Depression, family, friends, Life, Weekend, Weightloss

My Two-Year 100-Pound Weight Loss Anniversary

IMG_8127

Saturday was my two-year 100-pound weight loss anniversary. Two years ago I stood on the scale and was finally under 200 pounds and I’ve been under ever since. 100 pounds was my long-term goal. I knew after I reached it I would have new goals, but 100 pounds is a huge deal. It’s a goal I reached in ten short months. It’s a goal that takes most people years. It’s a huge accomplishment and I didn’t feel anything. I wasn’t proud. I wasn’t happy. I was numb. I’m going to paint you a picture of a Rachel a lot of you don’t know and some of you know too well.

I used to weigh myself every Saturday morning, but this story is going to start the night before. I went out with a friend to a local bar. We met up with a friend of hers and an acquaintance of mine (who would later become my boss). I remember the bar was busy. We had to share a table with two random middle-aged men. They were very nice and we all made small talk. It wasn’t long into the evening before shots were being bought. Someone bought a round of Jager. I took my shot, but the other girl that was with us wouldn’t drink Jager. So, in typical Rachel fashion, I took hers for her (the last time I had Jager and the last time I’ll ever have it). I didn’t realize that while I was finishing her shot she was buying a round of bourbon for us. In no time I had a few beers in me, two shots of Jager and a shot of bourbon. When I say no time I mean in less than an hour. To say things get hazy after that would be an understatement. I remember a handful of things from the rest of that night.

What I do remember is making a full of myself in front of the guy I liked at the time. In my defense, I’m not sure when the people I was with thought it would be a good idea to show up at the bar he was at (crazy much?). I remember flashes from that trip. There’s a clip of us in my head walking in, there’s a flash of me putting my legs up on the table (apparently I have this thing where I like to be relaxed while blacked out) and him taking them off. I have a flash of us walking out and I have a bit of the conversation on the drive to the third bar. That conversation involved my future boss telling me to forget about that guy because he was going to break my heart. Literally the exact words I remember her saying. She was right. He did. I should have listened.

I have almost no memory of the next bar we ended up at. I don’t even know if I had anything to drink there, but things ended quickly. I was told I had to leave. In short, I was kicked out of that bar. When you can barely stand on your own you should probably just go home.

We had to go back to the bar we started at to close out our tab. I fell out of the vehicle after we parked. Literally just opened the door and fell to the pavement. I should note she didn’t drive a car so it was a decent fall and one I don’t remember. It wasn’t until I stood up the next day and mentioned how sore I was that I was told I had fallen. After that things are pretty black. I vaguely remember being on my friend’s couch puking in a bucket. I might have puked in the bathroom before the bucket. I’m not entirely sure. We were home, tucked in on the couch and I was puking all before midnight. This was a common occurrence that year.

The next morning I woke up before 5 in a panic because my parents were flying out of Pittsburgh very early and I never made it home the night before. My phone was dead. I found my friend’s phone and called my dad. I scared him because he thought something happened. I just needed to tell them I was okay, where I was and say goodbye before they boarded. This was a low moment for me. This was irresponsible. This wasn’t who I was. This felt wrong. This was wrong.

Eventually, the house woke up and I stood on the scale. I told my friend I hit the 100-pound mark. I texted my future roommate. I texted my cousin. I still felt nothing. I didn’t feel celebratory. I didn’t feel accomplished. It was nothing. We went to Eat n Park for breakfast. I had oatmeal. The service was terrible. I went home and got ready for a Christmas party that night. All the while feeling nothing. I drank that night too. Less than the night before, but it still involved drinking Crown Royal from the bottle. I was a mess. I was hurting. I was sad. I was angry. I was alone. I was unhappy. I didn’t know who I was. That night ended with me crying on the bathroom floor to my cousins. The first of many nights to come that month where I would be crying. Where I would be drunk. Where I would be a mess. Where I would feel like I was suffocating.

