Day 44: Reeling It In (Again)

I’ve been adrift, and am now attempting to regain some sense of control. My emotions (and diet) have been all over the place lately. No bingeing, which is great, but also no structure, which is not so great.

The biggest problem I’m facing right now is that I’m working two jobs in an attempt to be able to save up to move to a new apartment (provided I can find one in my limited price range, which would frankly be a miracle). I’m also trying to work more in order to pay down my credit cards, in what seems like a futile effort to fix my credit. This is probably a backwards arrangement, as one needs decent credit to get approved for a lease on an apartment. But we do what we can. Between the constant worry and the overwhelming exhaustion from working between 50 and 70 hours a week, I’m just hitting a wall. This all affects my current food habits (though not exercise – I’ve been really good about fitting in four or five gym sessions each week). Nevertheless, I’m feeling unmoored.

When I started this blog, I said that I’d be attempting to get mental help. I still haven’t, and while practicing mindfulness has been helping me curb my impulse to feed myself to death, it’s also been helping me understand when and how often and (sometimes, at least) what I’m anxious about. It doesn’t help me fix the anxiety, just see it a little more clearly. And folks, what I’m seeing is that I’m able to hide my feelings somewhat, but they color every single interaction I have in the course of a day. I’m a wreck. It’s making me suspicious and weird, overly sensitive to everyone’s mood, and critical of myself at all turns.

The anxiety can be good sometimes. It means that I’m often three steps ahead, fixing problems before people dreamed they’d occurred. But it also means that sometimes I know a problem is going to happen, and I fixate on it for days, paralyzed, until all I can do is watch it happen, then stare at the mess that’s left in the aftermath. Like, I could have prevented the issue, but I got so obsessed with it that I had no power to take any of the necessary steps. Sometimes I know it’s happening, other times I don’t. So now I’m wondering if I’m sabotaging my own life on purpose or not? How am I pushing people away with my mental issues?

One way that I’ve sabotaged myself in the past is to chronically overspend on food, alcohol, and things that I consider luxuries (but let’s face it, things that most people consider necessities now – things like new underwear when everything you own has holes in it, or toilet paper that you buy from the store, instead of stealing it from various bars, or tampons that aren’t stolen from your gym). I have culled almost every unnecessary item from my budget now. No more laundromat – everything gets hand washed from here on out. No more forgetting lunch and picking up something at the store. I eat free food at work, and I get $30 a week for other groceries. If I want to have a beer after work, it comes out of the grocery fund, which means that I can either have a beer right now, or dinner tomorrow. It’s fine, either way, but when tomorrow-me isn’t eating, she knows she can blame it on yesterday-me. Internet isn’t necessary, but it’s going to stay, since it could come in handy for freelance editing work, were I to be able to find any. I still have Spotify Premium, too, because I just can’t face the thought of no new music. Sorry, that’s a crazy expense that just has to stay. But I cancelled Amazon Prime, and I don’t pay for Netflix, I get books for free at the lending library, and I don’t buy makeup or beauty supplies or clothes. Basically, I don’t have any fun anymore, unless it’s fun that can be had for free (which does happen – for instance, a client recently gave me two free tickets to see NKOTB, Boyz II Men, and Paula Abdul).

This isn’t where I thought I’d be at 35 (being broke and/or seeing NKOTB in concert), but I’m telling myself that it’s for a good cause. If I am diligent, I will eventually be free. Once the credit cards are paid down a little, and my credit rating is up out of the dark orange, I can start saving for something wonderful, like a new pair of work shoes, or maybe a 90-minute deep tissue massage and seaweed wrap (hey, a girl can dream!). What I really want is to go out to Joshua Tree for my 36th birthday, but I don’t know if that’s something I can realistically bank on right now. I suppose I should be aiming for something a little more attainable, like mental health, and, you know, the weight loss I was hoping for when I started this damn blog.

This current stress load and all-over-the-place diet have combined to make sure that I haven’t lost any weight in a month, despite regularly working out. I’m not where I was when I started, so that’s something to be glad of, but I also haven’t dropped at all. I just keep sitting at that 190 lb. point that has traditionally been the tough spot for me. I just haven’t been as careful with monitoring my nutrition as I will no doubt need to be to make any headway. Also, with hurting my hip a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t run at all, and that was my favorite cardio. Oh well.

All I can do now is plan to do better tomorrow. For now, that starts with getting a good night’s sleep.

