Monday, 2 May 2011

Depression and intuitive eating

As most of my friends know, I get depressed every winter. I am just coming out the other side of it now, and I have gained about one and a half stone (20 lbs or about 10 kg) in weight and my clothes don't fit. This year it was a totally different experience because of intuitive eating. So how was it different?

1) I was aware of eating for comfort and didn't believe the self-con that it as because of the stress of this or the pressure of that....

2) I forgave myself, even as I sat feeling bloated and sick. I knew I needed to stop doing it, but I didn't hate myself.

3) Although I wasn't 'doing' intuitive eating, I wasn't 'not doing' it either so even in the midst of compulsive eating days, I would often eat intuitively. It wasn't all or nothing, and I never thought "well, I've made a mess of today already so I might as well ....."

4) I didn't make myself promises that I wouldn't keep. I just knew that when the depression eased, I would get back to eating more intuitively and the weight gain would stop.

So, intuitive eating isn't a cure for depression by any means, but it certainly doesn't add drama to the crisis.


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Not an ideal weekend

This weekend did not go as planned in any way. We were going to see my parents and were in the last stages of preparation to depart when a voice from the bathroom alerted me to the end of those plans. Dave had been 'unwell' and was 'unwell' again 15 minutes later. The trip was cancelled. I tried not to show my disappointment as Dave said he felt he had let me down. Instead I busied about letting Dad know and helping the children see the positive side.

Saturday started well with Dave staying in bed until around 11am, I woke around 9.30am and sat in bed knitting happily. I went off to the supermarket with my eldest in the early afternoon and we arrived home with bags and bags of shopping to find a complete mess. Annie had been playing with my new paper cutter and the place looked like a ticker-tape parade had driven through. And Lexxy, who should have known better, had been playing with modelling clay and water. There were splatters of clay on the floor all round the dining room, into the front room, the taps in the kitchen were coated and the dining room table looked like a bakery. Nice. And Dave was back in bed watching TV and sweating out a fever.

I wasn't happy.

When I had cleared up the paper and the clay and put the shopping away I was totally cheesed off but it was all put into perspective by the news Dave gave me when I got back. My Aunt, who has had Alzheimer's for a decade or more and went into hospital the previous day with a lung infection, had died. I have only seen her once or twice in the last 10 years and the two families, (my father's brother and his wife), have never been close. But it hit me that this weekend I had missed seeing my Mum, and my cousins had lost theirs forever. Of course, with Alzheimer's, they may consider that they lost their Mum a long time ago but even so, it was a strong comparison and not a comfortable one. My Dad won't be able to go to the funeral as he isn't well enough to travel, my sister has other commitments and my brother is even less in contact with that side of the family than I, so I think I had better go. I really hate funerals and avoid them whenever I can. I don't think I'll be able to avoid this one.

So to more positive things: knitting. I am knitting a pair of hiking socks for Dave's brother for Xmas and I have finished the first one. It's a gorgeous creation in shades of reds, browns, oranges, a bit of pink and lilac and some fair isle effect too. Sounds a bit busy but it looks truly gorgeous. The trouble is the size. I have his foot measurements and the sock is smaller than his foot in both length and width, and yet when Dave wears it, (and Dave's feet are one size bigger than his brother's), it is just a tiny tad too big. As hiking socks, they can't afford to be too big or the ridges will rub and make blisters on his feet while he is walking.

So the brother lives in Milton Keynes and I don't know when I'm seeing him again to be able to try it on, and I don't want to ruin the surprise anyway. So what do I do? I am more than halfway through the second sock and as it's cuff down, I have the option to make the foot shorter. Eek, the decisions. I have decided to knit the other one to match the first and hope they fit. If they don't, I'll frog them both back and knit them shorter together. It will be fine...

I have picked up the crocheted bag for his wife tonight as well. It's in a tough, sturdy woolen yarn that will make a great hardwearing bag, but is horrible to work with. I have a line on my finger still where the yarn was tensioned, and I put it down nearly an hour ago. I will have to work on it in small chunks. I'm glad to be making progress on it, though, because I'm starting to be uncertain I will finish my presents in time. I gave no promises so it's not a big problem, but I really wanted to get them finished.