I achieved something in that day that many people never achieve. None of it mattered to me. Luckily, I can look back on it now and realize what an accomplishment that was. Now I can congratulate myself and celebrate this anniversary. I know who I am now. I know what I accomplished. I love this anniversary and I love taking a moment to be proud of myself. I am no longer that lost, messy girl crying on the bathroom floor. I still have things I’m working on, but you wouldn’t believe how far I am from the girl I was that weekend.

Standard
Depression

Where I’m At Now: Part 4

img_7067

Looking back on the last few years is strange, hard and sometimes unbelievable to me. I can’t believe how much I was able to grow mentally when I was taught the right tools, when someone started asking me the right questions. The last few years made me who I am today. I’m still taking my medication, but the plan is to be weaned off it. It might not work. I might be someone that just needs that little extra help. It also could work. It’s something I’m nervous to try and something I’ll write about when I do. I don’t sit down for therapy anymore, but I do have check ins with my psychiatrist. When it came to the Cognitive Behavioral Health therapy there wasn’t anything I needed to work on or needed help with. I out grew my sessions. However, I have thought about sitting down with someone once a month or so just to check in with myself and clear my mind.

I’ve mentioned I do not regret moving into that apartment and I still don’t. However, I now know that the friendship I had with my roommate wasn’t meant to be. That friendship was so strong because my mental state wasn’t. You allow toxic people into your life when you are beaten down. You allow yourself to be treated a certain way when you don’t care enough about yourself. I no longer feel like a failure. If I want to buy a house in a few years, living with my parents is the best option. It allows me to save money and to have my school loans paid off before I start looking at houses. That is far from failing. I also don’t regret that 5 second relationship I was in, because I learned so much about myself. Both of those things ending was really hard and losing people in your life is always hard. As for the relationship I could probably write a book about what I did and didn’t get out of it, but that book is for me and me alone. All I know is that I grew so much in that short period of time. I surprised myself and even if that relationship continued and thrived I would have put that person above everything else. I would have put everything into caring and loving that other person. I needed to love myself before I could have loved anyone else to my full potential. He would have been number one and I need to be number one.

I’m still not listening to music. I only turn on music if it’s carefully selected from my phone and it took me months to get to that point. Music is still a trigger for me. It takes me back to memories and people I no longer have. Things I still don’t want to revisit. Music is really important to me and when I’m in a relationship or a a big moment in my life I take notice of the music around me and I remember. I remember all of it. I’ve left parties because friends have played a song I told them I could not listen to. A single song. I now put what is best for me above everything else. I must put myself first or everything else will suffer. Do you think my friends wanted me to leave that party? They didn’t and I received texts telling me that, but it was what I had to do. I don’t feel bad saying no anymore. I don’t feel bad turning down invitations or doing my own thing. I’m lucky in the fact that I still have those great girlfriends around me and can even say I’ve added a few. My relationship has grown with some and has become distant with others. That is part of life though. That is part of growing.

I no longer spend days in bed. I’m not home long enough to do that and when I am there is stuff that needs done. I don’t cry like I used to. I cried for the first time a few weeks ago and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had cried. *Spoiler Alert* I have cried since, but that is okay. I try to take a deep breath and calmly explain myself instead of lashing out at my loved ones. I now recognize when my mind starts to wonder down a negative path and I take control. I take notice of situations that will put my mood in jeopardy and I get prepared for them. I take deep breaths, excuse myself for a minute alone and leave early from events when I must. Asking for help will always be hard for me. It’s just who I am. However, I know now that asking questions and needing help is a part of life. Being put in new situations and learning and experiencing new things is a part of life. If I don’t know what I’m doing it’s okay. I don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed and if someone makes me feel that way then they’re the one with the problem.

I love myself now and I know I’m worth loving because I’m fucking amazing.

