Revealing my Authentic Self

On Saturday Kourtney and I went out (basically on a double date) with two of our favorite people, R and P– I don’t know how they feel about being on my blog so I’m gonna keep them as anonymous as I can. Anyway, Kourtney and I have known R since high school, and although we haven’t known P for nearly as long he’s really great to hang out with and he and Kourtney have a lot in common so they’ve got a bit of a bromance going on. They live a few hours away from us but they just happened to be in town, so we went out for dinner and drinks. Kourtney and P decided to go to the bar, so R and I stayed and talked and it was awesome and SO VERY MUCH NEEDED.

R and I have pretty different stories, but they stem from the same mental illness diagnoses. We both suffer from anxiety and depression that has been, at various points in our lives, severe and debilitating. We are both in recovery for eating disorders. We’ve both dealt with self-injury. And we both have loving, supportive spouses who sometimes just don’t get what it means to be clinically depressed or anxious and how that affects the way we function in the world. So we just really get each other. It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to hang out and really talk about how we’re doing. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to be understood, to talk with someone who knows what it’s really like to deal with mental illness on a daily basis. To share our war stories. I felt like I could really be my authentic self, because of all the identities and parts of me that I carry, my mental illness identity is one I try to hide the most– and it feels like a burden sometimes.

I felt like that burden was lifted on Saturday, at least for a little while, as we talked and shared with each other. And we reminisced and got nostalgic about our high school days and we talked about what we were like back then, when we were teenagers. About how it was awesome and scary and we were happy and angry and sad and our minds were totally wild, unchecked. We had no idea how to cope with what we now know is anxiety and depression (and probably many other things), and all we had were really our friends to get us through it. Now we’re adults and we know better– we have resources we didn’t have back then, and we know how to advocate for ourselves, and we’ve learns (some) better coping skills. It’s kind of interesting to see us both as adults with jobs and spouses, and notice how our anxiety and depression manifest in different ways now– we have adult problems. Like taxes, and insurance, and rent. And although our lives are pretty good (I would even go so far as saying really good), we still struggle. Because clinical anxiety and depression do not depend on good times or bad times. They go beyond that. Sometimes I feel depressed even when everything seems to be going right. And I’m still anxious 95% of the time– on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not anxious at all and 10 being full blown hospital level panic, I feel like I’m at a 3 most days.

So yeah, it’s nice to have someone who gets that. Who understands that it’s mental illness is ILLNESS, and that it’s manageable, but it doesn’t just go away. And some days are better than others. So I really appreciated having the time to talk with her and be heard.

Being Jewish-ish

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Me in another life.

I had an interesting conversation with a coworker today about Judaism. It all started with Yiddish, and somehow I ended up talking about brisket, which naturally led to me talking about keeping kosher and what that entails, and then Shabbat and all of its rules and customs, and then the bible. My coworker looked at me and said, “You seem to know a lot about being Judaism. Are you Jewish?”

I was surprised at how badly I wanted to be able to say yes, absolutely, no hesitation. Because honestly, I still feel a connection to Judaism– I spent a lot of time learning about it, trying to immerse myself in the religion and culture, and I liked it. Even now, I still subscribe to many Jewish blogs and websites (and yes, I read the articles). I still have my Shabbat candles, I still recite the blessings in my head, even if I am too scared to say them out loud– I guess because I would feel like a fraud for doing so, since I’m so obviously pagan. But I still feel a connection to it and in some ways I feel like it’s now part of me, no matter what I do. Maybe I have ancestors who were Jewish, maybe I’m feeling a historical/familial connection. there are parts of Judaism that just feel right, make sense to me on a spiritual level that I don’t really know how to explain it without sounding stupid.

I continue to feel like I’m caught between two worlds– paganism and Judaism– and I have no idea how to reconcile the two. I just want to be able to be spiritual in a way that feels right to me. I don’t know. Rosh Hashanah ended last night, and I was sad that I didn’t get to celebrate as a Jew, with other Jewish people. I’m sad that I can’t celebrate Yom Kippur and Mabon at the same time (they’re seriously on the same day this year). I refuse to let go of my hanukkiyah, and I think I’ll probably still light candles for Hanukkah even though I don’t have to do so. I don’t want to let go of Judaism. It’s so beautiful. And so is Paganism. Honestly, I don’t know what to do, and I wish I had a teacher to guide me, to tell me what my options are.

I told my coworker that I am Jewish-ish. Jew Adjacent. I wanted to say honorary Jew, but that feels like a title that should be given to me, not taken by me. I don’t feel like a regular gentile, but I’m not a confirmed Jew. I’m somewhere in between.

WLS Journey Update

Yesterday I went to my first “appointment” as part of the Kaiser bariatric surgery program. It was four hours long (yes, you read that correctly). It was the beginning of a long road filled with appointments and tests and “holy shit” level lifestyle changes. I got a lot of information from those four hours (and I also got a binder filled with all that info, plus more, and I have to bring it with me to all of my appointments), and from what I can tell, Kaiser has a really REALLY strict program. I’ve been following other bariatric patients on their blogs or on instagram, and it seems like they get to eat a lot more things than I will get to eat. Maybe that’s because they’re program says it’s okay, or maybe they’re not following it to the letter, but either way they’re losing weight. So I’m a bit…. disappointed? The list of foods I can eat is on two and a half pages in a 40 page binder. Basically my whole life on two and a half pages. because yeah, right now my life revolves around food.

Bariatric surgery is no fucking joke. It is a hardcore change of lifestyle, and you CANNOT go back to your old ways because it could literally make you sick. But I feel like the way my life is now, I’m already making myself sick. And I want to not be sick anymore. I know it’s going to be so very hard to change my habits and really make this work. But I want it pretty badly, I want to change, and I think I need it– I’m at the point where I’m realizing that the way I treat my body, even as I have sort of recovered from my eating disorder, is not something I can maintain anymore without serious repercussions. I don’t want to get to that place of no return, you know? So, even though it’s really scary, I think I’m still going to go through with it. I’m going to go ahead and get the surgery (I don’t know which one yet, but I will be getting one). I’m still really scared to even think about it, but I feel like that’s the anxious part of myself, the one that keeps me from taking risks and living life to the fullest. And I don’t want to be ruled by that part of myself anymore.

When it’s too hot to write, you babble

I’m sitting in my office, lights off, shades closed, fan pointed directly at my face. My office is on the first floor, and you would think that, because heat rises, it would be the cooler down here. Incorrect. It’s outrageously hot in my office, and I’ve become pretty dehydrated over these last couple of days, sitting in here and sweating ALL OVER– leave it to sweat to remind you just how many crevices and rolls you have on your body. I feel like I’m leaking from all of my pores. One of my coworkers commented that she thought I had lost weight– honestly, I believe it. It’s probably water weight from all the sweating I do here.

It is really difficult to do anything when it’s this hot outside, and that includes working (I’m moving about as fast a snail) and blogging. But I can’t completely blame the weather for my reluctance to blog. It seems like every time I log in and look at all of the unfinished posts (and there are many) I lose all motivation–  I don’t want to really think critically about what I want to write. Sometimes I just want to take my my thoughts and put them straight to paper– no themes, no structure, just stream of consciousness. That’s where I’m at today, as my fan blows warm air on my face, and I drink my fourth glass of water. Also, I’m really hungry but I don’t want to go get food because walking in the heat sounds worse than sitting in this sweltering office.

Sorry, I’m a little fixated on the heat right now.