theradishpress

Tuesday, February, 11, 14

My Body. Not Myself.

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 2:12 pm
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I naively thought that as soon as I was out of New York – perhaps as soon as I was on the plane leaving New York – all my troubles would go away. The things that had been weighing heavily upon me mentally and emotionally would dissipate into a thin layer of fog – one more piece of someone to cloud the murky skyline. But of course, that did not happen. Once I was alone in Denver I was faced with myself. As a friend later pointed out to me, I was busy helping take care of other people in New York. Too busy to focus on myself. Here I was, alone, forced to really look at myself, inside and out. I was faced with fears I had buried for survival, and self-hating thoughts. Perhaps the biggest challenge was something that began to surface when I was packing for my trip back in New York. After my last day at work and the frenzy of a quick trip to Virginia and Christmas had died down, I was left to to turn my room into a small storage space. My days were dedicated to inviting friends to hang out while I packed up my room and all I could need for my trip into a hiking bag and waist pack.

My mind wandered to my body. I began to scrutinize every part of me. Back in August I weighed myself at a friend’s house. It was the first time I stepped onto a scale – outside of a doctor’s office – in perhaps ten years. I learned that weighing myself caused me to fixate on the number, obsess over bringing it down. In my younger years, I had done very unhealthy things to lose weight: thrown up and followed a horrific diet that made me lose ten pounds in three days. When I weighed myself in August, I was giving into the temptation to obsess, to know what number I was at, to hopefully disprove my suspicions of weight gain. I discovered I had gained almost twenty pounds in a little over a year. The next few days were a spiral of downward emotions. I had a breakdown and was so angry and disappointed in myself. I told two friends at first who I thought might help offer me some comfort, but I was not made to feel better – rather worse – by their assurances that I looked great. The point was, I didn’t think I looked great, and I felt even worse having known for certain I put on weight.

After feeling myself sink deeply into sadness, I decided to do something I never had. I reached out for help. I wrote out exactly what the issue was, how I was feeling, the despair that encased me. This – my body and my weight – has been a lifelong struggle. I have always been overweight. I have always been treated unkindly and often cruelly because of my weight. This isn’t just about wanting to look a certain way, it’s about wanting to have some sort of control over my emotions, and to not feel so badly about myself. In addition to being a lifelong fat person, I’ve always been an emotional eater. Food has suppressed my anxiety and comforted my depression. It has brought me moments of ease. It still does. Of course,  the irony is that food has also greatly contributed to my anxiety and depression, as well as physical ailments.

I have had digestive issues as far back as I can remember. By the summer of 2011 I was so sick that everything I ate practically passed right through me. I soon was eating primarily rice, potatoes, avocados, and bananas. I feared anything else would incapacitate me. Even those foods were not always kind. Finally, after feeling a serious impact on my school, work, and social life, and being told by my general physician I simply had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), I saw a holistic doctor. I was afraid to leave the house most days, for fear I wouldn’t make a short subway ride without needing an emergency bathroom break. The holistic doctor did something called Nutrition Response Testing and told me I had Candida – an overgrowth of yeast in my stomach. I was put on a strict diet of no yeast, no sugar, and nothing fermented (in summary). This was a three week intensive diet that once cleared the Candida would require I keep to it 80% of the time for the rest of my life. Additionally, I was given supplements to help me detox and later probiotics to repair the damage done to my stomach. Due to my illness, I had already lost a significant amount of weight from my inability to eat. The detox caused even more weight to drop. For the first time in years, I did not feel physically sick, and I was admittedly excited about the weight loss. I could finally fit into clothes I liked. I could shop in the not plus sized section. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying being plus sized is bad, I am saying that I felt excited about how I looked and what it meant in terms of my shopping. I am fully admitting that I liked being smaller.

I also began to notice a shift in my mental and emotional states. I realized that gluten made me sluggish and depressed. Dairy and caffeine made me anxious. It was amazing to finally make connections between what I ate and how I felt – physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically. The thing about being an emotional eater is that I was never really aware of what I had eaten. If I was asked at the end of the day what I had eaten, I couldn’t remember most of the time. I ate to push emotions down, to cover feelings, to hide myself deep down inside. For at least five months I stuck strictly to the Candida diet. Once I began to eat outside of it, I slowly felt more and more that I could eat whatever I wanted without getting sick. It’s a funny thing, my stomach still gets upset from time to time, and I can’t help but momentarily panic that I am sick all over again. I found that mental health was just as important to treat in conjunction with my physical health. I was already seeing a therapist, but I needed to talk about these issues specifically and draw more connections between all the aspects of me.

