Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Own Reality Show

It's hard work being more than one "entity" and sharing a brain.  I'm mentally & physically & emotionally exhausted.  I'd like nothing more than to open up my skull, remove my brain, and stick it on a shelf  for the night.  Just let me be empty. No feelings. No thoughts. Nothingness. That sounds glorious.  I'm so very tired of thinking. So many thoughts, coming at me from all sides, some being shouted at me by different voices in my head, some whispered into my ear. Mental noise. So much mental noise!  Sometimes I fear I'm going to freak completely out, just going to snap from all the voices trying to talk over one another, each one vying to be heard. Some of the voices are male, some are children, many of  them are females of different ages both young and old.  Then there are the other, outsider voices which are (almost) always present in my mind.  These are the voices of the news broadcasters, the sports announcers, the disc jockeys,  the talk show hosts, and the paparazzi-all of whom exist in my head-and who bombard me with information, questions, and laughter. I also hear applause, cheering, and, more often, booing and heckling;  sometimes I'm even threatened with violence.  They are telling the story of my life as though it is unfolding live on TV and the world is watching.  My every action is commented on, "liked" or "disliked", critiqued, analyzed and gossiped about.  I am currently the star of a reality TV show and I'm never sure if the "special guests" are going to talk me up or make fun of me. And it's all live, in real time.

It is notable that I often "rewind" parts of the show and watch them over and over again.  Sometimes I pause a scene, to look more closely at the physical details.  I can't erase anything I see or hear.  That's very important.  I can't erase what I hear. I may very well forget, but my subconscious never does. And while I can still recall listening to the sports announcers discuss my every move as I played tennis (actually just bouncing a ball off a brick wall) at about the age of 8-for example, one of the men would exclaim "Wow! What a great shot!"-the people who narrate my life now are not nearly as nice, as complimentary, as appreciated as the ones of my childhood.  When I was 10, the news broadcasters praised my people skills, my high I.Q., my talents for art and short-stories... I was a celebrity in "Kellie World" and I was popular. By the time I was 13, though, all of this had changed. People (in my head) started making fun of me, criticizing me, and insulting me. There was -and is- often laughter in my head, laughter directed at me, and not in a good way. I must take the time now to note that not all of the K's are very nice to us/me, and in my day-to-day life other K's talk down to me, make fun of me, point and laugh, and worst of all, one of them slaps me in the face or even punches me.  I'm my own worst enemy.  Wow. I've never admitted that before, not even to a therapist.  I guess that's pretty important:  the fact that I hit myself in the face.  Hmm.  Perhaps I should tell my psychiatrist about it... I wonder what she would say?  Maybe I should write a short synopsis of my TV show and take that to her.  Is it strange that I've never told her about all of this?  You must remember that I've only just begun to trust my doctor, it took me 2 years to get comfortable with her, and so I started talking to her openly and honestly about 3 months ago.  So there's a TON of stuff that I haven't told her yet.  I go in to see her every week, and my mind just goes blank.  I can never remember what I want to talk about or tell her.  Actually, after the session is over, I usually can't remember what happened anyway.  She tells me that this is because I sometimes come to therapy in a switched state or I'll switch while I'm in her office.  I don't know what to make of this.  All I know is, my TV show is for mature audiences only due to bad language, drug use, sex, mature subject matter, and, I realize now, violence as well.  I never thought about the violence until today.  At least, not about any violence that K causes.  She's often been the victim of violence, but I'm surprised to learn that she can also be the perpetrator. Hmm. Oh well-I guess it makes for better television.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Truthfully, I'm Lying

Lies.  Every word out of our mouth today and yesterday, in the Real World.  Lies.  K doesn't lie, so we're all suspicious and on edge. Something's going on.  Something...well, it's probably not good.  Negative feelings seem to be hanging in the air at times, but we can't remember if I've done anything wrong.  Feel angry.  Been pissy at everyone.  Can't control it.  Whomever is visiting lately has also been sneaking cigarettes, and K doesn't smoke anymore.  So what the hell?!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another Day, Another K

