If you have been reading this blog for awhile then you know that I am recovering from postpartum depression and have been seeing a therapist for the last six months. Just yesterday she was telling me how fearless I am in my therapy, how strong I am and how dedicated I am to getting better. It is my disgust with this fear and doubt that drives me to do more and dig deeper in therapy, but it is moments like this that also show me that I have so far to go. Why is it that I can be so fearless and committed to that, but so weak and afraid when it comes to committing to my own health.
I need to remind myself how far I have come. I am no longer depressed or having panic attacks. I have down days, but nothing like it used to be. That is a long way to come from where I was, which was in a very dark hole, alone and broken. I took no medication to accomplish this, but faced it head on and worked through it. This is a huge accomplishment and I am proud of it.
But with that said, there are many more issues to tackle, not the least of which is my inability to fully commit. This is the issue affecting this particular process for me. When I choose something, I feel very committed to it and it starts off that way, but as obstacles pop up and it gets a little tougher my resolve dwindles and I slowly lose my willingness to do what it takes.
One of the main tenants of The Gabriel Method is not to bring cheating into it. Don’t think of it as taking away, but as adding. This is all fine and dandy, but when I break down and scarf a jumbo jack in the car on the way home from a particularly tough therapy session or find myself six deep in mini peanut butter cups after a phone call with my mother, I feel like I have failed, like I cheated and then it all goes down hill from there. Let the closet binge eating begin.
This is hard for me to say, but last night I was watching the biggest loser and they were talking about the habits that got them to the point where they were when they started the show and I can see those habits in myself. I am not there yet, still just in the overweight category, but I can see how it gets there.
I weighed myself this morning because I felt I needed to. I couldn’t control my urge to know the bad news, like I needed to feel guilty about it. Up three pounds. Now, I do not blame The Gabriel Method for this, in fact he even says in his book that you might gain a few pounds in the beginning as you break the cycle of shame that goes along with food. This is my fault, I didn’t dedicate myself to doing what Jon said every day. I didn’t follow the rules, however simple they were. I let my life and my fears interfere with my commitment. Classic me.
There is positive growth to be seen in this first month though. I have learned quite a bit about eating healthier and think a lot about how to make sure I am getting the main three things in my meals (protein, omega and live food). I have even been pretty good about breakfast, but not every day. I have done really all the things he instructs for month one, just not consistently. Again, lack of true commitment.
I want to commit, I want to give over to the process. In order for things to truly change you need to commit to the process for the whole month, or 21 days really. But that doesn’t mean half ass for a month, that means every day.
So where to go from here. I feel like I should start over, because I am not ready to add on at this point. I don’t feel like I have made the month one steps second nature, which is the point or breaking it down that way. I am already overwhelmed, adding more just seems like a good way to self sabotage at this point.
I do know that I need to go back and read the book from cover to cover again. I also saw on Jon’s website that you can contact Jon directly so I think I might do that.
Well, sorry that I don’t have fantastic news of miraculous weight loss to share at the end of month 1, but I am not giving up. I am confident that this is the right program for me, I just need to find a way to truly commit myself. I will update in the next couple of days as I figure out what my new plan is.
I have tried all the regular tricks (a.k. fad diets and cleanses) in my bag as well as three months of simply reducing and logging my calories and increasing my exercise level significantly. With all that I have still not lost one pound since the initial weight came off after Ian was born almost two years ago. I haven’t gained weight either, it just won’t budge. Every time I get on the scale, it is just the same thing over and over again.
Something is keeping my body just where it is no matter what I do, so I started doing some research on other ways of looking at the diet and weight loss issue.
I believe that when ideas or topics present themselves to you, especially from a couple of different directions, it means that I need to explore that topic more.
My former book club mate Diane Sewell (also influential in this years resolutions) mentioned the “I Can Make You Thin” idea, saying this was definitely the way to do it, if you want to lose weight. She is kinda an expert in this area and generally a really smart woman, so I took her seriously. This is how I discovered the benefit of visualization.
I believe that listening to Paul McKenna’s visualization cd was a critical component to my recovery from postpartum depression. It just wasn’t quite the perfect fit for my weight loss issues. It was a daytime cd and I really needed something to listen to as I was going to sleep and it wasn’t quite structured enough for me. I do employ his general theories and they do compliment the Gabriel Method.
Secondly, I was at Barnes and Noble and walked past the “Flat Belly Diet” book and was immediately and uncontrollably drawn to it. I had purchased it before I knew what happened. A little out of the ordinary for me.
Now this is a pretty extreme diet and as of right now I am not recommending diets or participating in any of them, just the opposite in fact. But, this book contained some really great information about monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and their benefit to our health and weight loss. I am combining and integrating this complimentary knowledge and practice into my current plan.