The thing about weight is, no one really wants to talk about it. Yes, I could discuss it with my doctor and therapist, but weight and body image conversations still border on taboo. It took me years to even broach the subject with my therapist, mostly because I didn’t want to acknowledge that my weight was in any way contributing to my states of anxiety and depression. And most of the time, I didn’t even think about it. I learned to not think about my weight. My residual self image was so far removed from my actual body – I so often thought of myself as much smaller than I was. It was a sort of way to cope with my actual size. I found that I was getting a lot of compliments on my weight loss, never mind it was all due to sickness. But it got to a point where some people expressed concern, and specifically about how much I talked about diet. I suddenly felt I needed to keep my mouth shut about my diet and weight. It was so central to my life at this point, and having never been thin, it was all new to me. I needed to talk about it. I had this new body and felt lonely in it. As with so many things in my life, I learned to bury what I was feeling. And so, as addicts do, I returned to food. My occasional strays from the diet became daily acts of consumption. I kept telling myself that I could get back to a healthy diet, that one meal a day with something unhealthy wasn’t bad, and then two meals a day, then maybe three, snacks. I began to wonder if in order for me to succeed at healthy eating habits, I would need to completely cut junk out.

I have an ability to maintain focus and follow strict rules, but once I falter, I lose sight of myself and my goals. It’s not only with food, but with food it’s the most difficult. So much of my day is me thinking about what I will eat, and what I will eat based on where I am going and what I am doing, and what will I eat for the next few days and how much will I eat. Food consumes me as much, if not more so, as I consume it. In order to be able to heal from this body hatred and to move forward in a healthy fashion, I need to be open and honest about the role(s) food plays in my life. I need to learn to love myself, to truly love the body that I have, no matter its state. And at the same time, I need and want to work on my relationship with food.

I could write so much more about this. I could write essay upon essay about the impact weight and food have had on my life. I am going to take a break here because even opening up – despite being helpful – brings so much focus to the issue that I need to step back and not fixate and obsess.

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Friday, June, 14, 13

Written 14 Dec 2012

Filed under: a moment in my head,letters to emily — theradishpress @ 3:49 pm

I broke myself apart into pieces of each self I knew

I offered definitions descriptions explanations

stories

songs

all the words I could find to say look at me and everything that I am

I am this and I am that and sometimes there and sometimes here

I spread my words across sheets of endless paper,

     this time they will know me.

 

When they told me I was not who I said I was I told them they were who I knew them to be.

They were thieves and liars and colonizers and rapists and murderers and deniers of every truth that ever met them.

 

I set myself a space to breathe.

I gathered all those parts of me and held each one close to speak.

Wednesday, April, 13, 11

Nurse Jackie – Play Me Some of that Jibberish

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 10:00 pm
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by theradishpress

The most recent episode of Nurse Jackie, “Play Me”, featured two minor characters: street vendors who had gotten into a fight over money. The two men yelled loudly at each other, one with burns on his face and the other with a his fewer through his cheek. My sister and I realized we heard Farsi phrases and listened more intently. And then we heard it. Two languages. These men – and I cannot find them credited, so forgive my not giving their names – were yelling at each other in two different languages. We the viewer are then left to assume the men are Desi, as Sam (Arjun Gupta) communicates with them in their apparent one language. Way to go Showtime and Nurse Jackie producers. You managed to cast two Middle Eastern men, one Iranian and hey! I don’t even know where the other guy is from. But according to the IMdB credits of the show, one of the daughters is listed as “Armenian teen”. So is Sam Armenian? Does he know Armenian? Is this just another random Middle Eastern person who happened to be in the same episode because I am really not used to us getting so much screen time as a general region of people!

By having men of two different ethnicities, speaking two different languages, play characters who are in communication this show is just perpetuating stereotypes that we are all the same. Even if just us Middle Easterners pick up on this serious mistake, that doesn’t matter. It’s old. It’s tired. Next time get Jake Gyllenhaal in there. He plays Iranians like nobody else. And at least he’s hot. Right.

