Not sure what to say……….


I’ve been absent from this blog for a very long time.  The last year has been maybe one of the most difficult I’ve faced in my life.  I’ve returned to old habits, not eating since that isn’t something I can do but there are other ways of numbing out.  And I’ve found them.

The fact is something happened to me exactly a year ago which was very positive but brought up a lot of past memories that were not something I wanted to remember.  In an attempt to block those memories out I’ve tried to numb myself to them.

The result has been weight gain and shutting everyone positive in my life out.  Isolating myself from everything and everyone trying to ignore the emotions that were surfacing.

I’m really good at burying my emotions, I’ve been doing it for decades.

But somewhere in my subconscious I must want to be mentally healthy because I continued to attend my sessions with my therapist.  Granted they were sporadic but I kept going.  And when you continue to do that it is only a matter of time before whatever you are trying to avoid rears its ugly head and slaps you in the face.

Well a couple of weeks ago it metaphorically picked up a blunt object and knocked me upside the head.  I can only hope that this is positive.  As painful as it was to remember, I hope that what comes to light will make me a stronger person on the other side.  This information has helped me to make a lot of sense of my past actions but it is going to take time for me to process it all into my life.

I will share more in the future but right now I just want to get through tomorrow.

What I have learned is that whatever you are going through, you have to face it.  You have to recognize what is going on no mater how painful.  You will be able to deal with it, and maybe move past it.

Hope is the best weapon you can possess.

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depression…..its a b@#*h


Yea, its been awhile since my last entry.  A long while.

I’m not really sure how to start talking about this but I know I need to.  For some reason the idea of writing about it here is a little easier then talking about it.  That seams strange to me, but no less true.

The fact is I’ve been battling depression for most of my life.  I’m sure some people have recognized it over the years but I didn’t.  I’ve mentioned it in past entries but I’ve always thought of it as a funk, a low period, sometimes I called it my dark periods.  But it all come down to the same thing.  It has name and that name is depression.

My MO when these periods creep up is to isolate, turn inward, escape from everything and everyone around me until it would pass.  If hiding completely wasn’t an option I could still function in the world outside, and I got really good at masking.

“How are you Christina?”

“I’m good, how are you?” Said with a big smile and perky attitude while inside I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

I could put on the smile, and be excited about whatever was going on in everyone else’s life.  I could work and focus on the problem at hand and get though it.  I could hide the pain of what was going on inside from everyone.  My thinking was that I didn’t want to burden anyone else with my dark places.  I thought I was making the right decision.  It was my problem no one elses.  If I decided to hide away and lock everyone out then it was my right and it saved them from being faced with it.  If I couldn’t get myself out of bed or clean, or whatever I needed to do I was simply lazy and would have to pull myself out of it.  But you can’t pull yourself out of it.  You can sometimes get the mask up in time to hide it from those around you but you can’t avoid it.

Anyone who has battled depression knows what I’m talking about.  You can feel it when it starts creeping up on you and you can’t do anything about it.  Its like a dark cloud that creeps in like a thick fog and slowly envelopes you.  You can see it, you can feel it, you know what its going to be like and you can’t do anything to avoid it.  Sometimes you just think its low self-esteem.  Sometimes you think your just sad.  But when it doesn’t pass you know what is going on and you can’t do anything.  Just getting out of bed in the morning is difficult.  Lifting a 2 ton truck would be easier then simply putting one foot on the ground and standing up.  You lay there telling yourself you have to move you have to get up, you can’t let anyone know whats really going on and if you don’t get out of bed then they will know.  And you will be embarrassed.  You have to get up, take a shower, get dressed, and put on the smile even if it is more difficult then walking over a floor of broken glass shards barefoot.  You just wait for the weekend when you can burrow and no one will notice or care.  And you hope that by Monday the fog will have gone away again.

This has been my life.  Depression has always been the under current.  At times the tide was high, sometimes low but its always been there.  And I’ve been to embarrassed and/or ashamed to allow others to see it.  I didn’t want to appear weak or vulnerable.  I didn’t want to sound like I was whining about anything or become someone people wished to avoid because I wasn’t “fun” to be around.   I guess I wasn’t sure if others would understand or stick around so I tried to hide it.  I’m sorry for that in someways.  By hiding it and myself away I’ve not given people the chance to really know me.  I’ve tried only to put one facet of my being in public view and that has been a detriment to myself as well as my friends.  I’ve never really given many people the chance to know me fully.  To see the dark sides as well as the light.

