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mental illness blog

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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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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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Last week my husband and I took a trip to Turks and Caicos to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. It was totally amazing; I can’t wait to go back. It was definitely hard to readjust to our routine and structure today, but we did it.

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But I can’t stop thinking about the vacation. I’m not trying to relive it; I’m just going over how different I was there. I packed a different dress to wear ever day, heels and sandals. I did my hair and my makeup, something I rarely do in every day life. I was put together, chic, and most importantly, I was confident. So confident. I wore a different swimsuit every day, too. Including a two-piece. I didn’t use a coverup either, something I always do around pools/beaches.

I just felt so fantastic. I even drank a few daiquiris, something that rarely happens also. I remember telling David that Vacation Heather was fun, confident and relaxed. He replied that he loved Vacation Heather.

So I’ve been wondering — why can’t I be that version of myself here at home? Surely there’s a way to merge the two. I realize that it can’t be exactly the same. After all, I’m taking care of two children and volunteering for NAMI Greater Corpus Christi. I don’t get paid, but it IS work. Then there’s bills, taking the kids to karate and waking up at 5 a.m. just to list a few.

My husband also mentioned that when he comes home, I’m already in my sweats and he doesn’t get to see me in “real clothes.” I have to admit, that’s my favorite time of day: coming home after picking up the kids/going to karate and putting on my comfortable PJs or lounge wear. I have to balance this love with David’s need to see me in real clothes. I don’t want that to sound like he’s bossing me around or anything. I think it’s good that he sees me in nice clothes; I certainly like him when he dresses nicely.

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So today I wore a yellow blouse, jeans and nice sandals. I put a beautiful headband on, and I feel good…confident. But adding Vacation Heather is more than wearing makeup and dresses everyday — I need to alter my attitude. I need to relax, especially when it comes to the kids. I want to yell less and be more laid back. My depression and anxiety don’t make that easy, but there’s room to loosen the reins on everything, I think.

I will make an effort to look nice. I’ll put on a dress because it makes me feel light and sexy. I have to remember that I’m a human being, not just a mom in the trenches of parenthood. I’m more than sweatpants and PJs. I deserve to feel good about myself and to show off my personality. I’m more than my depression and anxiety. Sometimes I feel like I eat, breathe and sleep mental health and I get caught up in my conditions, treating them like a ball and chain I’m lugging around, but that has to stop.

From now on, I’m going to be me — the real me who celebrates herself, no matter if she’s on a tropical island or in Corpus Christi.

And I can’t wait to see it.

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I spent my summers in high school and college at my parents’ house alone (for the most part). I loved it. I remember I would grab some Chick-fil-a and eat it in from of the TV as TLC’s What Not to Wear came on. I loved that show and was fascinated with the makeover aspect. I had gained a lot of weight in high school, then lost it in college and would try to glean wardrobe tips from the show. Good times.

Recently I searched how to stream the show, and alas, I found it on Hulu. The particular season I’m watching is 19 years old. Holy crap. While the clothes are a little outdated, I still enjoy it. Except for one thing — Clinton and Stacy are downright mean, at times! It strikes a sharp contrast from Queer Eye, which I’m also watching.

I hate the way they make fun of the guests on the show and how push the hair stylist is. In my opinion, how you style your hair is so personal. It can be a security blanket, but what the hell is wrong with that? Back off, Nick!

I love the episodes where the guest actually enjoys themselves, but more times than not, they hosts beat all the creativity and comfort out of them, not always showcasing what makes them unique.

Have I gone soft?

Spoiler alert: I’ve always been soft.

I’ll admit that recently I’ve tried to dress better but only to feel better about myself. It makes me feel more confident, which is hard for me (thanks to body dysmophic disorder). I can’t help but project my feelings on the guests on What Not to Wear. I want to shake them and say, “Don’t listen to them! You do you! You’re perfect the way you are.” The same thing I should tell myself.

We don’t need to dress alike. We’re all different shapes and in different places in our lives. I love that my hair is big, frizzy and wavy (adding about two inches to my height, lol). I love my shirts with mental health slogans — Mental Health Matters, It’s Cool to Go to Therapy, etc). I love my leggings and oh my god I love my Uggs. That’s okay. I like bright colors and baggy clothes even though I know Clinton and Stacy would tell me that adds volume. Screw it, add that shit on. I love fun socks and underwear and my many patterned headbands.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to show out, too, but that’s rare.

