Thursday, September 13, 2007

On Becoming My Own Best Friend

I gotta tell you, this medicine either really works fast or else I'm experiencing the most spectacular bout of placebo effect anyone has ever felt in the history of the world. Therapist John and the family practice doctor who prescribed the medicine both cautioned me to be patient, that the antidepressants take about three weeks to kick in, and not to expect any significant change for at least a little while. I assume they stressed this either because they didn't want me potentially to head back to my house and break open my boxes of razor blades and cyanide tablets and the noose collection that I have lying around JUST IN CASE, or because they didn't want to see me back in their office the following week begging them for a higher dosage or a frontal lobotomy.

On the other hand, I am that girl who goes to a party and has like one glass of wine and still manages to get completely drunk and ends up making out with your roommate's brother's lab partner in your bed with your special quilt your grandma made for you in 1996, so maybe my nervous system is just nervous enough to respond quickly to the drugs. I don't know what it is, but I'm definitely not complaining. As trite as it sounds, it's like the fog in my brain has lifted a little bit, and I can just deal with things better. I was so terrified that this medicine would make me a walking zombie like I was during my brief time with Prozac, but it hasn't so far. I can still be sad and happy and cry, but it's like once it's over...it's over. My little problems stay little, and they don't turn into giant disasters that threaten to ruin my life. I feel tired sometimes, but only at the times when normal people feel that way. I completely astounded myself by lying down for a nap and then waking up 15 minutes later and ready to go. Prior to this week a 15 minute nap would've turned into a 12 hour sleeping jag, so this is incredible.

Another thing Therapist John and I discussed is how to make life easier; how not to expect perfection, how not to stress, and how not to let my inevitable inability to meet my own standards completely get me down. We specifically tackled my eating issues, namely the fact that I'm basically eating myself into poverty. I never realized this until recently, but even though I budget about $400 a month for food, and I spend every single dime of it at the grocery store, I still spend about another $300-$400 in eating out expenses. And the eating out isn't just like grabbing a salad from McDonald's...when I'm really mired down into a deep depression, I can easily waste $40 on a single binge.

I probably had an inkling that this was happening, but it wasn't until I rationalized it out loud with John that I really got what I was doing: My family has always been a family of enthusiastic and prolific (if not necessarily good) cooks. We keep our pantries full, we serve a big country meal at every dinner, and we clean our plates. My ex-husband came from a family who was even more obsessive about having a bounty of food all around; his dad regularly spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars a week to feed the family. So when we were together, we cooked often, and we cooked a shitload of food for every meal.

So I still have these habits ingrained from when I was married, even though I'm spending four nights out of the week on the road, and on the other days I'm usually too tired to cook. There was also the profound guilt of letting a hundred dollars of food rot in my refrigerator every week, and then the tediousness of having to sort through the produce to salvage what was fresh, and figure out each week what I needed and what I didn't, and wasting 20 minutes each morning preparing these elaborate lunches so everyone would think I was super healthy and conscientious when really I went home every day after work and inhaled fast food like I was training for a professional eating career, and then of course the awful feeling of not measuring up to my own standards because I couldn't get it together enough to fix a solid meal every single night of the week. I really felt like a huge fuckup.

So John asked, "Um...why can't you just plan to eat out on those nights?"

Duh.

So I've given myself permission to eat out whenever I need to, even on days when I'm at home because I know I don't like to cook for myself, so I probably won't. I gave my pantries and my fridge one final cleaning, and I have to say that looking only cereal and bread and some fruit and other staples is really kind of refreshing. It's like the simplicity of not seeing piles and piles of food going to waste makes it so much easier to focus on eating healthfully, rather than eating abundantly. And two really fortuitous things about this plan is that my school's nutrition program has started offering a salad bar three days a week, and a baked potato bar one day, so for $2.50 a day, I'm set for lunch. The other thing is that my commute between my first job in my little town and my second job in KC is a veritable orgy of really healthy veg-friendly places to eat. Have you tried the Jason's Deli chain? Oh my, if you haven't, you really, really must. So financial problems hopefully solved, because I figured out I could give myself permission to do something not explicity included in my Agenda for World Domination, as long as it makes me healthier and happier.

And the other thing (and this is one of those moments where it's like I'm admitting I finally learned how to tie my shoes or wipe my own ass and everyone who reads this is probably saying "Jesus, Erin, you're a moron.") is that I've de-stressed myself over reading blogs, or not reading them. I have this awful, awful guilt about writing blogs and having all you wonderful people reading them faithfully and commenting and contributing and making me think when I go for months without looking at a single blog by another person. And it's not because I don't want to...it's because once I start, I feel compelled to visit and comment on every single blog I like every single day of the week. And when visiting blogs starts to feel like my third job, I get a little antsy, and my ass gets numb sitting in this crappy office chair. So, since I'm all about organizing things into little piles and buckets and containers, I have bookmarked every blog I love and have divided the group equally into the seven days of the week, and now I only have to visit four or five a day. And as stupid and basic as that was to come up with, you have no idea how relieved I feel.

I like being nice to myself. Hopefully I can parlay this into other being nice activities, like a house cleaning routine or establishing a non-stressful exercise habit in the near future, because I really haaaaaaaate to exercise and clean my house. Hate them. Hate, hate, hate them.

Maybe with all this money I'll save from not buying out every Taco Bell between here and Nebraska each week, I can hire Merry Maids and have a shiny, be-muscled fellow named Knut come give me herbal body wraps and cellulite reducing massages instead.

4 comments:

VeggieB! said...

well i'm not be-muscled, really, and i'd prefer you not call me knut, but in five more months you can anticipate having a regular massage-therapist on staff! :P I'm really glad to read all this. sometimes it's hard to be good enough to you when you spend so much of your genius tearing yourself down. imagine how amazing you will be when you spend the same energies building and encouraging...i need to write you an email anyway woman-bis sp├Ąter-b

Lauren said...

I'm so glad that you are doing better. I lose sleep trying to read all the blogs that I like, so great idea!!!!!

Anne M. said...

I don't know that Knut works for Merry Maids unless he specializes in heavy cleaning, but having regular massages and other pampering things is a divine way to care for yourself.

I love that you are decluttering your pantry and your blog reading. The "double food payment because I have to buy groceries even when I really eat out" thing is so familiar! You articulated it very well and having made a deliberate choice to allow yourself to eat out when that's really what you want to do is HUGE. Congrats!

Blogs will take over our lives if we don't clamp down on what's realistic. Sounds as though you've discovered a good way to manage this, too.

PastaQueen said...

I get blog stress too, which is sometimes why I end up reading and commenting on entries weeks after they've been posted :)