Standard
Depression

My Progress: Part 3

img_7409.jpg

I remember sitting there speechless when my therapist asked me if I loved myself. I did what I always do when I’m asked a tough question or asked a question I’m hesitant to answer. I looked away and focused on a spot in the room and tried to get my thoughts together. I do this because I don’t want anyone to see me. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m incapable of hiding much of anything. I told her I had never been asked that before and the thought never crossed my mind. Loving myself had never been a priority. Feeling as if I’m worthy of love didn’t cross my mind. I mean I guess I am? Aren’t we all? She had me start a journal where I had to write down every day something I loved about myself. It was weird and uncomfortable and most days it took me quite a bit of time. Some days were easy. When I didn’t want to put too much thought into it I would remind myself that I love the color of my eyes. Other days I put more thought into it and noticed that I loved the fact that I’m an empath. It started to work. I stopped journaling, but I saw what she was trying to do. She was right. There are many things I love about myself and there were many reasons for people to love me. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about it before. The people I loved were just more important to me, but you can’t love the people around you to your full potential if you don’t love yourself first.

When we started diving into my everyday life and the things that affected my moods asking for help was a huge factor. When I really looked into it I realized that asking for help made me feel weak and bothersome. I do not like feeling weak. Sure, I love to learn new things and try new things, but the anxiety and pressure I put on myself to be perfect right away is crazy. As much as I love to learn and challenge myself I hate going into a situation not knowing what I’m doing. I like to oversee everything around me. I need to be in control. I realized that when I asked questions or asked for help people didn’t mind. These thoughts and feelings were in my own head. Working on this and letting it sink in took time and is still taking time. There is strength in asking for help and nothing to be ashamed of.

I talked a lot about the people in my life and the different situations I was in. When talking through all of this I realized that I absorbed all the emotions around me whether it be from people or just simply the atmosphere. Both my therapist and my psychiatrist explained to me that I’m an empath. Yes, it’s one of the things I listed I loved about myself, but it’s also something I learned I’ll need to keep an eye on when it comes to my own mental health. If the person I was with was down in the dumps and constantly talking about it and letting it affect their day it would start to affect mine. If I was spending time with someone sad or angry I would leave with those same feelings. I had to learn to shield myself from other people’s emotions. I could observe and notice these emotions, but I had to learn not to take them on. I had to learn to separate them from myself. Just because those feelings and those things are going on around me doesn’t mean they are my own and it doesn’t mean I too need to feel them.

We talked a lot about my weight and the before and after affects of it. I mentioned in my first post that I used to use my weight to blend in. I used to use it to go unnoticed. I’m no longer going unnoticed. I no longer blend in. Some people might thrive with this kind of attention, but I was suffocating. I hated the attention. I never mentioned that I lost weight to people. When friends would bring it up I would be embarrassed and would do what I could to end the conversation. I never wanted the congratulatory comments. I didn’t need them and they didn’t make me feel any different. I set a goal for myself, I completed that goal and that was it. I never thought anything about it. My weight came up a lot in my sessions and I’ll never forget the day my therapist said, “You are not your weight.” It was a wake up call. Ever since I had lost the weight that’s all I had been. I do realize that I lost an entire person and I realize how hard that was, but I still have a hard time taking the praise. I don’t do anything in life for praise. Being congratulated on anything makes me feel uncomfortable, but I’m learning to appreciate it and enjoy it.

Learning to love myself was probably one of the saddest things I had to work on. We should all love ourselves and the fact that I had to do homework in order to figure that out is horrible. Learning that I’m an empath was eye opening and made so much sense. It explained why large groups of people drain me and why I’m exhausted afterwards. It explained why I need time alone and value that time to recharge. Asking for help is always going to be something that’s hard for me, but I know there is no shame in needing it. It took a lot out of me to seek help for my depression, but I’m so thankful that I did. I’m thankful that I have the tools to get me through.

Standard
Depression

My Darkest Days: Part 2

img_7420.jpg

As toxic as my apartment had become I couldn’t help but feel like a failure moving back home. I cried pulling away from that dumb apartment. I wasn’t supposed to ever go back home. I told myself it wouldn’t happen. Once I left I was gone and I always do what I say I’m going to do. The months of October, November and December are a blur. If I wasn’t at work or at the gym I was in bed. Literally, in bed. It didn’t matter what time of day it was, how long I had been there, what was planned for the day, I didn’t care. I remember one Saturday in early October having made plans with a friend and just completely ignoring those plans. I was in bed that entire day. I had a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving and I only remember leaving my room for Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t want to interact with anyone. I was tired all of the time. The anger I had felt previously was gone. I felt beaten down and weak. Every morning I drove to work I had to force myself to not turn around. I would call my mom crying from work for no particular reason. I would cry in the car on the way home. I remember one night crying myself to sleep to the point of barely being able to open my eyes the next morning. Things were not getting better.