Today was interesting.  Went to therapy. Floated across the waiting room and onto the ceiling and looked down at K. Noticed she was all dressed up and wearing heels, and that her makeup was very dramatic.  The weirdest part of all of this is that I was watching her, and she was talking to a couple sitting in the room with her.  She was talking very quickly and was using her hands a lot and was quite animated. She was out-going and friendly and chatty and self-assured. I listened to her, fascinated, and kept wondering what she was going to say next. She was a storyteller...but chunks of what she said were untrue.  She was not like K normally is; this girl was confident and not at all afraid of people.  But she was familiar to me.  When I got into my psychiatrist's office, I told her about this experience.  I asked her if I were dissociating, would I be aware that I was dissociating.  She said what I was experiencing was depersonalization (a sense of detachment or separateness from one's self), which I would be aware of, and that it can be a part of dissociation.  I know this because I wrote it down.  In fact, I took some notes today, and it's good that I did. Otherwise I'd not remember a thing I'm afraid. Which is one of the things that I wrote down, coincidentally.  Dr. H told me that I probably wouldn't remember much about today's session.  And she was right. All I can remember is what I've jotted down, and I don't really remember those things. One of the things I put down is that Dr. H believes all the me's exist to take care of K, and that each K has a different, specific job. Several times she spoke about "the other K's".  I made a note that Dr. H used the term "different personalities" today when talking about me; that seemed important. Also, she pointed out that I was dressed differently today, and that my makeup was different, and that I was different. She said the K who usually comes to see her dresses all in black, and I was wearing a full-length paisley dress in bright shades of green,  accessorized with tall platform shoes and a lime green, faux-crocodile purse in a funky, curved shape. I know all of this because I'm looking at a pile of clothes on the chair in my room and I'm able to see exactly what I was wearing. Also, I made some notes about my outfit when Dr. H was telling me that I was a different K today. 

Earlier this evening, I had to remove heavy and colorful eye makeup in shades of lime green and turquoise, and hot pink lipstick. That's the first time I've worn eye shadow in...well, a good while.  I just know that I've felt funny all day long. I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong but I I felt like I was just outside of my body, or like I was in a movie, that it wasn't really real. I also felt like I was sharing a brain with someone else; I was an us, more so than usual even. Sitting here now, reading my notes from therapy, and looking at the facts in black and white, both from my notes and from this blog post, it occurs to me that I remember this K, but that I can't recall seeing her in at least a year, perhaps longer. Tonight, though, there's physical evidence that she was here.  The clothes. The jewelry. The glitter I found in the bathroom.  The fact that my toenails are now painted lime green-the same color as the purse I carried today. The fact that my freshly cut and colored (bright red) hair has been meticulously styled.  All of these things describe one of the K's whose job is to socialize, to see and be seen.  She often went on dates for K before she got married, and yes, Husband dated her sometimes.  I remember all these things because I'm reading my old online diary now,  from 2008.  Interesting reading. Perhaps I should do a blog post introducing each of the K's, or at least the ones I am familiar with (thanks to numerous diaries/sketchbooks/photos).  A number of them journal, and that's how I get to know myself/us. I can't tell who I am at the moment; think I'm in between me's. I'm in a drugged, dream-like state and I feel as though I'm running on autopilot. I wonder what/who tomorrow will bring...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Attempting to Heal: Day 1

I'm a self-harmer, but I go through phases where I stop and let my wounds heal.  These periods have, in the past, lasted from a few days to a few years.  I'm ashamed to say I haven't had clear, uninjured skin in a year now. So I've decided to take action, before it's summer and I want to wear something that reveals skin.  I am just starting on a healing program for my Dermatillomania (or CSP- Compulsive Skin Picking). (See blog post Evolution of my Self-Mutilation: Part II to learn more about this condition) My calves are currently covered in angry, deep, red wounds. Bloody and scabby and rather large-about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide.  It all started as a small, pink rash. But I started scratching.  Soon I had scratched all the skin off, and before long I had bloody holes in my legs, all over. I mean a dozen or so wounds, maybe more.  I'm not sure how long it's taken me to get to this point; I remember that my legs looked bad back in February. I got brave at my last therapy session and showed my doctor my legs. I decided at the last minute to do that; some part of me, inside, decided it was time to break my silence.  So I showed Dr. H my shins.  She said, "Oh my goodness!" and then suggested a few products for me to try.  I got a prescription for a steroid cream, and I'm using Neosporin antibacterial cream and hydrocortisone.  I put the Neosporin on first, then the steroid, then I cover the whole leg with hydrocortisone to prevent itching. Some of the more serious wounds need bandaging.  I'm also using these 3 creams on my arms, as they're affected by my CSP as well.  So today is Day #1...sortof.  I've been using the medicines I got for several days now, but today is the first day I haven't picked or scratched or ripped off a scab.  Of course, the day isn't over yet.  But I'm really determined to get my skin cleared up and smooth and healed and scab-free by the time sleeveless weather gets here.  I don't know what I'll do if I'm unable to wear shorts or a dress this Summer.  This healing plan MUST work.  Now I've done it before, many times, but as I said earlier, the latest bout of skin picking has been constant and severe for the past year.  It's directly related to stress; when things get serious or difficult, I have to turn to something I can control. So I self-inflict wounds to my body.  Yes, I'm a cutter, but even more so now am I a picker.  It takes a lot of stress and negativity to get me to actually cut now with a razor.  But the skin-picking, well that's something I just cannot control.  I lose time whenever I go into the bathroom, and I'll often emerge hours later, covered in bleeding sores.  Everytime I enter a bathroom, there's a risk I will self-harm.  If I have no access to any implements,  that is, razor blades or scissors or tweezers, then I'll use whatever I can find. An earring post.  A nail from out of the wall.  A bobby pin. Safety pins are a favorite; when I was younger I took great pleasure in sticking safety pins through parts of my body-ears, lips, hands.  Sometimes I'd get a needle, thread it, and sew words into my arms.  There's just no telling what I'm liable to do to my skin.  My Body Dysmorphic Disorder makes it impossible for me to see myself in the mirror the way other people see me, so while I've always been told that I'm very attractive, I just can't see it. I'm obsessed with my skin, particularly on my face, but all over really.  I can find any flaw, no matter how tiny, and within a few moments, I can have it large and red and angry and bleeding.  But for some reason, in my mind, when I pick at something imperfect on my skin, then I'm helping make it go away.  Logically, I know that by picking it I'm making it look worse.  But I just can't think that way. I just think "Must remove flaws" and I'll do whatever it takes to dig out a perceived blemish. 