I can’t do that anymore.  I can’t, because in hiding it from others I allow myself to think that there are no dark sides.  It doesn’t work for long but I can put on the “happy Christina” face and walk around and just for a few hours I can convince myself there isn’t a problem.  And that just delays the recovery.

So in the interest of full discloser I’ve been in a really bad place emotionally for awhile but the mask has started to slip.  I’ve had quite a few people ask me if I was ok, that I didn’t seam like myself lately.  In answer to those questions.  No, I’m not ok.  I’m fighting tooth and nail to get to the point of being ok but it is a struggle every minute to simply exist.  And no I’ve not been acting like myself lately, or at least the person everyone is used to seeing but I don’t have the energy to keep the mask up anymore.  I am getting help but it is a slow process.  Some days are better than others.

But I guess I also want to say that if you know anyone suffering from depression it isn’t just a phase.  They are not lazy or stupid or just don’t care.  It isn’t a case of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and dealing with it.  If it were then I wouldn’t be in the place that I am.  Those of us who suffer from depression want to be happy, we want to wake up looking forward to the day.  We want to be….normal.  Whatever the hell normal is.

For me that means being honest, so if you ask me how I am I will try to answer honestly and not give a token response.  I just ask that you don’t see that answer as being melodramatic, or over emotional, or some attempt to get sympathy.  It is simply my reality.  And yes I do worry that some day this blog entry my come back and bite in the posterior.  Its part of the reason I’ve not written in so long.  Once its out there, its out there and there is no going back. But getting through this is more important than what others might think.  I’m worn out and don’t have the strength to spare to hide it anymore.  I need that energy to start healing.

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The roller-coaster strikes again.


I love roller-coasters.  I haven’t always loved them in fact I hated them for most of my teenage years.  But the summer of my 18th birthday some friends told me it was time to get over the fear and so they shoved me into a roller-coaster and the rest was history.

I can’t tell you why I love them but I do.  Yet you always know that they will end.  You know that no matter how fast or crazy the roller-coaster is eventually the ride will be over and you can get off and catch your breath.  Those are the kind of rides I like.

However, there is another type of roller-coaster that exists.  This is an emotional one.  And unlike the rides at amusement parks this ride never seems to end.  One day your up, the next day your down.  What makes you happy one minutes infuriates you the next.  I’ve never experienced this before.  It’s like my emotions have latterly taken on a mind of their own and I don’t like it.  I’ve been concerned about it.  And I’ve worried that there might be a chemical issue going on but all the experts say no.

My therapist just smiles at me when I tell him about it.  Last week I got angry at him and asked him what he thought was so funny.  He said he didn’t think it was funny, but he was happy about it.  HAPPY!!!!!!!  I’m an emotional basket case and he was happy about it!  Then he explained.

Apparently I’m finally allowing myself to feel all these emotions.  Fear, anger, joy, hope, love…all of the above.  I have never really allowed myself to get down into the trenches with my emotions.  I buried them with food and other diversions.  And now I’m actually feeling them, experiencing them, letting them surface and then dealing with them.  Apparently I’m in a very healthy place right now.  At least according to him.  I on the other hand would like a little stability.

I’m told this won’t go on forever.  I hope it ends sooner rather than later.  So if I suddenly breakout into tears, snap at you, or pull you into a crushing bear hug, please be patient.  The reins I used to use to leash my emotions don’t work anymore and the new methods are taking time to learn.  But this is one roller-coaster I can’t wait to get off.

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A shift in perspective.


I’ve always thought that the big shifts in my thought process or conception of myself would occur after major events in my life.  And I think that it is the way most people believe change occurs.  Its the big promotion, or the lead role that inform us that we are moving in the right direction.  That we have the skills to be more than what we perceived ourselves to be.  Or its the death of a family member or friend that makes us realize the importance of the people around us.  Or something is placed in our path which makes us completely change the direction we though our lives were going in.

