Authenticity

Again, I’m sorry for the delay between entries; this time I have a much better excuse. I’ve actually been visiting my family in St. Louis for the past couple days, and while I meant to write a post while I was there, I kept getting distracted by things like food and sleep. But the trip went well; it was good to see my parents, and it gave me a chance to do some things I’ve been putting off for a while. I read two books between leaving Houston and coming back; one was a book on Captain America (because, let’s face it, he’s my favorite superhero and he’s awesome) called The Virtues of Captain America, which talks about Cap’s virtues in philosophical terms, and explains why he’s a good role model, even though he’s a fictional character. If you’re a fan of Captain America, I recommend reading it.

The other book was one I’ve read before – Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. I though it had some good stuff the first time I read through it, and my second read-through definitely confirmed that – and it helped me to work out some things I’ve been going over in my head recently. Recently, my work has been asking employees if they would voluntarily self-identify as having disabilities – which includes things like mental illness. There doesn’t seem to be a benefit to me self-identifying, but there’s a part of me that wants to – and a part that is scared to, as well. 

That’s where authenticity, as the title implies, comes in. I don’t tell anybody at work about my depression, mostly because I am afraid of how they will react to hearing it – will they reject me? Will they tell the managers? But at the same time, keeping that from people – when it is an important part of my identity – means that I constantly feel like I’m hiding something, that I am lying to people. I am showing them a face that isn’t really me – I’m not being authentic. And not feeling like I can act like myself is not a cool feeling. It’s good when there are times I feel I can joke around and discuss things with my co-workers; those are times when I feel like I’m being myself. It’s becoming clear to me that feeling like I can be myself – not just parts of myself, but all of myself – is important to feeling happy and comfortable. While keeping my mental illness secret might help to keep my job safe, it doesn’t help my own sense of well-being.

I also have been feeling that my weight is a problem. I’m not particularly fond of what I see when I look in the mirror in the morning – I don’t think it makes me any less worthy as a person, but it does kind of bother me. So that is something else I am going to get back to working on. I’m going to a consultation at a place called My Fit Foods on Thursday, to see what kind of diet they recommend; they sell a number of ready-made meals intended for helping people to lose weight, and I’m looking into a fitness program – inspired by the one Chris Evans used to get ready for the Captain America movies – to get some exercise in. It’ll be rough – I haven’t felt like I’ve had a lot of energy lately – but it is something I want to do, and I think it will help to make me feel better.

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Eating vs. Exercising

I seem to be running into a strange problem. With my newfound interest in cooking, I find myself making all these tasty things – deep-dish pizza, pumpkin butterscotch cookies, cheddar biscuits (like the ones from Red Lobster), among other things. They all sound tasty. They are, in fact, all very tasty.

This becomes problematic when what I am making in the kitchen is both very tasty and not exactly low in calories. I’m not a dedicated exercise person; I do exercises when I can, but in general, I find it extremely boring to do. I also have a problem in that my metabolism tends to run pretty slowly. I have friends who could probably eat a diet of lard-covered lard with a lard chaser and still lose weight, but it feels like I gain weight when I even look at food. So, making good-looking, good-tasting food, even if it is nominally healthy (which I’m not sure can ever, ever describe deep-dish pizza), just doesn’t do enough to help me.

I’ve looked into supplements for weight loss and energy – most recently Hydroxycut, HighT, alli, and TriAdalean (some of these links aren’t great, and for that I apologize). It is hard to evaluate these, especially for me, as I have no health insurance and I can’t really go to a doctor to ask him or her if there is anything else I could be doing medically to help with weight loss. My lack of a thyroid gland (I had in ablated many years ago) means that I have a metabolism that tends towards low, which means it is difficult to lose weight, and easy to gain it. I wasn’t exactly stick-thin even before my thyroid was ablated, so it constantly feels like I am fighting a losing battle, especially when it feels like every pushup, every proto-pullup, is just a bit tougher than the day before because there is just no reliable way to control my weight.

I want to be able to cook, exercise, and control my weight. I want to be able to say, occasionally, that my clothes sizes are going down instead of up. It sounds like a small thing to ask, but sadly, it is almost exactly the opposite. And while my weight may be more physical than it is mental, it definitely has an effect on my mental state – it’s hard to have self-compassion when every time I look at myself in the mirror I feel like breaking the damn thing.

This all sounds depressing, but really it is more sobering, because I know that odds are that I’ll never look even remotely like I did when I was in high school, and I will probably never, barring some sort of freak health kick, exercise regimen, or weight-loss surgery, have a pants size under 40. That just seems to be the unfortunate reality of the situation right now.

Keeping Active

On of the keys to keeping myself from descending back into the depths of depression, I’ve found, is keeping myself active. Too long just sitting around watching Netflix, reading Facebook and keeping up with the news means I start getting stuck in my head, and while I’m stuck in my head I tend to go into dark places. Obviously, dark places = bad. So, in order to keep away from those dark places, I have to keep myself occupied, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. That last is a problem much of the time, but the other two can be done.

Lately, I’ve been working on cooking. Some of it is just because I see recipes that look really good; what can I say? I like food. Some of it is that if I cook my own food more often, it might be a little more healthy – homemade pizza might not taste the same as delivery, but odds are that it’ll be better for me. But really, it is something I can do to help be more self-sufficient, to have something I can do and share with friends, and something that keeps me busy. It’s not hard labor, but it does keep my mind very much in the present, which is very useful.

Oddly, I’m also working out at the same time, so I can work off all the calories I put on with my own cooking. And it’s certainly not easy, nor should it be; easy exercise isn’t really exercise, for me, anyway. Exercise doesn’t tend to keep my mind occupied, though; when I do go to the gym, usually to ride the stationary bike, I have to bring my tablet and my iPhone to listen to music to make sure I don’t get bored. So I just have to make sure that I do it in relatively short bursts so I don’t wander off-task.

To keep my mind active, I play games that keep my mind in the present – mostly on Facebook these days. I read RPGs, trying to keep the rules straight in my head, even if I don’t get nearly enough chance to play them. I read books on medieval history, or on mental illness and support for those suffering from mental illness. And I write blog posts, because it means I have to keep the language centers of my brain working relatively well. I’ve been told I have an interesting style of writing, which I choose to take as a good thing. 

It sounds like a lot, but even with all these things, I still have a lot of time that I seem to spend watching Netflix – that’s part of the reason why I want to get a job, and why I’m glad to have had the job interviews I’ve had over the last week. Having that as a regular part of my schedule will help even more to keep me active, while also helping to keep my schedule a bit more regular. Almost normal, some might say. Keeping all this going keeps me from heading back into depression, and might give me the chance to help others, so it’s all for the good. 

Oh, and if you’re interested, today I cooked both deep-dish pizza and pumpkin butterscotch cookies. Well, and I made myself a sammich.