Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The post about some very personal stuff that's hard to write about

Left: Around 300 pounds.
Right: Around 157 pounds.
And yeah, that's a sweat mark in my pit. Made me anxious to have my picture taken.


  • This is going to be a difficult post for me to write. I have been soul searching this week. Trying to figure out who I am. Where I fit in. I have finally had to admit some things to myself and my husband that I have been bottling up for months. I am depressed. Again. I was diagnosed with depression when I was in university in the mid '90's. I took anti-depressants for a couple of years and was able to eventually stop taking them. This happened following a traumatic event in  my life. I also had to attend counselling for six months. I remember taking them again for a short time around 2004 (due to my mother's death), but I haven't been on anything since. 
  • I had a panic attack during my long run on Sunday and I felt like my chest was tight and my throat was closing up. I was able to control it, but it did scare me. And although I completed the run, I felt defeated. 
  • I can't sleep at night. Although I wake up super early for long runs 3 days a week, I wake up at 5 am regardless of what day it is. That is because I am anxious. My anxiety sometimes stays with me all day long. The anxiety prevents me from eating proper meals too. Eating enough to keep fueled during my training has been a struggle. I have never had to force myself to eat in my life. And even clients have commented that I am not eating much.
  • Then there is the daily battle I have with my self image. I know that everyone around me thinks I look great. There is usually one time a day where I think I look good. But that normally goes away the minute I leave my house. All day I am consumed with the negative thoughts of what I picture myself to look like in my head. You see that photo above left? I found it yesterday while looking through some old pictures and it was hard for me to see. I don't know if you've noticed that I don't often share pictures of myself sideways. That is because I don't like the way I look from the side. In my mind I have back fat, and a protruding stomach. 
  • I know these thoughts are unfounded, but I have lived in a morbidly obese body the majority of my life. It's hard for me to forget and let go of how I looked for most of my life.  I tried to explain this to my husband today and the best I could come up with was that although I felt physically bad when I was obese, I was emotionally comfortable in that body because it was all I had ever known. My new body is very foreign to me. And I can't shake the images of my formerly obese self. I'm not used to my smaller body. And although I fit easily into size 8 clothing, I still picture myself as being obese most of the time. 
  • I realized today that I haven't been happy in a real long time. I actually can't remember the last time I was happy. I know that depression started to creep back into my life in the fall after I broke my ankle. I lost a lot of confidence as a runner. I still haven't regained the confidence I used to have. I seem to be struggling a lot with my runs lately. I have 4.5 weeks until I run the Bay and I'm already super anxious about it. 
  • I was trying to explain to my husband that it doesn't matter how much people tell me I look good, I can't accept that compliment in my head. I always thank them for their kind words, but I secretly question their sincerity. Again, very unjustified.  No rhyme or reason for me to think that everyone around me is disingenuous. 
  • So now what? I can't keep going on like this. I am at a pretty big low in my life. And I need to work on myself. Tomorrow morning I'm going to make an appointment to see my doctor to discuss medication and I am going to get myself into therapy. I haven't been in therapy for 17 years. It makes me anxious for sure. But the way I'm feeling is affecting my day to day life. It's going to start affecting my son. Maybe it already has. I know I'm not the fun mom I used to be. 
  • I am also going to take a bit of a social media break. I'm still going to write my blog three days a week and post it to my social media outlets, but I'm not going to be on Twitter very often and I may be quite absent from Instagram. I'll still try to keep some recipe and inspirational quotes going on my Facebook page, but I'm going to stay off of my personal home feed. I need to take some time to find myself and focus on my family. 
  • Thank you for all your on-going support. My blog family has always been such an amazing outlet for me and you are all so kind and generous with your compliments. Especially when I'm struggling with myself. Unless you have had body issues, it's hard to understand the thoughts I struggle with. My husband said this to me tonight: "Don't you feel amazing? This amazing thing you have done for our son and your health?" Absolutely!  But this is about my self image. How I feel inside. Emotionally. Not how I feel physically. Physically I feel great. Emotionally I feel devastated. I feel broken and damaged. I need to become the healthy, strong woman others see me as. Right now I feel like a fraud.  It's exhausting.

32 comments:

  1. Leigh, glad you are taking time off and talking to someone. You are very, very smart. :) Take as much time as you need. You've had a total body transformation. I've heard it said that the mind can take awhile to catch up. Hugs to you and here's to finding your happy again. Karen P.

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  2. I absolutely feel you on so many of those points... I'm still struggling with body image, depression, grief and other food and weight related issues. Admitting it and seeking help is the best thing we can do to start healing.

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  3. Aww! Leigh! Broke y heart to read all this!! I hope you do find some peaceful thoughts! Sending good vibes your way!

