Sometimes I think that if you would listen to this piece of music, you could understand me much better.
I am at one with a sea of sensations, glitter, silk, skin, eyes, mouths, desire.
— Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1
City Lights From Space, via the fantastical Rich Beck. :-)
Once Upon a Timethere
Once upon a time, there was an O, an N, a C and an E sitting on a timethere. What’s a timethere, you are most certainly asking yourself. A timethere is any kind of normal everyday object that has been enchanted so as to become a magical conveyance that travels through time. If you’re thinking of the pumpkin carriage from Cinderella, you’re almost with me. If the pumpkin carriage were able to travel through time, well, you’d have it. I should have called it “the timethere” so I could make a joke: what’s the timethere? Oh, about half past a unicorn’s ass. Eh? Eh? You’re right, that’s not proper and won’t do at all. Better get back to me story. So the dignified letters were sitting there in their timethere, all cozylike in the red velvet. But I forgot to tell you: their timethere was a magical miniature coach drawn by miniature flying horses (NOT pegasi, if you were going to ask; different species altogether), which was curious considering that the coach had it’s own set of wings. They were sitting so close together on the nice red crushed velvet upholstery, the kind with buttons in, that they spelled out:
ONCE, upon a timethere…was an O, an N, a C and an E sitting on a timethere was an O, and the N and the C and the E crawled out through it, coming to
And if you were watching, you pervert, it was really quite a disgusting sight. One wonders whether the letters were eaten and worked their way through the digestive system or whether they were simply jammed into the rectum of the poor bloke whose end it were. In any case, they passed out of the end and formed a new beginning and it went like this…
Once upon a time…
Bodyhacks & Broomsticks
I have been seriously depressed since the age of thirteen. Somewhere along the way, I also picked up the Deep Ache. The Deep Ache is a persistent pain deep in my muscles. Sometimes it feels like it’s in my bones. I didn’t realize it was there for a long time. I thought I was just tired or that it was a by-product of the lethargy induced by my depression.
As I’ve gotten older, my body has become heavier, less flexible and more painful. In the past few years, I’ve developed plantar fasciitis in both feet and I’ve discovered that I have fibular tendonitis due to a genetic shortness of the tendons in my legs. Both these issues have made it difficult to walk, to stand for long periods, to go up stairs or to do anything even remotely athletic, including yoga. On top of that (literally), I’ve had severe muscle tension in my neck and shoulders, chronic sinus infections, migraines and diurnal bruxism.
My depression, which I have worked on for years and which got better for a short period after my move to Portland in 2007, came back in a brutal fashion, after I stopped taking Wellbutrin about a year ago. The truth is, while it helped tremendously in terms of looking at my emotions from a more logical standpoint, it was severely muting and masking my emotions. They still bubbled up from time to time and I felt even more distressed because I could not properly process and work through them. I could not release them.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that taking Wellbutrin has profoundly stunted my ability to feel emotions that were once fairly common to me. I don’t laugh like I used to. My sense of humor is shallow compared to what it used to be. I haven’t felt the unfettered joy that I used to be able to feel since before I started taking Wellbutrin. I used to have semi-frequent ecstatic experiences. Wellbutrin also adversely affected my memory in a big way, so much so that it was beginning to affect my job performance.
Despite these negative side effects, I was ready to start taking Wellbutrin again just a few short weeks ago. My moods have been out of control. I have been so full of despair and pain. I haven’t been able to socialize at all because I never know how bad my body will feel or how moody I will be at any given time.
The bad side effects seemed small in comparison with the gains: being able to step outside of my emotions and think of them in a more rational way, an increased sex drive (my libido had plummeted badly due to the depression) and weight loss. Keep in mind that all these symptoms are multiplied tenfold as I approach my bleeding time each month; probably having much to do with water retention and the various things that changes in hormones can do to the body. I had seriously begun to believe that I had PMDD and was about to seek a formal diagnosis.
A word about my desire for weight loss: I actually have a pretty good body image despite being a big lady (dress size 18 and 44DD tatas), which can be good and bad. In one sense, it’s bad because I have this reverse dysmorphia thing going on. I always seem to think I’m smaller than I really am. This is only bad in the sense that I may be overlooking the obvious fact that I’m unhealthy. I have this blind spot for my own size and what it means for me. It’s good because I’ve learned to love and accept my body as it is, regardless of what others may think of it. In terms of my attractiveness to others, the only thing I care about is that I am attractive to the people I am attracted to. I haven’t had any problem in finding scads of people who find me attractive so I haven’t been particularly concerned about how I appear to others for some time. What matters most to me is that I find myself attractive, and I do. My desire for weight loss recently has been motivated solely by the need to keep my weight down in order to decrease the pain in my feet and knees.
Stay with me now. I’m not having a pity party here. There is a huge light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve discovered several things that have profoundly affected my ability to feel well again.
The first was the elimination from caffeine from my diet. I’ve known for quite some time that caffeine is poison to my body. I began to get blepherospasms if I consumed too much. I started noticing that I’d get a crash after consuming caffeine, plunging me into suicidal depression and hysterical thoughts. Regardless of that, I kept consuming it off and on because, well…I like the high. Caffeine is pretty much my stimulant of choice. It’s amazing how many years it took for me to even notice how sensitive my body is to caffeine and how many years after that it took me to really kick the habit. To be honest, even now I consume small amounts of caffeine on occasion for creative inspiration. But until my dear friend Mari Adkins told me that she’d had to quit caffeine because it was causing extra pain in her body, I had no idea that caffeine was contributing to the Deep Ache. I got rid of caffeine, and blam, a great deal of the pain disappeared! (Thank you so much, Mari!) Now, I only drink very small portions of yerba maté for special occasions, as a kind of creative sacrament and I avoid drinking it when I am approaching my bleeding time, or directly after.
