Be Patient

House Season 6, Episode 3 – Epic Fail:

House: My leg’s killing me. Cooking helped for a while. I guess I got bored. My leg started hurting again, then I got worried, and that made the pain worse.

Dr. Nolan: What are you worried about?

House: That nothing’s gonna help. That I end up in the very dark place. I’m fine… Just not happy.

Dr. Nolan: I didn’t let you out because you were happy. I let you out, because I believe you had the skills to cope with that. You tried one thing. It didn’t work. So move on. Write. Play chess.

House: What if nothing works? What if nothing gives me more than a few days before my brain starts looking for the next fix, before my leg feels like someone’s shoving nails into it? What do I do then?

Dr. Nolan: If nothing in the world can hold your interest, uh, we’ll deal with that when we get to it. But you have to trust me, and you have to be patient.

I can relate a lot to how House feels here. Although the last several weeks I have been quite depressed, for most of this year I have been “fine…just not happy.” In fact, I have been pretty miserable. On the surface though, things are fine – I’m maintaining my weight, going to class, going to work etc. I have great friends and a family. But I’m not happy because my brain simply will not shut up.

Like House, I worry that nothing is going to work. In his case he is looking for a distraction from the pain in his leg, in my case I am looking for relief from the eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. I have a new treatment plan that seems to be working well, but it is very slow going and, well, I am not a patient person. Everyone keeps telling me that it is going to take time. After all, I have had an eating disorder for 18 years – it isn’t going to go away with a few months of recovery. I am trying to hang on and trust everyone, but it is definitely quite hard some days.

Advertisements

Hope

From House M.D Season 4, Episode 14 – Living the Dream:

House: “No, you’re afraid to change. You’d rather imagine that you can escape instead of actually try. ‘Cause if you fail, then you got nothing. So you’ll give up the chance of something real so you can hold onto hope. The thing is, hope is for sissies.”

I blogged about this quote previously as part of a longer entry on how the eating disorder serves as sort of a scapegoat for not meeting the high expectations I have for myself. However, I was rereading the quote the other night, and it spoke to me in a new way, so I wanted to touch on it again.

Specifically, this time the part about imagining the escape stood out to me.Often before starting a higher level of care, I feel hopeful. I imagine myself feeling better – not having headaches, not feeling so cold. Because I know I am not doing well with eating, I blame all of these physical symptoms on the eating disorder, and thus have hope that things can get better if I can stop the symptoms. However, I then start eating more and the reality is, I don’t feel better. My head is still pounding, often worse than before I started eating more (probably from the stress of eating more). I’m tired. I’m nauseated. I then lose all hope and get really depressed. I struggle to hold onto the hope that I will ever feel better. In turn, I start to lose hope that I can ever have a normal life.

What I take from this quote is that the hope I get from holding onto the eating disorder may feel good, but it’s at the expense of achieving something real – a life that consists of more than the eating disorder. Although it’s hard, I have to figure out a way to keep up the hope that things will change while I’m actively trying to change. Rather than focusing on how awful I feel and how things don’t seem to be improving, I need to remember that the alternative is not much better.

Rituals

House M.D.: Season 7, Episode 8:

Dr. House: We’re hardwired for answers…Problem is when we don’t find a logical answer, we settle for a stupid one.  Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational.

I’m not saying the eating disorder is a “stupid” answer, it’s not that simple. However, my experience does fir this quote. When I feel poorly physically, I immediately try to figure out a logical answer. For example, when I am I tired I try to figure out all the possible reasons – did I get too little sleep? Too much? Did I drink too much or too little caffeine? Nine times out of ten though, I can’t find a logical reason. I’m sleeping enough, eating enough, drinking enough etc. So, I “settle for a stupid” answer – I blame eating. I start to think that maybe I’m feeling tired (or have headaches or whatever) because I am eating too much. I somehow figure that if I eat less, I’ll feel better.

Along with that, while rationally I know that engaging in eating disorder behaviors is not helpful, they are so hardwired after seventeen years that it is fairly easy to fall back into the rituals. Rationally, I know that every time I start down that road, it winds up leading me away from life and into a higher level of care. I try very hard to stay in wise mind and counter distortions with rational responses. However, the process is incredibly exhausting, and often times the eating disorder just keeps pushing until eventually I just get worn out. Then when that happens, I turn back to the rituals.