Day 28: The Path

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I’ve had a difficult week, and have been avoiding writing here out of exhaustion and a sense of irritation with myself. I’ve been going to the gym regularly, but my diet hasn’t been that great. I was gaining weight at the beginning of the week (before the diet went off the rails), so I’m sure I’m back up to my starting point by now. I haven’t binged, but I have eaten more than I should on a few occasions, and have eaten things that I know don’t agree with me or my idea of health (chips, chocolate, soda, you get the picture). I have been getting more and more disgusted with myself by the day, but today I have to remind myself that everything is OK, there is no perfect path to my destination. I make the road by walking it, so it’s my job to keep putting one foot in front of the other, at my own speed, in my own way. I forgive myself. Everything’s OK.

This coming week, I’m going to start working a couple of overnight shifts at my old job, to help speed up the process of paying off my debts. Things are admittedly more difficult for me when I have more money, because I feel compelled to spend it all on food. But I have taken precautions by setting up savings buckets within my savings account for some of the things that I want to accomplish – mostly to have enough money for a deposit on a new apartment, and to save for my current rent while putting as much money as possible into my credit card bills. It occurs to me that I should also start a beauty/wellness savings bucket, to be able to take care of myself when I want to – for massages, mani/pedis, that kind of thing.

Even though I’ll be working 24 hours more each week (sigh), I am looking forward to it in an odd way. The more rigorous my work schedule, the more I will be required to pin down all aspects of my personal schedule. I am better at sticking to a plan when every single part is mapped out. It’s definitely not as fun as going with the flow, but it gives me less room to screw up and eat like a wild thing. I’m also looking forward to working out on the job, since I’m essentially working the graveyard shift and will have little to no interaction. I’m just there to make sure that the hotel stays in one piece overnight, and no one’s going to mind if I do some late night yoga or try to get in a majority of my Fitbit steps by walking laps around the hotel grounds (as long as I’m quiet and don’t wake the guests). If I am diligent and frugal, I can pay off the smallest of my credit cards within a month, which will improve my credit, and also open up my finances enough for me to increase saving up for the new apartment.

Today’s Weight: Too scared to check. I’ll look tomorrow.

Today’s Exercise: 13,000+ steps, 8Fit workout, 5 minutes on a really weird interactive exercise bike, self-guided ab routine.

Today’s Interactions: This morning I met up with a friend from college and his wife, and we talked for nearly an hour. Had a short phone chat with a friend from California, briefly texted with a long-lost bestie who lives in Croatia, and then had lunch with the boyfriend at our favorite little cafe, where I remembered the waiter’s name (!!!). Tonight I chatted with my across-the-street neighbor, then met up with my friend from down the block, and we took her dog for a walk and chatted with everyone we passed. I might be chubby, but I’m not chubby AND antisocial 🙂

Day 22: Under Pressure

It’s Sunday night, and I’m in a pretty rotten mood, stemming from the combination of a headache and feeling entirely too stressed about money and social obligations. As I wrote and edited the first draft of this post, I realized that I was blaming it on the boyfriend, but that isn’t fair. This is all me, all my hangups. So very many to dig through.

We aren’t from the same world, and I keep getting reminded of that. New Orleans is so different in its expectations. I was raised in a different culture, where you never ask for the things you need, and you always think twice before letting people go out of their way to help you. And if you have even half a backbone, you would never let anyone go out of their way, unless you’re in danger of imminent death/dismemberment (and honestly, probably not then, either). In short, I was raised to feel ashamed if anyone had to lift a finger to help me when I could have figured out a way to do the thing myself. My own mother didn’t get out of bed in the morning to make me breakfast when I was a first grader, for gods’ sakes.

And though I don’t expect people to feel ashamed when I help them, I certainly do not enjoy being at the mercy of others. It always feels like the underlying emotion on their part should be begrudging, at best, but more likely some sort of seething animosity, a criticism of my weakness and pointlessness as a human being. Whenever people do nice things for me, I feel like I’ve pressured them into it. I hate that feeling. I’d rather just not have them go out of their way at all. I’d much rather walk 5 miles to the store than ask a friend for a ride. Or hand wash all of my clothes rather than ask the friend who lives a block away to use her washer now and then.

