And another piece ended up on the floor.
I was trying on my entire closet worth of clothing and, much to my dismay and embarassment, very little of it fit properly…if it fit at all. I was recently offered an amazing opportunity but that opportunity forced my hand and this impromptu fashion show.
Has it really been that long since I wore this? And it doesn’t fucking fit at all…
And another piece goes down in the pile.
And along with it, a piece of me.
My audience consists of my most trusted council: husband, dog, cats. All of them honest and helpful. Husband consoles while shining light on harsh realities, dog lays uninterested in the middle of the floor to prevent me from literally spinning out of control, and the cats wander in/out of the closet pausing long enough for a quick bath and what I suspect is as close to an eye roll as they can get.
Great. That doesn’t fucking fit either?! And the fucking tag is still on it! What the hell am I going to wear?
I knew this moment was coming, it has been building for months. I had been planning a more thorough purge but had yet to commit. And now here I was. Fragile after a morning at the mall. A very unsuccessful morning at the mall. And now, an hour after discovering nothing left in my closet to be appropriate for this upcoming opportunity, came tears and tantrums.
Okay truth, it was a full blown anxiety attack. Sure there were tears, lots of tears, and probably a couple of louder-than-necessary statements, but there was also panic and borderline hyperventilation. I was utterly depleted and threatening to cancel my commitment to the entire thing.
I looked down longingly at the pile of clothes just before my husband scooped them up, so they could join the other giant garbage bag of ill fitting items.
Then I saw it. Mixed in with the jackets and tops. My Dexcom sensor. My fucking CGM had been torn off while trying to pry a too-tight jean jacket from my larger-than-I-remember arms. And I hadn’t even noticed.
And it was only 6 days old.
What. The. Fuck.
The Skin I’m In
I have NEVER been comfortable in my body. My earliest memories of self are negative and my issues with my body deeply entrenched. I find getting dressed really difficult. Even if I am staying home. Sometimes, if what I wore Tuesday was manageable without too much issue, it will repeat on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…in an effort to avoid harmful thought.
Our bodies change, we all know that. And these changes happen for a number of varied reasons. Sometimes we can pinpoint the reason (growth, puberty, dietary changes) and other times alteration happens and we do not know why.
Beyond the mental illness that governs how I see myself are the chronic illnesses that have authority over what I put in my body.
For me, and my Type 1 Diabetes, a low-carb diet works best. It gives me the most stable blood sugars which does wonders for both my body and mind. I also have IBS/IBD so there are a number of things that do not agree with me, and they have been absent from my diet for years (anything fried or greasy literally gives my the bends). I also physically cannot process animal proteins. So my diet is mostly plant-based (full disclosure: I still eat eggs and cheese).
And this has been in place, unchanged for years. My healthcare team says I eat really well. The things I put in my body are good and my portions well managed.
So why the fuck did I gain 30(ish) pounds over the last year? Where the fuck did all of the extra me come from?
When I first noticed things in my wardrobe were more snug than I remembered I did a quick assessment of the big changes: I was no longer working outside the home, I was now on an insulin pump.
I had a job I really liked prior to going on the pump. However, at that time, my blood sugars were wildly out of control. I started having episodes of hypo-unawareness. At work. And once I ended up on the floor. After leaving that beloved place, I returned to a company I had previously worked for (twice) and went on the pump. My health improved but the environment was toxic and my anxiety struggles were worsening.
A very frank discussion with my husband (and with myself) resulted in the decision for me to stay home. Shortly after that, due to intense bullying and inaction from the school/school board, it was decided we would pull our son and begin homeschooling.
So, not only was my body inexplicably changing but our lives were now unexpectedly changing. Logic told me that being at home, teaching and doing home things, found me less active than when I was running around at work.
A contributing factor? Maybe. Sole culprit? Definitely not.
Next, my thoughts turned to my insulin pump. I was taking less insulin than I was on MDI. A lot less. And that did a big ol’ mind fuck on me. I lived by the (dangerous) notion that a lot of insulin can make you gain weight. In the past, I would let my sugars run high and avoid taking correction doses, as a means of losing weight. Sure, needle phobia always had a role to play (and largely contributed to higher blood sugars), but not when I was feeling bigger than what I had deemed normal.
