Done With Diets

It has come to my attention that I am incapable of dieting.

Properly, I’m incapable of dieting properly.

A little bit of background: I used to be overweight, a hangover effect from being on an inappropriate dose of seroquel. Then I changed to Zeldox, and lost 25 kg.

If you’re reading this and think losing weight will fix your body issues I hate to tell you but losing weight for me brought a range of new body issues. I was happy with my body before I lost weight but now my body just feels like a work in progress.

To make matters worse last year while dealing with increased seroquel, stress from lack of sleep and trying to get my drinking under control I gained 10kg. This time I wasn’t ok with being overweight and my body image took a nosedive. So I set about trying to lose that weight.

To start with my weight loss attempts were decent. I managed to lose 7 of the 10 kg by exercise and an appropriate caloric deficit. But then I stalled, and things fell apart.

You see, while researching nutrition to find the best way to healthily lose weight, I realised that after I first lost weight I was eating far too little. Part of this was due to the reduced appetite that came with starting zeldox, and part of it, I realise now, I was scared of putting weight back on because I knew it would make my already precarious body image worse. I was losing weight eating more than how I maintained my weight for over a year.

So when I stalled, I got it into my head that I need to eat the same way as I did at my lowest. And that’s what I tried to do, for a bit. But purposeful restriction ended up being very triggering.

For the past few weeks I have been terrified of certain foods, and developed this curious habit of binging in the morning. I get up, weigh myself, and regardless of what the scale says go straight to the fridge.

During this time I had a relapse with my drinking. After staying dry for months I started binge drinking at night. I have had these kind of relapses before and it usually happens when I try to stick to a restrictive diet. I would starve all day, then drink a bottle of wine. When you’re drunk you will make bad choices when you want to eat and this is what ended up happening.

While all this was going on, ironically the thing I was trying to avoid happened – I gained back a couple of kilos.

Yesterday, while I was feeling miserable after being full of wine and a massive meal I came to the conclusion that I can’t diet anymore. I just can’t. It’s too triggering.

So does this mean I’m going to eat whatever I want, whenever I want? No. I will try to eat well, but I will allow myself to indulge occasionally. It means I am focussing on health, not weight loss.

When I see influencers – usually plus size, saying that they were focussing on health, not weight loss I didn’t understand it. Wouldn’t health mean weight loss? But now I do. Framing clean eating around losing weight it too triggering for a lot of people, and I realise now that I am one of them.

So for now, the focus is accepting myself at the size I am. I did it before I lost weight, I can do it again, surely.


2018 Goals

2017 is DEAD. And so is every promise I made to myself this year.

At the new years eve party I was asked about new years resolutions and I didn’t know what to say, partly because I hadn’t thought about it and partly because goals I make for myself are linked to my mental health and wellness and really too personal/confronting for polite conversation.

I spent the 1st sleeping off a hangover and nursing a back injury that I got at the gym a few days ago. That brings us to today, and I’m forced to think about the matter more seriously.

As I was browsing through facebook this morning I saw this article by Rosie Waterland,

“Why New Year’s Resolutions are Pointless”

The article says, basically new years resolutions are always going to end in disappointment. So by setting them, you’re only causing yourself disappointment and strain on your mental health.

Rosie approaches this article from a context of mental health struggles and tragedy in her own life that I can relate to but still I fundamentally disagree with her because she is making two assumptions:

a) Setting goals is only worthwhile if you’re going to achieve them
b) If life is shit now, it will always be shit

So, I’ll start with point a.
I absolutely think you should set goals for 2018, if you are so inclined. But you have to have a plan, and be prepared to shift your focus. There’s no point saying you’re going to run a marathon, and making no extra time to train, and having no training plan. Actual research has to go into that.

A goal, and a path to achieve that goal is not a linear process – it’s a journey. If you make a resolution, put changes in place to get there but still fall short, you’re still further along than you were at the start of the year. So you set out to lose 20 kilos but you only lost 10? You still had to make huge changes to your lifestyle to achieve that.

