Where The Hell Have I Been?

Subtitle: I f’ed up.

Over the last 6 months, I have made 8 posts. 8 ÷ 6, carry the…

While I don’t need to explain this pitiful output and have ruminated about disclosure for the paucity of posts, I decided finally to out myself. Not that kind of outing. Anyone who reads more than one post knows I am out.

Also, everyone knows that I am a yo-yo’er. I have, however, maintained or lost weight consistently over the past 2+ years. Not this winter. My bingeing returned with a vengeance as my SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder) burst into major depression. So here comes the “outing” part. I have recurrent episodes of depression that are more significant than regular readers might have thought. The occasional mention of “my therapist” refers to the amazing woman who has been treating me for over 12 years with a myriad of meds and analysis. (Hey, she is the only one allowed to say that I have a form of bipolar illness. I don’t even get to say it.) No, I do not get manic – too bad because I could use a creative flair now and then. I have had episodes of hypomania that usually manifest as irritability (OK, more than usual), insomnia, and anxiety. One could call it Bipolar II – but we aren’t using the “B” word 🙂 I could provide history of my disorder and the amazing family history that snakes up both sides of the family tree. (It’s in the blood as the Amish say.) But that is boring and not the intent here.

Life had been smooth sailing until the end of December when I hit one of my lowest episodes in recent memory. No matter the cause – I like to blame it on my trials as a breast cancer surgery survivor – I tried to sooth myself with food. Even though it didn’t work, I kept trying and not writing and not weighing and gained almost 20 pounds.

Why should you care? Folks with depression and other forms of “more common and less severe” mental illness receive less support, acceptance, and tolerance from family and friends. My own wonderful partner called my lazy during this episode. I was suicidal.  People do not get treatment because of societal judgment of these common mental conditions that can lead to major bad outcomes.

Moral of the story: If you are depressed, get help. It is a major illness. Treatment is effective. Most of us are highly functioning members of society, even. If you know someone who is depressed, please be understanding, ask what you can do to support them. For god’s sake, don’t call them lazy.

With some tweaking of meds, support of my partner (who finally saw my distress), and other changes, I managed to stop bingeing and get back to monitoring. In one month, I lost 13 pounds eating on plan. Now it’s time to write again. Honestly, part of the reason for this post is to remind me that the next time I feel like bingeing, I need to check in with my brain AND my body.

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Memorial Day – Observe or Mourn?

Monday we observe, honor, celebrate (?), our military dead. I wrote last fall a little about my struggle with aspects of armed service given my leanings to non-violence. I am moved to tears each time I see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the somber USS Arizona where 1,102 men are entombed, and the vastness of Arlington National Cemetery. Clearly we need a strong defense. I would take up arms to protect my family and community from invasion.

So many wars and “conflicts”, however, are not about defending anything. Over 700,000 troops died during the civil war. Slavery was just one factor – economics and states’ rights (sound familiar ?) also were  important causes. WWII was seen as a “good war” because we were attacked, and the U.S. was instrumental in liberating Europe from Hitler.  Over 400,000 American troops died. Yet the number of dead soldiers does not begin to count the costs of war. Perhaps they are just they easiest to identify and quantify. This quote from former President Eisenhower, who was the Supreme Allied Commander of Allied Forces in Europe in WWII, has resonated with me for years: “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

Peace to those who have lost loved ones fighting in armed conflict for our government. Strength to all who struggle for peace among nations.

Monday is not meant to be about barbeque, shopping, or outdoor fun. Take a little time to observe Memorial day in your own manner.

child at grave marker

Arlington National Cemetery

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

Afghani war widow

Afghani war widow

war orphans from sierra leone

Sierra Leone war orphans