Archive | November 2011

Wellness

So, I have been gathering steam for an idea I have.  I want to start a small business around Wellness.  Many would ask:  What is Wellness?,  My definition of Wellness is being at peace with what life throws at us and learning to live with it to get the most out of our lives with the challenges we have been given.

As I have been sharing in my blog the past month or so, I have been living with bipolar disorder since I was 15 (diagnosed @ 25), bulimia since age 11, the adult child of an alcoholic, diabetes with serious complications due to the other conditions, and well, like so many others the list goes on…..

I want to help others achieve the level of peace and freedom I have in my life due to the help I’ve gotten over the years and the work I’ve done on my own.  12 step programs have saved my rump on many an occasion.  Therapy is great.  There is something spectacular about hearing the story of one who has gone before you and come out the other side to truly give you hope!  I help people in my job as a crisis counselor.  It’s not always appropriate for me to share my own experience with my clients.  Not only is inappropriate at times, it is also unwanted.  There is a time and place for everything.  Seeking help from one who has gone before you and come out the other side is a different kind of help.

So my idea is this:  Wellness With Jodie.  Sliding scale fees for assisting people learning to live with chronic conditions such as pain, diabetes, various mental health issues, family stressors, eating disorders, et cetera.  I am NOT a professional.  I am not a licensed MFT or LCSW.  I am a woman with 10 years of experience under my belt as a counselor in a para-professional setting who also  has a great deal of personal experience living with issues…. and learning to overcome them to have a happy and full life.  I believe there is great value in sharing one’s experience.  My goal is to make a little money in the process to help out with stressors of my own while giving honest and sincere help to somone who needs it utilizing both my personal and professional skills.  Hmmmm… great idea, if I do say so myself.

What are some of the tools I use to  keep my life in balance?  Good question.  I have a full toolbox.  I utilize my friends and support systems a lot.  I have developed a nice group of girlfriends who are travelling the road with me.  We are all at different places in the journey, yet we support each other beautifully.  I maintain as much routine in my life as possible.  It’s incredibly important for me to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, eat on a schedule.  I am somewhat rigid about things in my life in order to keep things on track and managable.  Little things like I always take my meds before I brush my teeth.  When I brush first, I inevitably forget my meds.  Sleeping in on the weekends has the same effect on the entirety of the day.   I have certain  days I do things so assure that I get them done such as laundry and general housekeeping (always been big issues for me!).  I have a plan in place for how to help myself when I am starting to fall apart at the seems.  Who to call when… and what to do to get back on track.  This is known as a WRAP. (Wellness Recovery Action Plan)  I set clear boundaries and expectations with my support people about what I can do and cannot do.  How much time I can give you and what I need to be OK.  I stay employed!!!!  This is truly one of the greatest tools I have.  It’s not simply the particular work I do… it’s the act of getting up and having purpose.  Finding something we can do to give us purpose is so very important to human functioning.  I journal a lot.  I write my food down all day so I am honest about what it is I’m actually eating throughout the day.  Not eating is just as significant as the overeating.  I make sure to HAVE FUN!!!!!  With all of the recovery type things I do, I always make sure to allow myself one day a week to just enjoy myself with a good book, a friend, a movie… or even just my little Oli.  There are many other things I do.  These are the things which  come to mind first and foremost.

I’m throwing this idea out there to folks all across the US to lean on me for some support should you have a need.  Email me directly if you’re interested.  I check email daily.  wellnesswithjodie@att.net

Blessings and Wellness to each of you this day.

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Hope

Giving thanks.  Isn’t that really what the holidays are supposed to be all about?  Thanksgiving for what we do have.  Time to be with the people we love.  Making time for self care and doing what feels good to  each of us.  This is what the holidays have come to mean to me.

I have so much to be thankful  for this year.  I have friends who love me and wanted to spend the day with me.  Friends who invited me to their home to be with them.  I wasn’t able to attend due to my own plans.  I had friends who chose to come spend time in my home with me throughout the day.  Jo came in the morning.  Annie spent all day.  Kate stopped by in the afternoon.  My phone rang throughout the day.