And then I came across the Gabriel Method. There is a lot to this and I am not going to go into very much detail because it’s too complex and you really need to read the book if you are at all interested. It is a really great book and a concept that just makes sense. But not until you can let go of some of our societies ingrained thinking about weight and food. In order to get over these things, you really need to read the book.
The basic concept is that there may be reasons that your body is wanting to keep you fat and if this is the case then there is very little you can do to stop it. You body has an huge well of chemical resources at its disposal and it will win if you choose to battle with it in this state.
You can get these “FAT programs” to shut off and teach your body to want to be thin, but you must first provide it with an environment of abundance. To do this you must add to your diet, not take away. If you add the right things and give your body what it needs then your body’s chemistry will begin to change and the weight will start to melt away.
Although this is definitely not a diet and outside what most of us have heard about before, it definitely is a lifestyle change. No one is saying you can eat whatever you want and sit on the couch all day and lose weight. Changing your body’s chemistry takes effort and dedication, but this approach eases you into the changes and is very practical and realistic about how it will all work, breaking it down into month by month steps. These steps are all about adding, not subtracting or depriving of anything. At no point does he say not to eat anything that you want to.
Often when we think of women suffering from post partum depression we think of Andrea Yates drowning her poor children in the bathtub, but it’s not like the the vast majority of the time. There is a spectrum and I am very grateful that mine is on the mild to moderate end and feel greatly for those, including those I know, who are suffering or have suffered from more severe encounters with this ugly thing.
Mild to moderate postpartum depression can be hard to identify. You are already exhausted and overwhelmed by the state of your life and so in the beginning you think that the symptoms are normal and you ignore them and this is just what I did and then it morphed into something more debilitating and which eventually resulted in a mild breakdown.
I couldn’t really see the depression for what it was at the time. I even remember saying that I just didn’t understand why I felt the way I did, I wasn’t a depressed person. But I was. As I look down the list of symptoms, it seems so obvious now.
I find it really intriguing that looking back at the past year, I can see it all so clearly and how relieved I feel to finally have a name to put on what’s been going on with me. Yet, when you are in the middle of it all, you just feel horrible and don’t for the life of you know what is causing it.
To talk about how I could barely get through the day, feed the kids and manage the minute by minute is a difficult and somewhat embarrassing thing. But it was what it was. It took every ounce of energy I had to do the most basic things and everything beyond that just didn’t get done. This is how it started and then it progressed into paranoia and self-loathing of the sort I have never really experienced. I felt like I was terrible at everything, that nobody cared about me and that I wasn’t worthy of anything positive.
As things started to get worse and worse, I knew something was wrong, but I just couldn’t fight my way out of it. I tried to commit to things that would help me heal, inspire me and help me to reengage with the world, but I just couldn’t do it and then I would feel guilty and helpless and like I was letting everyone down, including myself.
As a strong, intelligent, independent woman who has overcome and crawled out of some pretty dark spots in her life, it was very difficult for me to ask for help and I think this is why it went as far as it did. But, sometimes a little breakdown is the best thing that can happen to a person.
There were a few things that finally broke the cycle for me and got me moving in the right direction and asking for help. I ended a destructive relationship, which empowered me to stand up for myself and understand and communicate my needs. I sought out therepy and was very picky about who to see. I waited for the right person, connecting and being on the same page is really important. This is the person you need to share your darkest moments with, you better trust them implicitly.
I also made a personal choice not to medicate. This is a very personal decision and for me it was about finally facing my demons head on. There are many things that I have learned to deal with or pushed aside throughout my life, but never really faced and integrated and learned from. I felt that now was the time to do that so that I could move forward in my life on a more meaningful path. I felt that medication would only impair the process for me.
My therapist discuuses my journey as two parallel paths. There is the current situation with the depression and this involves a lot of talking and learning of tools to deal with the day to day. And then there is the deeper issues (the demons so to speak) that I am trying to face and deal with. For the latter, we are using a technique called Lifespan Integration. This is where the timeline of my life originated and I will talk more about this technique at a later time.
My goal is that those two paths will meet down the road and that I will be able to use all of the tools and knowledge to find a way to live a more fulfilled and full life, to become the person I want to be and to establish more meaningful and healthy relationships.
I have days now when I think to myself ‘wow, could it really have been that simple, I feel great, I must be cured’. And then I have a day that reminds me that this is a journey and a process and that although I am feeling much better, there is still a lot of work to do.
Today is a bad day. I am tired and uninterested and easily irritated and counting every minute until I can have just a minute of quiet to close my eyes and reflect on what is happening. The good news is that I haven’t had one of these days in several weeks and that I can see it clearly for what it is. That doesn’t mean that I am not fighting it and managing it every second, but I can own it and know that it will pass and that I will feel better when it does.
A few months ago this day would have been the beginning of a downward spiral that may have lasted days to weeks and ended in my sobbing in the shower and scaring the crap out of my poor husband as I am reduced to puddle of self pity. I’d say we’re making progress.