How my eating disorder fed off of my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (Part 2)

As I sat in the busy cafeteria of my college, I chomped down my usual menu of a burgers, fries, and Dr. Pepper. Meanwhile, the cafeteria manager, who also was a friend of mine, sat down next to me at my table.  “Amanda,” she said, “I have been watching you eat the past couple of weeks, and I noticed that your diet consists of hamburgers, plates of fries and many cups of soda.” I nodded, as I shoved several French Fries in my mouth.  “I am worried about you,” She said, “You know that a healthy diet can be achieved even when you are eating on a meal plan.” As I swallowed my mouth full French fries and looked at the pile of plates stacked in front of me, I blushed with embarrassment and said, “I know what you mean, and I appreciate your concern. However, I just simply lost the taste for healthy food.” The manager then said, “Are you feeling okay? I noticed your voice sounds scratchy, and you look a little pale.” Then her cook called her away before I got a chance to answer.

The truth was I could feel myself getting sick with what I thought was a cold. For weeks I had been feeling tired. I thought that I just was being a busy college student and the semester was just weighing down on me.

A few weeks later I found myself sitting on the examination table as one of the school’s nurses wrote down a prescription for antibiotics for a sinus infection. A week later I felt like my old self. At the follow up appointment, the nurse said, “You need a blood draw to check for any sign of infection. While we are doing this blood draw we might as well do a full blood panel. And don’t eat anything after nine p.m. on the night prior to your appointment.”

The evening of my appointment the fear of fasting threw me into a binge. First, my friend and I stopped at Sonic and I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and drank a slushy. After that, we also attended church. For church dinner that night they offered a baked potato bar. I ate three large baked potatoes topped with sour cream, chili, and corn chips and washed them down with lemonade.

I survived the night with some tears and had my blood test done the following morning.

Then, two days later, as I waited for my results at the nurse’s office, I grabbed a copy of my school’s paper, The Corsair, off the newsstand. I opened to the article I had written, titled “Get your Barbeque on.” As I read about the downtown barbeque content, my stomach began to growl for breakfast.

The nurse called me back into an exam room. She pulled up my file on her computer and said, “I am concerned with these results because your triglycerides are on borderline high, and your weight is on the brink of being considered overweight.” As she reviewed my family’s history, she said, “I notice your mother’s health history; she had high blood pressure, high cholesterol….”

I did not hear the nurse talking after that, because I remembered the last time I told my mother I loved her. It was moments before she died from a heart attack, when I was just 16 years old.

“Amanda!” Are you listening?” the nurse said, as she interrupted me from my memory. I wiped away a tear and nodded. The nurse continued by saying, “Then lose the weight!”

How my eating disorder fed off my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (part 1).

As I reluctantly looked in the mirror in my college bathroom,  I would glance at the toilet and back to the mirror, then back to the toilet, and then back to the mirror, as I pulled my long  blonde hair back into a ponytail.  Hurry up! Stick your fingers in your mouth! You’re fat! You binged again… If you would just throw up and lose a pound or two you would be prettier, and you would feel better! These were the thoughts that often went through my mind when I faced the mirror. I was depressed, lonely, and was downright unhappy. The truth was I was binge eating my feelings.

When I ate in the cafeteria, I mainly only ate cheeseburgers and French fries, then would go back for plate after plate of French fries – – and would wash it all down with Dr. Pepper!  Beyond that, I also stored snacks in my dorm room, such as chocolate pudding, pop tarts, ice cream, popcorn and cans of Ravioli. Consequently, the items from this menu only added more pounds and not only worsened my BDD, but also increased my desire to sometimes purge.

At that time, I remember trying on my favorite pair of jeans and could barely zip them up.  I thought to myself either the washer or the dryer at my school has made my jeans shrink, or I have gained weight. Either way, I need new clothes. When I visited my grandparents the following weekend, my grandpa commented that I had put on a few pounds. That’s when I realized that the college’s washer or dryer were not to blame.

Later that day, my grandma offered to take me to Walmart to buy me some new jeans. Because I was a poor college student, I was thankful for this gift.

When we arrived at Walmart, and were looking at some jeans, a female sales associate approached us and asked if she could help.

My grandma then said to the sales associate, “When she was at Pensacola State College she didn’t gain weight, and now that she is at The University of West Florida she has put on weight and we don’t know what size to get her.”  As I stood there listening to those words, I felt ashamed of my body. Looking back at this memory I realized that comments from my grandmother, friends and other family members attributed my eating disorder and BDD. As I stood there feeling hot from embarrassment, the female associate turned to a male co-worker who was standing nearby stocking shelves, “Just ignore this.”  Then she eyed me up and turned to my grandma and said, “She does have a nice figure despite her gaining the freshmen 15. I would try the next size up from her current jeans.” I fought back tears as my BDD turned the freshmen 15 into the freshmen 100 in my mind.

