If you think you might have an eating disorder…

If you think you might have an eating disorder, but aren’t sure, go to this website and take this questionnaire.

http://www.something-fishy.org/isf/questionnaire.php

I just did.   I printed out the results.  I’m not sure if I want to show the results to my therapist, though.  It came out looking pretty scary to me.

I met with my therapist today instead of Friday, because she’s taking Friday off.  I admitted a lot of stuff to her that I’m not sure I should have told her.   It is the ED part of me that says I should lie to her and hide my concerns and fears.  She tells me I’m playing with fire.  She told me today that she would not hospitalize me, that if it came to that she would leave it up to Dr. P (my psychiatrist) and Dr. K (my primary care physician), which is a load off my mind.  So I feel a bit more relaxed about going to see my therapist, and telling her stuff, knowing that she won’t lock me up for what I say.

I do sometimes read to my therapist little things that I write.  She does not read my blog.  This is an agreement we have.  But I read her an entry on occasion, a glimpse.

I did not lose weight over the past week.  I don’t know how I should feel about it.  If I allow myself to feel frustrated, it feels like the most natural feeling I could have, yet I feel guilty and selfish to have this feeling.  If I allow myself to feel relieved that I have maintained my weight, the ED me gets rather pissed off.

Goodnight.  It’s past my bedtime.

Dog Sweater Tips

I am not an expert.  But this is what I’ve learned from experience with dog sweaters:

First of all, not all dogs need sweaters.  The average healthy adult dog does not need a sweater.  Adult dogs can use their own body heat to stay warm, unlike humans, who require clothing.

However, if you see your dog shivering in the cold, or if your dog indicates he or she is uncomfortable, you may want to consider a sweater.  Puzzle shivers in the cold, and the way she tells me she is uncomfortable is by refusing to walk!  On several occasions we were about 50 feet from home, and she stopped walking!  I had to pick her up and carry her.  Next time, I was wiser, and put a sweater on her.

You will want to get a sweater that fits your dog.  This is very important.  An ill-fitting sweater will be uncomfortable for your dog, and therefore useless and a waste of money.  Measure your dog and shop wisely.  Puzzle’s chest is 16 inches.  She is size M.  If your dog is low to the ground, exceptionally heavy, or very thin, you will have to custom-make your sweater.   But that is the fun part!

Always supervise your dog while he or she is wearing a sweater, especially if it is the first time wearing one.  Why?  Your dog may decide to rip it off.  So you don’t think this would be the worst thing?  Think again: You don’t want your dog ingesting the yarn.  This could be very serious.  (If your dog eats yarn, or has yarn coming out of his or her anus, call a vet immediately!  Don’t try to remove it yourself!)  So be very careful when your dog wears his or her sweater for the first time especially.  Do not leave your dog crated with a sweater on.  In fact, I would suggest taking the sweater off when you come inside from your walk.

I would recommend wool.  Why?  It is water-repellent, so it will keep your dog dry in the wettest wintry conditions.  Also, wool will break down in the digestive system if tiny fibers are ingested (again, call your vet immediately if your dog eats yarn!).  I use a wool sweater for Puzzle in the rain.  Puzzle is a Schnoodle.  Her fur is not water-repellent like a Labrador Retriever’s coat is, nor is it double-coated like the Sheltie’s.  If she gets wet, the water will soak through to her skin and tangle her little Schnoodle fur.  She also has very thin fur.  You can actually see her skin under her coat.  I find a wool sweater keeps Puzzle dry; only the sweater gets wet.  I take the sweater off immediately when we get inside.  An alternative is a doggie raincoat, but I have never seen one that seemed suitable for Puzzle.

If you want to make a dog sweater yourself, great!  A handmade sweater is the best kind because it will be custom fit for your dog.  Google “dog sweater patterns” and you’ll come up with some, or click on “dog sweaters” in my tags (over in the right-hand column of this page) and you’ll come up with some of my photos of Puzzle’s sweaters and patterns.   I usually don’t use a pattern.  I make it up as I go along.

Happy knitting!  And to your dog: Happy Wardrobe!

Knitting: Toilet Roll Hats

I took a break from writing and decided to knit for a day, and instead of a dog sweater, I knitted a hat for a toilet paper roll!

I’ve got this wonderful book that I would highly recommend: Toilet Roll Covers by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer.  You can order it from www.knitpicks.com.  Order it when knitpicks is having a sale on books and you’ll get a good price.  In the book are these amazing patterns for covers you can put on toilet paper rolls that are decorative and amusing, and will keep your bathroom from looking drab.  Your guests will be amazed!