Which brings me to – be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your achievements even if they weren’t what you were hoping for. Maybe you didn’t make any progress. You probably had a good reason! The effects of stress, mental illness and tragedy on someone’s life isn’t always visible and sometimes, as Rosie says in her column, you have to be gentle with yourself. She also says, and I’m paraphrasing, she is more likely to win an Oscar than to ever go to the gym yet in another paragraph admits to going three times in 2017. With those kind of odds she should probably be proud of that progress!


So, point B.
Say I’m in survival mode right now. To avoid setting goals because I think I will always be in survival mode is overly fatalistic. We don’t know what is in our future. We just don’t.
When I was talking about future plans in therapy, my psychologist says I have a tendency to assume that when I undertake a new task/life change, I won’t cope. When I think that way I become overly anxious and ultimately sabotage myself.


Yes mental health slip ups may occur and interfere with your goals, and it’s important to have a plan in place if they do, but if you avoid making plans in case this happens you will never achieve anything.


So with that in mind, what are some goals I have set for myself in 2018?


Drink less.
As a problem drinker, this is always the goal. Notice I don’t say don’t drink at all, I am using the same principle with dieting, if I cut something out completely I will be more likely to relapse and binge. My aim is a couple of drinks a week.


Develop a weights routine.
Unlike Rosie, I don’t feel like fitness goals are hilarious for me because I have always been active and am looking to improve my fitness and activity level beyond roller derby twice a week. I started at the gym a couple of weeks ago and started using weights but unfortunately have had to take a break because I strained my back. This probably happened because of bad form, so I’m hoping to do some personal training to fix my form and develop a routine that works for me.


Take my morning medication
This is a big one. I never forget my night meds because I don’t sleep without them, but with the morning set I am less reliable. To get my anxiety levels under control that needs to change, so I’m trying using a tracker in my traveller’s notebook insert so I can cross off when I take them.


If you want to make resolutions, don’t feel like it’s a pointless exercise if you don’t achieve them, there’s nothing wrong with having goals, it’s all about your attitude toward yourself. If you don’t want to make them? That’s fine too, you’ll still look back at the end of the year and be able to track your achievements.




It’s Ok Not to Enjoy Christmas

When I was a teenager I was sitting in my room crying at midnight on Christmas eve. My Mum came in to see why my light was still on and asked me what was wrong.
“I just feel like I’m going to have a terrible time tomorrow because I feel terrible. You’re supposed to enjoy Christmas.”

I’d been having a bad time with my mental health for pretty much all of my teen years and along with feeling like shit all the time comes with guilt for not enjoying holidays and family celebrations like I felt I was expected to, and I was feeling that keenly that Christmas eve.

Mum said that the holiday season puts unfair expectations on Christmas to be the most amazing day but it’s stressful for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, and I could just work on getting through it. I can’t really remember Christmas that year but I don’t remember it being terrible, it’s as if my mother’s words gave me permission to be not ok allowed me to coast through it with minimal guilt.

Mental health problems and other stressors don’t take a break just because it’s Christmas. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is pretend to be grateful for gifts you don’t want, sit through dinner with obnoxious relatives or hear any more of that ghastly Christmas music. But tell yourself it’s ok not to enjoy these things – lots of people don’t – and look toward eating chocolate covered almonds and watching Christmas specials.



A Spoonie’s Checklist For the Holidays

Well, Christmas is less than a week away. Are you completely prepared? No? That’s ok, neither am I.

As well as shopping for gifts and catering it’s important to remember that services shut down over Christmas and the new year so those of us who rely on them need to plan our care around that. This is just a brief checklist of things ypu may need to take care of before everything shuts down. I have to note this is just based off my needs, other spoonie friends may require different services that I don’t know about so I apologise in advance for not mentioning them.

So, here is a spoonie’s to do list for the holiday season.