In keeping with this quote, I think that I need to stop looking so hard for answers. I need to accept that sometimes I am going to be tired, or sometimes there isn’t going to be a perfectly rational response to the eating disorder thoughts. I think that if I can accept the uncertainty, or at least be less obsessed with having an answer, that might keep me from turning back to the rituals.

 

Obsessing

House: Started thinking about what you said, about me obsessing. Started obsessing about obsessing.

Season 6, “Epic Fail”

I have been thinking about this quote a lot as I try to work on decreasing my obsessive thinking. I obviously have obsessive thinking related to food and weight, but the obsessive thinking extends beyond that. My therapist and I have recently started talking about other types of obsessive thinking, and it’s been eye opening to realize that not everyone spends time obsessing about, well, basically everything.

I remember as a kid being very obsessed with saying or doing the “right” thing. I would replay conversations in my head and rehearse future conversations until they were “just right.” I know it’s perfectly normal to think about a previous interaction or prepare for an important discussion, but I would do it over EVERY interaction. I still struggle with this, although not nearly as much as I used to. I wonder if some of the obsession about food and weight is a way to take my focus off of these other obsessions.

My therapist introduced me to this thing called “Just Right OCD”, which fits with a lot of these obsessions. You can read more about it here. I don’t really struggle with making sure things are “just right” (i.e. that a pen is in the exact right spot on the desk), but I definitely obsess about making sure that I express myself “just right” or write an email (or even this blog post “just right.”

In light of all of this, I am now trying to focus less on making things “just right”, both with food and other things. So in honor of that, I am writing this blog post and NOT editing it over and over again. I apologize in advance for any errors, but hopefully this is the first step towards getting rid of some of this obsessive thinking.

Don’t Give Up

House Season 5, Episode 23 “Under My Skin”:

House: Why don’t I feel scared?

Wilson: I’d say you’re unaware of what you’re feeling at this moment.

House: I feel like crap. My life if falling apart, but I don’t feel scared. Not of the rehab, anyway…It won’t work.

Wilson: You want it to work this time…House, it’s your only option.

House: What do I do if my only option won’t work?

Wilson: You don’t give up.

The above exchange occurs after House admits to Wilson that he is having hallucinations, and all causes other than his Vicodin addiction have been ruled out as the cause for the hallucinations. Thus, he agrees to go to rehab, and is packing when him and Wilson have the above conversation.

Lately, I have been in kind of a depressive funk, and it is making everything a lot harder in terms of ED recovery.Thankfully, my life is not falling apart. I am still managing to work despite the depression, and I have amazing friends and family. But, just like House, I feel more like crap than I do scared. I would say that unlike House, there is a part of me that is scared, but overwhelmingly, I just don’t feel well (physically and mentally). Perhaps what Wilson says about not being sure of what House is feeling holds true for me too. House is probably unaware of what he is feeling due to the drugs, but for me, it’s the depressive funk clouding my emotions.

Regardless, I will say that I can relate to the hopelessness House seems to feel. I feel like I am out of options. I’ve done inpatient and PHP a bunch of times, and although they have helped, I am often unable to sustain the gains I’ve made. I’ve also done IOP that is more focused on the mood stuff than the ED, and again, while it has helped me learn certain things intellectually, it hasn’t really translated into lasting behavior change. I currently have a wonderful outpatient therapist, but even she is frustrated with how I continue to get caught in the trap of the ED.

As corny as it sounds though, hearing Wilson say “you don’t give up” actually helped me feel a little better. I may feel as if I have no more options, but I have to keep reminding myself that giving up is also not an option. I may feel right now like nothing will work, but it will. So thanks Wilson, for giving me a little boost on this Friday morning 🙂

 

Mattering

This post sort of relates to the last post I wrote about happiness.  In that post, I talked about how rather than focusing on the goal of being happy, it makes more sense to focus on finding meaning in the things I am doing in life.  If I can feel like I have meaning, I do think happiness will follow.

So, it is only fitting that the following exchange from the season 5 House episode “Dying Changes Everything” stood out to me the other day.  It is between a patient and Thirteen (one of the doctors):

“Lou: And you want to make sure your life matters.