But that wasn’t the case. My insulin pump had made my life easier in that respect. It eliminated that fear and made properly dosing and managing my blood sugars much, much easier. And again, LESS INSULIN…so, why the extra poundage?
I became more diligent about my daily yoga, my walking. I cut back my portions and food intake. I made adjustment after adjustment to no avail. I had read about a drug that was given to diabetic folk to help with weight loss/management, so I went to the doctor.
I told him I was concerned about my ballooning size, and the extra 5-8 pounds I that would suddenly appear along with my periods. He looked over my recent bloodwork and said, one positive thing about having something amiss with your health is we are always checking up on you, your blood work must be done regularly, and all of this looks really good but maybe we need to be looking for something else.
I left with a new requisition to have a few more things explored. But not the prescription I had been seeking.
What It Feels Like
I wish I had a small vessel to contain all those moments I felt good about myself, all those times I caught I glimpse in the mirror and actually smiled. The vessel would not hold much because they are few and fleeting, but I know there have been some. One?
There has to be right? I have to have felt some moment of body joy at some point…even if it was the briefest of moments…right? Though, none come to mind…
None of my healthcare team was as concerned about my gains as I was. My endo barely batted an eye and my GP was thrilled with my current efforts regarding my T1D management. Neither suggested I do anything about it. Neither wrote the script I was hunting…
According to them, I was doing everything well. All of my bloodwork came back normal. I have been in perimenopause for years, so I wondered if there would be a dramatic change there, but my hormone levels were no more elevated.
So what the fuck?! Clearly, I am to blame for this dramatically bigger me. There is no thing I can pin this on, this one is on me. ALL ME. And now there’s a fucking lot of me so that’s a crap ton of blame.
The trouble with my personal struggle with body dysmorphia is the havoc it wreaks on daily life. For me it has a dramatically negative impact on my mental health and oftentimes triggers an increase in my PDD symptoms. I spend a lot of my day focused on my body. And I hate looking in the mirror. I deliberately avoid seeing myself naked because it can (and will) break me.
I have lied to friends and cancelled plans because I simply cannot accept what I see in a way that will allow me to walk out the door. At least once a week tears are shed because of what I see when I look at myself. I have been unkind and abused my body through starvation, self harm and improper management of my chronic illnesses.
All of that imagery causes me to go to war with myself. My logic informs me of what is going on, but it isn’t enough to silent the screams of unworthiness. Sense and reason come together, up in arms, but it isn’t enough to overthrow the disgust and sadness that reign over my body.
And the look on my husband’s face, when I am drowning in it, makes me feel like there is something truly skewed about my perspective. And I wish I could fix it, so he wouldn’t look at me like that.
Because that mix of pity and helplessness is almost unbearable.
I Am Me
Some people can truly get behind themselves. They believe in themselves. They ooze confidence and security and that makes them fucking beautiful. Regardless of what title the world has given them.
But not me.
Truth be told compliments make me squirm. If someone says something nice to me I’m overwhelmed by the notion that it is done so out of obligation, that it isn’t a true thought or feeling. Instead, it is something they must say because they are such a nice person. And that means it actually has very little to do with me.
Fucked up, I know. But that’s how it rolls.
After tossing 65% of my already depleted wardrobe in to the donate pile, I was left with a few t-shirts, sweaters and a lot of leggings.
I fucking love my leggings but I also wonder if they are the reason I didn’t notice I was fucking growing like a radioactive monster. They always fit, those fuckers.
At my husband’s insistence we went back out, to a different mall. My emotional state was fragile, my eyes red from crying, my self-esteem devastated, my hair a mess, and I had no real desire to put on my own clothes back on to go try on others…but I did.
Because I have been given an amazing opportunity and while I might be a lot of things ungrateful is not one of them. I owe it to those who have offered this chance to show up and present myself in a professional way.
And I suppose I also owe it to myself, but I would never actually tell myself that…
That trip to the mall didn’t feel the gaping hole in my closet or my heart (or my mind), but it did get me what I need for this particular opportunity.
And it meant, I didn’t give up.