Author

Heather Loeb

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In the past few months I’ve seen moderate weight loss, thanks to starting karate and my migraine medication that has loss of appetite as a side effect. Plus, I was eating healthier and working out on my own.

I felt good about myself, but as always, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop — it always does. My eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder) always comes back to find me. This time was no different. I let it overtake me. I stopped feeling full, I started drinking more Diet Coke, which meant less water, and my taste buds craved more sugar.

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I ate cookies, candy, bread, chips and any carb I had denied myself previously. I didn’t even want it, but I did. How many people can relate to that? Was I punishing myself? Trying to escape? Or did I just want to feel good, however temporary it was?

I’ve been avoiding the scale, which I advocate for anyway, but I check my weight occasionally for accountability. I can’t check it now. I’m too ashamed. I was doing so well. I was taking care of myself, and I was so proud of myself for being healthy — not thin or skinny or any of that. Healthy was my goal and being strong.

I was chatting with a girlfriend about it who has the same problem. We check in with ourselves because not a whole lot of people understand BED. I think it’s hard for my friends and family, especially when sometimes I’m at a lower weight. How can I have Binge Eating Disorder at 166 pounds? But just the other day one of my girlfriends said (with tears in her eyes) that she had no idea she had an eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder) until she read some of my blogs. BED is not talked a lot about, even though it negatively affects your health and decreases your quality of life – BIG TIME.

My previously mentioned friend told me she has had trouble going to the grocery store. That’s why I don’t go — I get my groceries delivered so I can’t pick up junk and suffer from impulse buys. My friend is like me: she uses food for comfort, and even though she has received help and counseling for it, it’s still very difficult to her. ME TOO. Matter of fact, she mentioned how deadly eating disorders can be. According to a 2020 article, Anorexia is named as the mental illness with the highest mortality rate. Five to 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease and 18 to 20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years. That’s shocking.

Other stats you should know:

  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men
  • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
  • Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males (source: South Carolina State Dept of Mental Health)

I didn’t look much for stats on Binge Eating Disorder but you can look at disability from BED here. How do I say this delicately? It’s not outright deadly, but I can see how long-term it could contribute negatively to your health and subsequently your death.

I work so hard to keep my depression, anxiety and eating disorder from my kids, but let’s face it, I’m not doing a great job. The jig will be up sooner or later. They’re 5 and 7. I can’t just not eat in front of them for the rest of my life.

I’m 38 years old. It’s never going to get easier.

But I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep checking in with my friend. I’ll aim to be healthier every single day of my life. Because that’s what I do.

I can live with my kids seeing that.

If you have an eating disorder and need help, please go here. There’s a hotline and chat line you can call.

You are not alone.

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We finally got an appointment with a play therapist for Eli last week, and oh my God, he was wonderful. First, he has ADHD, too. During the first part of the appointment, he talked to my husband and I about our histories and what was going on at home. Usually, he said, he gets bored with neurotypical people, but he wasn’t bored with us. Granted, I’m not exactly neurotypical because of my depression and anxiety (and other fun mental health conditions). Then he asked, “Ok, so which one of you has ADHD?” My husband quickly answered, “Neither.” But I bit my lip. I’ve suspected I’ve had it ever since there were rumblings that Eli might have it in Pre-K. Now, my brother has it, which makes at a higher risk to have it, but I also read that having depression and anxiety puts me at a higher risk, too. There are other things as well. You might start thinking that I’m not hyperactive, but ADHD is different in older women.

But here’s the thing…Does it even matter if I have ADHD? I take Adderall anyway to help with slow days when it’s hard to get out of bed. It doesn’t change anything. I already feel like I relate to Eli because both of our brains are “unique.” But does it matter? Another acronyms on my laundry list of diagnoses? Aren’t I “unique” enough? When I write them down or divulge them when I’m speaking or presenting, it makes me feel so vulnerable.

Major Depression Disorder

People are accepting of one of two mental health condition but 6 or 7? Nah.