These major events have happened for me.  My decision to attend Evangel University.  Taking the internship at the Hippodrome, performing in Honky Tonk Angels and BatBoy, moving to New York. And most recently the decision to have the surgery.  These were major events.  These were decisions that I made knowing that they would shift my perspective on life.  I was prepared for them, well at least as any one person can be prepared for something they have never done before.

However, recently I’ve been astonished by how seemingly insignificant events can have the same effect.  Unlike the physical changes of major events such as moving or changing careers, they tend to strike more of a physiological shift.  A chance encounter, someone offering to buy you a drink, these things happen to millions of people everyday.  Yet for one who has not had that experience before it can be mind altering.  The moment passes and you don’t give it another thought until sometime later you realize that the way you perceive yourself has shifted.

I have had such a shift and I am truly enjoying the view from the other side.

So here is my advice.

It is not always earthquakes that change the landscape within our minds.  Sometimes its just a whisper of wind changing the shape of a single grain of sand.

Listen for the whisper, you won’t regret it.

 

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Its been year…really!


I’ve been in the process of writing this entry for a week now.  I’ve written it and re-written it more times than I can count. My dilemma has been…what to say?

On January 19th, 2011 (Wednesday of last week) I reached the one year post-op mark for my bypass operation.  One year ago I walked into that operating room and changed my life forever. So now reflecting back on the last 365 days what should I write about?  The hurdles I’ve overcome?  The new experiences?  What about the mountains yet to climb?  I couldn’t decide.  I could write about all of those things but then this entry would be about 50 pages long.  I don’t have the patience to write that much not to mention that you may not have the patience to read it.

I guess I should begin with the numbers.  My official weight-loss for the first year…..144.2 Ibs.  That means that I’ve lost about 72% of the weight I needed to lose.  That is right where I should be.  Current weight 213.8 Ibs.  I’ve also lost 65 inches.   As I type that I just realize that I’m 65 inches tall.  I’ve lost as many inches around my body as I am tall.  Talk about breaking down a wall!

Wednesday was much more emotional for me that I had expected.  I had thought that I would be excited, almost euphoric.  Instead I found myself breaking into tears at unexpected moments.  Something I didn’t really understand until I allowed myself to sit down and pay attention to what I was feeling.  So what was I feeling that brought on the tears?

Relief.

I know, an odd reaction but that is the over riding feeling I was experiencing.  Relief that the first year was over.  Relief that I had survived the first year with no physical complications.  Relief  that it worked.

A year ago I hoped it would work, I prayed it would work because it was my last chance at some kind of life.  I had read about and spoken to lots of people who’s surgeries were successful but something deep down inside told me  said it wouldn’t work for me.  Nothing else that had worked for other people had worked for me.  Why should this?  Yet it did.

Relief.

I’ve still got a ways to go.  I did not break the 200 Ibs mark by my 1st Surgiversay but that doesn’t mean I won’t get there soon.  I’m only 13 Ibs away.  I also acknowledge that I’m going to have to up my game to drop the rest of it.  But it will happen.

Yet there is relief in the realization that if I didn’t lose another pound, I would be ok with that.

Lots of doors have opened up for me in recent weeks.  Most notably the fact that I’ve started dating which has come with its own set of challenges for this girl, but its growth.  And we all know that growth isn’t always easy.  So more on that later.

Before I sign off I have to acknowledged and thank all of you.  Friends, Family, and even perfect strangers who have read and commented, supported and encouraged, and at times pushed me forward on this journey.

You know who you are.  I love you and there is nothing that I can say or do to show you how much your love and support mean to me.  The worlds “thank you” are inadequate but they are the only ones I have.

So….. THANK YOU!

Lastly a bit of look back over the last year in pictures. Including a photo of me at the top of Piestewa Peak (also known as Squaw Peak) in Phoenix, AZ.  The peak is the seconded tallest mountain in the Valley of the Sun, it tops out at over 2600 feet.  While growing up in Phoenix I tried to climb that mountain several times.  I never made it to the top.  I was too overweight and out of shape to do it.  When I decided to go to Phoenix for Christmas I told myself that I was going to conquer that mountain.  I DID!  I didn’t understand my need to do it until I reached the top.

