Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eating Disorders

Saying that I'm having "a bad day" sounds ridiculous.  I'm not homeless, I'm not physically ill, I'm not living in Syria or North Korea and I'm not an unemployed American suffocating under a mountain of debt.  But I've been having a bad couple of days.  I've come to accept that I need help beyond my weekly therapy sessions with the Doctor Leslie.  

I've been in the care of shrinks a long time.  Before Doctor Leslie there was Doctor Paulette, then Russian trail-mix eating doctor, then Doctor Snow.  Doctor Paulette was horrible and actually left me feeling dirty and violated after our therapy sessions.  Doctor Snow was a dial-tone and talked shit about my mom's religion, and the Russian doctor would sit and munch on peanuts and raisins while I talked of how my eating habits were ruining my life.  But Doctor Leslie is damn near perfect.  That said, while my eating disorder is more manageable than it was four years ago, it's still running my life.  

It started probably when I was 7 years old.  I didn't starve myself skeletal like the girls on Dateline and 20/20 news stories, but I would jump between hoarding food and shame eating, to near-starvation.  This see-sawed for years, worsening at the age of 14 when I finally did get so skinny that people around me became concerned.  It could be assumed that I learned the behavior from my mother, who had the same problem.  

Living under the mercy of a behavioral disorder is a pain in the ass.  You can't trust yourself.  It's like you have an asshole living in your brain, telling you to skip the morning workout and reward yourself with a little extra sleep, but then berates you for the rest of the day, telling you that you're so fat- too fat to go out that night- so you might as well order enough Taco Bell for three people and sit at home on the couch fantasizing about how it's all going to get better tomorrow.  Any time I feel like it might be okay to veer off from my good behavior and relapse by throwing up, skipping meals or bingeing, I have to assume my brain asshole is manipulating me and fight it.  After a few days of constant fighting, I'm exhausted.  I try not to give in, but I often do.  I end up bargaining with myself, earning relapse time in exchange for recovery time.  If I can stay on the wagon for three days, I can fall off on day four.  

I've seriously tried everything.  I've tried meditation (pointless), medication (ugh), lots and lots of therapy, books, documentaries, detoxes, month-long isolation programs (like rehab for eating disorders, which I have loving referred to as "fat camp"), journaling, hypnosis, denial, throwing away food, juice cleanses, and the list goes on and on.  Month-long isolation left me strong enough for two solid months of recovery without relapse.  Every other method of recovery, however, barely lasts a week.

Like I said, I've come to accept that I need more help.  The one thing I haven't tried is group therapy for individuals with eating disorders.  Eating Disorders Anonymous, if you will, with a 12-step program and everything.  And I'm in luck, as Los Angeles happens to have about a zillion meetings within a 15-mile radius of my house, not that I'm surprised.  

I've been putting off attending these meetings for a long time.  For one thing, I don't believe in ANY "higher power," which is the foundation of the 12-step program.  Second, when you put several people in a circle and have them talk about their feelings, someone always starts crying.  I hate that person.  I'm not a cryer, let alone a GROUP cryer, and it's always been a challenge for me to take people who have the ability to pull out the waterworks in front of an audience seriously.  While I'll admit that this lack of empathy is MY problem, I'll also point out that this has been one of my main excuses to keep me from having to go to group counseling.

Nonetheless, since group therapy is the one thing I haven't tried, it's time.  I don't want to say I'm desperate, but I'm not far off.  At this point, I will deal with the inevitable prima donna group cryer and hope that somehow I can take something valuable from the performance and apply it into my own life and find my way to a mentally, emotionally and physically healthy pattern of existence.  It can't hurt to try.  It certainly can't make my bad days any worse.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Psychic shmychic.

When Kelly suggested I see her psychic counselor on the West side of LA to help me through some issues I'm experiencing, I laughed. I asked her if this counselor used any cold-reading techniques, which is something employed by 99.99% (probably) of supposed “psychics.” Typically, they start by saying something vague, citing an object or a name, while the customer eagerly deciphers the psychic's cryptic message.  It's kind of like a Rorschach test, only taken way too literally.  

I see a fucking bat.”

Oh, shit? Well, I'm fucking batman. That's why you see a bat. Also, my best friend just died, and he was really into bats.

Oh, well, because I see your best friend, too.”

Still, Kelly insisted that her counselor was legit, that his readings were eerily accurate and I should give him a shot.  Since I'm somewhat in crisis, I figured what the hell.  Isn't that how these things work, anyway?  The only people who see a psychic are those currently dealing with a tumultuous relationship, the death of a loved one or some miscellaneous personal disaster.  