Thirteen:” [nods] I don’t want to just be tightening blots and following instructions. I want something to be different because of me.” 

I can definitely relate to Thirteen.  In a previous post (If You Don’t Try, You Can’t Fail –  also used a House quote, by the way), I touched on this subject.  As I said in that post, is not that I want to be famous, but I want to feel that I have had an impact on the world.

Now I know that in some way or another, everyone has an impact on the world.  I have had several friends pass away in the last few years from their eating disorder, and I can definitely say that each one had an impact on this world, even if they were only here on earth for a short time.  I can also definitely say ways in that each of my friends and/or family members have an impact on me and on the world.

However, when it comes to myself, I have very high expectations for what it means to make an impact, I have very high expectations for myself. Whenever I would get involved in activities in high school or college, I always tried to go above and beyond to do something that would leave an impact, or legacy.  Something that future generations would be able to see and remember me by.  Because I am not doing anything tangible right now that I know will definitely have an impact on the future (like raising a kid or figuring out world peace), I feel like my life lacks meaning.  I would never say this about anyone else, but for me, I set the standards very high.

Lately, I’ve been struggling a lot with getting sucked into this vortex where not only do I feel like my life doesn’t matter, but that there is no hope for change.  I feel like I am getting too old to start a family, too old to have a meaningful career.  Again, I would never think things like this about my friends or family, but for myself I worry that I have screwed up too much with the years of the eating disorder and treatment.  I worry that I am never going to be able to have a family of my own or make a difference in my chosen career.  Ironically enough, when that happens my gut response is to turn back to the eating disorder, which is the thing that has kept me from accomplishing all of these things in the first place!

Thus, I have to keep telling myself that first, even if I don’t solve some great world problem, my life has meaning.  I do matter. I think that everyone in my life matters, so why should I be any different?  Second, I have to keep reminding myself that while the eating disorder feels like a safe “go-to”, it is actually just going to take me further away from goals.  I have to keep moving forward, keep plugging along, and in time, hopefully I will feel like my life matters.

I Like Tangible Things

I am continuing to watch episodes of House, and last night I watched the season 7 episode “The Fix.”  In a scene at House’s apartment, him and Wilson have the following exchange:

Wilson: You think all your problems are your leg.
House: And you’re here to tell me that no matter how depressed I may be, it’s not enough.
Wilson: I think you want everything to be physical, tangible, simple. You want unhappiness to have a cure. House, you obviously—
House: I hate that word.
This is not the first time that someone has pointed out to House that he likes things that are measurable and tangible. In the season finale of season two, Morarity tells House: “You think that the only truth that matters is the truth that can be measured. Good intentions don’t count. What’s in your heart doesn’t count…Just because you can’t measure them, just because you don’t want to measure them, doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

I can relate a lot to this need for things to be measurable and tangible.  If I have a bad week, but don’t lose weight, I feel like my distress doesn’t matter because the thing that can be measured (the weight) hasn’t changed.  Distressing thoughts/feelings are not tangible, but the weight is.  Before going further I would like to clarify that I don’t think this about anyone else – if a friend told me that having distressing thoughts didn’t matter because her weight stayed the same I would say that is completely not true.  But, it is something that I struggle to accept when it comes to myself and my treatment.

Furthermore, in the same way that House wants to blame his unhappiness on his leg, I want to blame everything on the eating disorder.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a lot of should statements when it comes to my body and physical health. I should have energy after eating and with caffeine, I should be hungry at X time, I should lose weight if I restrict etc.  Recently I have been chronically exhausted despite doing well with my meal plan and making sure to get enough sleep, and that frustrates the hell out of me.  Engaging in eating disorder behaviors provides a nice justification for why I am tired or feeling depressed.  It also provides this weird sense of hope that I will feel better once I stop engaging in behaviors. However, if I am following my meal plan, taking my meds and sleeping, then I feel like I have no tangible thing to blame for my tiredness, and I start to feel hopeless about ever feeling energized and being 100%.  Just as his leg pain provides a nice, tangible thing for House to blame his unhappiness on, the eating disorder provides me with an “out” so to speak.

Moving onto the second part of the scene, I agree with House about hating the word “cure,” especially when it comes to my ED and depression.  Unfortunately, mental health issues often don’t have an easy fix or a magical cure.  It is a process, and often a long one at that.