Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good stuff

Oh haaay! Things are going pretty well over here. I am almost done collecting data for my study!! I need one more participant, and then I'm DONE! Amazing... I thought I'd never get here. The trouble is, I have to find this last participant... I'll figure it out. But now that I'm almost done collecting data, I have to start analyzing the data and writing my actual thesis. Which sucks. I have to do a symposium (20 minute talk) on it on April 12th, and I hope to be almost done writing the whole thing by then. I mean, I barely have any other homework. How hard can it be? Haha :) I'll just have to rustle up some motivation. Anyone know where I can get some of that?

My medication taper is going well. I did 4 days on 350 mg (down from 400), and then got bored and impatient... so I skipped down to 200 mg. I know, not the smartest idea. But I'm fine! I've been on 200 mg for five days now. I thought I was having a few side effects during the first four days. I had some headaches and a serious loss of focus, but I think I was just tired. Since then, nothing. However, I am super sick right now, so I can't be sure. I have a cold. It suuuuuucks. But I got some really good drugs and that helps :) I'll keep you all updated on my progress and any side effects that occur from the taper.

I went out drinking last night, despite being sick. My sorority did golf (Google it, it's a drinking game), which was fun. I took a bunch of cold medicine so that I would feel well enough to go (maybe not smart, but whatever). I drank waaaaay too much, but what else is new? I don't remember half of my night, but the good news is that I spent that part of the night hanging out with friends (apparently), so nothing bad happened. I do have mysterious injuries though. My left knee really hurts, and so does the right side of my head. I think I must have fallen or something, and bumped my head and knee. Weird. I also woke up in the morning to find blood everywhere. Scary! It turns out that I had a bloody nose before going to bed. There was blood on the floor, blood on my towels, blood on the clothes I had been wearing. I did laundry today, and everything is good now, but it was kind of scary to wake up to!

Other than that... I actually am feeling pretty good these days. I don't know if it's the medication taper or what, but I haven't really been depressed at all. No suicidal thoughts (or at least no lasting ones; I always have passing ones). No cutting. No weird food stuff. I have been doing this new thing where I try to talk myself out of my negative thoughts. I learned it in my psych disorders class (haha). We talked about it during our unit on cognitive behavioral therapy. It involves distracting yourself from the negative cognition, analyzing what is distorted about the cognition, and disputing it. You dispute it by examining it, searching for alternative cognitions, and looking at the usefulness of the cognition. Let's have an example.
Let's say that I study really hard for an exam, but still get a B. I know, a B is a good grade for some people, but in my mind, it's not a good grade for me. Remember, I have a 3.8 GPA. Because of my "bad" grade, I decide that I'm stupid. This is clearly a negative cognition.
1) Distract: Think about other things to avoid ruminating about the grade.
2) Distort: This cognition is distorted because clearly, I have a 3.8 GPA. I wouldn't have a GPA like that if I was stupid.
3) Dispute: I kind of already did this one in 'distort.' But I can examine the cognition and search for alternatives. Like, "I am smart." Or, "A 'B' isn't a bad grade; it's above average!" Or, "I don't need to get good grades to prove that I'm smart. One B doesn't make me stupid." I can also look at the usefulness of the cognition (And it's not useful at all. In fact, it just brings me down and makes me feel horrible).

I have been having relatively good success with this. I just have to keep it up and quit the ruminating! Did you know that women are more likely to be depressed than men, partially because we tend to ruminate?

So I guess that's about it! I will update you all soon. <3

Friday, February 17, 2012


Ok, let's be real. I am hiding. I feel like I am perpetually hiding my feelings from others, because I don't want to get in trouble. And that's freaking ridiculous. Why should I have to hide?? They're my feelings! But unfortunately, people don't see them that way. People feel the need to share my feelings with others. My feelings aren't theirs to share.

No, nothing like this has happened recently, but I have been keeping many secrets in order to avoid this happening. And that's frustrating, because when I feel like I need to talk to someone, I find that I can't think of who would be safe to talk to. It sucks when you are scared to tell your friends anything.