The one positive thing I can look back on through all of this is the close girlfriends I had that were always there for me. They were always a text away. Whether it was 6 in the morning or 11:30 at night. I always had one of them. They allowed me to cry. They listened when I needed them to. They tried to lift me up and give me advice. They helped me and before I knew it I was sitting down with a new therapist. This time I was working with a Cognitive Behavioral Health therapist. I had no idea what that even meant when I was calling for the appointment. I didn’t even care. Cognitive Behavioral Health is a different kind of therapy. You aren’t just sitting in a chair talking about your problems. You are setting a goal for each appointment. You are setting long term goals. You are rerouting the way your brain has thought it’s entire life. It’s work, but it’s the most important work.

I started seeing my new therapist in December. I didn’t have goals going in. My only goal was to feel better. We only had a few appointments before my Great Grandma fell and was put in the ICU. If I thought I was in a haze before I was completely blacked out at this point. I remember very little from those days. I remember going to the hospital and getting updates from my mom during the day. I remember seeing my family that I loved crying. The men that I loved crying. I remember seeing my Grandma in excruciating pain and feeling that pain when she squeezed our hands harder than they’ve ever been squeezed. I remember trying to push through Christmas without her all while feeling her missing presence. I don’t remember driving or eating or working. I remember trying to fill my brother in on every detail before he deployed. And before I knew it I remember holding her hand as she passed away. That’s the week I stopped listening to music.

My Great Grandma was an amazing woman. She’s remembered by many as the woman who would give the finger to the camera for a photo. That’s not how I remember her. I remember her as the hardest working woman I’ve ever known. One of the classiest and strongest women I’ve known. I remember decorating her Christmas tree in the most OCD way possible. I remember her showing my sister how to alter my prom dress and guide her through hemming her upstairs curtains. I remember her moving around the kitchen cooking dinner every night. I remember her hair and makeup always being done, her nails always painted. I remember her stories, her love and her wisdom. I remember her.

After the funeral and all of the holidays were over I went back to therapy. I was asked how I was doing with the passing of my Grandma and I said okay. I always just said okay, but I wasn’t okay. I was a hollow shell of a person and I couldn’t breath, but for the first time I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to part ways with some things in my life. I had to move on and say goodbye. There is no point in holding on to people that prove time and time again they do not care about you. It doesn’t matter how much you care about them. You need to put yourself first in this situation. You’ll be the only one getting hurt in the end and I was hurt. She had me write a goodbye letter. I wrote that letter about five times. I wrote pages and pages and pages until I finally summed it up in a few paragraphs. When I read it to my therapist I cried. As much as I had cried on my own I had never cried in front of her. I couldn’t keep this cry in. Writing that letter was hard, but it was eye opening. Now that I had said goodbye it was time to work on myself. What I discovered about myself was shocking because it was never brought to my attention. I was always talking about all the people I worried about and cared about and loved in my life. I never realized that I didn’t love myself. I never realized I didn’t think I was worthy of love.

Standard
Depression

My Depression: Part 1

IMG_7525 copy

Depression is a word we hear a lot more than we ever have before. Unfortunately, if you haven’t dealt with it on your own it can be really hard to understand. When I used to think of depression I thought of sadness. Boy, was I clueless. For me depression has nothing to do with being sad. I describe depression as a form of dread, emptiness, loneliness, a feeling of not being enough, a hollow feeling. My depression started very mildly in my early 20’s and the longer I ignored it the worse it got.

