Thursday, May 16, 2013

How life is pretty sucky at the moment

Hey, remember me? Well, I think I know a lot of you on Twitter and Facebook these days, so it's not  like I've really been out of touch, right? Well, my semester leave is officially over, but of course it's summer now, so still no teaching for me. I had a fairly productive semester, submitting a big collaborative grant proposal, attending some conferences and meetings, working with grad students- I'm advising four plus serving on other committees, so I was on campus most weeks to meet with students. I still have a PhD exam tomorrow, then that should be all wrapped up. I have a lot more I hope to accomplish this summer- especially since we're not headed to Very Distant Country this year. H will go for his grant, but D and I will stay here. I have a work trip in late July which will be welcome after all that time alone with D (H will be back by then).

However, I'm quite miserable right now. D is being treated for an eating disorder. She had been starving herself during the day, overexercising (which she is still doing), and also does some binging (exercise is her form of purging). Life in our house has been hellish. We have the same conservations/arguments/discussions about food and exercise on a daily basis. D doesn't seem to believe us- she also thinks the counselor, dietitian, and doctors are all in cahoots with me, and everyone in the world is delusional about her appearance and weight but her. Everyone who meets her tells her how beautiful she is, but she thinks she is fat, ugly, and disgusting. I can't tell you how heartbreaking this is as mother. I'm so lucky to have a smart, talented, gorgeous child, but she thinks she is totally worthless. We have never made a big thing about appearance or weight in our family, so she must have headed down this road because of kids at school or media or who knows what. It doesn't help that she is one of the only non-100%-white kids at her school, so she looks different and has a different body type, but she is not overweight and never has been.

I've been told it takes a long time to get over an eating disorder, but I am feeling so hopeless about it right now. She doesn't care about ANYTHING else any more- not her friends, not reading (which she used to LOVE), not school (her grades have dropped this year). I've been trying to get her into some fun summer activities, but she only worries how that will cut into her exercise schedule. And I don't know how I'll keep her from exercising all day long once she's out of school. I have an overwhelming feeling of dread, like there is nothing to look forward to now. Things I love to do- like cooking and baking- make me worry that I'll encourage her binging. Going places or going out to eat are a struggle because she wants to know how many calories are in things and how soon we'll be home so can exercise.

Being away from campus this semester also reminded me that I don't have any close friends any more. I don't know anyone who calls me or that I call or share things with. One of D's friend's moms contacted me recently about the eating disorder since her daughter told her about it. I ran into her at the grocery store and we had a nice talk, but I can't imagine actually calling her just to talk. She's busy with two kids and her work and friends, so who am I to impose on her time? I used to think I had some good friends at work, but I haven't heard a peep from them since I'm not on campus this semester. It's fine really, since I think I shouldn't get so close to people at work who are involved in all the political crap there, anyway. The time that having no close friends becomes a problem is a day like tomorrow. H and I are on a committee together and the exam goes until after it's time to pick up D from school. I don't have anyone I can ask! I've tried arranging rides with a friend but it never seems to work out and we're not on anyone's way home either. I was going to have D ride the bus home, but with her fragile mental state, I don't want her getting off the bus alone. The plan now is for her to stay and wait and school and we'll get there as soon as we can. Sucks.
So comfy on the couch.

The only bright side is that we recently got a new cat after 15 months of being a catless home! She's almost 8 and was at a shelter near here. She's very sweet and much more friendly and outgoing than Green Eyes was. I even think H likes her better- he really didn't want another cat! I need a good blog name for her instead of her actual name.

Anyway, I'll try to blog more this summer. I'll have a research student in again this year and hope to get some research and teaching planning done. March and April were crazy with proposal writing, traveling, and grad students, but now I can't seem to do anything. I need to get organized, make a plan, set goals, and get my shit together. Summer has never been a productive time for me, but every year I try to do better.

Hope everyone out there in blogland is doing well!


Seeking Solace said...

Glad you are back to blogging, but I am so sorry that things are so hellish.

I know what D is going through. I'll email you.

Addy N. said...

Thanks, Seeking Solace! I'll watch for that. The other bad thing is that it makes it impossible for H and I to diet- and we actually need to lose to weight! Such a bummer all around.

Anonymous said...

Oh Addy, I'm so sorry for you and D. I can't imagine how hard it is for you and H and for her too. I've only ever experienced EDs from a friend/family member side. So all I offer is moral support and hugs.

Addy N. said...

Thanks, academiccautionarytale!

Arbitrista said...

Oh that's terrible. I'm really sorry that you're feeling isolated, and it's heartbreaking to hear about another young woman who's tormenting herself about body issues. I struggled with some of those issues when I was a kid myself (although not to this degree), but I can tell you that our brain has an amazing ability to distort what we see in the mirror, to turn it into something ugly when it's not. I wish you the best of luck in coping with this. Maybe if she wants to exercise, have you thought about trying to get her into a sport? Maybe being exposed to athletic girls might alter her perspective.

Oh, and this piece really seems to speak to your daughter's problem:

Addy N. said...

Thanks, Arbitrista! She did do sports this year- but only to make herself look better through working out. She had one track meet where she could barely do anything since she hadn't really eaten that day. Thanks for sharing the blog post.

MommyProf said...

How terrible - strong thoughts for you. Never been through this, so I don't really know what to say, except I think mental issues do take a lot of time to get through. I know that doesn't make it easier.

Pick her up from school early and bring her to campus with you. Her safety and peace of mind are more important than anything she will learn at school this time of year.

Addy N. said...

Thanks, MommyProf! H is going to leave early enough to pick her up, so we'll be okay. I may be in counseling myself before this is over- D is so unpleasant to be around right now. Serenity now!

Addy N. said...

Well, the exam finished early so I picked up D from school on time. She was even in a good mood for a change!

chicago foodie girl said...

I'm glad to see you're back, but so sad to hear about D. I went through years of struggle with an eating disorder when I was her age & I know how hard it is to "fix" your mindset. Many hugs to you!!

What Now? said...

So sorry to hear about the troubles with D. A friend of mine is going through the same thing right now with her daughter, and I think her advice would be that counseling for yourself is definitely a must -- as you say, this is hard on the whole family, and you need as much support as you can get.

And I hear you on the no-close-friends side as well. I have wonderful colleagues with whom I like to hang out at school, but I get lonely every summer when the realization hits me that I don't really have any non-school friends here.