Persistant Depression Disorder

It’s really embarrassing when I go to the doctor or ER (which happens quite a bit).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It probably scares people, and maybe scares people who don’t know me that well. Surely, it doesn’t scare my friends anymore. They know they deal.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

I bet it was a shock to my parents. I’m sure they didn’t share it with the rest of my family.

Binge Eating Disorder

Especially the ones related to substance abuse.

Opioid Use Disorder – Moderate

I guess by now it shouldn’t bother me. I am recovery, but just like when I share what medications I’m on, there’s always some nurse who comments that “This is too much” like, hello, I just left one of the best psychiatric hospitals in the world.

Sedative, Hypnotic or Anxiolytic Drug Use Disorder – Moderate

I thought to ask my psychiatrist about it, but seriously, what does it matter? I can still relate to Eli, there’s no medicine change (if I do have it), it doesn’t affect my daily life, etc. And really, I don’t want the extra diagnosis. Call me vain, whatever. A girl can only handle the stares and turn red so many times.

So I guess it doesn’t matter. I guess it’s a compliment that the doctor wasn’t bored with us. Definitely not me, because I’m neurodivergent. David’s the “typical” one for a change, lol.

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    regular-and-diet-soda

I recently talked about starting back on Topamax, a migraine prevention medication that has a slew of side effects — one being that it makes carbonated beverages taste awful (flat and gross). When I first started the medication, it tasted awful. I didn’t even buy any Diet Coke for weeks, only drinking one (or less) a day, from a previous trip to the store.

Then one morning I drank one with my (healthy) homemade breakfast taco, and it tasted good again. I thought, oh my god, maybe the medicine isn’t working, but I still haven’t had a migraine in a month. And as glad as I was to welcome my old friend back onto my tastebuds and in my stomach, I was also disappointed. Here I go again, I thought, as my daily intake went up and up. Will I never be rid of this dark elixir?

OK, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but I was really hoping to get rid of this habit while on Topamax, while it taste badly and needed to drink a ton of water. I’m still drinking lots of water, but every day I seem to sneak in a little more Diet Coke. I know it’s bad for me — friends and family never let me forget — but it’s been the one of the few bad habits I haven’t seemed to have kicked.

I’ve tried quitting at least 10 times, maybe more. I tried switching to coffee (many different kinds) but to no avail. I tried tea, because I felt I needed some caffeine, but that didn’t last either. I tried going cold turkey while on Topamax multiple times before and cold turkey without. Nope and nope. I’ve tried telling myself that it will eventually kill me, but it’s to care when you *think* you’re young. Even though I’m pushing 40, it’s still hard to care. Sigh.

Medical News Today, which I read a lot, says a growing body of evidence suggests that diet soda consumption correlates with an increased risk of a wide range of medical conditions, including:

  • heart conditions, such as heart attack and high blood pressure
  • metabolic issues, including diabetes and obesity
  • brain conditions, such as dementia and stroke
  • liver problems, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Now, I don’t need an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, stroke or dementia. Really, anything they mention. I have enough health problems as it is.

MNT also says that while the precise relationship between diet soda and medical conditions is uncertain and requires more research, it is clear that people should not see diet soda as a healthful alternative to sugary drinks.

Well, OK. That doesn’t exactly help me now. I guess it’s like anything else hard in life — I just have to get through it. I really have to be committed to it and do my best, like I do with my mental illness. I don’t let myself slide on that anymore, so maybe I can’t let myself slide on this anymore.

Have you quit diet soda before? Have any tips or tricks? Leave them in the comments.

Thanks for listening. Stay in the light.

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I recently sent a meme to one of my friends that said, “I am the friend you have to explain to your other friends before they meet me.” She laughed it off, but I feel it’s so true.

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See, I have baggage. A lot of baggage. I don’t mean to bring it with me where ever I go, but sometimes it just sneaks into my daily life. For example, I have retrograde amnesia. I also have trouble with my short term memory — this is due to the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) I did for my treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Sometimes I’ll introduce myself to the same person twice (or three times). It’s hard for me to remember things so I try to write everything down. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s annoying and sometimes I come off rude when really I just can’t remember.

