and wide shoulders and hips – just structurally – plus boobs and a butt that are nicely proportionate to the rest of me.

And I was pretty OK with that. Thanks to a lot of un-brainwashing from the HAES movement, I was pretty comfortable with looking the way I looked, and happy with what I was feeding my body and how I was active.

Then, about a year ago, my brain took a long walk off a short pier, and I’ve been on various forms of psychiatric medication ever since.

In the 8 months that I was on an SSRI, I gained 20 lbs. In the 5 weeks I was on an anti-epileptic medication, I gained 5 more. Now I’m on an atypical anti-psychotic, and ravenously hungry all the time, constantly preparing myself to step on the scale and see the number break another 10’s digit record.* I’m sure the anti-inflammatories I’m on constantly don’t help much either.

On some level, I feel like this shouldn’t bother me. I mean – yeah, I’m ravenous all the time on this new medication, but I’m also a) not manic b) not suicidal and c) not having panic attacks. On the other hand, putting on 25 lbs isn’t exactly inexpensive and doesn’t exactly help a ton with my self image.  I’ve had to buy all new clothes and new bras (my ta-tas, while generous before, are always in the way now) because NOTHING fits anymore. Shirts won’t button, pants won’t budge past my knees.

Even little things are different, like realizing that I take up more space when trying to squeeze into tight corners, or doing yoga and finding my flexibility restricted by my new friend The Chub.

And the world cries out “Eat less, exercise more!” as though it were some kind of magical prescription to make everything better. Well, sometimes it doesn’t. I could go on for pages about what I eat (and don’t eat), what I do for exercise, the amount of activity I get at my job, and really it wouldn’t do any good to the Calories in, Calories out people. Maybe some bodies work just fine as a heat engine, but I’m eating healthier and exercising more than I ever have before, but I went on all these stupid medications and I’m still gaining weight.

Also, it’s really not at all fun to be painfully, ravenously, eat a whole bag of carrots hungry all the time and yet know that you’re already fatter than you used to be.

I’m already eating low-carb, thanks to being gluten free, so I’ve tried to step that up a little, but it means never leaving the house without a string cheese or some almonds or pecans or dried fruit. I refuse to give up carbs entirely (phase 1 of South Beach, essentially) because I can’t take the mental changes that requires – the last time I tried Phase 1, I was a raving, plate-throwing bitch for three weeks. I don’t need any help being crazy these days.

Which kicks off the constant wondering why I’m bothering. Every time I’ve tried to lose weight, I’ve lost it, and then while still on the same diet, still enjoying the benefits of the “lifestyle change” I’ve put the weight all back on, plus 5-10 lbs (if I lost any weight at all. I can put on weight on a calorie restriction diet in ways that just boggle my mind). Every time, even if it was just a quick “lose 10 lbs before someone’s wedding” thing.

So is trying to stay on top of this now only going to mean buying all new clothes again in another 6 months?

Or is ignoring it and just listening to what I know my body needs going to result in the same thing anyway, thanks to metabolic changes from these medications?

Ugh.

*Oh and by the way, the medication I’m on now can cause hyperglycemia and insulin resistance. Yay.