Anyway, a friend invited us over to watch the series premiere of American Gods, and offered to pick us up from my house. Then when we were there, she bought pizza and fed everyone (no pizza for me – I stuck to the stuffed grape leaves and La Croix that I’d brought). We were the last to leave, since I was waiting on the boyfriend to call an Uber (I couldn’t afford one, or I’d have done it earlier), but then the host offered to give us a ride home, too. I didn’t want her to. It felt like we were putting too much on her plate. Where I’m from, you offer to do something like that, but with the full expectation that the person will tell you no and go on to do the polite thing – find their own damn way home. In the end, we got into her car, the boyfriend handing me the chips and salsa he’d taken from the kitchen. I put them next to me on the seat, and at the first turn, the salsa jar fell over. The lid wasn’t screwed on. To my horror, salsa spread out all over the backseat, the scent permeating the car.

Our host/driver was so gracious about it, but I was incredibly embarrassed. And because the host didn’t seem to take it badly at all, neither did the boyfriend. Given their behavior at the situation, I know I should have been able to follow suit and just let it go. But really, I was so angry at myself for not checking the lid, and annoyed with him for putting me in a position where I’d have to overthink things and go checking lids after him, and also for forcing me to be beholden to our host for the rides to and from her apartment, and then again at myself for being so negative and not being able to take things at face value.

At the same time, I know that had someone spilled an entire jar of salsa in the back of my car, I probably wouldn’t be angry at them. I’d clean it up and move on with my life. And I know that if I offered to give someone a ride somewhere, it would be my prerogative. But I’m having trouble digging myself out of the guilt loop, and feeling like I just ruined our host’s night by putting her through so much trouble, and feeling like I can’t talk to the boyfriend at all about this because it makes me look insane. But I’m pretty sure he’d also see that I’m hurt and he’d be sensitive to that. Holy fuck, my brain hurts.

Also, I used all of my paper towels and my very last clean towel in helping clean out the back of that car, and I just don’t have the money for paper towels or the laundromat right now. I was already in a state over the amount of money I’ve spent this weekend, between getting my hair cut (which was entirely necessary) and a few meals out that I shouldn’t have bought. I did waste too much money on Friday night and then getting breakfast out yesterday and today. I simply do not have a spare penny to spend on anything besides exactly what my budget dictates, and because of this weekend I will be screwed for the rest of the month. I knew that, and I did it anyway. I keep doing this to myself. I hate being poor. I hate being in debt. Now I’m thoroughly wound up. At least I’m too broke to buy too much food; there’s that.

It’s time for bed. Too much to do at work tomorrow morning to keep badgering myself with things that have long since passed.

Day 17: Graydreaming

You might not know this about me, but I’m terribly prone to flights of fancy. I spend a great deal of my time in fantasy, either retelling stories of my past, imagining possible stories of my future, or just plain writing fiction that has nothing to do with anyone I know. It’s an escape mechanism, and though fun, is not especially helpful in allowing me to cope with my day-to-day, when I encounter it. The key to mindfulness is endeavoring to be completely present in the moment at hand, and I have spent a lifetime endeavoring to not be present at all if possible. It’s a sharp contrast, and a bitter one at times.

The anxiety that I was suffering all weekend dissipated on Sunday afternoon, and I was briefly fine, mentally. But by last night, I felt myself sliding back into depression. I have hovered on the verge of tears since then. I cried myself to sleep last night, after telling myself a story about why I was so sad (a story that might or might not be true – how can I even tell anymore what’s reality and fantasy in my world?) Now I’m eating wasabi peas for dinner, and wishing that I could write the story I feel inside me, fluttering to get out. But I am not in the writing space. Not the fiction writing space, anyway. Assuming that this, by contrast, happens to be nonfiction.

If nothing is real, how can anything I write be truth?

Guess we just have to go on blind faith that certain things are more real than others. And in the meantime, while we wait around to become just another story that someone tells their children (or in my case, barely a blip on the memory map, as I intend to create no progeny), we find things to cling to. For me, it’s beating this binge eating thing, and going hiking a few more times. Today my hip hurts, and it terrifies me for no reason. It’s just a strain. It will be better if I stay off of it.

But I am reminded that I don’t have anyone to hike with. I have no one to fight for. I am always the one to fight, to persist, to march on, but no one follows my banner. No one fights with me in mind. I am lonely today. I’m too focused on the present, and the present is gray and fuzzy.

Today’s Weight: 191.8 Lbs.

Day 15

Anxiety is gripping every word, plucking them back before I can force them out. It was a hard day. I don’t have…whatever it is, the word that I’m looking for. I don’t have it. Not going to force a post when I could barely force myself out of bed.