1. Don’t leave Christmas shopping to the last minute.
If you have anxiety like me, over crowded shopping centres with stressed out people and no parking spaces coming up to Christmas are like the last thing you want to deal with, which is why I started my shopping in November. Unfortunately I’m not done because Pea kind of left it to the last minute to tell me that he wants me to buy for all of his family – including five nieces and nephews – and he has no idea what they whant. (Men, amirite?) I have bought for most of them so far and hope to knock over the rest today, which will be a huge stressor off my back once I know I don’t have to brave the shopping centres any more.

2. Plan your grocery shopping to ensure you have everything you need.
Supermarkets will be shutting for a day, or a few days, depending on where you live, so make a list of everything you need to see you through and stock up, there’s nothing worse than running out of toilet paper on Christmas day. It’s important to remember though it is ONLY for a few days – no need to buy enough toilet paper for a month. If you are catering for Christmas make sure you have everything you need – I never go without a list. Yes the shops are stressful this time of year (see above) but you will feel so much better once you are back home with all your supplies.

3. Sort out your scripts.
I haven’t done this yet…shit.
The local pharmacy may close from a few days to a week so if your meds are running low it would be a good idea to fill your scripts now. Two of mine need doing, and I need to dig out the repeats and take them up today.

4. Sort out your care plans and referrals for the new year.
Hopefully you’ve already done this but if not, make that appointment now. If made now, you can probably get an appointment early in the new year. I need a new mental health plan, they need doing every cander year. The surgery I work at only closes for three days over Christmas and two days over new year but the number of calls I get from people panicking because they have an appointment with their specialist and they haven’t got an updated referral is frustrating. Make your appointments now.

5. Plan for the day.
Nothing gives me anxiety like knowing a big event is coming up but not knowing what I’m doing for it. With two families to juggle between I like to know what I’m doing long in advance. Pea is the complete opposite, and takes a what ever happen, will happen approach. Despite my best efforts he has been reluctant to nail down plans with his family but we got there in the end. If you’re like me, you may want to figure out exactly where you’re going for the day, and rsvp.

Hopefully Christmas goes smoothly, and here’s to a healthier new year.


Cymbalta Shortage In Australia – What To Do If It Affects You

Last night, a facebook friend shared a status from one of her friends saying there was a shortage of Cymbalta, or Duloxetine, in Australia. And by shortage I mean absolutely none left until December. Apparently this woman was not made aware until she went to the chemist to fill her script and was told they were all out. And this was a problem because she had waited until she was completely out before going to get more.
(Medicated friends – never ever do this. I don’t as a rule.)
For those not in the know Cymbalta belongs to the unconventional class of antidepressants known as the serotonin – norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs) For those of us with mental illnesses it is used for depression and anxiety but is also used to treat chronic pain.
This drug is not one of the cocktail that I take – a doctor that I don’t normally see considered putting me on it a couple of years ago but we mutually came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the best fit. But being part of the mental health community naturally I take interest to such a crisis that may affect other spoonies that I know so here we are.
I couldn’t actually find any media coverage of this shortage – amazing! I bet if we had a warfarin shortage or a chemo drug the media would be all over that (insert eye roll emoji) the truth is I couldn’t find any data that indicates how many people in Australia this actually affects, so I don’t know the magnitude of the problem.
So I turned to someone who might know – my dad. He’s a GP, not a psychiatrist but manages quite a few patients on Cymbalta.
Unlike the woman on facebook, he has been aware of the shortage for a few weeks and has been trying to get his patients onto alternatives. Cymbalta comes in two strengths, and he’s not sure if both are out.
So if this affects you, what should you do?
Do NOT go cold turkey, says dad. Ring your GP and your psychiatrist and try to get in asap. If you’re thinking, yeah right as if I can get a quick appointment with a psychiatrist you might be surprised what they might do for you in a dire situation. My psychiatrist’s receptionist told me she doesn’t do emergency appointments but when I rang her directly and told her I hadn’t slept for four days she got me in that day.
So if this affects you, good luck. I hope you find a good alternative, and withdrawal isn’t too difficult.