The shawl for my Mum is done and a Gecko bookmark for Dad won't take long. The socks for B-I-L are nearly finished and the bag for his wife is about 1/3 done. The house socks for my neice are ready to start when I have finished her Dad's hiking socks. Nothing for the nephew - it's not cool.

The lacey scarf for M-I-L is ready to start and I will enjoy knitting that. The ear-flap hat for her beau is also ready to start but I'm not looking forward to knitting in such a dreary colour. The bed socks for G-M-I-L are a stumbling block - I haven't decided on a pattern yet so a long way to go yet.

The entrelac scarf for S-I-L is more than half done and it's lovely, although I regret the choice of yarn. The camel for my bro is unlikely to make the Xmas cut TBH.

And I have started a pair of socks for me - it seems silly at this stage but I've been meaning to do them for months and some of the knit group wanted to knit it together, so I started. I'm really enjoying knitting it and trying to resist feelings of guilt whenever I do. I don't think I will knit Xmas presents for family again. I think it's something we all do..... but only once!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A life lesson from knitting

I was down last night. Our trip to see my parents for the first time since June was cancelled at the last minute when my hubby threw up as we were finishing the packing. I had so much I wanted to show and give to my mum that I was devastated. I kept it from Dave as well as I could, as he was already feeling that he had let me down, but was so upset I couldn't even knit. That's not happened to me before.

So finally I came round a bit and decided to do the things I was expecting to do anyway - knit lots, drink Cava and stay up late. Dave went to bed but I stayed up until midnight on my own. This is what led to my life lesson from knitting.

I was knitting a hiking sock for my brother-in-law last night, the second of the pair so I had already done this part of the pattern. However, between Lord of the Rings on the TV and the Cava, I missed a vital part of the pattern when turning the heel. I noticed this a while later when I didn't have ther right number of stitches but couldn't work out why. My own rule with mistakes is that the circumstances which led to the mistake are likely to remove the ability to solve it so once a mistake is noticed, I put the thing down until the next day.

So this morning I picked it up and worked out where I had gone wrong. I took the needles out, ripped back the knitting to the place where I went wrong, picked up the stitches, wound the spare yarn around the ball and prepared to re-knit. At this point it occurred to me that I 'should' be frustrated with myself. In previous circumstances, like when I used to diet and had a target weight loss for each week, leading to a date when I would achieve the elusive target weight, taking a backwards step like this would be very upsetting. I would be thinking that if I hadn't done that, I would be at a different place by now and only so far from reaching the goal, but instead I'm back here. Well, that's all part of the negative cycle that dieting causes.

So what is different with knitting? Why didn't I think "all that effort last night has been wasted as I am back to where I was before I did all that"? Why did I think "making mistakes, noticing them, taking the knitting back and learning from the whole event is just part of the process of knitting"? I can't answer that but I think it has taught me a valuable life lesson. Making mistakes is part of the process, not a deviation from it. I learn from every mistake that I make and I learn again when I develop skills for rectifying the mistake. I am so much better at picking up stitches after undoing than I was when I started knitting again last year. When I made mistakes before as a teenager, my mum would sort them out for me so I had no skills of my own. And just noticing that the mistake had been made was quite a skill too. And now I have those skills, I can pass them on to anyone who needs them.

Not for the first time, Thank You Knitting!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Body Image Issues

My 9-year old daughter (who is built like a racing snake) told me today that sometimes she thinks she is fat. She showed me her thigh to demonstrate why she thought this way. I knew this would happen at some time but I hoped not this early.

My first thought was "How can you think you're fat, you're bordering on skinny?" but I was able to quietly process that without speaking. What I actually said was "And what would happen if you were fat?" She didn't know. So, she knows that she mustn't be fat but she doesn't know why. This kind of illogic puts me in mind of some organised religions and I guess that makes sense because body image, fashion and popular culture is a religion to some people. It is certainly as costly and causes as much angst as religions do.