I mentioned that my thesis has been relatively unhealthy for me. Because of the topic of my thesis, disordered eating, I come into contact with a lot of data about people's disordered habits. And I start to miss my own disordered habits. This has led to four or five almost relapses, one of which I chronicled in my last post. It has also led to depression. The depression I'm currently experiencing is due to a few things.

  1. I'm stressed. My thesis is stressful.
  2. I feel kind of hopeless about my future. I mean, I have been depressed or eating disordered or cutting or suicidal since I was 13. Eight years. Is this ever going to get better? What else is there that I haven't tried? I'm tired of this.
  3. The obvious one: I have chemical depression. Duh. 

I'll be honest with you; I have been suicidal. And that both freaks me out and frustrates me. I'm so sick of this! So I have decided to do something about it. I have decided to try something new.
I'm going off my medication. 
I can see your reaction coming from a mile away. A million questions. Why? How? Are you consulting a doctor? Are you an idiot? Do you really think this will help?

Why? Because the meds aren't helping. I started Lamictal last December (2010) at 100 mg. I am at 400 mg and feel the same. This is not normal. I am still depressed. Nothing has changed.

How? I have a plan. I have both 200 mg and 150 mg tablets. I can use a combination of these (splitting the pills in half if needed) to taper down to 75 mg. At 75 mg, I am not completely positive what to do, because I can't evenly spit anything lower than that. I will figure it out when I get there. I am going to do this slowly, because I have read horror stories about the side effects of tapering too quickly off Lamictal. If you go cold turkey, you can have a seizure! No thanks. I am going to try to do this right. Obviously, if I have bad side effects, I will go slower or stop. And if I have severe depression or whatever, I will stop too.

Are you consulting a doctor? Nope. Is this stupid? Maybe. I just don't want to talk to my prescriber. She would probably tell me to wait till I see her next, which is at the end of May. I want to feel better NOW, not in three months. And even if this doesn't make me feel better, at least I will have tried something. Honestly, feeling hopeless is what is making me the most depressed. Trying to taper off my meds gives me hope.

Are you an idiot? We kind of already covered this one. Yes, I probably am. But I know my limits and I know when to quit. What do I have to lose?

Do you really think this will help? I have no clue. I hope so. If it doesn't help, then at least I tried!

I hope this is going to go well. I will keep you all updated, obviously. I took my regular dose, 400 mg, this morning. I will try 350 mg tomorrow. I should be able to tell by Monday if I am going to have bad side effects. We'll see what happens!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oh my gosh, so much typing...

So I posted about a month ago... how do I let it get this far? It seems like I have been at school for years, not just a month. This is going to be the longest/shortest semester ever. Longest, because I have soooo much stuff going on and every day feels like an entire week. Shortest, because I am graduating in three months... that's right. Three months. Ahhhh!! Speaking of which: I got into University of Michigan! I'm so excited! Of course, I can't actually go there unless they give me tons of money (it's 57,000 DOLLARS PER  YEAR), but that's ok. I'm still waiting to hear about scholarships from WashU. They said between February 1st and 15th.... it's the 12th. Hurry up! I'm getting a bit impatient. I know that either way, scholarship or no scholarship, that things will work out the way that God has planned them for me. But I just want to know! It's a human thing. First world problem, lol.

This semester has been crazyyyyyy. I have been far too busy. Why? Because my stupid thesis is eating my life. I have officially begun Phase Two. I selected participants during Phase One through a series of questionnaires. I was looking for participants with disordered eating (NOT eating disorders; disordered eating is different. Go here to learn more.) My participants do a series of tasks:
- An anxiety inventory
- A candy taste test (M&M's, Skittles, and Reese's Pieces- they rate the candies on a variety of scales)
- A food word search
- Creation of an advertisement for a fictional restaurant

Some participants are observed through a one-way mirror during these tasks (and they are told that), and some are not. Some participants are told that they must present the advertisement that they created (and be filmed), and some are not. What I'm hoping to find is this:
- Anxious participants (no observation) eat more than all other participants.
- Observed participants (all groups) eat less than non-observed participants.
- Participants who are both anxious and observed eat less than all other participant groups.
I don't know if I will find these things, but those are my hypotheses!