After I tried on a few pairs, and as I stood l there not wanting to look at myself in the mirror because of my BDD, I knew in my heart that if I didn’t get a hold of this problem it would continue to spiral out of control.

Disclaimer: If you are having problems with either your physical or mental health please seek professional medical care.

The Pandemic and My Hurt Tooth

This Pandemic has been all over the news and I have been having some anxiety. One of the ways that I deal with anxiety is I clinch and grind my teeth at night.  On the 22 of March, I bit into my night guard hard. It hurt and I had a concern that I had broken my tooth.  I really didn’t want to increase my chances of catching the virus by visiting the dentist. I waited a few days to see if the pain would subside. It didn’t. I made the brave decision to go to the dentist.

On the 25, when I got to the office, there were only a few cars in the parking lot. My grandpa decided to wait in the car until I was ready to check out. When I approached the door there was a large sign that read: Knock to be let in. This was due to the pandemic.

Once I checked in at the front desk, I was given paperwork to fill out. I looked around at the small lobby. It was empty.  Because of my visual impairment I had to ask for assistance to help me fill out the paperwork.

As I was filling out the paperwork I was so scared; I was shaking because not only was I fearful of catching the  Corona virus, but I was also fearful of having to get extensive dental work that would be accompanied by a large bill. The dental hygienist was kind to me, as she explained what would happen during the procedure.

When the dentist came in, he appeared to be already dressed in his Covid-19 attire, which included a thick gown, gloves and a mask.

He seemed rushed to get on with the exam. He didn’t really introduce himself. He just quickly asked me to open my mouth, and then he looked with a mirror and a poky tool. He told me that my tooth wasn’t broken; however, I needed to see my orthodontist because my teeth shifted. To keep your teeth from further damage, I also needed a new night guard and a new retainer.

Since I also suffer from body image disorder, my heart sank because I felt ugly due to the change in my teeth.

That same day I tried to make an appointment to see my orthodontist. However, due to the pandemic, he would not be available for consultation until May. But I was able to see a technician at his office, who gave me a new retainer.  The technician didn’t really have any advice to give me to help with my clenching and grinding other than to get a new night guard from Walmart. This advice added to my anxiety because I wasn’t sure if it would work, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my orthodontist until May.

When I went to Walmart to buy another night guard, I noticed how the people moved quickly and seemed standoffish.  Interestingly enough, the shelfs in Walmart were filled of supplies even though the shelf’s in other stories in my area were empty due panic buying because of the pandemic.  I grabbed my guard, checkout and went home.

A few days later, I have learned that by not watching as much news on the pandemic the anxiety I have felt has gotten better.  I hope that the pain will go away even further were I will not have to see my orthodontist in May.  How are you coping with anxiety during this time?

Top five songs that help me stay strong

When I get anxious or depressed, I put on songs that are encouraging and empowering. Here are five suggestions from my personal playlist. I hope you like them.

  1. One Republic-I Lived

I like this song because it reminds me to keep going and to enjoy life. Even though life is full of successes and pit falls its more important to keep going and to choose to keep going. That life is worth it.

  1. Imagine Dragons-Whatever it takes

I love to play this song while I work on my writing. It reminds me to keep writing even when I don’t feel like it. It reminds me that when you work hard and you don’t let negative words or actions get in your way you can keep chasing your dreams.

 

  1. Aly&AJ- I’m Walking on Sunshine

Okay, this song probably tells my age, but I don’t care. I love to turn this song up on full blast when I am in a sad mood. This song reminds me that life is good and that positive sunny days and events come again. This song also reminds me to count my blessings. Whenever there is a negative there is always a positive somewhere.

  1. Orinoco Flow by Enya

I was first introduced to this song by a friend of mine when my grandma was battling Alzheimer’s disease. This song helped me work through my grief of losing my grandma. One thing that I was worried about was not being able to show my grandma that I would be okay even after her passing. This song reminded me not to give up on achieving that goal. Now I know my grandma is able to look down at me and smile with pride at all I have and will continue to achieve. This is one of the songs that I have on my bedtime playlist. I love this song because it reminds me to close my eyes and just dream about the world around me.

  1. Love And The Outcome-You Got This

I recently found this song. I am currently going through some rough spots in my life, and I believe that God put this song in front of me for a reason. I love this song’s message. The message is simple. Remember to take some deep breaths, which I need to do more often, and have faith that God is going to take care of all things.