Then there’s my anxiety. When I start to feel I’m not in control, I become irritable and I snipe at people. On a good note, my anxiety makes me show up early every where I go. It makes me plan ahead, and I feel like I’m always prepared. But there are times where my depression takes over and I can’t get those things done. Then am I note only irritable, I’m overly emotional and feel very out of control. I hate feeling like that.

My diagnoses include:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Migraine disorder

I feel like I’m missing some, but you get the point. I’m more than my diagnoses, but my behavior is hard to explain when someone doesn’t know what I’m going through.

More recently I started a new med for my migraine disorder. It’s called Topamax, and it has helped immensely. I haven’t had a migraine since I started three or four weeks ago. BUT it has the weirdest side effects and when I explain them to people I feel like a “crazy” person.

  • It makes carbonated beverages taste gross
  • It leaves a weird taste in your mouth
  • I’m not able to sweat when I’m exercising so I have to drink tons of water when my body temp rises
  • I have to drink tons of water, period
  • It causes indigestion
  • It causes memory loss (just what I need)
  • Constant eye twitching
  • And it causes brain fog – I’ve literally forgotten words while I’m talking

There’s so much more.

Because I take a karate class, I had to explain to the instructor about the body temperature thing, and boy did I feel crazy. I’m sure he’s never heard that before. Like when I explain to people I have retrograde amnesia from “shock therapy.” It sounds unbelievable.

I shouldn’t care what people think, and normally I don’t, but sometimes I can’t help think I’m making excuses listing off my limitations — are they really limitations?

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I started a new preventive migraine medication about a week and a half ago (Topamax), and it has not gone smoothly. It’s an older pill, with a lot of side effects. I’ve been on it quite a few times before but have never experienced this many effects.

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First, there’s how carbonated beverages tasting like crap. Fine, who really cares? Then there’s indigestion – another slight annoyance. Then my eye constantly twitching. Also, I can’t sweat when my body temperature rises (say, when I’m doing karate) so I have to take lots of breaks and drink A LOT of water. More annoying. There’s major fatigue and tiredness (I took five naps in one day). Brain fog. Memory loss. My thinking is very slowed. Diarrhea. Oh, and there’s a weird taste in my mouth. Fine.

None of this would matter to me if I hadn’t just have started karate. I started training because I thought it was cool watching my kids. I wanted it for me. I was pumped. I wanted to be physically fit. Then I had to switch to this medicine. I lost my confidence. How was I supposed to tell my instructors — hey I can’t sweat so I have to leave the floor to suck down water every five seconds on top of hey I have retrograde amnesia and also I can’t retain a lot of new information so I need to do private lessons, too. I got issues. And those issues are only mine, I’m sure. But I’ve always hated having them. Some of of exclusion keeping me from being like the others. Keeping me from being healthy — that’s what it is. I’ve always hated hearing, “OMG, you’re so unhealthy. You take too many pills. You’re too young to be this way, etc. “

Cringe.

But I tried to keep my instructors up to date. I tried explaining the best I could. I tried to hang in there until I couldn’t possible go any more. I took my water breaks then got back in there. I wanted to more, yes. But I did enough, and sometimes, that’s what it takes.

That’s what it took yesterday when I earned my first stripe on my white belt. It was not given. It was earned, and I truly feel that way. I have loved getting every bruise on my body. I’ve loved every self-defense move. I’ve loved practicing every round kick (which I’ll continue to do). This is for me. And even though my kids were there (supposed) to be watching me, this was for me. I’m proud of me. But tell you the truth, I could have done without them saying, “Mommy is soooo slow.” or “Mommy is not doing that right.”

I did it the way I was taught and I did it to the best of my abilities. And I could totally kick both their asses, should it come to that. Totally kidding.

Another cool thing is that I see and feel my body changing. I’m getting stronger. I’m trying to condition every day — not to lose weight — but to make my training easier. It’s just going to get harder from here. I like the way it’s changing….how I’m changing. Physically and mentally.