A toilet roll cover is actually a hat in miniature; it is 15 inches around, and 4-3/8 inches high.  The book has many elaborate and creative patterns, including animal patterns, and even an Aran pattern.  I invented my own, very simple patterns.  Here’s the one I did yesterday:

Toilet hat 1

See the ribbing on the bottom?  After I knitted the hat, I found that it was too short.  I crocheted a strip of faux ribbing and sewed it onto the bottom of the hat.

Here are the other hats I’ve done:

Other 3 toilet hats

The hat on top, as well as the one I did yesterday, were done with Lion Brand yarn, the stuff called Vanna’s Choice.  Although it is labeled worsted weight, I find that it is a bit heavy, but I do prefer heavy yarns.  It knits up nicely a 4 st/inch.  I used a size 8 circular needle, 60 stitches around=15 inches.  I found that any more stitches per inch was too dense for my taste.  The gray and white hat is done with Red Heart yarn.  I had fun with the cable stitching, though it certainly was time consuming!  The furry hat was done with “fun fur.”  I believe that this is also a Red Heart yarn.  I find it a difficult yarn to handle, though some people think otherwise.  The tops of the hats can be done as a flat piece, or as a circle progressing inward,  or progressing outward from the center.  The sides of the hat can be done on straight needles as well, going around the roll, for 15 inches, instead of up, and fastening the ends together.

The neat thing about these mini-hats is that they can be done in a day.   You will find a use for those leftover scraps of yarn from those dog sweaters you’ve made; in fact, one of those hats I made matches one of Puzzle’s sweaters!  I find that a short project like this is a real boost to my self-esteem.  I feel a sense of accomplishment right away.   These hats make great gifts, and are a good project for a beginner knitter.

My last–and hopefully VERY last–hospitalization

My last hospitalization ended March 20, 2006.  I plan to stay out of the hospital for good.

When I left the hospital, the doctors and social workers told me that I would not make it.  They told me that I needed to be in a mental health day program.  They told me that I should join a knitting club for “structure.”  They told me that I would probably end up back in the hospital right away if I did not heed their instructions.

I paid no attention to them.  I have succeeded in staying out of the hospital, contrary to their expectations.

Now, my therapist tells me that if my weight continues to drop, I am facing  the possibility of another hospitalization.

I have no intentions of ever ending up in one of those places again.  Nor do I plan to attend another day treatment program–ever.

If I were to be hospitalized, I would truly feel embarrassed.  It would be as if my degree were erased.

But no one will take my degree away from me–not those people at the hospital, not my therapist or psychiatrist, not my primary care physician, nobody!

I picture those doctors and social workers, one social worker in particular, D., shaking her head, her hands on her hips, her brow furrowed, cackling at me, “Told you so.”

I picture myself calling my mother on the phone from the hospital, her condescending voice, “Aw, so graduating was too much for you, eh?”

I imagine my own voice, inside my head, upon seeing a can of Ensure, served to me at the hospital because I have refused yet another meal, saying, “Calories! Calories!”

I imagine all this, and then I see myself less than a month from now, on an airplane, knitting Puzzle’s sweater, full of anticipation.  I see myself on the bus the next day, excited to be entering the beautiful town of Port Townsend, Washington.  That afternoon and evening, I’ll be seeing all my classmates again, and the faculty, catching up on how everyone’s semester went, exchanging hugs, and excitement, and tears.   And then the reading and graduation.  What a joyous occasion.  No one can take that away from me.  No one.

Anorexia and Knitting

I received this in my e-mail today.

Article from: www.EDReferral.com

Managing Anxiety in Eating Disorders with Knitting.

OBJECTIVE: Recovery from anorexia nervosa (AN) is often confounded by intrusive, anxious preoccupations with control of eating, weight and shape. These are distressing and represent a potential barrier to psychological change. Theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that performing a concurrent visuospatial task reduces the emotional intensity of distressing images. We assessed whether the visuospatial task of knitting influences the anxious preoccupation experienced by inpatients with AN.

METHOD: Prospective interventional cohort. SUBJECTS: Thirty-eight women with AN admitted to a specialized eating disorder unit.

INTERVENTION: All subjects were given knitting lessons and free access to supplies.

MEASURE: Subjects were asked to report the qualitative effects of knitting on their psychological state using a self-report questionnaire.

RESULTS: Patients reported a subjective reduction in anxious preoccupation when knitting. In particular, 28/38 (74%) reported it lessened the intensity of their fears and thoughts and cleared their minds of eating disorder preoccupations, 28/38 (74%) reported it had a calming and therapeutic effect and 20/38 (53%) reported it provided satisfaction, pride and a sense of accomplishment.