The point is that my life is getting a bit crazy. All I do is run participants. Literally. I did 18 participants this week. Each person takes 35 minutes. Set-up takes 20 minutes. Clean-up takes 20 minutes. Data collection takes 10 minutes. That's a minimum of an hour and 25 minutes per participant. And sometimes I get side-tracked, or the participant asks a ton of questions (which is fine, I like that). So I'm spending 1.5 to 2 hours on each person. Luckily, I am able to do people back-to-back, which helps a ton (less set-up and clean-up). But I'm pretty sure that I spent at least 20-25 hours this week on participants. That's a part time job! And that's on top of my two classes and my 11-hour-per-week job. I don't do homework much anymore. I had an exam on Monday in Psych Disorders, which I had to CRAM for, because I hadn't had much time to study for it before then. Plus I have no motivation. But that's a different story. Anyway, it's a blessing that my two classes don't have much homework. But I have a paper due on Friday for Psych Disorders and a digital story draft due sometime this week (I think) for Creative Writing... and I'm not sure when I'll do them.

That's another thing: I have absolutely no motivation for ANYTHING. I just want to sleep all the time. I don't want to do homework. I don't want to go to class. I don't want to hang out with friends. I don't want to go to meals. I just want to sleep. I skipped dinner tonight to take a nap. I either have serious senioritis or depression. Or both. It's like I just don't care anymore! It's getting really annoying.

And finally... I have been having some mental health issues. I'm okay right now, but in the past month, things have been a little dicey. I have done some cutting. And I had a fairly serious issue with food this past week. I decided that it would be a great idea to not eat for five days. I mean, I was kind of eating. Like 0-300 calories per day. But that doesn't really count as eating. I was pretty convinced that it would turn into a big relapse, like spring 2010, when I started this blog. And I was happy about it. That's what always scares me; I miss my ED sometimes! I miss the feeling of losing weight. I miss the high of a fast. I miss the solidarity of the other people online with EDs. I miss having a secret.
But here's what I don't miss: lying all the time, being really freaking hungry, hating myself, isolating myself from friends, not being able to concentrate, being tired all the time, sneaking around, avoiding social gatherings because there might be food, bingeing, purging, worrying constantly about my weight, using any methods possible to get thin.
Oh yah, I purged too. Oops. I forgot about that.

Luckily, I remembered these things on day 5 and made myself eat. No one had to tell me to eat this time (yay!); it was my conscience (actually, it was God, but you guys don't care about that). I had just finished running a participant through Phase Two. After they do the tasks, I tell them about the experiment and why they were selected. I am SO TIRED of telling people that they have disordered eating. But anyway, I always tell them that there are ways to be healthier (and I send them resources), and I encourage them.** Sometimes, people tell me about their eating issues, and/or they realize that what I'm saying makes sense. (sometimes people get upset and refuse to believe me, but whatever). The participant I had just run through the experiment had told me about her struggles with an eating disorder. I was entering her data and cleaning up, and I suddenly reached my breaking point. I mean, I am such a hypocrite! Who am I to tell these women that they are unhealthy, when I'm just as bad?? So after much freaking out and crying, I ate lunch. I've been okay since then. Once I eat, then it's easier and easier to eat each time after that. But anyway, that sucked. That's the third or fourth brush with relapse I have had this semester, and they all have had to do with my thesis. Whether directly or indirectly.

Ok, this is ridiculously long. I will post more some other time and tell you about other stuff. There has just been soooo much going on in the last month!

**Btw, I'm not forcing anything on them. I just tell them that they were selected because their scores on the initial survey packet indicated disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. And I tell them about disordered eating, and leave the rest up to them.