I did walk to the gym and sit in the sauna with my friend Theo, then went grocery shopping and bought all healthy stuff. I ate a sensible breakfast of scrambled eggs/spinach/mushrooms/salsa, but after a similarly sensible dinner of salad and roasted turkey, I got carried away and ate an entire pineapple (the mysterious pineapple that I found the other night).

I have to go to the doctor tomorrow. The appointment is for 7:20 in the morning, which means I need to take an Uber to get there. I wanted to take the bus, but I don’t have any change, and you can’t buy a transit card with a credit card on the bus, and I forgot to go to Walgreen’s to buy one, so now I can either walk or Uber, and walking would take an hour and a half, but Ubering is going to cost me money I don’t have, so either one is the wrong choice. I should cancel the appointment and reschedule, but then how am I going to get my anxiety meds refilled? But who’s to say that this doctor would refill them, and wouldn’t just make me make another appointment with a different doctor? At which point I’m back to worrying about how expensive it is to get to the doctor’s office, and if I’ll even have that kind of money on hand…omfg, this can’t continue. I can’t live like this, my mind just cycling. But I don’t have any money to tip my Uber driver, either, so I’m going to spend $10 each way to get an Uber to the doctor, but then I won’t be able to tip the driver, and that’s something only a total asshole would do. I guess I could call a cab, instead, so I could tip from my card, but then it’s going to be like twice as expensive.

I’m going to bed. Let’s let 6am Anna worry about this. No use in making 9:30pm Anna any more agitated. Maybe I’ll set the alarm for 5am, and decide then if I’d rather walk it. Even if I only walk half of the way, it will still be a lot cheaper to Uber. I need a car. But then I’d just stress out about car payments and gas and upkeep, so what’s the point.

 

Day 14: In Which Anxiety Rears Its Ugly Head

Things are not OK in Anna-land today. There’s nothing specifically wrong, exactly, but I am freaking out. My thoughts are scattered, I am shaky and just the slightest bit dizzy, and I am having a lot of trouble just typing these thoughts in a way that reads somewhat well. I’ve been working on this paragraph for going on a half an hour now. Hello, anxiety.

Last night, my old coworker mentioned that he’s going to be moving out of his rent-controlled apartment in a month, and asked if I’d like to consider renting it. He has an “in” with management, and thinks he could get me to the top of the applicant list. My other old coworker also lives in the building, so it would end up being a pretty fun arrangement.

But while I should have been over-the-moon, my initial reaction was closer to dismay (though it makes so little sense). The new apartment is $650/month (!!!), 750 square feet with a large bedroom and bathroom, has central air/heat, a dishwasher, a washer & dryer, and is in a condo building that’s well-maintained. My current apartment is $750 a month, 425 square feet, has a window unit that blows moldy air directly onto my face at night, no water pressure in the kitchen sink (and no dishwasher), and no washer & dryer. I’m currently so broke that I hand wash all of my clothes in the tub and drape them over the balcony outside my door to dry. Cat hair is clinging to everything. No matter how much I sweep and vacuum and scrub, there’s always a fine dust of cat litter over all surfaces because the place is way too small for two litter boxes and three grown cats.

There should be no contest. I should be scrambling to secure my place in the cheaper apartment. But instead I’m frightened. Yeah, my current place is too small and has no amenities, but I love my neighborhood, and had harbored a desire to move further into the Bywater, to be with artists and freaks like me. But the new place is in the Warehouse District, which is pretty much as bougie as this town gets. It’s Uggs and pumpkin spice latte all the way down. And yes, not everyone is that, and yes, I’m not all that cool, myself, but will it be possible to make the ever-so-colorful mental and physical versions of myself sync up if I go back to live in the monochrome world I left behind when I moved to my neighborhood three years ago? For that matter, was it ever going to happen? Should I just give up and find a pair of Uggs? Ack.

I also started my current relationship around the same time that I moved into my current place, and we’re not exactly on solid ground right now, so I’m probably scared that giving up my apartment will simultaneously put the finishing touches on our relationship. There’s also the fact that moving back to the Warehouse District is going back to the place where the death knell of my old relationship occurred, and I’m probably nervous about dredging up old memories (especially after the other night). Plus, it’s about a mile closer to my work, so what if I end up getting less exercise each day as a result of the move? (Yes, I can counter all of these thoughts with realistic solutions, but this is just what’s happening in my head currently.)