It was symbolic, a physical climb to show me how far I’ve come.  My inability to climb that mountain was the physical reality of my weight, slapping me in the face.  It was time to no longer let that memory poison my personal self worth.  And it no longer does.  I’ve conquered that mountain, and several others in the process.

Until next time.

November 2010

November 2010, one week before setting the date for my surgery.

June 9th, 2010. 20 weeks post-op and 100 pounds lost.

Q

October 23rd, 2010. 9 months post-op. 135 Ibs lost.

January 19th, 2011. 1 year post-op. 144.2 Ibs lost.

December 21st, 2010. Top of Piestewa (Squaw) Peak. Phoenix, Az.

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In the spotlight


Its been awhile since I posted an entry and to be honest I’m not sure what to write.  I guess I should start off by saying that my weight is the same.  Or at least close to it.  As of this morning 221.6 ibs.  I’m officially in a plateau.  It dropped a few pounds then went back up a few pounds then down again and….well you get the idea.  What this means is that I can no longer lose weight without introducing some serious exercise.  Walking around the city just isn’t going to cut it anymore.  So I’ve been talking about going to a gym.  I’ve joined a gym.  And now I must actually go to the gym.  I’ll keep everyone updated on that front.

I guess the real reason for this entry is to explain my absence from this blog for so long.  There are a lot of excuses I could use.  I’ve been really busy…I didn’t have anything to write…and many many more.  But I’ve realized the real reason is that I got sacred.  I’m still scared but trying to face it a little bit.

When you are as large as I was, for as long as I was, your true desire is to disappear.  You don’t want people to see you.  You are embarrassed, mortified, and ashamed of how you look.  I never wanted the spotlight on me.  Its one of the reasons it has been difficult for me to get onstage.  My passion for acting and singing was constantly being overridden by my need to be invisible.  Lets face it, nothing shines a spotlight on you more than walking the boards.  So for most of my life I’ve expended a great deal of energy focusing on others and not myself.  And I did this in all aspects of my life.  From my career (or lack there of) to relationships, and even my health, I ignored myself.  I ignored my needs and I became comfortable with it.

That all changed 11 months ago.  Well really it started in October of last year when I made the decision to have the surgery.  But the surgery itself was like putting a on/off switch on the spotlight.  In a matter of hours it went from off to on and then the switch broke.  I’ve had to be focused my myself every minute of every day.  Keeping logs of what I eat, drink and when I take my vitamins.  Constantly evaluating every feeling or twinge to make sure I was reacting in a healthy manner.  And I’ve also had to focus on the  the process of adjusting physically to the weightless.

Its been all me….all the time.  And a few months ago I started to get scared.  Looking back through my logs and can see where it started happening.  I stopped writing things down.  I started panicking about that spotlight.  I had never spent so much time thinking about myself. Forcing myself to make decisions that were only based on what was good for me and no one else.  At first it was a novelty.  Something new and different.  But as time went on, and it didn’t stop, I think subconsciously I decided I needed a break from my intense self focus.  Allowing my focus to drift was a mistake.  I should have recognized it for what it was and maybe the 20 pounds I need to lose to reach my goal would be gone.

But then again….maybe not.  Maybe I needed to take that step back to see how far I’ve come.  I was a bit blinded by the spotlight so I needed step back and let my eyes adjust.  But now I have to make a choice.  While I’ve been letting my eyes adjust I’ve not moved anywhere.  I’m standing still.  If I want to move forward I’m going to have to step back into the spotlight.

You know it’s funny.  When I think about it, when I think about keeping the focus on myself, the first thing that comes to mind is that I’m being selfish.  Selfish in a bad way.  I know that isn’t true.  This is my health I’m talking about and if I’m allowed to be selfish about anything its my mental and physical health.  But there it is.  I’ve never wanted to be perceived as selfish, arrogant, conceited, or uncaring.  And that is what is at the root of my fear.  If I focus on myself, if I make decisions based on what is good for me, then I’m not considering the feelings of others.  Therefor I’m selfish, arrogant, conceited and uncaring.  Again, intellectually I understand this isn’t true.  By I’m a person who has allowed her heart to lead and my heart is taking its own sweet time catching up to my head.

