I call it the Stress 30.
Mary Tyler Mom posted this link over on her Facebook page about the Freshman 15 that every freshmen seem to gain.
I was lucky–I managed to avoid the Freshman 15 when I started college. Actually, I was losing weight. I packed very little for my meals, and I would go to campus early in the morning and stay until late at night, so my food had to last. I drank only water. I was too cheap/poor to buy any snacks at school, so if I was hungry, I would just drink more water.
I had been hovering around 145 (on a 5’5″ frame) thanks to some stress my senior year. My mom miscarried baby #7, I had incredible, incredible depression. And through my very controlled eating, I lost about 10 lbs in a couple months.
They say that when you grow up in a controlling family, you seek to control other aspects of your life, and for me, that was eating (or lack thereof.)
Then I met a guy in sophomore year who would eventually become my husband. He started pointing out the dysfunction in my family. I kept denying it. “No, dad’s much better now!” He would reply, If he was much better, I’d hate to see the way he used to be!
He was incredibly supportive, even as I was scared of anybody who was a father. Seriously. I’d steer clear of my friends’ dads if I could help it. I was afraid of his dad, and his pastor. It took years to finally get over my irrational fear, after the father figures showed remarkable consistency and love even as I grappled my way out of my cultic family.
Through the help of friends, I gradually realized what healthy families were supposed to look like. Even families with some dysfunction–they were gads healthier than mine. So, people actually don’t walk on eggshells and tell lies and hide things from other family members? People actually *gasp* talk with each other when there’s a problem, instead of jumping off the deep end?
With love and support, I gained weight again, but still hovered around “normal.”
Then I finally reached a point when I was ready to move out. I was turning 21 soon, and I realized that it might make a healthier relationship between my dad and me if I wasn’t living in fear under him anymore. I thought it would be easier to love him from afar. I found a roomie, and as we searched for and found a good affordable place to rent, I slipped into a deep depression. I was glad to be moving out, but I could barely fill up a moving box without having to sit down and rest. I craved sweets. I started splurging on Oreos and ate them, half a package at a time. I gained 10 lbs that winter.
I finally picked up the courage to go to the doctor for antidepressants. It took some time, but gradually the dark fog cleared. I got engaged. Then I got disowned. I ate more food. The temporary high of sugar-dorphins helped.
After graduation, my husband and I moved to Chicago, last spring. We had no jobs, but we had an apartment and savings. My husband is unable to drive well, and moving here opened up a world for him where he wasn’t dependent on others for his transportation needs. I was glad for him, but I struggled with situational depression. I felt guilty for leaving my siblings behind. I missed my jobs. I missed being near his family, and my friends. I gained another 10 lbs.
Then I got a full time job with excellent benefits last fall. Money stress eased up, but I started grad school. I had to balance working FT and going to school FT. I slipped into another deep depression, and it was affecting my work this time around. I could scan some books, but then I’d have to go sit down for 15 minutes to gather up more energy, then I went to scan more books, and the cycle repeated. I ate a ton. I couldn’t go long without eating. I gained another 10 lbs.
I switched to a different antidepressant, and the burial shroud of emotions has lifted and is so far managing to stay lifted even as we enter another winter. And I picked up this running regime which is helping to keep me from sinking.
But stress is getting to me yet again. I don’t know why, but it’s probably seasonal affective on top of my depression, a big reason why I was so damn depressed in the past winters. I was starting to inch my way down using the scale. I managed to get down to 165, and sort of could fit into one of my old pants.
Then for some reason, it jumped back up to 168-170 lbs. That, coupled with the stupid stupid rain and clouds the past few days, and I feel the need to console myself with food. I’ve also been seeking refuge in food because I keep getting hit periodically by random bursts of tinnitus, unsteadiness, dizziness and nausea. More stress–just what I need, right?
I tried to go running last night even though I wasn’t feeling too good after my dizzy attack yesterday afternoon. I ran out of energy quickly thanks to subtle nausea and unsteadiness, so I had to stop.
I’m feeling lousy again today. I hate the short days, I hate commuting home in the dark. I’m finding it incredibly hard to focus on school, or my household chores, or running, or even writing for this blog, because I fear I won’t be “good enough” or because it’s all pointless in the end.
I’m going to try to push through this, and get back to my normal productive self…somehow. I want to recapture my progress with my weight…somehow. I’m going to focus on school. Maybe the damn laundry will finally be washed after three weeks of languishing.
If I have to choose between activities, I will have to put this blog on a temporary hiatus until such time I have a better day.
Don’t worry–this is “only” a pretty mild case of the slumps. It’s nothing, nothing compared to my dark times. I’m going to make it.
That puts my stress 30 into perspective, I guess. It’s my “war pounds.” Still, I want to get rid of the reminder fat around my gut as symbolic of severing ties with the past trauma.