Discomfort as a Skill

I've become more comfortable with being uncomfortable.  
I stumbled upon that realization the other week when thinking about why this time took, of all my attempts at real recovery, and not the other times. 
Last autumn I started working on assertiveness.  I bought a workbook, like a middle schooler.  This was initially more for my professional persona than anything else, but I noticed the benefits in other areas of my life, too.  
When I was being more assertive, it was easier for me to identify feelings instead of just reacting to them.  It's not surprising, then, that I found myself able to be less and less in my eating disorder as it stopped having reactions to immediately protect me against. 
This was all incredibly uncomfortable.  That discomfort has started to pass after many moons, though I'm not sure it'll ever be gone entirely.  
It's been supplanted by a different kind of discomfort as I've slowly gained weight since the longtime birth control fully worked itself out of my system in the spring.
In PCOS, birth control essentially protects the ovaries and balance the amounts of estrogen and androgens they produce.  When the body has less free testosterone, insulin levels stay steadier, and insulin resistance doesn't develop (at least with me).
Off birth control, that protection disappears and the ovaries (and pituitary and hypothalamus) go into overdrive producing androgens. The more androgens in your system, the more insulin your body wants to produce.  The more insulin in your system, the more androgens, etc., etc.  
Some of the super awesome signposts of high androgen levels include male pattern hair thinning (such as at the corners of the forehead), oily skin and acne, and the growth of dark, bristly hairs in places you'd prefer they not appear.  (I want electrolysis if I'm not knocked up by Christmas.  NYC medi-spa recommendations welcome.)
Those symptoms aren't fun, but they're not so, so terrible.  (Okay, if I'm being honest, the acne is really depressing.)
What's making me so entirely uncomfortable is the belly fat that has very gradually grown since about April.  That's an insulin thing, and it means I should really get my butt to a doctor to have a fasting glucose test to see if I need to be on the insulin regulation drug Metformin.  
In the meantime, though, talk about the major fear of most eating disordered people coming to fruition:  weight gain, not due to out of control diet, right on your abdomen.   It is so exquisitely uncomfortable*.  
But being that I have finally learned how to be uncomfortable, I finally have the ability to just sit with that feeling of I hate this so much when it crops up (which is still several times a day).   
About a month ago, I surprised myself by realizing that going into eating disordered behaviors (whether restricting or purging or whatever) doesn't really occur to me anymore.  At some point I took it off the table. 
Which leaves me here, with a belly growing for upsetting reasons (if the belly fat weren't upsetting enough all on its own), and the ability to sit with how much I hate it.   That may sound incredibly depressing, but I can assure you, it's liberating.  (If uncomfortable.)
Next on the docket: finding a PCP's office who actually understand whether or not they're in my HMO network, because apparently no doctor's office anywhere has fully figured out how to work with the PPACA plans offered on the state exchanges.  But that is a whoooole other post

*"But CN, when you get pregnant your belly's going to grow anyway."  Yes, obviously.  But, you know, that'll be a fetus, not just adipose tissue.

1 comment:

  1. Shannon Murphy12/08/2014 6:14 PM

    Hi Ali - I have terrible cystic acne; ironically, it is a product from my pregnancies. I didn't get post-partum depression, instead I got freak-status cystic acne that has more than left scars (of all kind). I am so empathetic to your plight, I know how it feels to look at yourself in the mirror (if you can) and be disgusted - and in pain (those cysts are so painful!!) If you ever need a sympathetic ear, I am here. And if you're feeling really low, I'll send you pictures of what mine has been. You are not alone.


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