The only real “con” of the argument would be the neighborhood/leaving my current neighbors. But the “plus” side would include all of the aforementioned amenities, a built-in cat sitter (since I’d have a friend in the same building), more room for the cats to live and play, cheaper rent and utilities, much closer to the vet and the grocery store, and a cleaner, more polished appearance and lifestyle, since having a washer and dryer would revolutionize the way I care for my house and my clothes. I could potentially be more successful in my career just by having an improved appearance, and the money saved each month would help get me closer to paying off my debts, which could lead to better overall quality of life.

Plus, to live in this building at a reduced rate, I’d have to make an artist’s statement and dedicate more of my time to actually achieving my artistic pursuits, so it would force me to work on my writing. And if the boyfriend and I work out, it could be a more inviting place for him to come over, since there will be more room for us both. For that matter, it will be large enough that I can actually have friends over to play cards or watch a movie, which is not a possibility here.

I guess I must have slept on the decision process and freaked myself out in my dreams, because I woke up anxious, and my thoughts have become a louder, jangling discord as the day has gone on. I tried to talk it through with my boyfriend, which was helpful in a way, but also made me feel more anxious and out of it. And now I am feeling an intense urge to eat to make it stop. I want to go to the grocery store, buy soup, sushi, a chai, a bag of marshmallows, gelato, and a bottle of wine, and see if packing those in will help drown out the thoughts. (Obviously, this will not happening. I’m trying not to make any food decisions at all until I can get my shit reined in.)

I wish I could explain why moving to another neighborhood feels like such a huge negative in the face of all of these positives, but it’s entirely based in my emotional brain, rather than my rational brain. It feels like giving up and retreating. It’s a literal physical representation of where I don’t want my life to go – living a cookie-cutter life in a cookie-cutter neighborhood full of cookie-cutter people. My rational side says that I don’t REALLY know this to be true, but my anxious brain is insistent on it. Side note: I am clenching my teeth, tapping my feet, and chewing on my cheeks as I write this.

Man, this is Saturday. Don’t most people have lives and go do things with their friends on Saturday? OK, that’s it. I’m wrapping this up and finding a craft project to work on to get my mind off of things. And I’m ordering Chinese food for one via Postmates. So there.

Today’s Weight: 191.6 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: Existential Terror

Day 13: …

It was our Ops Manager’s last day before moving on to a cushy sales position, and the office flowed with snacks all day today in celebration of his promotion. There were doughnuts at breakfast, and I was able to avoid the box until they were gone. But then lunchtime rolled around, and they brought out the chicken wings and fried rice, and all bets were off. I ate a piece of cake, and drank a can of coke, too. Oh well, I was planning a gym visit for the afternoon, anyway.

At the gym, I was proud to up my running time a little bit. I’ve been doing 35 minutes on the treadmill, alternating five minutes of walking with five minutes of running. Today I felt a little bored after my first five minutes of walking, so I cut down my walking time to four minutes the next round, then three minutes, and then sprinted the last minute, too. It felt great, though my hip has been hurting since last week, so I really need to take care not to stress it out, even when it feels so good to be running again.

After the gym, I got a text that my old coworkers were having drinks in my neighborhood, so I went out to meet them for a second, and ended up staying for a couple of hours. They offered me a drink, but I had a club soda. It was a nice chat, and I really liked the little bar patio where we were perched up, talking. When they went home, I walked over to the grocery store to get a piece of pizza, then talked myself into a package of smoked salmon, instead. It’s one of my favorite “treats” and so much healthier than a big slice of bread with cheese and tomato sauce slathered all over it.

Man, this is the most boring post ever. I am just flat out exhausted. It’s almost midnight, and I’m yearning to be in bed. Very proud of my actions today, overall, though. I’m also happy that I woke up in the 180’s this morning. I can’t tell you the last time that I weighed less than 190 lbs, but I do know that it was not in the recent past. And for that, I’m going to bed without doing dishes. Woohoo, I’m wild and crazy!

Today’s Weight: 189.8 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 18,782 steps (including a 30-minute treadmill run/walk), 10 minutes of rowing, a 10-minute tabata routine via 8Fit, and some TRX stretching/foam rolling

Today’s Interactions: A 2-hour gym/gab session with Theo, and another 2 hours at the bar with Loc and Vic, talking about all kinds of stuff that would typically make me anxious and possibly trigger a binge – marketing, social media, money, politics. I stayed pretty cool, though, and really enjoyed hanging out outside my apartment, and for free!