I noticed it escalating in 2015. I was angry a lot, I lashed out at the people closest to me, I was unhappy in every way. It went on for a year until the beginning of 2016. I had enough. I was exhausted. I knew I wasn’t happy. I was overly sensitive to things. I was angry and mean. I was finding myself using alcohol as a way to push it all aside. I was tired of being angry all of the time. I was tired of lashing out at the people who meant the most to me so I made an appointment to get some help. If I knew then what I know now I would have never gone to my primary care physician for mental health. I don’t find PCP’s to be educated enough when it comes to mental health and a lot of them just throw pills at their patients. I was put on a mild antidepressant and told they would call me with a referral for a therapist. After a week or so of going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to start the prescription I started it. I’m not someone who likes taking medicine. It was a challenge for me to start and one I only talked about with a few people. I felt ashamed that I had to take a pill to make myself feel better. I don’t like asking for help and having to rely on a medication wasn’t going to be easy. I never got the phone call from my PCP with the referral for the therapist. So I just started to try to work through it on my own. I took the prescription and hoped that in a few months I would start to feel like myself again. Whatever that felt like.

When it comes to depression you are the only one that can help yourself. Yes, there are lots of tools out there and professional help, but you need to take the steps on your own to get that help. You need to be ready. You need to work on it yourself. You need to push yourself. You can’t get your happiness from another person or group of people. The girl I was at the start of 2016 is unrecognizable to me. She is a shattered piece of glass being held together by a window frame. Each piece of glass in that frame is a different piece of her. There’s a piece of glass that represents the sadness she feels, the loneliness, the feeling of being unworthy, emptiness, the dread, the anger. There is the piece of glass that is the guard she constantly keeps up. There is the piece of glass that doesn’t let anyone in beyond a certain point. There’s even small pieces of happiness and joy, but those pieces are surround by so many negative pieces she doesn’t even notice them.

I’ve avoided relationships my entire life. I keep a safe distance. I don’t want anyone to see me. I don’t want to be vulnerable and let someone in. I don’t want to deal with rejection or the pain of them leaving. Saying goodbye isn’t easy for anyone, but as a sensitive person it sticks with me for a long time. I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of people and in a lot of different ways in my life. It’s never easy and it never gets easier. I used being overweight as a way to blend in to the background. As a way to go unnoticed. At this point in my life I had lost over 100 pounds and I was doing everything BUT blending in. People were seeing me. People were noticing and it was overwhelming. I didn’t know how to handle it. It was too much. I needed a change.

February 14th, 2016 I was signing an apartment lease with a friend I thought I would have forever. Starting a relationship with someone I hoped would stay around longer than he did. I was excited and motivated, but those things were just distractions from my inner battles. Fast forward a few months later and my relationship was over. My friendship had turned so toxic my home was an unwelcoming place. Things were supposed to get better, but things were only getting worse. My mental state was only getting worse. I had taken two huge steps in my life. I had taken the leap and decided to sign that lease. I thought it was what I needed. I needed out of the situation I was in at home. I needed my own space. Looking back I did need all of those things. I don’t regret it because it pushed me to make other decisions in life. It showed me what I needed to do in order to reach the current goals I have for the future. I had also taken the leap to let someone in. I let someone see me for the first time in my life. I opened up and was vulnerable even after explaining my fears and before I knew it I was sitting alone on the couch in my apartment on a Friday night thinking to myself, “This is exactly what you were afraid of. This is exactly what you knew would happen. You are an idiot.”

The weeks following that night on the couch were probably worse than I realized at the time. My days consisted of a morning run, work, gym, dinner and bed. I wasn’t going out. I wasn’t talking to my friends. I was quiet and reserved. I felt like someone took a stick and poked that shattered piece of glass in that window frame and suddenly the pieces had just fallen, broken everywhere. I felt more alone than I ever felt in my entire life. I was dealing with an internal battle I had never dealt with before. I reached out to a friend and made an appointment with a therapist she had told me about. I sat with that therapist weekly for a few months, but wasn’t noticing a difference so I stopped going. My situation at home with my roommate escalated and I had to move out suddenly to get away from it. There I was 7 months later with everything I owned thrown on my parents porch, mentally alone in every way. They always say things get worse before they get better and I was at the beginning of proving that theory right.

Standard