Maybe I’m overanalyzing this revered show of mine, but that tells me I’ve evolved from who I was nearly 20 years ago. I love myself more. I’m more accepting of myself. I’m not anywhere near done with my story, but it’s better than I started.

Progress, no matter how little, is still progress.

 

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I was on the phone today with a friend who had just read one of my blogs about core beliefs. Without getting into all the details, my friend thanked me for being vulnerable, but at the time, I couldn’t really remember what the blog was about.

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So I re-read it.

Wow, I thought. I put my deepest, darkest secrets in my blog including that deep down I don’t think I’m good enough. That I’m fat and lazy and worthless. Why didn’t I remember this blog? I re-read it again. Then again. I grabbed a notebook, wrote my negative core beliefs down (not good enough, fat/ugly, lazy and a bad mom) and started “looking” for evidence that they were true but couldn’t come up with anything.

There was one belief that seemed to hold more water than the others. The “fact” I think I’m fat and ugly. That it’s bad to be fat. And honestly, I laughed. My first thought was “so what if I’m fat?” Then it evolved into “fat is something that I have, not what I am, which is exactly what I tell my daughter. I’m overweight according to the BMI chart but barely. I guess it would matter if I were unhealthy and overweight, but I’m not. I’m healthyish.

Why is there so much stigma attached to being fat? Ugh, I hate that word. Like I said, fat isn’t (shouldn’t be) something we are. And if that’s the “worst” problem I have, my life is pretty good. And it is…really good. Who wouldn’t want to be me? I have everything I need — a great support system, good physical health, means to take care of my mental health conditions, a beautiful home and a kickass therapist. I’m grateful for everything I have. Does that mean I cant complain or vent? Hell no. I still deserve to hold space for myself.

Let me address another core belief: I’m lazy. I started to jot down all the ways I’m not lazy then stopped. I am lazy sometimes. My car stays messy, as does my desk and work space. I have crap everywhere, and most of the time I don’t care to change that. But that’s okay. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s not hurting anyone. This core belief came directly from my childhood so it’s deeply ingrained. But it doesn’t matter? I don’t need to change this part of myself, I just need to acknowledge and accept the fact that I am. Really, who the fuck cares? It’s no reflection of my character; it’s not a flaw.

I realize now that I’m more than these thoughts. I’m more than my mistakes and worst moments. I’m complex, but I am love. I’m beautiful, even with my flaws and illnesses. Especially because I’m flawed. I couldn’t do what I do without them.

What would I write about if this weren’t the case? How boring that would be?

I love what I do. I’ve learned to be vulnerable. I’m brave — I put my weight in the newspaper, and I confessed my darkest secrets on my blog. I help people. I lend my voice to others’ pain and give them permission to feel what they feel and share their experience. That’s huge. I’m not tryin to toot my own horn. I only want to honor my journey, which has been dark and so taxing. And it’s still not over. I’ll battle depression and anxiety my whole life. My eating disorder, too.

Yet I’m free. I’m so damn free, and it feels so good. I’m not a prisoner to everything bad in my life. By talking about my issues, I shine a light on them, ridding them of shame (which always lurks in the dark). I’m learning to love myself, despite my mental health conditions. I don’t fit the mold, no.

But I don’t want to.

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I hope y’all are doing well. It’s been awhile since I posted an update, so here goes. First of all, I want to wish everyone who celebrates a Happy Easter. We’re Jewish but we still do an Easter egg hunt and the Easter Bunny drops off goodies in their baskets.

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This past week was a little trying for me. I’ve had an ECT appointment scheduled for next week, which is the eight-week mark. I really thought I could push past eight weeks but I’ve noticed I’m more irritable and my temper is shorter than normal, so I should probably just do it. It’s hard for me to admit that I need one because I hate them so much. I really dislike going under anesthesia; it makes me anxious and scared. My pulse quickens and my blood pressure goes higher than normal, and I have to use all the strength I have not to start bawling and begging to get me out of there. I know it doesn’t make sense — I’ve had almost 30 treatments, and I’ve never had a bad experience. But that’s just how it is. Anyway, I’ll try not to focus on that this week; I’ll just think how much better I’m going to feel and what a difference it’ll make.

In other news, tomorrow (Monday), one of my latest columns will be printed in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. They’re letting me write some more mental health columns, and I’m hoping it turns into a regular columnist job — it would be a dream of mine. So if you’re not too busy, go to Caller.com tomorrow and check it out.

That’s it for now. I hope you guys have a happy, healthy week.

Stay in the light.

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