THE INVISIBLE WOMAN
31 October 2002
You know those smilies that appear
from time to time on web pages that indicate the writers mood on that particular
day? Its appropriate that the
Theme Thursday topic is self portrait because the
portrait at the left kind of says it all.
I have been feeling invisible.
I had a very productive
morning, all centered on me, me, me. It had
been my plan to go to my doctors appointment at 9:30, then go home, do some typing,
go to my therapist appointment at noon, and then go to work. As it turned out, the two appointments practically
overlapped, so I never did get home (and am still wearing the size 24 dress I threw on to
go to the doctors, because I felt it would be easier to be in a dress ... but I
rarely wear dresses any more, so I dont really have one that fits these days).
There were two reasons for my
doctors appointment. The day Cindy and
I rode out to Winters, I
noticed that I had a lump on my leg. I had
noticed it a day or two earlier when I happened to feel my leg, noticing, with surprise,
that Im developing some good biking muscles there, but one muscle seemed
to be more prominent than the others and over the course of the next few days, it got
somewhat larger and more round. This was not
muscle-looking. Cindy (the dentist) looked at
it and suggested having it checked out.
Shades of the movie
Sunshine (was that the name of the movie?) with the girl who ended up dying of
cancer which started in her leg were playing in my head and I finally made an appointment. Hence the dress.
If youre going to have your leg examined, might as well allow access
without having to disrobe.
The doctor assures me its
a simple lipomaa fatty growthwhich, while quite large for a lipoma, is not
going to develop into anything bad and would be hell to remove, so Ill just live
with this slight swelling and hope that sooner or later it will resolve itself (Ive
had teeny lipomas before on my fingers and they have eventually gone away, so I have
However, the second reason for
the appointment was to discuss my weight loss attempts, and particularly my
failings of the past few weeks. By
fluke, my PCP happens to be the guy who runs Kaisers obesity clinicI
didnt choose him for this reason, but it is a serendipitous thing for me.
I explained to him my big fear
right now: that Ive lost my momentum
and how I do NOT want to slide back into fat after all this work, like I did in 1986. Things then, as now, had been going along so well
and then suddenly I just snapped and I couldnt hold it together any
more. Slowly, slowly, no matter how much I
did not want it to happen, I allowed the weight to creep back on againand then some.
Id been talking with
Cindy about this on our morning rides and she was extolling the benefits of Meridia. She assures me its not a diet
pill but rather a serotonin reuptake inhibitor like the Wellbutrin Ive been
taking for the past two years. She says that
it changes your feeling about food and turns your relationship with food into the kind
that normal people havethose who eat when theyre hungry and
dont eat when theyre full and dont spend all day every day planning what
they are going to eat and when.
When I first began taking
Wellbutrin, I was taking it for mood swings (gee? Two
dead kids? Mood swings? Whoda thunk?), but was amazed in the first couple
of weeks that my whole outlook on food was different. It wasnt that I was full it was that it no
longer was the whole focus of my life. I
could go into the kitchen and there was no goodie calling to me from any cupboard or any
drawer. I ate when I was hungry, stopped when
I was full, and went on with my life. I
thoughtif this is a side effect of Wellbutrin, I like it! But it didnt last.
This was why I was intrigued
with Meridia. It sounded like it would do the
same sort of thing without all the nasty things that come with so-called diet drugs. I had seen TV ads for it and the thing that (then)
put me off was that you were expected, as the ads said, to do your part. Your part meant exercise and I
wasnt into that. Then. Now I r a jockette, so maybe the time was right.
The doctor and I had a good
talk and he said that I was a good candidate for Meridia, but that the FDA is on the verge
of approving Wellbutrin for use in weight loss assistance, and since Im already on
that (and since insurance does not cover Meridiagrrr---thats a topic for
another journal entry!), I might want to consider taking a slightly stronger dose of
Wellbutrin to start with and see if it doesnt get me over the hump and back on the
right track. So thats what we decided
(this is long
By the time Id finished my
appointment, had my flu and pneumonia shot and picked up meds, there was only an hour to
kill before my therapist appointment, so I stopped at Office Max for supplies and at
Quiznos for lunch (counting all the pointsits a good place for a low cal
sandwich, btw), and then off to see Kathy.
It was one of the most
productive sessions weve had in awhile and all following on the heels of this weight
loss vacation Ive been taking. I
told her about my doctors appointment and told her how Ive been feeling with
food control for the past month or so, and told her about how things are going with work
and that Ive been feeling work stress for the first time in years, etc., etc., etc.
As I talked, and as she
listened and made pointed comments or asked relevant questions a very clear picture began
to emerge of whats going on with me. The
single defining moment when I gave up losing weight in 1986 was that infamous birthday
party where I was so eager to show off my weight loss, and nobody noticed. I can still remember the exact feeling I had when
I started to dive into the crab dip bowl and how I didnt care any more. How I was angry at everyone for ignoring me. I was trying to compensate for this feeling
of invisibility I had.
As we talked about the job I
mentioned how my duties have increased (as my salary has not) and how there are some days
when Ive left the office wanting to scream and how frustrating it was to try to
communicate my feelings to Dr. G and have him not notice.
How it feels to be invisible. Again.
Somehow Iand I suspect
most of usneed to feel that our feelings are validated. That our concerns matter. That our struggles are noticed. That we can voice our concerns and have them
listened to. When that doesnt happen,
feel invisible. When I feel
invisible, I eat. Maybe I eat to make myself
larger so that I will be visible. Maybe I eat
to fill up the emptiness that exists when one feels invisible. When only the surface person is noticed,
when all is light and cheery and when nothing of depth is ever addressed. Then it all feels like a mask one wears
while the real person is lurking inside. The
real person is invisible.
As my therapist began to put it
all together, it made perfect sense. My loss
of self-control very definitely coincided with my sense of having become invisible. And that just happened to overlap a period of time
when things were so busy that I was also cutting back on my Wellbutrin (and had access to
a lot of food I dont normally have around). I
cant say for certain that this is what is going on, but it certainly makes sense.
So Im going back to the
Wellbutrin regularly. Im going to work
on finding ways of becoming visible that dont include packing on 100 lbs.
Ive been down this road
before and Ive come to the fork in it. In
one direction shimmers a mountain of fat, in the other direction is a healthy me, in
control of myself, acknowledging who and what I am, being my own person. The Visible Me.
I took the other fork last time and it took me 15 years to find my way
back. This time Im going to try the