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31 October 2002

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"Self Portrait"

You know those smilies that appear from time to time on web pages that indicate the writer’s mood on that particular day?  It’s 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 doctor’s 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 doctor’s, because I felt it would be easier to be in a dress ... but I rarely wear dresses any more, so I don’t really have one that fits these days).

 There were two reasons for my doctor’s 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 I’m 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 you’re going to have your leg examined, might as well allow access without having to disrobe.

 The doctor assures me it’s a simple lipoma—a fatty growth—which, while quite large for a lipoma, is not going to develop into anything bad and would be hell to remove, so I’ll just live with this slight swelling and hope that sooner or later it will resolve itself (I’ve had teeny lipomas before on my fingers and they have eventually gone away, so I have hope).

 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 Kaiser’s obesity clinic—I didn’t choose him for this reason, but it is a serendipitous thing for me.

 I explained to him my big fear right now:  that I’ve 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 couldn’t 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 again—and then some.

 I’d been talking with Cindy about this on our morning rides and she was extolling the benefits of Meridia.  She assures me it’s not a “diet pill” but rather a serotonin reuptake inhibitor like the Wellbutrin I’ve 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 have—those who eat when they’re hungry and don’t eat when they’re full and don’t 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 wasn’t 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 thought—if this is a side effect of Wellbutrin, I like it!  But it didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 I’m already on that (and since insurance does not cover Meridia—grrr---that’s 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 doesn’t get me over the hump and back on the right track.  So that’s what we decided to do.

 (this is long winded—sorry).

By the time I’d 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 Quizno’s for lunch (counting all the points—it’s a good place for a low cal sandwich, btw), and then off to see Kathy.

 It was one of the most productive sessions we’ve had in awhile and all following on the heels of this weight loss “vacation” I’ve been taking.  I told her about my doctor’s appointment and told her how I’ve been feeling with food control for the past month or so, and told her about how things are going with work and that I’ve 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 what’s 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 didn’t 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 I’ve 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 I—and I suspect most of us—need 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 doesn’t happen, we…I…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 don’t normally have around).   I can’t say for certain that this is what is going on, but it certainly makes sense. 

 So I’m going back to the Wellbutrin regularly.  I’m going to work on finding ways of becoming visible that don’t include packing on 100 lbs. 

 I’ve been down this road before and I’ve 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 I’m going to try the better way.

Quote of the Day

"to repress not only his emotions but his humanity . . . [to be] invisible, a walking personification of the Negative, . . . the mechanical man!".

~ from "The Invisible Man"

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Happy Halloween!!



One Year Ago
Waiting for The Great Pumpkin
I have a terrible secret to reveal: I hate Halloween.

Two Years Ago
The Creative Process
I feel like Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse staring at a piece of paper in his typewriter. It was a dark and stormy night...the moon was full...and the play sucked... Arrgghhh...I hate this...

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