If I can do all that I’m doing plus get a stripe while taking the medication from hell, my depressed, anxious, column-writing, retrograde amnesiac, migraine-having, no-sweating, no-Diet Coke-tasting ass can do anything.

Bring it.

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I was hanging out at my desk this morning, waiting on a Zoom meeting to start. I pulled out one of my drawers, just looking around when I saw my Wellness & Relapse Prevention Plan from the Menninger Clinic on top of some papers. I wrote this plan before I left the psychiatric hospital, as everybody does. It’s mandatory before leaving. I was at Menninger for six long weeks, and I was ready. I couldn’t remember what was inside, so I took a gander.

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It started off by saying that triggers and warning signs of relapse will occur, but by preparing the best we can could help prevent another relapse or depressive episode. It urged you to be honest in your answers, share it with you loved ones and refer to it often. It was in question and answer form.

It covered areas of wellness such as Emotional Wellness, Relationships, Physical Health, Work/School, Spirituality, Financial, Leisure, Self-Awareness/Insight and Addiction Management. It asked what did I look like or act like when I looked healthy in all the areas I just mentioned. Under Physical Health I put that I would exercise, eat healthy, stop drinking Diet Coke, not use food as a coping mechanism, I’d have good hygiene habits, and that I’d appreciate my body for what it is. Sounds good, right?

Then I skipped to my Core Problems, my deepest, darkest secrets. I listed all my diagnoses: Persistent Depressive Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder and Binge Eating Disorder. I listed the negative thoughts that too often cross my mind: I’m a bad mom and wife; I’m a burden to my family; I’ll never be good enough; and I’m worthless.

Next I wrote about short and long-term goals I had socially, emotionally, spiritually and physically. For example, for the social goal, I wanted to volunteer for my kids’ school book fair in the following September (I left the hospital in August). Long term I wanted to have a girls’ night at Alamo Drafthouse every month.

I did the book fair (and met a really good friend!) — I was actually in charge of it that year — and the girls’ nights were at least every other month if not every month.

But other things like, “take a daily walk around the neighborhood, go on a healthier diet, go to the gym three times a week, make an effort to go to the synagogue more often,” things like that didn’t become a habit. Not because they aren’t important, but because life happened when I stepped off those hospital groups. I had a four- and two-year-old to take care of. I had to figure out how to be a healthy me — a wife me, a mom me, a friend me, a daughter me and a me me — in just a few hours a day I had to myself. I had just begun blogging, and I knew that I wanted to write, but I was still lost and overwhelmed with all the working parts I was supposed to incorporate into my “new” life.

But, as I look as this wellness plan, I see that a lot of the goals on here I’ve hit. I may have done it in a number of years or taken a different approach, but I still made it. I still go to therapy every week (every other week now because my therapist says I don’t have to come weekly anymore). I am healthier. I work out each week. I eat a healthier diet. I volunteer. I have my own column in the Caller-Times. And that did not come easily. I monitor my self-talk. I check in with friends.

And get this: I can ask for help. I can say, “can you take this off my plate, please?” and not feel the slightest guilt about it.

I didn’t know what to expect when I was filling out that Wellness Plan. I didn’t know what challenges would occur or how hard it would be. I just knew it would be hard. Real hard.

But was nothing compared to hitting rock bottom and being sent to a hospital, away from your friends, husband and children (and other family).

I would’ve never dreamed I’d be this happy. I still have bad days; we all do. That just makes the good ones all the more sweet.

Here is a summary of my strengths from my Wellness Plan:

“I’m grateful for my kids. I’m a good writer. I’m grateful for my husband. I’m compassionate and empathetic. I’m a good friend. My cherished moments include both of my children and my wedding. I have more work to do here.”

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Limitations

by Heather Loeb

Before I realized I was out of survival mode and truly in recovery, I would always say to myself, “I have limitations.” And it was true, and maybe still is, but in the past few days I’ve noticed that I have moved past certain “limitations.” Some of physical barriers.