Dermatillomania is a condition which causes tremendous shame, and it's difficult to write about the subject.  However, I really, really am going to try and make an honest attempt at getting my life back on track and healing all my body wounds.  Plus. I've been asked to model again and I can't possibly do it unless I get my face cleared up at the very least.  So I'm doing it.  I'm going to layer the three creams onto my scabby sores throughout the day and night, every chance I think about it.  Dr. H told me that if I keep the area moist, I'll be less likely to pick. So I'm going to try it.  Giving me even more incentive to quit mutilating my skin is my desire to shave my legs.  I'm unable to shave or wax while I have these large open wounds on my legs.  It's just too risky. So I have to admit that my legs are awfully hairy at the moment, at least where the wounds are located.  I can't wait to clear up all these sores, for all my scabs to fall off (on their own, not by me pulling them off), and for new skin to start coming in and renewing my complexion.  Yes, there will be scars, some of these will be my worst ones ever...but many of the scars will fade (I have a scar-fading program I follow too) and by the time I'm invited to a pool party, I should be mostly "normal", or at least I can appear that way through the use of waterproof body makeup on the most prominent scars.  Other scars should fade to something pink and/or shiny by July.  Yes, my body is covered in scars. All over my body. In unexpected places.  But I can't help that-I've been a compulsive skin picker since 4th grade.  Dermatillomania is an impulse-control disorder which is also akin to substance abuse. It's been a lifelong struggle for me.  Hopefully, today is the beginning of a new upswing in my daily life.  I'm hoping to replace my habits of picking with habits of treating the wounds and bandaging them.  I'm determined to wear a short dress this Summer. Day 1 has been a success. Let's see how Day 2 goes...