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  4. My best wishes to you as you take these steps toward self-care. I think that many of us who deal with overweight issues have some of the same problems that you describe. I have had many of your issues, including anxiety attacks when I was a much younger person. In fact, I think that the weight gain that I experienced was primarily due to an underlying anxiety disorder. Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. You have taken the first steps to deal with them. It takes a brave person to acknowledge that something is not right and then move forward.

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  5. Thank you for your honesty Leigh - those of us who are still on the journey imagine that life will be great when the weight is lost, so it is good to hear that while some things are fixed, some still need work. Good luck for the work you are about to do. Kia Kaha (stand strong).

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  6. Take all the time you need, I wish you all the best in your therapy.

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  7. I know so many people going through what you are going through and I have to wonder why so many ?? What is it that is doing this to women? This is so common and I'm sure your doctor will have heard it over and over. Of course, this does not diminish how you feel but I look at your work schedule - driving for hours a day alone must be stressful.

    Take some time for yourself and yes, do get some help. I do believe it takes a long time to get used to a new body and deep down there is also probably the fear that the old body will come back. I won't say I understand because really, I don't. I know I had my own issues when I was younger and life is not perfect now but I think I accept more the things I can't change :) Keep blogging... and good luck xx

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  8. Hugs to you as you put one foot in front of the other. I felt the same exact way about seeing a therapist again after so many years. I also ended up going on medication, but the combination of both has really helped me get to levels of honesty I have needed to get to. I completely identify with being comfortable in a larger body ... not what we want but comfy no less. You really do look wonderful and have worked so hard to get there. I genuinely get so much inspiration from you!

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  9. I think you are making sound choices; to see your doctor AND a therapist. It can only lead to better things for you and your psyche. I'm so sorry you are going through this. I know how debilitating it can be. I hope you heal and find some peace and happiness soon. I love you!

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  10. (((( Leigh)))) ... That's a big hug from me! It doesn't matter how amazing you look (and you do) if you don't FEEL amazing. I have never been depressed but my husband battles with it and while things are good right now, there have been times it was very hard ... on both of us. For me it's difficult knowing he's deeply unhappy and there's nothing I can do to help. Please do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and feel good in your own beautiful new body. You deserve much happiness and I pray you find it.

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  11. Oh Leigh, my heart goes out to you (mostly because everything you say is true of me too so I do 'get' it, my friend). You are no fraud, you ARE amazing and you are (whether you see it or not) a fantastic inspiration and great role model.

    I think it's hard for others who haven't lived with depression to understand that it isn't just feeling a bit 'down in the dumps' but a daily, minute-to-minute battle with oneself to project 'normal' when what's going on inside is anything but. It really does affect every part of life, and it's something I know I hate dealing with because it makes me feel out of control, a failure and a big fat liar.

    I do hope that therapy will help you - and meds if need be. Counselling did help me (a lot, over time) not to descend into the downward spirals of the past, but I guess my black dog is a lifelong companion I just need to find ways to deal with.

    I wish you luck, my dear, and send hugs from afar. Be strong and brave (as you always are), but more importantly, hope you find a path to be happy.

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  12. I've never read about your spiritual life. We are a three-legged stool - physical, emotional, spiritual - the stool won't stand if one of the legs is weak. There is unconditional love with Jesus Christ and strength for carrying the load. I will pray for you by name. You pray too.

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  13. Its Thomo74 here.
    maybe you shouldn't try and shake off those old images if when you were bigger. It was and is part of who you are and were. I get embarrassed when I see pics of myself, not because of how I felt/looked to me but how others must have perceived me. Remember, I liked being fat! It's this perception or how we believe others see us that is our downfall. I hope even by writing your blog it goes some way in helping you. X

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  14. Leigh you have done so much for so many people myself included ..when I struggled at first with the Poon lifestyle your blogs kept me going, but do understand the struggle with self image ..having some issues with this as well ..wish you well always

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  15. I wish you would check how ketosis may work for your mental health. Many people who eat a low-carbohydrate diet follow it to control their depression, anxiety, mood problems.http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201104/your-brain-ketones I understand you follow a paleo diet, but it is not the same as being in ketosis.

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  16. Leigh, you are truly an amazing woman! I totally understand. That disconnect can be very frightening. I am there now too. I have a feeling you will feel much lightness after your Doctors appoiintment and then starting therapy.

    Much love to you babe! xo

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  17. You are definitely not a fraud. Please take care of yourself and take all the time you need. Big hugs!