The second change came around the same time. I became distraught about my constant sinus infections so I broke down and bought a neti pot, figuring I might as well give it a shot. I’d heard a lot of encouraging stories about neti pot use from friends and acquaintances. It took some getting used to and some tweaking, but I use my neti pot about once a week now and the infections are significantly diminished. The trick is in finding how much salt, what temperature and what frequency of use are right for you. The hard part of using a neti pot, for me anyway, is getting all that water out of the nasal passages. It does take some time leaning over with a tissue to get all the water to run out. This can be quite frustrating. And definitely do not do it before going to bed. Your sinuses need time to drain and dry. If they don’t, you’ll have a moist mess up in there and you’ll just get another even worse infection.
The third change occurred in the past couple months. Again, feeling distraught about the migraines which were causing me to miss work at least a couple times a month, as well as a growing concern about the clenching in my jaw, I began to see an acupuncturist to work on those issues. In short, acupuncture didn’t seem to do a damn thing for me. But the time I spent on her table just relaxing helped me to realize how much stress was playing a part in these problems, how I needed to take more time to meditate and relax myself. It also helped that she worked in the same building with several other providers, including a couple chiropractors.
I started thinking about it when the acupuncture wasn’t working and decided to try to attack the migraines and jaw-clenching on another front. I began working with a chiropractor and he gave me a series of exercises to try. I’ve had such horrible luck with exercises given to me by doctors in the past that I didn’t have much hope this would work. I tried them anyway, feeling that I should give it my best and if nothing else, I could eliminate this as an option. To my surprise and delight, they have worked! Truthfully, I could tell right off that one of the exercises was going to be a big help. It just felt so good to do it and it stretched my chest in a way I’d never experienced before. Doing these exercises faithfully every day has loosened up my neck and shoulders so much that it feels like a miracle. My jaw is slowly getting better too because all that tension lower down is leaving. Granted, there is still some pain. But it is significantly decreased and I feel great hope that further exercise will continue to decrease my pain in those areas.
The fourth change has been perhaps the most profound, startling and relieving. It is also the most recent. About a week ago, I began a “slow carb” diet as described by Timothy Ferriss on his blog on a post entitled How To Lose 20 Lbs. of Fat In 30 Days Without Doing Any Exercise. I was motivated to do this because about a week earlier, my best friend Brian Shaughnessy had decided to give the diet a try and I was becoming rather enamored with the look and smell of the food he’d been bringing to work. It seemed like a diet I could stick to. And by stick to, I don’t mean like a fad diet that I’d do for a month or six weeks so I could fit into a bikini and go to Suzy’s party. I mean a diet that I could adopt and pretty much adhere to for as long as it served my purpose, maybe forever. This is Habit Modification for Chaotes 101 material, folks.
I’ve been on the diet for a week. I have more energy than ever. I feel light. I have probably lost some weight, but I have no idea how much because I don’t have a scale. My mental processes seem more clear. And yesterday I realized that the Deep Ache…is gone.
There’s still a little pain in my body, but that’s to be expected because I’m on my period. I can accept that. I am astounded. I can do a more involved yoga routine again because it doesn’t hurt to do so! Lying in bed this morning felt great, just BECAUSE my body felt good and I wasn’t lying there in pain, but because I was simply comfortable. I feel the way I’ve imagined for years that people are normally supposed to feel. That’s not all. My moods are also much more stable all of a sudden.
And I think I know the reason. This diet eliminates sugar and dairy and flour. (No white foods!) NO GLUTEN. I’ve known I was lactose intolerant for years, but there’s so much dairy in everything that it’s hard to avoid every little bit. And I think that I probably have issues with sugar the way I do with caffeine. Crashes causing moodiness. Withdrawal when I’m not getting as much. It all makes so much sense to me.
This diet allows one “day off” a week in which you can eat anything you want. Anything! A tub of ice cream even! But actually, after a week of eating this way, I wasn’t even too gung ho about eating junk on my day off. I ate a cereal bar and didn’t feel so great afterwards. Gluten. I got some Simply Natural Limeade later, had some honey in my coffee and had some baked potato chips. Had mashed potatoes with milk at dinner. I don’t feel as good right now as I think I would if I had avoided the gluten, potatoes and dairy. I think I’ll stick with fruit and fruit juice as my treat for my next day off. Maybe some coconut milk ice cream if I’m really jonesing.
I don’t know if this is going to be it. I don’t know if it’s going to be the instant cure-all that it has seemed to be so far. But I do know that it gives me a hell of a lot of hope. Now, more than ever, I have some important ideas about what it’s going to take to feel the way I need to feel in order to be healthy and productive, to follow my whims and do my soul’s work. I feel like I will be able to socialize more effectively soon, although the desire for that has fallen by the wayside in a process that deserves it’s own post. In short, why am I moving away from social networking? There are so many reasons. Stay tuned to find out.
I love Foolish People. I know where some of my hard-earned shekels are going very soon.
The Night Circus. This book is achingly beautiful, and I hope that many of you will read it. Available from booksellers on Sept. 13.