27 February 2014

Stupid Things I Say to My Dog

I live alone with my dog, so naturally I talk to him. A lot. We have some pretty deep conversations. Here are some gems:

  • "Do you want a treat? That was a stupid question."
  • In the bathroom: "Get out of here; I don't need your help. I can pee by myself. I've been doing it for a long time."
  • "It's almost March, so I hope that means it's almost spring. I better not have to wait until April."
  • "That would be the correct sentence structure. Not that you care about sentences. You only know five words." *
  • "I love kisses. Except the ones that go up my nose."
  • After working out: "Yep, lick all the sweat off. Salt is real good. Tastes like Gatorade. Sweat flavored Gatorade."
  • "No, if you're not going to pee, then we're going in. I didn't come out here in the snow to chase squirrels."
  • As he barks at the neighbors: "You're so ferocious. You just made me shit myself in terror."

He pretty much always has the same response. He tilts his head and looks at me like this:
You talkin' to me?

*He actually knows at least ten words: no, okay, bad, sit, stay, down, out, walk, treat, food, ride, and leave it (which is two words, but he doesn't know that)

25 February 2014

Depression Meds

I've been living with depression since my high school years, maybe since 2005-2006. Since then, I've tried a bunch of different medications to try to treat my symptoms and make living bearable.

These are the some of the medications that I've tried:
Prozac (fluoxetine)
Celexa (citalopram)
Paxil (paroxetine)
Lexepro (escitalopram)
Zoloft (sertraline)
Effexor XR (venlafaxine)
Cymbalta (duloxetine)
Viibryd (vilazodone)

Some of these have been more effective than others, and some gave me some pretty bad side effects (like dizziness and terrifying nightmares). I had been using Effexor for a couple years until I started having regular panic attacks--a couple every week. My doctor switched me to Cymbalta (duloxetine) about a week ago, so now I have a new med to add to my list. I really hope that this one is going to work. I have not been sleeping well since I started it, but I'm not sure if it's because of the medicine or from something else. I'll give it some more time and keep my fingers crossed.

24 February 2014

Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size

Over the weekend, I went to a GSA Summit at Dickinson College, and I finally got to meet Ragen Chastain, author of one of my favorite blogs, Dances with Fat. Ragen spoke about body acceptance and the media, and she taught a dance class after lunch, which was actually really fun (I've never danced before, so I was waaaay out of my comfort zone).

Ragen Chastain presenting at Dickinson College
Ragen is a really inspiring person and speaker, so now of course I'm stoked to talk about Size Acceptance and the Health at Every Size philosophy.

The thing is: I'm fat. I'm 5'2'' and around 175 pounds, which the doctor's office loves to tell me is obese. I used to be a "normal" weight in high school (still felt fat though, that's another story), and I gained a lot of weight in college. So now I'm fat. There are a lot of fat people in my family, so I'm sure some of it is genetic.

I'm also moderately active: I do yoga, walk my dog multiple times per day, walk 5k's a few times per year, and do other activities such as swimming when the weather permits. My numbers (aside from weight--like blood pressure etc.) are in the healthy range. I happen to have asthma, but who knows if the weight caused the asthma or if the asthma caused the weight or if it was caused by something else entirely (possibly genetics, since my mother also has asthma).

The point is: yes, I'm fat. I'm also working out, trying to stay healthy, and working on loving myself and my body the way it looks now. Yes, I am tired of hating my body, which is why I was so happy to discover the Size Acceptance (SA) and Health at Every Size (HAES) movements.

Size Acceptance is essentially a movement for civil rights for fat people--you know, basic human dignity and respect for everyone regardless of their weight. Chairs and airplane seats and hospital beds to accommodate everyone. Radical, isn't it?

And Health at Every Size is a health practice based on the belief that people can be healthy no matter their weight (thus "at Every Size"). HAES practitioners work on intuitive eating and doing exercises that they enjoy with a focus on being more healthy, not losing weight.

I've been working on accepting myself and other fat people for the past couple months, and (SHOCKER) it's a lot harder to accept myself than it is to accept other people. Thankfully, there are people like Ragen who tell me every day that being fat does not mean that I'm a horrible person and that foods are not morally good or bad. It was wonderful meeting such an inspiring person! Check out her blog if you're interested in learning more: Dances with Fat.

17 February 2014

Guilt

Living with depression and anxiety comes with a lot of guilt. Up until recently, the main thing I felt guilty about was moving out of my aunt's house while she was in the middle of chemotherapy treatments. Even though she assured me that she would be okay and that she had friends that she could rely on, I felt lousy about it for months.

Then I drove by the trailer where I spent a few months of my childhood while my family was homeless. I was in the area for other reasons and wanted to show my partner a piece of my past. I figured that it had been many years since I had been by there, and I was a little curious if it looked as horrific as I remember it.

The place itself still looked like a hell hole, but how it looked was nothing compared to the memories it drug up. Being told continuously that we (my brother and I) were unwanted and on the verge of being kicked out onto the street (we were about 10 and 12) is what I had remembered from this time; being told that you're going to be "on the outside looking in" is hard to forget. However, I had apparently repressed even worse memories.

The one that haunts me is of our family dog, a rottweiler/lab mix named Bo (named for Bo Diddley). We usually kept Bo inside at our home, but when we moved to the trailer, there wasn't enough room for 12 people as well as our dog (obviously there wasn't even enough room for just the people). Bo stayed outside like the other animals, tied up by himself.

Honestly, I don't know whose responsibility it was to take care of him and make sure he had food and water. All I know is that one day I saw him for the first time in weeks. He was skin and bones - literally starving to death. I can't even imagine the pain he went through during those weeks. It makes me sick just thinking about it.


Bo survived for about another year before he died when I was in 8th grade. I was heartbroken. I had awful dreams about his death. And now I have the weight of guilt. It doesn't matter if his pain and death was my fault or not. It's going to be on my conscience for the rest of my life.

Bo and I at our old home