Wednesday, February, 16, 11

New York City Interlude

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 2:17 pm

by theradishpress

i spent my first year leaving this city

afraid to find me

weighted in self-pity.

city streets lead me home to panicked talks and stories of me alone

no time to think

less space to speak.

broken walks mended with silenced tears.

going to be different this time next year

we wrote songs and made new friends

we walked across bridges and chose our own end.

Tuesday, February, 8, 11

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 4:11 pm

by theradishpress


i always knew to not forgive the trespasses you told me to

recycle old smiles to get through the day

no trace of distance between this step and the next

 

you broke out that line about respect and obedience

i broke my body into pieces to follow what i learned later to be lies

time to rebuild the space in between my mind that disrupted into fragments

 

this tree has only so many branches and falls many leaves

i tied myself a rope up high in case i need to jump

and lose the ground at my feet

Thursday, January, 27, 11

“That’s just my face.”

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 11:43 am

by theradishpress

I was recently asked why I looked so sad. My response, “That’s just my face.”

See proof in this picture taken by my Uncle Phil many years ago. Maybe even twenty years ago.

From now on when I am asked why I am weird, I will say, “That’s just my hair.”

See below:

Thursday, December, 23, 10

22 Dec 2010

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 10:54 am

by theradishpress

written in a text to myself:

This city swells with emotion

My mind thinks little of emotion

Cracked pathways lead to damp cafes

stale coffee and bitter toast

Trains ride empty tracks to hollow homes

I dance to songs playing in sleepless streets

Dance dance dance with stumbling feet

I work mornings days and nights

I shriek loudly and write my fingers to bones

I breathe air diluted with dreams

I see no one and I hear everything

Wednesday, December, 22, 10

A Very Jersey Christmas

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 1:12 pm
Tags: , ,

by theradishpress

I decided to write my own version of Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

For reference, here are the lyrics to the original:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

Next year all our troubles will be

out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the yule-tide gay

Next year all our troubles will be

miles away

Once again as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who were dear to us

Will be near to us once more

Someday soon, we all will be together

If the Fates allow

Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

And the video, because it is a great song.

And now, my version, inspired by The Jersey Shore and with some help from Meow Reilly. (Could still be a work in progress if Ben has some thoughts…seeing as how he is the fan).

Have yourself a very Jersey Christmas

May your fists pump high

Next year all the Guidos will reach

far and wide

Have yourself a very Jersey Christmas

Make the shore’s tide gay (no homo)

Next Jäge may our fights be

miles away

Once again as in olden days

Happy Guido days of yo’s

Four Loko is so dear to us and

Will be near to us once more

Someday soon, we all will pump together

If the beats allow

Until then, we’ll have to dance through somehow

So have yourself a very Jersey Christmas now.

Now I just need to make a video to this mess.

Thursday, December, 16, 10

Where I End and I Begin

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 2:28 pm

by theradishpress

I had imagined many things to be different at this age. Not entirely true; I did spend a good several years unable to visualize a future. I was incapable of seeing past a single day, and not because I was living in the moment, but because I had difficulty understanding the point, if any, to continuing with most of anything. At the same time, I felt that I was doing a lot. No, I was. It’s not a matter of thinking it or feeling it, but I was. And yet, somehow it seems like it was not enough. It was so easy to find many identities in school and to fit into so many different social worlds.

Then school changed. I changed. And now I keep thinking more and more that I want to go back to school. I want to finish this comic I am working on with Nazir. I want to get started on this talk show with Teejay. I want to get First Line rolling with Ben. I want to live in CO for at least 6 months on the farm. I want to travel the world. I want to write and write and write and write and write. And I am doing some of these things. I think I want results immediately. And I am battling motivation problems. And I am battling my inability to communicate. And I am battling my self-doubt.

I think I threw out and deleted all my final papers. Why would I do that? I have a tendency to rid myself of things and people often. I see most things as replaceable and try so hard not to become attached that I allow these actions to effect things that I should hold onto. I saw school as unnecessary. That may be the case, but I enjoy school. I enjoy learning. I enjoy teaching. And while I am fully aware that things do not just happen because we are good people or because we are able to pull ourselves up (what a load of crap idea), or by prayer or positive thought, I also find asking for help difficult. I am not good at selling myself. Hello! This sounds like one giant sob. It is not. I am pouring out my current state. I am being honest. I ask for no sympathy or false positive reinforcement. In fact, save it. I don’t have time for that. I don’t like falseness. Maybe that is why I get annoyed at myself. I allow a false sense of accomplishment to keep me where I am. That does not even sound right; does not begin to deconstruct where I am in my head and in my actions.

