It’s My Birthday!

This seems to be the year that I can process why I hate my birthday so much.

Last night was hell.

My birthday is a trauma anniversary. Eating is a coping mechanism. Work is a coping mechanism. Isolation is a coping mechanism. Ironically, all things that I can’t always avoid…

I stayed in bed most of the day yesterday and napped in between working. I had nothing left, and in therapy I identified that I felt like I didn’t matter to the people close to me and felt alone. I had forgotten that my birthday was used as a weapon against me in previous years, and it took most of the day for me to consciously remember that, and to realize that I was having a rough day because I was anticipating another horrible birthday. Another day that was supposed to be about me on which I was ignored, abused and made to feel like nothing.

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I ran off to the desert this year and thought through how to reclaim my birthday. I was going to make it about me doing for myself this year, about not relying on others to make the day special. My brain had other ideas, and last night was an emotional post-trauma hell. This morning I’m still shaky, still feeling a bit off. The well wishes started before 6 this morning, which I really appreciate. I still can’t connect to them, and I’m still a bit walled off, and still a bit emotional, but I’m much better, and the crazy has subsided.

I understand that sometimes the brain – and this seems to be true for mine – cannot process trauma until it feels safe to do so. My experience with that is as soon as I think I’ve taken a step forward in recovery and made progress, I get rewarded by the baseball bat of trauma memory. Congrats! You’re doing great in recovery! WHACK! It’s so painful and frustrating and…shit. This seems to be the year that I can process why I hate my birthday so much. Maybe that means a better next year? I was able to sit with the pain last night. I still haven’t needed Xanax this year. Yep, I made it through last night without meds to knock me out so I could avoid it. I took the beating, and today I kinda feel like I got that beating.

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I woke up early to a quiet house. No cards, no acknowledgement that it’s my birthday. It’s expected, my family doesn’t make a big deal out of my birthday. I used to be the one to make a big deal out of it, used to make my own cake and organize my celebration, so I can understand why they don’t. And the point for me is to not rely on others for this. Emotionally, it’s still a letdown, but rationally, I enjoy the quiet morning. It’s raining and cold and I’m temped to not even leave the house today. I can work from the comfort and safety of my bed again, and ignore the world for another day. I can nap again if I need to.

Cause, you know, it’s my birthday!

Restoring Through Nutrition

My anxiety brain loves carbs and cheese and fat.

I was raised with the command that I clean my plate or else.

I get it, my grandparents lived with a lot of scarcity and wasting food was a big no in my house growing up. I’m sure that contributes heavily to me having issues with food, but not in a way that makes me want to try to open that up and explore it. I think I’ll just toss it in the pile of Things My Parents Didn’t Get Right And I Won’t Repeat.

Having said that, I’ll move to the more present issue at hand in my process of restoring, which is how I eat. I have gained a considerable amount of weight since I was prescribed an antidepressant a little over two years ago, and I can’t reasonably attribute that to eating alone. I am curious to see over the next month as I transition off the drug what my body does. I’ve held off on any intention toward slimming down until I’m fully off the meds. It’s been counter-productive so far.

But it isn’t really about slimming down if I want to do the best thing for me, is it? Maybe my body likes to be fat. And really that’s fine, because my default mode is to think I look good. What I want to get to, and the process I want to engage in is good nutrition practices – feeding my body what it needs to be healthy.

My anxiety brain loves carbs and cheese and fat. It loves them the most, and it loves all three together. If I am even slightly anxious, the impulses kick in and I need all the gooey, carb-y comfort I can get my hands on. I think it must be the trade-off for not being an alcoholic or drug addict. I think I’ve needed some kind of substance to abuse over the years, and I chose food, for better or worse. It’s the one thing you can’t stop, though…

As I’ve been working a lot on myself (mostly my brain) and planning for what will make me better, I’ve intentionally let my brain tell me what it wants to eat. I’m disrupting a few things right now, and changing how I eat and drink is not something I wanted to tackle until I started on other things. I have a tendency to overload, and this time I wanted a slower, more intentional process of transition. I think it’s been a good thing, even if it did mean more Fritos and ranch than was “necessary”.

My intention is to spend some weeks focusing on what I consume and how it affects my mind and body. I would like to consume things that will:

  • Reduce inflamation
  • Improve my gut health
  • Not contribute to anxiety spikes
  • Help me achieve calm
  • Not cause bloating or fatigue
  • Help me build strength
  • Keep my energy up
  • Not disrupt my sleep

Not the typical diet plan, but I’m not looking to diet, I’m looking to take better care of myself, restore my mind and body and address some real health concerns.

For a take on how we fuel our health (or lack thereof) that got me thinking about a different approach to nutrition than I was previously familiar with, I foundĀ Brain Maker by David Perlmutter to be thought-provoking and helpful. No affiliate links, just sharing info.