Disorderly Eating

I have an eating disorder.  I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I don't think I've ever talked about it in serious detail. Well, the present time seems appropriate to tell the tale, as I'm currently, right this minute,  in the process of researching the ABC diet.  The ABC diet is also known as Ana Boot Camp (ana is a slang term for anorexia nervosa). In my lifetime, I've had doctors tell me I was anorexic and I've had doctors tell me I was bulimic. I don't know what I am, but it's definitely a disorder.  There's a very loud voice inside me that tells me this is unhealthy, that I'm verging on a relapse, that I should NOT be checking out new, extreme ways to get thin. The ABC Diet lasts 50 days, and is built around a very strict caloric restriction.  Days of fasting are interspersed with days of consuming a maximum of 500 calories.  The calorie intake changes day to day, but the lowest day on the program allows a mere 50 calories. Most days average around 200-300 calories a day. Diet experts say that the minimum recommended daily calories consumed should be no lower than 1000-1500.  So this diet has risks. Any diet has risks, but this particular diet puts the dieter at risk for low blood sugar, which causes low energy and dizziness. Other risks include malnutrition, fatigue, sensitivity to cold temperatures, paranoia, depression, a learned obsession with calories, fat and sugar intakes, and an increased likelihood to participate in other dangerous eating rituals.  Now here's what scares me.  It would be a walk in the park for me to stick to the calorie counting.  There are many days in which I consume less than 500 calories, and I fast at least once a week.  This would just mean getting a food diary and keeping track of every calorie I consume.  So really, it wouldn't be all that hard for me to stick to the diet's rules.  It worries me/us that we are considering starting this diet Monday.  I have a wedding to go to in 4 weeks-that's half the time of the diet.  I really, really would love to shed some pounds before that date. It's a family wedding-I'll be in the photos-and I would hate to ruin a beautiful wedding picture by looking too fat.  It doesn't help anything that the bride has an amazingly hot body. She's tall and thin and gorgeous; I have no desire to stand next to her in any photos. But back to my point-I believe I could do the food part of the diet.  The hard part is that you have to exercise obsessively, preferably something super intense like P90X. There's no way I could handle that kind of workout in my current state of health.  I am simply too out of shape to follow such a hardcore program; sad but true.  I have no strength and no endurance.  It would take me so long to get used to the exercise portion of this diet that half my progress would be spent just getting to a "normal" fitness level.  I just don't know how to remedy this situation.  I can start working out today but there's little chance I can speed up my metabolism and start burning the kind of calories that this diet recommends.  I currently eat so little every day that my body has gone into "starvation mode"-this is according to my medical doctor-and is therefore hoarding calories and storing fat within me. My doctor actually told me that to lose any weight, I'd have to start eating more.  So perhaps this ISN'T the right diet for me, as it certainly isn't an increase in my food consumption, but rather a steep decrease.  I just don't know what to do. 

I remember the very day I first decided that I was fat.  I was in 3rd grade, just 8 years old, and I was not at all overweight. (Have you heard this story before? If so, I apologize for being repetitive.)  The weather was very warm and I was wearing shorts. I was sitting in class, in my desk, and I happened to look down at my thighs.  I couldn't help but notice how, when they were pressed flat against the seat, they spread out much wider than when I was standing.  Something clicked in my mind, and right then and there I decided that I was too fat.  I went home and walked to the store and purchased my very first diet soda. I hate to age myself, but it was a Tab; that was the only diet soda made at that time.  It was sweetened with saccharin, and so it was bitter.  I didn't like it, but I forced myself to drink those cancer-causing ingredients, and so began a lifelong habit of drinking diet sodas.  I've been drinking them so long now that I usually can't tell the difference between a regular soda and a diet soda; I'm just used to the bitter taste.  I've been a Diet Coke fiend since it was first introduced, and to this day I drink mostly coffee and Diet Coke.  I realize now that this is a terrible habit, and that even diet sodas still cause bloating and weight gain.  I understand that I must give up my Diet Coke habit in order to successfully lose enough weight to make myself "happy" (whatever that means). So I'm ready. I'm drinking coffee right now, and after I'm done I shall switch to drinking water for the rest of day. I intend to drink water only everyday from Monday until we leave for the wedding, which is on May 19.  I also intend to ingest diuretic pills so as to shed even more water weight.  I realize that this is a quick fix and that I'll only be losing water, not actual fat, but that's OK right now.  I just need to shed some pounds for the wedding; I can begin to focus on body mass index after we get back from the wedding trip. The wedding is out of state, and my husband and my mother and I are driving down for the whole weekend. Mom has to be there for the rehearsal dinner, as she's the grandmother of the groom.  My husband and I are not in the wedding, but we are attending both the wedding and the lavish reception, which is to be held at a mansion in Savannah, Georgia.  It's a very long drive for us, but since my husband has never been to Savannah, and because I simply adore that city, I am really excited to make the trip.  The wedding and everything surrounding it should be a blast.  I will get to spend time with my big sister, whom I rarely see as she lives in Utah, and my niece and of course my nephew is the groom.  He lives in L.A. and so I only see him once a year or less.  He's very, very health/fitness conscious, and I dread having him see how much weight I've gained since he last saw me.  The weight gain is not due to overeating, but rather is a side-effect of the medication which I must now take.  Worst. Side effect. Period.