I knew things weren't going well in the first five minutes. During that time, he stated that I wanted to be more than a hairdresser (right), but that I was not aware of this fact (wrong). He said that my mother would say things she didn't mean, and asked if she was an addict. In reality, my mother has late stage Alzheimer's Disease, and she can't speak at all.

Fifteen minutes later, things changed. Without volunteering any information about myself, he seemed to know some very accurate and personal details about me.  He even seemed to know the personalities with which I'm currently dealing, right on down to a very eerie, creepy moment where he mimicked the exact mannerisms an acquaintance of mine has when he thinks he's said something clever. How he knew that, I have no idea, but it sent chills through my body. Maybe in some respects he is a legitimate psychic. But all my sensibilities tell me that he analyzed me thoroughly enough in my own mannerisms, dress and speech to assume I probably hang out with assholes. Who knows. He also knew I was creative, but so is everyone else in Los Angeles.

Back when I was 19, I believed in all sorts of bullshit!
Hell yeah, that's a ouija board!

I'm not easy to manipulate, and I don't trust someone who tries. Yet I found myself actually wishing I could believe he had a connection to some higher plane, even when I don't believe one exists. If this man is truly “sensitive” to those around him, shouldn't he have sensed that I called his bullshit? Shouldn't he have gone to DEFCON 4 and fancied up the charade with more assumptions about the men in my life? He was right on with that shit.

Instead, I'm stuck in reality with the rest of the assholes who don't believe in this spiritism crap. I will probably always giggle a little to myself whenever my yoga instructors talk about how a particular posture or breathing pattern “alleviates us of all our future karma,” but will apparently do little with the Taco Bell I shame-ate the previous night. I will probably always roll my eyes when I smell nag champa. And the heavens that don't exist help you if you come at me with a tuning fork, because I will yank that shit out of your hand and hell NO, I won't give it back. Life is meant to be equally saturated with happiness and knowing what you want as it is with confusion, depression and feeling completely lost. It's my fucking Rorschach test, damnit, and I'll figure it out myself.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The stupid things I do.

"What did you do, this time?" 

I have a hard time nailing down a numero uno best friend.  Instead, I have bestie groups:  The best weiner-friend, the best vagina-friend, the best friend from childhood, the best long-distance friend, and the best ex-boyfriend.  Stoov* (he's weird about seeing his name on the internet) is my best weiner, and as much as he hates that title, he's carried it well for the past five years, after I stole his bestie status from another girl.  It was as bitter, awkward and dramatic as any love triangle, with her harassing both of us through threatening text messages, emails and gossip for months.  But in the end, as these stories usually go, it only brought us closer.  

This photo pretty much sums up our entire friendship.

Stoov is one of the few people in this world with whom I'm comfortable enough to be my completely stupid self.  So when something particularly embarrassing happens, I can always count on him to laugh with me AND at me.  

"Stoov, I'm at a barbecue.  And I just accidentally grabbed a guy's ass."  I said, the day of a Memorial Day party in Minneapolis, last year.

"Oh... that's embarrassing.  Why did you do that?"  Stoov asked.

"I thought he was Drew."  I responded.


"He was standing next to his wife."


"He wasn't even dressed like Drew.  He was wearing khakis."

"...uh huh..."

"And he was holding a baby."

"...Are you... drunk?"


There have been multiple occasions where I've needed Stoov to laugh at me.  In situations like the one transcribed above, you need someone to confirm that what just happened was not just humiliating, but also hilarious.  Otherwise you'll find yourself hiding out in a bathroom at some house party, running the water, just hoping that everyone will leave before you come out.  

Which reminds me.

"Stoov, I just peed in a bottle."


"There's only one bathroom in this house, and I thought someone was in there for the past hour.  I couldn't wait, anymore.  I thought about going outside."

"Why didn't you?"

"It's Uptown.  In broad daylight.  Someone would see."

"How did you maneuver that?"

"I don't even know.  I was desperate."

"What did you do with the bottle?"

"I threw it in the bathroom trash.  Under some stuff."

"I thought you said someone was in there?"

"I was wrong.  The door was just closed."

"Oh, Laura..."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Turning mental illness into mental illn-YES.

Sleep disorders are a lot like your other bad habits that you don't notice while you're single.  If no one is around you enough to freak out every time you leave your socks on the floor or chew with your mouth open, you can start to think that you're awesome, even in large doses.  But, no.  You're not.  Once you've spent an extended period of time with someone, especially living up each other's asses (like in marriage), eventually your partner will enlighten you to all the areas in which you're a fucked up person.  I can say that my husband, Drew, is actually pretty normal and easy to live with, other than the fact that he's a bit of a pack-rat and lets fly the occasional thick, wall-shaking fart.  On the other hand, I am host to a legion of demons that, much like in the movies, only come out at night.