My final word on the matter was "I don't think you're fat and if you were, it wouldn't make any difference to how I felt about you. If you know anyone who would think differently about you because you were fat then they're probably not interested in the person you are anyway". I don't know how helpful this was but it was the best I could do under the circumstances.

I expect this topic will come back frequently over the coming years, (with 3 daughters, I think that's inevitable), and I hope that my responses will avoid judgement of the system that is giving them these thoughts and that they value so highly at the moment, and yet still maintain their positive self regard and confidence.

Ironically, I have a post-it note on my shower-room mirror which this same little girl put there about 6 months ago. It reads: "You don't have to change, you're beautiful just the way you are". So why doesn't she believe that about herself?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Devolved Responsibility and the Medical Model

I was in the children's ward at the hospital earlier this week where my littlest girl had just had an operation. I overheard another mum talking to her daughter who had also been in surgery, and the language she used attracted my attention. She talked about what they were allowed to do and when they were allowed to go home. This is the kind of language I notice when clients use it and challenge them about whose decision this is to make. And here I was just a few feet from where my clients often make those decisions, listening to a mum use this language and I realised that I was resisting doing the same thing. I knew that the medical staff wanted my daughter to have a wee before she left and she was resisting this. When she asked if we could go home, I could have said "We're not allowed to go home until you've had a wee" but I chose to say "We're not going home until you've had a wee". Did it make much difference? Yes, I think it did.

If I said that we were not allowed to go home, then I would be saying that the decision about when we go was to be made by a doctor or a nurse, which is clearly not the case. If I chose to leave the hospital without this consent, no-one would be able to stop me. But I would have devolved the responsibility for this decision, at least in my daughter's mind, to the medical staff. It's not my fault we can't go home, it's the doctor/nurse's fault.

This made me think about something that has been on my mind for a while. My recent shift in teaching method has involved a deeper understanding of the effect of my words on my mind and the minds of those hearing them - Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I used to say that I wanted to have my second baby at home but I had to be induced, so I had her in hospital. This wasn't true, was it? I was strongly advised to be induced but in the end, it was my decision to make. How could I tell clients that all these decisions are theirs to make and then imply that I had no choice about my induction of labour? Well, this is all old news to me but this new experience in the children's ward helped me to realise why I chose those words. If I said "I wanted to have my baby at home but I chose to have an induction" it gives me the responsibilty for this possibly unnecessary and potentially harmful intervention.

So when a couple tell me their labour story and say they had to have a caesarean, are they deliberately avoiding responsibility for the decision they took, or did they not hear or understand what I had said about it being their decision to make? And how does this start to their parenting life affect their sense of personal power around their child? And what precedent does this set for the woman's future belief about her body's ability to give birth? And how much bearing does this have on our blame culture? If a woman feels that she 'had to' have forceps to birth her baby, how does she feel if her baby has bruises? Does she automatically blame the doctor as it was his/her decision? And what if the effect is more serious or longterm? How different would have be if the couple were empowered to make the decision for themselves? Would they be so quick to blame the doctor for any repurcussions?

So, I guess I am saying that in taking control of decisions away from the labouring woman, obstetricians have helped to bring about the litigation culture that causes them so much angst.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

It's all looking up

My despair culminated in a massive aggressive outburst yesterday morning. This made it clear to me that dairy intake is at least a factor in my emotional problems. I spent a lot of yesterday morning writing - a new habit I started last week. I got up at 6am from Tuesday to Friday and sat at my computer writing. I splurged out everything I was thinking and feeling, even the tiny stuff I wouldn't bother Dave or any of my friends with. I have written more than 1,000 words each day and on Friday it was nearly 3,000!

The big session of writing cleared the air a bit and I started to improve straight away. I had my hair cut in the afternoon and this made a big difference as well. My hair has been getting out of control for a few weeks and it has affected my self-esteem. As is often the case, I didn't realise how much it was bringing me down until the situation resolved and I felt much better.