DISCUSSION: This preliminary data suggests that knitting may benefit inpatients with eating disorders by reducing their anxious preoccupations about eating, weight and shape control. The specificity of this effect is yet to be determined. This preliminary outcome requires further controlled study in AN subjects. From a clinical perspective, knitting is inexpensive, easily learned, can continue during social interaction, and can provide a sense of accomplishment. The theoretical and empirical rationale for this observation, and implications for deriving alternative strategies to augment treatment in AN, are discussed.

Source: Eat Weight Disord. 2009 Mar;14(1):e1-5.

Manuscript in hard copy

Today I picked up my manuscript at Staples and brought it home.  I inspected it briefly, rearranged the documents somewhat, and then brought it to UPS to have it shipped out to Goddard College in Port Townsend, WA.

When I picked it up at Staples, I felt like I was picking up a precious child at the airport.  That was how it felt.  I took my baby home, wrapped in plastic bags so she wouldn’t get wet.  It wasn’t actually raining, but I wanted to be extra certain that she’d be safe.

Once home, I took everything off my coffee table and wiped it down, then placed the special box on the table.  I got Puzzle out of the way so that her little wet nose wouldn’t get on the papers.  Then, I opened the box.

Inside wasn’t a child at all, but ashes.  This manuscript, a work that I had made myself, reminded me of my dogs’ ashes.  Here was the work of five and a half years in one box, 387 pages.  And all this was ashes, of no value, but priceless.  I nearly wept.

I rearranged the pages, careful not to disturb them too much.  I to arrange my creative thesis first, then my long critical paper, followed by my process paper, then my annotated bibliography, teaching essay, and general bibliography, all framed by the title page, table of contents, and separator pages.  Once these were in order, I gingerly placed the papers back into their urn box, and closed the lid.

I wrapped the box back into plastic bags, then brought it to the UPS store.  Still, the rain held off.  Here, I said goodbye to my baby, and watched as the fellow behind the counter carried her into the back room, and out of view.

And as I walked home, I imagined the package in a big UPS truck, traveling across the miles and miles of highway of this great country, through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and beyond, until it finally reaches Goddard College, in the remote town of Port Townsend, Washington.  Joyce Gustafson, dressed in a gray turtleneck, receives the package, thanks the driver, and brings the package into the tiny, disorganized office I have grown to love.   Erin Fristad is sitting at her desk, munching on hummus and tabouli salad.

“Erin,” says Joyce, “it’s Julie Greene’s thesis.”

“Well, how about that,” says Erin.

Anorexia dissected

There are two inner “me’s” I am dealing with:

The first: My refusal to eat makes this “me” powerful, gives me control, keeps me at the steering wheel.  I can deny hunger!  I can deny nature!  I can deny my body itself!

The second: This “me” wants to be little, to fade away, be sick and shrivel and die.

This contradiction keeps the inner rat running on its exercise wheel.  No wonder I am burnt out.  No wonder I can’t concentrate.  No wonder I am confused.

The real me is fighting off these inner demons, and it’s not easy.

I really need help with this.

After the doctor’s

As it turned out yesterday, it wasn’t Dr K who weighed me, as she was called away to one of the units.  Dr S weighed me.  He did things a little differently.  He didn’t even ask me to remove my jacket or take anything out of my pockets!  So I weighed (I checked this on my scale when I got home) 1.2 pounds less than I would have weighed if Dr K had weighed me.

Now, I thought this was just grand–at first.  I thought I’d gotten myself off the hook somehow.  So I was basking in this for a while, and then I realized this: according to Dr S, I’d lost 7-1/2 pounds.  If Dr K had weighed me, it would have been 8-1/2.  Is there that much difference?  The point is, I lost a lot. And next time I’m weighed–there will be a next time–it will appear that I’ve lost even more.

Over whose eyes have I pulled the wool?  Who am I trying to kid?  I got home and didn’t eat.  I ate less yesterday than usual, and I’ve barely eaten today.  Why am I doing this to myself?  It is almost as if I am in a race against time.  Like something inside me desperately doesn’t want to make it to graduation–why?  In every way, I desperately do want to go to graduation, to do all the things that I plan to do while there.  I’ve done most of my packing already.  My thesis is due to be printed out by tomorrow at 7:30am.  I’ve purchased clothes for this occasion.  I’ve done all the preparations–now this!

How can I stop this madness?

The next morning

You wouldn’t believe how nervous I am.  I got on the scale this morning and I hadn’t gained a speck.  Nilch.  Besides, you can’t fool Dr. K, anyway.  I have reserved the cab for 10:45.  I’ve decided to get my thesis printed out ASAP, before Friday, at any rate, and shipped out to Port Townsend right away, just in case something yucky happens.  I will emphasize to Dr. K that if I don’t show up for graduation, I won’t graduate, period.  I feel like my treatment team is against me, not working for me, and that this is all a big game.