I knew I always had trouble sleeping.  As a baby, before I could even walk, I allegedly broke out of my crib on multiple occasions and crawled to my parents' bedroom.  When I graduated to a big-girl bed (and my parents began bolting their door), I remember waking to see a woman's purple, headless torso drifting around my closet.  As an adult, I've heard countless tales of me coming up out of bed, turning on lights and pointing to some unseen monster in the room, generally on the wall or ceiling.  Sometimes I remember, most of the time I don't. 

To be specific, I suffer from the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Parasomnia
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations
  • Bruxism 
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sensitivity to light/sound (as part of inability to achieve deep sleep, a side effect of sleep apnea)
Most of the time, each of these conditions will effect me grab-bag style with combinations of two or three at a time, though they all pose a looming threat like the closet-dwelling, creepy headless torso in the back of my mind.  To make matters weirder, I can't really do prescription sleep-aids.  Ambien, Valium and Clonopin do nothing to me.  And while Ativan is a magic bullet (that I have referred to a few times in my life, after 4 days without sleep), it also gives me panic attacks.  So instead, I put together a sort of Boy Scouts survival kit.  Just as many boy scouts have learned, all the pocket knives and rope-tying badges in the world aren't going to save you if a grizzly comes out of the woods to eat you.  But having the kit can at least make you feel a little better, like you're doing something.

The only thing not pictured, here, is the quarter I use to make 
a fuckin' wish.

On an ideal night, I'll take one tablet each of my 3mg Melatonin and Gaba protein.  Then, I'll insert my mouthguard (to protect my teeth from grinding/snapping) coat my lips with a thick mask of Chapstick (as the bruxism/mouthguard combination rips my lips apart from the inside), apply the butterfly-looking Breathe Right strip (to help combat sleep apnea), then place the ear plugs in my ears and the sleep mask over my eyes (to keep the chirping of birds or lights outside from waking me, once asleep).  

It's become a ritual for me to ask Drew each morning, "Did I sleep okay?" instead of "Did you sleep well?"  Most mornings, if I follow each and every step of my nightly preparation, I'm answered with, "You flopped around like a fish," or "You snored like a buzzsaw," or "You don't remember sitting up and yelling about the giant spider?"  If I were eccentric and independently wealthy, I'd probably own a sort of deprivation-chamber for sleeping.  As it stands, however, this is the best I can do.  Aside from the occasional flopping, snoring and hypnagogic spider monsters, the kit works.  I may be the unsexiest human alive at night, but my husband has stated that there are times where you accept you have to make sacrifices for the sake of living with someone.  And marriage is all about sacrifice.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Goth music

Judging solely from my attempts to navigate the Maschine, its software and manual, Germans give complicated directions.  I'm thinking a lot of the sado-masochistic stereotypes are, indeed, based in fact.

So this is the difference between me and a lot of other 30-year-old married women.  While most of my lady peers are raising and/or planning on raising children, decorating their homes with nice things that match their other things, accumulating manageable debt and building their credit and watching The New Girl or Vampire Diaries (seriously, women my age watch that bullshit), I'm fiddling around with an SCS.4DJ and attempting to learn to mix in my spare time, along with slowly attempting to write my own goth-flavored music with the Maschine.  

It's not going so well.  At least not yet.  My ADD would rather have me scrolling through photobombs or watching videos of baby sloths in onesies or checking to see if my best vagina-friend has noticed that I posted on her Facebook wall or WRITING A FIRST BLOG ENTRY because I'd rather do anything than slam on the pads of the Machine right this second.  

For the record, I do have experience in music.  I took several years of piano lessons as a child, a year of voice lessons and coaching as an adult, and even sang in a band in Minneapolis for awhile.  I'll admit that I'm nowhere near as talented of a pianist as I was a decade ago, nor as in shape vocally as I was when I was getting regular coaching, but I need something to do, and it might as well be musical.  It beats the shit out of knitting or watching Star Trek, and I say that as someone who fucking LOVES knitting and Star Trek.

Much like the sea, this crap is a fickle mistress.

Nonetheless, it's a slow process.  Once I get the percussion and bass nailed down, then I've got to incorporate melody and synth.  Then I'm going to try and do some wordless vocal stuff.  Then I'm going to make some words happen.  That's the plan, at least. 

My goal is to be the female Weird Al of goth music.