I first began my dance with medication and weight gain when I was 16 and the doctor put me on Lithium; I gained about 30 pounds. I was horrified at how puffy my face got.  But I endured it until the day came when my medication was switched. Some of the pills they put me on caused me to lose weight, and that was always a pleasant bonus for me.  But many of the psychotropic medications I've been given over the years have had the unwanted side-effect of weight gain, often substantial.  I'm currently prescribed six different medications: 2 atypical anti-psychotics, a regular anti-psychotic, an SSRI antidepressant, an NDRI antidepressant, and an anti-anxiety medication of the benzodiazepine class.  I have no idea which ones of these drugs are causing the weight gain, but when I began my newest prescription I noticed a jump in my weight, a big one.  And so it could be that more than one of them is causing the weight gain; but which ones do I give up to lose the extra pounds?  And seriously, is it worth it to lose my mind in order to be thin? (someone inside me is screaming "Absolutely!")

Now as far as my eating disorder goes, I've been showing signs and symptoms since that fateful day when I was 8.  After that first Tab, I became obsessed with calorie counting and sugar, fat, and carbohydrate control.  I quit using sugar and switched to an artificial sweetener, and I began buying reduced-fat, low-cal, and sugar-free foods. I also began to regulate how much I consumed and adhered to a strict diet.  It was also around this time that I began to exercise obsessively.  At the age of 10 I went running until my legs turned to jelly, played tennis, did aerobics (with my Jane Fonda videotapes), and wouldn't go to bed at night until I'd done a specific number of sit-ups (100) and leg lifts and other floor exercises. All these behaviors stayed with me throughout my teenage years and by high school I'd begun fasting. There were several occasions wherein I passed out at school from lack of food.  But then my prescriptions changed and I gained weight and it was out of my control.  So I began making myself throw up.  After a while, it was easy.  I got sick every time I ate.  This helped drop some weight but was very unhealthy.  I didn't care though. I continued to starve myself and fast and throw up and eventually, in my 20s, I began using laxatives as well.  It was in my 20s that I reached my lowest weight.  I achieved this through the use of diet pills, which were basically just speed, and also I quit taking my psychiatric medications.  If I got hungry, I'd pop a pill and smoke a cigarette instead of eating.  The diet pills, along with the starvation, the obsessively exercising, the vomiting and the laxatives all helped me achieve a weight of 98 pounds.  I was so proud of that fact, although at the time I was convinced that if I'd only lose "a few more pounds" I would really look good.  I remember the constant weigh-ins. I was always on a scale, and I obsessed over each and every pound. Later, my doctor made me get rid of the scale, and I'm forbidden to own one now.  I remember lying in bed, running my hands along my rib cage, counting each rib to see how bony I was.  I also took great pride in having pelvic bones which stuck out prominently.  And I'd lie there and suck in my stomach and see how concave I could get it.  When I see the photos of me from that time, it's bizarre because I'm torn in different directions--the K(s) with the eating disorder think I look good, while the other K's think I look frail and unhealthy. I remember what a typical day's food intake was back then: no more than 5 saltine crackers and a plain baked potato.  That's it, along with coffee and Diet Coke.  And I fasted every 3rd day.  It's amazing I didn't cause some sort of permanent damage to my body. But this is my life, or how it's been for most all of my life.  I also later went through a phase, at age 30, where I'd gained so much weight due to the medications I was on that I became seriously depressed and absolutely gave up at one point and began compulsive overeating. I'd binge and eat everything I could find.  I could eat a whole package of cookies, and sometime I did.  I'd eat like this at night, so that no one would know about it. I was ashamed and I hid my eating.  No one ever saw me eat-it was my secret. But I reached my heaviest weight during this time, and that was 183 pounds. (God, it's hard to admit that, even though I don't weigh that much anymore.) The throwing up and laxatives and diet pills came into play again and I shed it eventually, but because of the medication I am on, it's been a lifelong struggle with my weight-it goes up and down.  Right now, I'm somewhere in the middle, but on the chubby side in my opinion (thank you new meds). I currently flip-flop between complete starvation and binging and purging.  My husband doesn't know about all these habits of mine, and I intend to keep it that way.  All he needs to know is that I want to look good for him, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes.  So I've stocked up on a variety of appetite suppressants, carbohydrate blockers, metabolic stimulators, and calorie-restricting pills.  Plus some good old fashioned "legal speed".  I'm not sure how all of these things are going to fit in with The ABC diet, or if I can fit them in at all.  I don't know exactly how I intend to shed this weight, but I guarantee you it will be unhealthy as hell.  And I will adhere to my strict diet and exercise program at least until the wedding.  After that, we'll settle into a healthier-eating/daily exercise routine and hopefully I can achieve a desirable, "normal" weight.  I just hope I can properly gauge what a "normal" weight is. I can't continue to live this life of extremes.  It's getting more and more dangerous as I get older, and I'm beginning to fear for my health...but not enough to stop.