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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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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!

The Meaning of Dreams

Now, I’ve been having dreams about an ex for the past 15 years.  All of them have been around us getting back together.  At no time in the dreams of getting back with him am I happy or excited.  It’s always a sense of dread that I’m going back into this terrible relationship where I’m not happy, loved, and pretty much alone despite sharing a home with him.  A few months ago I dreamt that we were on the verge of reconnecting when I ran away to be with Benneth. Last night I had the most amazing dream about Doug.  I went to visit him.  We talked and laughed.  I saw his best friend again.  I told him I’m marrying Benneth.  When it was time to leave, I hugged him and said goodbye.  As I walked away, I had a tear in my eye and was able to recall the good things in our relationship…. some of the things I loved about him.  I compared him to Benneth and saw some similarities… and some things so very different.  I was able to love him for  just a moment for who he is and not hate him anymore.  What a beautiful moment!

It’s funny to me that I hardly ever dream about Ben.  He is such a part of my daily life in all ways.  I share every part of my life with him through my stories.  When I wake he is my first thought.  As I choose what to cook for dinner, I wonder if he’d like it and wish he were here to share it with me.  As I lay down to sleep, he is my very last thought as my eyes close.  Yet he isn’t in my dreams.

I wonder if there wasn’t room in my dreams for him yet because I was still working through my goodbyes with my ex?  Guess I’ll never know.  Will be interesting if I suddenly start having dreams about him!  Ben tells me dreams about me and us practically every day.  They are fun and sweet.  Most of them pretty routine things that happen in life.  Like I am so much a part of his life that he is never without a thought of me… awake or sleeping.  At times I have felt guilty that I don’t dream about him… as if not dreaming about him is saying he is not as important to me as I am to him.  This is so not true!    My commitment to him is immense and as close to perfect as I can ever get.

I am so very happy that I have finally said my goodbyes to Doug!  I have finally let go completely of all my guilt, shame, and blame around my relationship with him.  I have told him I’m moving on and am marrying the man I love… and who loves me so very much.  Today, I am very grateful for my dreams!