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For instance, I had a private karate lesson with my karate instructor on Friday. We have a test for a stripe next week, and I wasn’t feeling confident. It’s hard for me to keep up in class because there are so many people in there — beginners and advanced — and I just wanted to make sure I had everything down. I practiced my kicks and the mitt drills. I felt strong, and I’m truly looking forward to the test.

When I got home, I practiced my kicks on my punching bag, but it’s a little awkward because of it’s shape. I really have to pull my kicks high to strike. I digress. After that I wanted to work on my push-ups. I have very little upper body strength, only able to do push-ups on my knees. And barely able to do that. So I did that. And I did some against the wall. I figure I need to be doing push-ups every single day until I can do them on my toes.

The old, depressed Heather would never have cared about that, never would’ve challenged herself in anyway. So after the wall push-ups, I did some light weight lifting.

I then worked on my abs. Lately my abs have been on fire. I put my hands under my back and bottom and lifted my legs, I did the Superman pose, and finally, I wanted to try a sit up. I stalled awhile before attempting it because it has been years since I’d even tried. It was a daunting task. And I have limitations, right?

I tucked my feet under the couch and breathed in. I exhaled, pulled my ab muscles in, coming all the way up to my knees.

I DID IT!

I tried to do it again, but no dice. That’s okay. You gotta start somewhere. Really, you just gotta start. And that’s what I have done. I’m super excited to see where this takes me.

I love karate, and I feel stronger every class. Actually, I felt beat down after the last class, and I have the bruises to prove it, but I’m better than the class before.

I hate to quote Kanye, but I’m really harder, better, faster, stronger. One sit up, one lap, one round kick at a time.

Limitations can’t hold you back if you don’t let them.

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Just last week I was saying I realized I wasn’t in a depressive episode anymore. That I’ll always have major depressive disorder, but for the moment I’m not depressed. It’s been this way for awhile, I just didn’t notice. I’m always wary that an episode can pop up, and I’m always on guard.

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But, instead of depression, my migraines have started to occupy my thoughts. I was actually hospitalized two weeks ago because I had an intractable migraine for an entire week. This week I’ve had one almost every day. I even had to leave early from Isla’s field trip because I had forgot to bring my medications.

I feel like I miss so much after a migraine. Some are easy and go away fast, but lately they’ve been holding on for dear life. It’s hours and days that I can’t get back. I can only sit in a cool, dark room praying that I find relief.

And as much as I hate to think about it this way, it’s just not fair. It’s unfair that I’m plagued by so many illnesses and disorders. Right now, depression seems easy, and that’s saying a whole hell of a lot. Both are debilitating and time is lost. Precious time.

I don’t mean to throw myself a pity party. I’m just frustrated that I can’t participate in the life that I have built post depression episode. I’ve done so much to be present with my family, get involved with NAMI GCC, write for the Caller-Times, and blog. And start karate. I couldn’t have done that before, and I’m proud of the life I’m living. For once in my life I’m so happy and resolute in knowing I’m where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. So the migraines are really getting in the way of that, damnit.

But I did start a new medication today for migraine prevention. It’s not new actually — I’ve been on and off it for about 20 years. It’s called Topamax, and it’s an anticonvulsant drug also used for migraine prevention. It’s got some weird side effects. One being that it makes carbonated beverages taste horrible. You may think “so what?” but that means I will no longer be able to drink my beloved Diet Cokes. I’m very sad about that. Very sad. But not sad enough not to take the pills. I have to get rid of these damn migraines. And I guess it’ll force me to drink more water. Although last time I was on it, I just switched to Diet Pepsi because it didn’t taste awful like it usually does, lol. I know, I’m hopeless.

If you’re into sending good thoughts, vibes or prayers, please send them my way. I don’t want to live inside my bedroom writhing in pain.

That’s all for now. Stay in the light, my friends.

And Happy Passover/Easter.