What It’s Like to Go On A Hen’s Night As A Problem Drinker

I drank more than everyone else and not as much as I wanted. Story of my life these days really.
So back to last Friday night: I had to go on a hen’s night, for the first time since my drinking became a problem. That meant being in situations where alcohol as readily available, and I had to make the decision to partake and try to avoid being ‘that’ drunk in the group or not drinking at all.
I chose to drink. Bear in mind that I had arranged to be picked up afterwards by my parents so if I was obviously drunk when they got me, they wouldn’t be happy.
The other object of consideration was that the hen is a christian girl, as are most of her friends and the others are mums who have to get up to young children the next day so in that scene, no-one is going to be drinking a lot. If I get black out drunk I will stick out.
The hen’s party consisted of dinner at a fancier pub bistro then bowling at a nearby games centre that serves cocktails. Very sensible activities but with a lot of alcohol available.
With the above considerations in mind I went to the pub. The bride the be was already there, and a few of the other girls were also arriving so we immediately went to get drinks. I took note of what everyone else ordered – a few lemonades, lemon lime and bitters – and when it was my turn thought fuck it, might as well have one to start the evening off and ordered my standard poison, a gin and tonic.
I took my drink back to the table and put it down. “Oh did you get a piece of lime in your lemonade? That’s a good idea.” The maid of honour asked cheerfully.
“no, it’s a gin and tonic.” I admitted sheepishly
“Ah…lemonade with extra then. Nice.”
It is a conscious effort for me to drink slowly but I did that, only allowing myself one sip at a time. I made myself get engrossed in the conversation as I hadn’t seen these particular friends for awhile and the bride was more than happy to talk about all the intricacies of wedding planning. I told myself that I would only have another gin and tonic with dinner.
We had dinner and I tried to be as healthy as you can be with pub dinner (steak and veggies) and got my second gin and tonic. I was appalled when I ordered from a different bartender and he charged me more.
We finished eating and I finished my drink, then the bride said “We’ll wait another half hour then we’ll walk to bowling.”
I found myself thinking, half an hour…that’s enough time to get another drink. No, I told myself firmly, you can wait until we get to bowling.
After we got to the next venue we had to wait for a lane. Some of the girls started playing arcade games and I went predictably straight to the bar and perused the cocktail list. Immediately my attention went to a long island iced tea. Tempting, but I don’t want to be comatose by the time my parents pick me up with I definitely will be if I drink one of those. I settled for a gin mixer and went on my way.
We started bowling which I am terrible at. So many gutter balls. About halfway though they gave us bumpers and strangely my scores went up while everyone elses scores went down. In amongst this I found time for another sneaky cocktail.
Our time on our lane ended and the girls were wanting the go to karaoke but I knew I was just going to keep drinking so I decided to call it a night. I called my parents and they came and got me. I didn’t feel drunk, and nothing was said about how sober I appeared on the ride home.
I guess the biggest thing I’ve learnt on this journey is when to remove yourself from the situation. This is what I keep with me moving forward.


Worrying Things That Happened When I Was Drunk

As I have been trying to get clean and stay clean I thought it would be a good idea to revisit some unfortunate things that happened when I’ve been drinking so I have a list to think about next time I want to nail myself.  As you will see these things range from mildly annoying to very concerning.

  • I overspent with internet shopping
  • With the internet shopping I bought strange things I would likely never wear
  • I posted strange things on social media
  • I missed derby practice because I was too drunk to drive (and skate, obviously)
  • I had broken sleep
  • I cut and burned myself while cooking drunk
  • Pea went out once when I had been drinking and returned to find me unconscious at the bottom of the back steps. We don’t know if I fell and hit my head or what.
  • I withdrew from my savings account to pay for all the alcohol I was drinking
  • I missed out of family events because I was passed out drunk
  • I couldn’t enjoy other family events because I was hungover
  • I threw up in the bedroom
  • Throwing up on myself. Vomit laundry is no fun
  • I blacked out and couldn’t remember the night before
  • I missed work due to broken sleep from drinking
  • I gained weight
  • I was more likely to crave and eat junk food when drunk (see weight gain above)
  • I also ate badly when hungover
  • A blood test revealed abnormalities in my liver enzymes

These are just some things for me to think about, and hopefully I can do better.