I am thankful my brother is on the mend.  Slowly he is getting more stable from a massive pulmonary embolism which had him in ICU for about two days. Lots of love and prayers going out to him and my family from friends all around the world.

What I am grateful for above and beyond all else is a  nice man I met by chance on Wednesday.  I was so angry with my phone company that I went to yell at the office.  I wasn’t able to do that, so I took a walk.  Along the way, I wandered into a little optomety store near my home.  I began talking to this man working there.  Soon I came to find out that he is the owner.  He immigrated from Kenya 7 years ago.  Amazing the things you find out about people in only a moment.  I walked away from Felix  with such a renewed sense of hope and inspiration for Benneth’s arrival and positive immigration.  He told us to keep up a good fight and be persistent.  He assured me that Benneth will be able to find work here upon arrival.  That a mixed marriage isn’t such a difficult thing in Sonoma County like it was years past.  I walked away from this man, Felix, telling him he was my Thanksgiving Gift.

The stress of the distance and many months apart have put such a strain on Benneth & me.  It seems that we have argued more in the past two months than we have in the past two years.  Not just seems… we have!  Even the faith which has held us together has been tested and grounds for argument.  How can people who love each other so much fight over everything just because they miss one another so much?  The need to be together is the only reason Ben & I ever argue.

How do  we solve this need to be together?  Where does the time off come from to allow me to be there?  Where does the money come from to get me there?  Where does the money come from to pay for the attorney fees  to have a successful case?

The need for my Benneth at the holidays is killing me.  It’s so hard to be apart.  Being here with my friends and family…  but not having HIM is utterly painful and disheartening.  Smelling  the scents and spending hours cooking for everyone except him.  Wrapping gifts for everyone but him.  Singing Christmas carrolls with everyone except for Ben.  The need to with him and hold him… tell him I love him.  Talking on the phone and video chatting just isn’t the same as holding him in my arms!

Felix gave me hope again.  The ability to stand strong and keep up the good  fight.  If one of us loses faith in the fight,we  both might as well walk away.  I hadn’t lost my faith…. just a temporary inability to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

SOON…. very soon… I will be with my Benneth!

Bulimia

Who woulda guessed that I’d go into total withdrawals without my computer?!  This past Monday I was reading some guys blog and BAM! my computer went blank and totally died.  After 4 hours of it trying to repair itself it gave up.  Sooo… for a little while I am without a computer except for a little bit here and there at work.

After years of having a computer at my fingertips 24/7, I have come to depend on it.   I never really thought about my dependence on it.  I do my banking online, catch up with friends on Facebook, lots of emailing, blog now, search for yummy recipes, and just generally entertain myself.  I haven’t had a TV with cable in my house since I moved out of my mom’s.  The computer is truly my friend!  lol

The thing I miss the most about having a working computer at home is the ability to reach out to friends at those odd hours when it’s just not appropriate to call.  You know, that 3am itch to talk to someone when the thoughts are just going through your head and you can’t make them stop.  I have a couple of friends now that I generally write to at those times.  Those crazy hour emails have been life savers on more than one occasion!

I am in a 12 step program to deal with food issues.  I have used food as a crutch for dealing with life since… well.. forever!  I think I went into full fledged bulimia at age 11.  I don’t think I started purging until I was 14, but the eating disorder was there.  Binging and restricting has been my life.    Having gone 4 months now without binging is amazing!  The restriction has been a little more of an issue during this time.  It, too, is coming more into balance.  What does this have to do with not having my computer?  Well, when my committee is going it’s a great tool to get up and write about it.  I email my sponsor, write into an online meeting I belong to, or just start a fresh Word document and write until it’s all out.  The act of writing just seems to be so useful in getting the unwanted thoughts and feelings out of my head so I don’t have to carry them around with me.  There have been many a time when email has saved my butt in terms of not binging or committing to eating a healthy meal instead of starving myself.