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This past week went pretty well, other than me catching a bad cold. The most exciting thing that happened was that I started karate. I took two classes last week, and even though I’m sore, I’m super pumped for the classes this week. After attending the second karate class, I realized something pretty huge: I’ve come through to the other side of depression. I’m officially in recovery. I’ve made it. I know that I could fall into another depressive episode, but I have to make hay when the sun shines.

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The old Heather couldn’t do much. She couldn’t even shower regularly. She was limited. She would’ve never tried a karate class because it’s intimidating, and it means she has to show up. I’ve convinced myself that I don’t stick to things (like a gym membership), but that’s the old Heather, too. The new Heather likes the challenge — she can do hard things. I can’t wait to see what I can accomplish. But I won’t lie, I do hate warming up in karate because I haven’t worked out in so long. I turn bright red and sweat. I’m also pretty slow. BUT you have to start somewhere. It won’t be that way for long.

I’m proud of myself. I’ve come so far, and it has been nothing but hard work. I have my weak moments, but for the most part I’m walking on sunshine.

I’ll still have to work…and work hard. But it’ll get easier. I’ll likely be in recovery for the rest of my life, but if this is how it feels, I’m good with that.

I hope you guys have a great week. Here’s hoping I do!

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I don’t know if it’s the motion of repetitive chewing or the first delectable bites that set my taste buds on fire. Sometimes it starts with, “I deserve a treat,” even when I’ve indulged myself multiple times throughout that day. Sometimes it happens because I’m alone (rare), which in my eyes, is always a time to celebrate. Maybe I just need comfort…but at every meal?

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I don’t understand my binge eating. I mean, I do to an extent. I know it’s a behavior I learned that once served a purpose but doesn’t necessarily work for me now. One book I read said that the binge urges come from your “primitive brain,” meaning the lower brain, my limbic system. That part of the brain is supposed to warn you of danger — the part of the brain that would kick off your flight, fight or freeze responses.

Except I’m not being preyed on. But I am in danger. I always am when I binge.

I keep thinking what I need comfort from. My life is good, so good. I still struggle with depression, anxiety, and of course with binge eating. But I have no complaints about the life I’m living. Just the other day I realized how far I’ve come since being hospitalized in 2019. I went to a karate class, for heaven’s sake, when just a few years ago I couldn’t get out of bed or shower.

So what is my problem? Is it habit? I’ve read all kinds of books on bingeing, but I couldn’t tell you one thing I really learned because of my bad memory.

I started karate because I thought it would be fun, that I would learn self-discipline and honor my body by making it stronger. Maybe I should start asking myself before I eat if what I’m eating honors my body? But will that work? I seem to lack rationale before a binge, so will I even care if it doesn’t honor my body in the moment?

I hate the way I feel after a binge. My body is so heavy, my belly so full. I’m sluggish, and then the guilt comes in, followed by shame. I watch the numbers go up on the scale, then quickly turn away from the results it shows. I shove that pain down and go about my day then daydream about what I’m going to eat the next couple of meals. Actually, I’m always thinking about what I’m going to eat. I think nonstop of food, which I know isn’t normal. One of my best friends told me she never thinks of food, it’s just fuel to her body. Why can’t I think like that?

I’m hoping that karate will push me to the edge and make me jump far away from binge eating and overeating. I have to be in shape. I can’t keep gaining the same 30 pounds. I want to be strong, for my body to be strong. I want to be example to my kids.

Throwing away the “bad” food in the house isn’t enough. It has to come from inside. But it has to be now — I’m not doing my body any favors by doing this. I don’t want to die young. I want to lead a healthy life.

I want to lead a healthy life.

Looks like I’ll be digging deep with my therapist next week. There’s some reason I’m doing this. If it’s not my depression, it’s my anxiety. If it’s not my anxiety, it’s my eating disorder. Now that I have depression and anxiety taken care of (for the most part), my eating is out of control. I picture myself on a large ship on the sea (for some reason it looks like the ship in The Little Mermaid) and there are multiple holes in the wood. Big, round holes. When I plug one, the others gush, and I’m constantly patching them all day, every day.

I have work to do. It’s daunting, but I can do hard things.

I can do this.

I can be healthy.

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