What are some of your favorite songs that you like to play when your stressed or upset? Tell me in the comments below.

My Mental Health Journey: Let’s talk about Depression

I remember going through Depression after my mother died by the time my senior year of high school came around, I began to feel better.  However, when I entered college, I started to get wave after wave of depression to happiness back to depression.

I didn’t know that I was experiencing a specific kind of depression known as, Persistent Depressive Disorder which can also be called Dystymia.

According to National Institute of Mental Health,  There can be many reasons a person can have depression.  Three most common factors are: Personal or family history, having issues in life that are major such as a traumatic event or a major stress period, and having other medical issues that are either physical or can be an effect to medicines.

I have a both personal connection with depression myself and I know family members that have a history of depression. I have had depression episodes such as losing my mother, dog and grandma. I have had major stress issues when I was preparing to continue my education after high school.

There can be many different physical and mental signs that a person can experience when they have depression. For example, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, some of the symptoms may includes but are not limited to: “…Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness and loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex…”

When I go through a depression time period, I notice that I lack energy; I feel a lack of hope; I lose interest in activities I enjoy doing such as writing and reading and I tend to either under or over sleep.

In 2015, I was in a very deep depressive episode.  I had to put my dog Noodles to sleep. I was struggling with my temporary job. And in addition to that, I was providing part time care to my grandma who was battling Alzheimer’s Disease.

My family and friends noticed that I was struggling with my mental health.  They kept nagging me to see a therapist. In October of 2015, one afternoon, I checked myself into outpatient therapy.

I was very resistant to my therapy appointments at first. That was because I really didn’t know what being “normal” felt like. Over time my mood started to feel better.  My therapist suggested that I use some practical tips to help me when I got depressed, such as listening to music, reaching out to friends, exercising, etc. Now if I am ever in a depressive episode, I know how to cope with it.

Have you ever had problems with depression? Tell me in the comments below.

Disclaimer: If you are having problems with either your physical or mental health please seek professional medical care.

 

 

 

 

My Mental health journey: Let’s talk about Anxiety

Anxiety is a condition that I didn’t want to admit that I had. In fact, I didn’t know that I had anxiety until I started talking about my symptoms with my therapist during my first therapy session.

According to The Centre for Clinical Interventions worksheet What is Anxiety?, “The experience of anxiety is very similar to the experience of fear-the main difference is that anxiety occurs in the absence of real danger. That is, the individual may think that they are in danger but the reality is they are not.”

According to Mayo Clinic, there are two different kinds of factors that can cause anxiety. Those factors can either be external such as being worried about grades at school, work,  or relationships. Some of the factors can be internal such as having genetic links from other close family members who have similar mental health issues and physical symptoms from the misuse of drugs that are either illegal or prescription, etc.

I know that there are several factors that can influence me to have anxiety. I have close family members that either had or have mental health issues, my mother unexpectedly died of a heart attack when I was 16, when I was in high school and college I worried about my academic performance, and now I have anxiety about trying to get my business started.

I remember the first time I had an anxiety attack. It was after my mother died. I was struggling with grief. I was sitting in my rocking chair at my grandparent’s house, and I was thinking about my mother’s sudden passing. I remember taking deep breaths without realizing it. My grandpa asked if I was okay. I responded that I was probably just tired. I struggled with sleeping that night. I remember waking up very early in the morning. I needed a drink of water, so I went into the kitchen and got a drink. While I was drinking, I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe. My breathing started to increase and I started having chest pains. I started to panic. I had a fear that I was going to die. I remember crying out. This was one of my first of many panic attacks.  After that major panic attack, I had several stomach aches. My grandparents took me to several doctor appointments to try to find out what was causing all the issues. In October of 2005, I had a kidney infection and several viral infections. After those cleared up, I still had issues with my stomach. The doctors stated that it was due to stress and anxiety, and they suggested that I try therapy.

I had such painful anxiety and panic attack symptoms that I took the doctor’s advice. I went to an outpatient trauma therapist.  Because I was still in high school, I saw the therapist during the school day. We talked about the loss of my mother and other events, from my childhood, that affected me. I felt like the therapist was pushing me to talk about things that I did not want to talk about, so I stopped the sessions. I buried myself into my studies. Even though this helped push my anxiety aside I still had symptoms.

I still have physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America-Understand the Facts Symptoms, some symptoms of anxiety may include the following: “…Sweating, Trembling or shaking, nausea or abdominal distress, chills or heat sensations, etc.”

