Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chemistry Experiments

As of a week ago, I've gone off wheat to see if it will make me feel better (and make it easier for me to lose weight). So far, so good. I have noticeably less joint pain, which is a benefit two other friends have reported; one thought she'd have to have a hip replacement, but when she gave up wheat, the pain disappeared completely. I wouldn't call my improvement that dramatic, but I'll take what I can get!

So far, eating wheat-free has been less of a challenge than I'd have anticipated. We've located corn cereal and corn and rice pasta, and instead of eating my tuna salad on bread, I just eat it with a fork out of a tupperware container. We'll see how I fare in Honolulu -- we're leaving tomorrow! -- but since there's a lot of Asian cuisine there, I should be able to go the rice route without any trouble.

Meanwhile, last week I talked to my psychiatrist about the medication issue, which is, in a nutshell: On meds, I'm more socially comfortable and people seem more comfortable around me. But I don't write as much or as well. Off meds, I write much better, but my social relationships become more difficult. My shrink, who firmly believes I have to be on meds for the rest of my life -- even though I haven't been on them for most of my life -- said, "Okay, so this is what you have to figure out. Do you want to live in the safe box and have more friends, or do you want to be a passionate artist at the price of pushing some people away?"

Gary immediately said, "Passionate artist." Our friends Katharine and Jim immediately said, "Passionate artist." Actually, Jim didn't say that right away, but he asked me if I was on or off meds when I wrote The Necessary Beggar, and when I said I was off, he immediately said, "Then go off."

I made them all promise that they'll either put up with me when I'm difficult, or tell me if I've become too difficult to put up with, so I can go back on. I'm not doing this until after the end of the semester, though, and probably not until after our Alaska cruise.

I've been hearing a lot of "You shouldn't care what anyone else thinks of you," but frankly, I think that's hypocritical b.s. We're social animals: we're designed to care what others think of us, and none of us can function in jobs or families or congregations without paying at least nominal attention to the issue. There's been all kinds of research about how people fear rejection more than death, and about how rejection causes literal biological pain and takes a toll on health.

I vividly -- and painfully -- remember my old therapist in NYC, the one who was always pushing me to express my feelings, then turning around and telling me that I had to learn to be more contained. Hello! Can you say mixed messages?

In many ways, this has been the central conflict of my life. When I express authentic emotion, people tell me I'm inappropriate; when I express appropriate emotion, they tell me I'm inauthentic.


My current plan is to be very selective about whose opinions I buy into. Gary, Jim, Katharine, other close friends, and my sister will be my thermometers. As long as they aren't running screaming, I'll trust that I'm doing okay.

In other news:

We leave for Honolulu tomorrow! Yes, I already said that, but I like saying it.

The new bag arrived and I like it a lot, but the straps are a bit thin, so I've ordered some pads to make them more comfortable. With luck, those will arrive today, so I'll have them for the trip.

The new goggles came and are splendid.

I woke up this morning to find snow outside, although only a little.

Have I mentioned that we leave for Honolulu tomorrow?


  1. Maybe you should have your Vitamin D level checked. Apparently deficiency is rampant, and has all kinds of vague symptoms like pain and fatigue. I know I'm checking it a whole lot more of late.

  2. Hi, Lucy! It's been checked, and was a little low; I've been on a supplement for months now. But thanks for the suggestion!

  3. You did mention, and good for you. Have a wonderful time.

  4. Bon voyage, Susan! Have a great time in Hawaii! I'll be looking forward to the stories and pictures you bring back!

    Middle ground on caring what others think about you or not might be the best option. First and foremost, be yourself! That person is a unique, creative, intelligent, lovely, caring person who should be liked by everyone, but some people have no taste. :-)

    Hugs & Blessings!

  5. Anonymous12:39 PM

    the challenge between what feels authentic (my own voice, which i have worked so hard to find) and what others expect (what is comfortable for them, so they label it as 'appropriate') is a real one for me, too..not sure i have any answers for you, tho.
    for me the depression is strong enuf that i do need to be on meds the rest of my life, going off is not an option. and there is no indication that i function better when off meds, in any sphere at all. good luck to you in finding the path that works for you.


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