This is it. This is my head. Right now.

Friday, December, 3, 10

This Train Does Not Stop at My House

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 10:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

by theradishpress

I got on the J train at Fulton street, back of the second to last car. I sat on one side of a long bench. On the other side was a man, presumably homeless, who was talking to himself or the window or the ad on the train wall. Opposite me a man sat down and diagonally to my left another man. I was already slightly tired and out of it from my cold. I began to take count of the men on the train and as I have done in the past when I am the only female I wondered, what if one man tries to harass me? Will any other man or men defend me? Will they join in? So, I was on alert.

I looked around at the men and the guy diagonally to my left looked about my age, white, with a grown out mohawk, a few piercings, a leather jacket, boots, and an overall look that I would have swooned over in high school and most of college. I found him attractive. And then when I glanced away I heard him say, “What’s up?” It caught me off guard, but I looked at him and sort of nodded/mumbled an acknowledgment and hello. He then asked me, “How are you?” I rasped – my cold has left me with the voice of a thousand cigarettes – that I am fine. As soon as he had spoken to me my body tensed and I wondered to myself how far will this go? What does he want? I caught the look of the man opposite me. He was listening.

Then this guy said something else. I pretended to not hear over the roar of the train. When it stopped at the next station he said a little louder, “Are you still working?” He sort of gestured toward the packages I had with me, one a rather large Fed-Ex tube. I cannot remember his exact words but I told him I did not work for Fed-Ex. He said he knows, he meant was I delivering those packages for work. I said no. My responses were all very quiet and I barely looked at him. At this point he had gotten up from his seat and stood up next to me.

As the train filled in he said nothing else. I guess he realized I had nothing much to say to him. He did stand there for a while and then eventually moved so that he was standing in front of me.

Here’s the thing, ultimately, I did not feel threatened by this guy. And I know it takes courage to even say hello to someone. On the other hand, I am so used to being hit on in a creepy fashion and having to either ignore or tell men off that I literally did not know what to do. Upon reflection, I think this guy just decided to be bold, and failed. And did not fail because of his approach, but my reaction.

Here is the power of guilt and the position that women are put in: I felt bad for not being kind or flirting. I could easily be accused of being a bitch, as some men have said to me when I have not responded to them in a manner they found suitable. My experience as a woman is that men expect women to submit to them with a smile, a hello, a thank you, and the list goes on. Men are taught that the female sex is theirs to toy with. That does not mean that all men act this way, and I know from experience that many men are so caught up in their ingrained sexism they are not even aware of their behavior.

And what are we women taught? We are taught to be kind and generous and giving. We are taught that our smiles and even our glances could and often mean “please hit on me and have sex with me.” We are taught that when we say no we are being cruel and unfair. And we are also taught that we have no voice.

And I know that a lot of my reaction, or lack thereof, was and is because I lose my voice. In situations when I do truly feel threatened I want to scream or run but I physically cannot. I am trapped in this state of nothingness and immobility.

And I will confess right now that part of my surprise at his obvious attempt to hit on me was that I am also used to not fitting the norm when it comes to looks. I am overweight and while I at times may think myself an attractive person, I have a difficult time believing anyone else does. That sort of self-loathing is a whole other discussion that I am not necessarily in the mood for right now and is off topic from my desired course. But I did want to share it.

So, why is it that I feel so threatened and must automatically calculate how many men there are and who if any will help me and who if any will attack/harass me? What does that say about me? What does that say about men and this society? Why is the victim the first to be blamed? Why does this make me seem and feel crazy? Why not really sincerely ask why it is that so many women feel the need to be on guard at all times?

Do not mistake me, I am aware that I have me own personal issues to sort out about a lot of things, but this is a discussion I have had with many female family and friends. We as a sex are fodder for males. I refuse to be that and I am determined to find my voice. I am also determined to know my body more and my instincts so that if it is a case of someone being genuine and I happen to be interested in having a conversation I will not freeze like I do on all occasions.

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