So by writing this entry I guess I’m sticking my toe back into the spotlight.  The next step is to get my whole foot in there.  And I’ll accomplish that by keeping my food journal current, and maybe getting to the gym.

Happy Holidays!!!

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Ritual of Acceptance


First off let me give you all a quick update.

Current Weight: 220.8 ibs
Total Weight Lost: 137.4 ibs
Weight to lose till first goal of 199 ibs: 20.8 ibs

Something else that I’ve not included for awhile is inches lost. Since August I’ve lost another 12.25 inches which brings my total inches lost to 62.25 inches.

Now that that is out of the way.

“What do you think of the new you!”
“Wow, its like a whole new you!”
“The old you was pretty but the new you is…wow!”

These are phrases I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Whether by email, blog comments, Facebook, or in person the idea of an old me and a new me seams to be prevalent in everyone’s mind, except my own. Every time I’ve heard the phrase “new you” I’ve silently cringed inside. In my mind there is no “old” or “new” just me. I’ve lost weight but its still me, right? I’ve also thought that in accepting this idea of a “new” me I was some how demeaning the existence of “old” me. This thought has troubled me. It has rolled around in my head over and over again the last few months. I’ve not always been able to pinpoint the feelings but they have been there. In accepting that there is a part of myself that no longer is present in my life, do I automatically shun it? How can it be possible to discount a lifetime of experience just because I’ve lost weight. The reality is its not possible. Yet more and more often I’m finding myself comparing what was with what is AND what is now possible.

But lets get back to “old” and “new”. The ideal weight for a woman of my height and a medium frame is between 127-141 ibs. I’ve lost 137 pounds. That is within the range of the ideal weight. So why is it so difficult for me to accept the fact that I’ve lost the “old” me. I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. And the answers I’ve come up have both excited and scared me.

I am not the woman I was 9 months ago, no lets go back even further and say a year ago. Making the decision to have weight-loss surgery was a life altering decision. It set my life on a completely different path. Its taken me awhile to see that. The day of my surgery was the equivalent of being reborn. A rebirth-day if you will.

What is the essence of a person?  What is it that makes them who they are?  Philosophers have been asking that question for centuries.  Yet if we think of a persons essence as the thought patterns of the brain, the flickers of electricity between neurons, then have I not become a different person?  In making the choice to alter the path of my life, in losing the equivalent of a human adult, in facing pain and fear and even joy that I’ve tried to push away with food my entire life, have I not forged new neural pathways.  Have I not changed the essence of who I am.

Yes, I have.

There is more change to come.  What I am coming to realize is that it is not that others see the “new” me that bothers me so much.  Its that I’ve been unable to see it myself.  I look in the mirror every morning and see a woman I don’t know.  She is pretty, she has a twinkle in her eye and cute dimples.  She has a womanly shape and enjoys getting dressed in the morning, taking time to carefully pick out an outfit.  The “old” person simply  threw on whatever was handy.  It didn’t really matter because everything looked the same.

The “old” me helped me survive my life and I will always be thankful for that.  But I am no longer in need of her.  The “new” me is allowing me to LIVE my life.  I must accept that person everyday, every minute if necessary.  A ritual that must be repeated often until I can see what everyone else does.  A ritual of  acceptance.

I made a few steps in the right direction over the last week.  I had started to accept the mental changes I’ve been going through awhile ago, its the physical one that I’ve been resisting.  So I went way out of my comfort zone on Halloween weekend.  Well actually it was only Friday night.  I developed laragytis that evening and spent the rest of the weekend at home.  Anyway, myself and several friends went to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show and I wore this…..

I don’t think I’ve been that naked in public since the day I was born.  Anyway, I wore it and it felt damn good!

Oh and a few more updates.  I did go to the salsa class….AND I LOVED IT!!!  I’ve signed up for 15 classes.  Also my birthday was fantastic.  It was a small croud that came out but a fun one.  Here are a few pictures of the evening.

 

Until next time.

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