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  18. Leigh, Depression and anxiety is a struggle for lots of people myself included. Having tools can help you each time you go through this type of "low". I also have a child with anxiety and we just went through a six week cognitive behavioral therapy group program and he is making leaps and bounds. Now its my turn, since I need coping strategies as having a child with anxiety when you yourself has is can be very overwhelming.Maybe discuss this as an option to your Dr. he/she may be able to point you in the right direction. It sounds as though the negative self talk takes you in the wrong direction and maybe some CBT will help change that self talk. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Know you are not along though that so many people out there are exactly where you are.

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  19. I am sorry you are going through that. I can relate to not truly feeling happy in a long time. Best wishes to you!

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  20. Glad you will be getting some help. You've been through a lot of changes in the past few years and counselling not only helps with body issues but with the grief that you mention from time to time.
    No worries about taking a break from social media, we all understand you have to put yourself and your family first. Hugs xox

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  21. Hi Leigh
    Reading through the various comments there is so much love and support coming through for you.
    I really liked what Gwen said so I'm repeating it with my good wishes too.
    "I hope you heal and find some peace and happiness soon"

    Take Care

    All the best Jan

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  22. I'm so sorry you are going through such a difficult time. I hope you find a therapist you truly connect with - you are so honest, insightful, and hard working I think if you find that right person it will be incredibly helpful to you. You are a great researcher, so I'm sure you'll find the right support for yourself. You aren't a hypocrite, this is another example of you being very honest in your experience as it unfolds and sharing how you are taking care of yourself in a responsible way. Wishing you all the very best.

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  23. WOW girl: I had no idea!!
    I will be praying for you!!!! I wish you all the best!!! Leiza S.

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  24. You've done a tremendous job working on your physical self image and sharing it all along the way. You should be very proud of that. As a runner I know how difficult every step can be. And why I commend you more for the discipline to reclaim your body. Yes, some things we cannot understand such as how you feel emotionally about your own body and coping with this new body. Be strong. Take the time you need to get emotionally well. Therapy and medicine is definitely a good start and wish you all the best. Happy you have a supportive husband.

    Be well.
    @GiftedPrude (twitter)

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  25. Since both my daughters have problems with anxiety and sometimes depression, I've learned that dealing with these issues is very important. I hope you find a great therapist and start doing better very soon. Hugs. :)

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  26. The fact that you are able to verbalize your emotional being so well means you are already on the right path. I would suggest a Reiki treatment to realign your chakras as another good place to start getting things back in "tune". Where do you live?

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  27. I am certainly going to miss your post. Although I receive many a day, yours never goes unread. But, with that being said, you have to take care of yourself and only "you" can make a decision as to the path you need to take. I applaud you in all that you have accomplished, you look wonderful and I wish I could run like you do. You know I am kind of in the same boat as you in some ways, I had a child out of wedlock 42 years ago from a 1 time encounter and I had a problem of forgiving myself. Knowing I was not perfect and God had already forgave me, why could I not forgive myself? I battle this all the time and I think this has contributed to my being overweight. Anyway, I love your post and I wish you all the best. You are a beautiful spirit and woman, may God bless you.

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  28. Leigh, I'm sorry to hear you have been feeling this way, for a long time. It's hard to acknowledge sometimes when you are slipping backwards again into depression. When does a few repeated thoughts become a daily constant pattern? It's only in hindsight do we notice that it's been going for a lot longer than we realised.

    I'm proud to hear though that you are acknowledging it, because that's the first step in getting treated. Doctor, therapist, keeping aware of it are all a good strategy to start.

    I wish there was some magic words that I could tell you to make your anxiety go away, but we all know it doesn't work like that. That needs to come from within. Just be aware that we all think you are awesome, as an athlete and as a mum and as a role model. We all want the best for you.

    Wishing you the best in your recovery, no faster than it needs to happen.

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  29. Take as much time as you need. Leigh, I think you're gorgeous. Xoxo. ❤️❤️

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  30. It takes a strong person to admit they need help and actually do things to find it. You are strong. Please know that you are surrounded virtually by people that respect you and admire you....but most of all support you in your journey.

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  31. I can relate to this blog post big time! I have been struggling with the same body image issues lately. I felt like emotionally I was a blank canvas and I was using my bigger body as a veil to cover myself. I was afraid to have an opinion and live my life to the fullest. Now that I have lost over 100 lbs I also am dealing with how I view myself. I recently had to stop weighing myself. This is a big deal for me because I have been doing so every Sunday for the past 3 years. For some reason I can't get the number out of my head and it causes me to be negative. That effected my workouts and it would spiral to me being more negative. Thanks for writing your experience it truly helps me not feel so alone. =)

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  32. I am SO SO sorry you are struggling so much. KNow that I'm praying for you, and wish I could reach through this monitor and give you lots of big ole hugs throughout the day.

    (p.s., when you get a chance, you need to update your blogroll for me for my new url, to stay up to date; http://www.againstthegrain.us/ ) (thanks)

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