So, lots of factors combined and last night I was back on form. I was resourceful and positive, I made 3 different meals for the girls' tea without shouting, I didn't eat because I wasn't hungry but had a candlelit dinner with Dave when the girls had gone upstairs. I stopped drinking wine when I had had enough, and gave what was left in my glass to Dave. Then I had a cup of camomile tea and went to bed at a reasonable hour. All very positive.

So, a friend from the Beyond Chocolate forum has been doing a programme from a book called The No Diet Diet (Fletcher, B., Pine, K. & Penman D.) and blogging about it. I have been reading with great interest because I love that kind of thing. The concept is that diets don't work - well, I already knew that. It says that in order to change the way you think, you change the way you behave. Break habits that are tying you into certain behaviours and hence change the way you behave and then think. Not very well explained, and one of the authors writes for the Daily Mail so it is a bit tabloidy, but the message is sound and I have decided to give it a go. More excitingly, Dave is going to do it with me.

I don't think I will start a seperate blog for this, or even get around to blogging every day, but I will write about what is happening with the No Diet Diet (NDD) as often as I can. The programme is broken into 5 phases and Phase 1 starts today. The task is not to watch TV all day. That isn't going to be very difficult for me as I don't like TV but we will see how it goes. There are some extra little tasks to do during the first week as well, but as I am assessing a teacher this afternoon and out with friends later I don't expect to do any of those, but I will keep them in my mind. Examples of things I might try are paint or draw, read something you wouldn't normally consider, write a story, contact a long-lost friend, ride a bike, learn to meditate. The creative things appeal to me most - drawing and writing a story.

I feel quite excited about the new programme. It says you are guaranteed to lose weight while doing it, which I don't believe or expect, but I will enjoy shaking up my life a little.

So, thank you to all of you lovely people who have expressed concern and empathy for my emotional struggles. It is the support of my wonderful friends that gets me through these troughs and I only hope I can repay your kindness when you have your own troughs.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Feeling out of control

I have decided to blog this to try and get my thoughts together. Over the last week or so, since the school holidays started, I have been out of control with my eating and particularly my drinking. It's always been a bit like that with me, as most of my friends know, but this is getting serious. It's come to a head today because I have totally shot myself in the foot. I had a candlelit dinner with Dave planned for tonight, the food was chosen and bought, and I really enjoyed it when we did this last weekend.

But then at lunch my sister-in-law wanted a glass of wine and I didn't fancy red so I opened a bottle of Cava, thinking I could finish it this evening with our dinner. In true alcoholic fashion, the bottle was finished off by me and my SIL at lunch and then I spent the afternoon drinking cocktails with Dave and by the time it came to the evening, I was tired and headachey. That was the end of our evening plans.

So in the end, we ate our carefully planned food in front of the TV and I have gone up to bed with my knitting feeling really cross with myself.

I have put a bit of weight on since Xmas which isn't a problem in itself, but it's another sign that I am not in control of what I am consuming. So, I have to stop this but how? I'm not into the rules and new starts and strict regimes that I thought used to 'work' for me, so how do I start getting myself back on the rails? I don't think that going back to the BC daily blog is going to help - it's gone a bit beyond that. I think I need to ask myself not to drink any alcohol for a few days and see where it takes me.

The silly thing is, I am enjoying my knitting so much at the moment that I can quite happily focus on that rather than the booze. And the project I am most enjoying I can't do when I have had a drink because it's too difficult to take it back if I make a mistake. So it's in my own best interest on the night not to drink, so I am shooting myself in the foot again. I am running out of feet.

I think there might be something more to this. After all, it's spring which is my favourite time of the year, the sun has been shining, I have enjoyed being outdoors, I am getting more personal fulfilment from my work and my knitting/crochet than I could have imagined 12 months ago, our finances are good and we are considering some really exciting changes to the house, and yet I am struggling emotionally. What is going on?

Well if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to comment but in the meantime, I will probably share my continued angst with you all until it eases.