When I have anxiety some of my main symptoms are headaches, tight muscles, stomach cramps, and shortness of breath. I constantly have negative thoughts during this time period. I feel that nothing good will come out of my problems.

To help me cope with my anxiety and negative thoughts I use the following self-care techniques:

  • I challenge my negative thoughts to become positive ones. Here is an example, last weekend my cable for my hard drive went out. I kept thinking that my business would fail even before I launch it. Then my friend reminded me that she, my business coach or caseworker may have copies of my work. I have learned that sometimes lost work can lead to even better work.
  • I write in my journal. Writing for me isn’t just for my profession, I write for personal reasons too. I can just let my feelings fall onto the page. By the time I finish writing I feel more relaxed. I can see what the main problem is and how I can fix it.
  • I can take a warm bath with my favorite bath salts or bath bombs. I love the smell of lavender. The warmth of the water helps with my achy muscles.  The bath makes me tired. After I get into my PJ’s I go to sleep. I wake up with a relaxed body and a fresh mindset.
  • I can call a friend. When I am in a deep attack and I can’t get a hold of myself I call a friend. Usually a quick chat about the problem(s) and finding solutions to those problem(s) calm me down.

These are just some self-care techniques that work for me, and they may not work for everyone. Everyone is different when it comes to managing their anxiety.

I did not learn these coping skills on my own. In 2015 I checked myself into outpatient therapy. My therapist helped me start a list on how to deal with my anxiety and depression. I have read many other blogs that deal with mental health and I find some of their suggestions to be helpful.

Do you struggle with anxiety? What coping skills do you use to help? Tell me in the comments below.

Author’s Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. If you are having problems with either your physical or mental health please seek proper medical care from a health care professional. I am just sharing my own experiences so you know you are not alone.

The No White Food Diet

During my first therapy appointment one of the main recommendations my therapist suggested was a change of diet. She told me about a diet called, “The no white food diet.” This diet is simple. You do not eat white food. Examples of this are white bread, white pasta, potatoes, candy, soda, etc.  I would take these foods and I would either live without the food or find an alternative. She told me that there was many benefits to this diet such as less depression, anxiety, more energy, and better weight management.

I decided to try the diet.  I didn’t know how bad the diet would make me feel and how difficult it would be for me to follow.

To help me get started my therapist suggested a list of foods that I could have: oatmeal, eggs, chicken, hamburgers, sweet potato fries, fresh vegetables, fruits, unsweet tea, water, etc.

I remember the first night I tried the new diet. My grandpa was naming things off the menu that he was going to be fixing for dinner and a lot of it I couldn’t have. I ended up having some chicken and some vegetables. I had such a craving for dessert. The next day a friend and I went shopping, I got hamburgers, bananas, Yogurt, whole grain bread, and some canned vegetables. The first day went fine. The second day I started to get cravings for things I wasn’t supposed to have. The bananas I had helped me with the cravings. By the third day, I started to have problems. I started having stomach cramps and the side effects were not pleasant at all.

I continued to stick to my diet. I even told my co-workers at my temporary job about it because they would buy and eat foods that I couldn’t have. It was really hard to fight cravings and seeing people eat things that I wanted. I also felt tired and shaky a lot of the time. I felt hungry too. My body just felt sick. I really wanted to give up on the diet.

To be honest, I was really dumb because I didn’t educate myself enough on the diet. After a friend suggested that I google ideas for my diet I did. I found out there was a lot of foods that I could have.

I finally found a menu that I loved and found staples such as vegetables, fresh fruit, meat, and tea.

At my next therapy appointment, I asked my therapist about how I was feeling and come to find out the side effects I felt were completely normal. She gave me more ideas for what I could eat. She told me the more I stayed on the diet the better I would feel. What my therapist didn’t understand at the time was that I was a part time caregiver for my grandmother, and my grandpa grandma and I ate as a family. To help my grandma with her eating grandpa would get things such as chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, etc. It used to distract my grandma if I was eating something different than her, so to keep her eating we would eat all the same meals.

This made my therapist very upset. She didn’t even like the fact that I was eating white sweet potatoes.  I did the best I could to stay on the diet, but every time I would eat something that was not on the diet plan my body would feel sick again.

I wanted to keep my therapist happy about me staying on my treatment plan. I did the best I could. I found that if I did follow the diet, I felt somewhat better. I decided to stop the diet because I kept having problems with the side effects. I am now back on my regular diet. I have gained some weight and I am working on losing the weight.

Have you ever been on a diet to help your mental health? Let me know down in the comments below.

Author’s note: I am not a medical professional or therapist. I am sharing this blog post from my own experience. If you are having problems with your own medical or mental health please seek proper medical care.