My goal at this point is to be abstinent.  What does this mean?  For me, the definition is that I don’t eat any wheat/flour, refined sugar, anything in the hot dog/sausage family, potato chips, nothing in between meals, and no seconds.  Sounds hard, doesn’t it?  It is at times.  Eating out is truly a nightmare!  There are so many places I can’t eat at all.  I limit my carbs to once a day or sometimes once every few days.  I do better when I don’t eat carbs daily.  I feel better overall.  Besides that, it helps with the weight loss and keeping my A1c down.  Being abstinent has brought me out of the diabetic range, decreased my blood pressure and pulse, and brought my weight down 69 lbs.  Beyond just the physical recovery, I am now able to truly feel all of my emotions and see patterns in my life.  Funny how something like not eating compulsively can bring such clarity to the mind and body.

I was told about 7 years ago that I have bulimia.  I don’t purge in the “normal” way. (Throwing up).  My purging has been through compulsive excercise.  My medical doctor told me not long ago that it’s impossible to exercise too much.  Well, I beg to differ.  When I am exercising 5 hours a day every day and not eating, this is too much!  For me the exercising goes hand-in-hand with the restriction.  The more I excercise, the less I eat.  The first time I did this, I was 14.  The summer before I started high school.  I dropped about 30 lbs in a month and a half.  I was swimming 100 laps a day and just not eating.  I was so proud!  And… I got a lot of positive reinforcement from family and friends about the weight loss.  I’ve done this several times in my life.  (4, I think.)  The last time was when I was diagnosed with bulimia and forced into treatment.  I lost 90 lbs in 2 1/2 months.  It was crazy!  I weighed myself about 10 times a day and barely ate enough to keep my body going.  I was averaging about 500 calories a day.  I almost passed out in the shower one night from lack of food.

The treatment was a DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) program at Kaiser.  I wasn’t committed to being there.  I went because I was told I had to.  Despite not wanting to be there and thinking I didn’t really need it, I learned a lot of skills and tools.  I learned to urge surf, which is my main coping skill for dealing with the bulimia these days.  Urge surfing, in a nutshell, is postponing until the urge to do X behavior has passed.  It’s amazingly helpful.  This is yet one more way my computer comes into play.  lol  Getting online and playing at something eases my mind and takes me away from whatever I’m feeling which is making me want to binge.  The other tool I learned was eating 3 meals a day.  When I’m skipping meals, my body is truly hungry, so I am more at risk for binging at some point when I do eat.  If not a binge, then at least eating more than I would like to.  My mind tells me that I am eating too much when I eat three meals a day.  It’s OK to not believe everything my mind tells me!  When I look at the actual quantity of food I eat with 3 meals a day versus a binge… hands down, better to eat the 3 meals!

It’s been a long time since I’ve purged in any form. (about 7 years!)  I’ve used excercise and laxatives to compensate for the eating.  It seems that when I am in binge mode I don’t purge.  I purge when I am in the restriction mode.  Hmmmm… think this is a little odd.  One of the things everyone in an eating disorder program/class learns is the best way to binge and purge.    What foods come up the easiest.  Techniques.  It didn’t even occur to me to use laxatives until I went into treatment.  Now, I’m not saying that treatment is a bad thing!!!!  There are so many good things I got from the program.  I went for 7 straight months.  Every Thursday night was DBT.  Since I haven’t purged in so many years, I am unwilling and frankly…afraid.. to use any kind of laxative.  With the changes in my diet, I no longer have chronic diarrhea from the gluten.  I now have some pretty bad constipation.  What’s a girl to do when it hurts to go?!  I spoke with my doctor today and we decided it’s OK for me to take DSS (docusate sodium).  The dietician has always told me get all the fiber, etc, I need through my diet.  I don’t think it’s possible for me to eat enough fiber in a day!  lol  Sooo… I am trying out the DSS.  I have some fears about it… but I am doing it.  My biggest fear about any form of laxative isn’t the compulsion to abuse it.  Truly, it is the physical discomfort of stopping the use.  The horrific constipation I experienced when stopping its use was unbelievable!  If the idea of using laxatives sounds good to you… think about this… not being able to poop normally for a long time and having such intense constipation that you bleed and spend hours trying to go… for a few weeks.  Yeah, it’s bad!

Well, this is all for today.  I’m sure I’ll write more about this topic again one day.  Being in reovery from bulemia is such a gift!  I pray that everyone out there suffering fromt his madness will be able to find the help and support they need to reach a place of balance and peace within themselves to be able to stop the cycle!