Tuesday, August 08, 2006

opposite action -- what a feeling!

Hello, friends of the blog-o-sphere...I'm back!

Today I woke up tired and achy -- it's that time of the month, don't you know, and my discomfort (read: cramps from my knees to to my abdomen and lower back) has been getting worse over the past year or so. My mom just gave me an article about birth control pills that control your cycle so you only get your period every four months. Tho' birth control isn't really an issue since I'm dating Liz, the idea is appealing for other obvious reasons.

What's worse is that my weight apparently ballooned to 500lbs overnight.

Or that's how I felt, anyway. And my appearance didn't help. I was wearing a skirt that was too big, a t-shirt that felt too tight, and my underwear kept falling down below my belly. I didn't shower this morning (that doesn't happen too often) and I'm way overdue for a haircut, so my bangs were either covering my eyes, or I had to shove them off to either side in an unattractive way.

And when I get to work, I immediately spilled coffee on my light-blue-too-tight-feeling-t-shirt.

So I made it through most of the day, and then since I'm teaching that evening I went home to let out my dog. I also slept for a half-hour, a knock-out sleep, and woke up drooly and still weighing 500lbs.

This is where I decided to try opposite action. Opposite action is an idea from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) that basically says, when you feel one way, do the opposite of what you are feeling. I can't always do that, of course, and the simple idea of opposite action is tied to other DBT concepts and skills -- but sometimes, I can. And it was important to me that I get myself together and get out of my funk (and my house), because the class I was facilitating this evening really mattered to me. Opposite action (or DBT, for that matter) isn't about avoiding feelings, but about dealing with them effectively. And I was feeling semi-hopeless and lethargic, unattractive and just generally gross.

So I took a shower. I used my ridiculously expensive body scrub (called “Gloomaway,” it's a grapefruit-scented delight that Origins is inexplicably discontinuing). All the metaphors about showers and water and washing away and starting fresh and clean work for me -- both in positive and negative ways. When I'm stuck in depression showering can be impossibly hard. I think my inability to move from the bed to the bath is some kind of resistance to moving outward into the day, besides me being generally wiped of energy.

As a reward for today's successful completion of the shower, I sprayed myself with the indulgent perfume I purchased because Origins is discontinuing the aforementioned favorite grapefruit scent, and it was my last chance to own it ever.

I decided to wear this 1980s Flashdance tee (mine is in "Aztec teal") I bought at Target weeks ago, but hadn't yet gotten the gumption up to wear. I paired it with a tank underneath and a pair of capri jeans. Since I believe if you are going to work a theme, you should go all the way, I also put on a pair of two-inch orange-hoop earrings (that match my orange watch). I almost chickened out about wearing my leopard print slides (with three-inch wooden heels), but I ran back into the house and put them back on after opting for my more conservative but still cute light-green-leather-strapped-wedged-heeled-espadrilles.

I also put a sparkly barret in my hair to keep those darn bangs out of my eyes.

Leaving the house, I didn't really know what I looked like -- meaning, I knew that I didn't really have any perspective on my appearance, because my sense of my body was clearly distorted. But I had taken care of myself, had fun, and I was wearing two-inch-orange-hoop-earrings and leopard print heels, for goodness sake. And I kept hearing "What a Feeling," the theme song from Flashdance, in my head, which was a vast improvement from all ugly thoughts that had been residing there previously.

When I walked into the classroom, and two of the class participants (also two of my favorite people, and not just because they said what they said) exclaimed over my appearance:

“I don't want to draw attention, necessarily,” D. said, “but have you been losing weight?” I smiled and looked down, and mumbled something about trying not to think about it too much. D. understood, and clarified that I looked good, whatever it was, that I was cute before, but that something was obviously going on.

“And what about your hair?” said C.

“Oh, I just need to get it cut. I'm way overdue for a haircut.”

“No, it looks cute - did you do something to it?”

They also asked if I was seeing someone - because maybe, that accounted for the glow they sensed about me. Well, that, is of course, true. The whole being-in-love thing does brighten one's countenance.

I stopped myself from arguing with them, from telling them that far from losing weight, I now weigh 500lbs. I smiled and accepted their compliments, and marveled at the power of opposite action.

The other thing that happened while I was in the process of opposite acting was that I was able to clarify my goals for the class that evening, and come up with some ideas about how to achieve them. Perhaps most importantly, I made a mental note that this outfit is cute, and that it could be deployed at a future date when necessary.


savannahrose said...

Hey bipolar girl, you rule! Thanks so much for your honest and fun to read words, even if you are given a bit to exaggeration about your weight--- I know the feeling! I loved your description of opposite action and dressing, you inspire me to want to challenge my own limited wardrobe which I refer to as my uniform, wear it day in/day out, serving two purposes only: something to cover myself and to be invisible. Time to step out of the comfort zone and live a little! Thanks for your inspiring cues and for doing the blog! Great!!

Anonymous said...

Bath & Body Works has a lovely Lemongrass Mandarin aromatherapy line that has gottem me through a series of tough winter mornings.