"...She's got a problem, and she's gonna do something dumb." - Fountains of Wayne, "She's Got a Problem"

Mon.: Bike, 4 miles.
Tue.: Bike, 10 miles. Running, 8 miles.
Wed.: Bike, 2 miles. Walking, 2 miles.
Thu.: Bike, 8 miles. Running, 8 miles.
Fri.: Bike, 4 miles.
Sat.: Bike, 11 miles. Running, 8 miles.
Sun.: Bike, 10 miles.

I have a problem.

Actually, I have several problems, but I've found it's easier to deal with them one at a time. And that's exactly what I'm going to talk about.

The last time my depression became serious enough that I needed to be put under supervision to make sure I didn't do anything really stupid, I moved back home with my parents. The first few days or so after I got there, I laid in bed, not eating, not moving, not talking. My parents put up with it a little while, then threatened to take me to the nearest clinic and sign me in until I started acting like an adult again. Fear of that possibility... worked surprisingly well. I was not, perhaps, back to the ray of perpetual fucking sunshine I once had been, but at least I was showering on a regular basis again.

It took me a few months to come to terms with the situation. I hated the country. I hated the people. I hated everyone and everything that had caused me to be there, especially myself. Eventually my feelings tailed off into extreme dislike, at least for the first two.
We lived in a tourist town on the southern coast. From June to September, the place crawled with fat Germans, rude, sunburnt Englishmen, arrogant Spaniards, whose main occupations were sunning themselves and getting thrown out of bars at 4 in the morning. I've never been one for tanning, but I've lived next to water my entire life in one form or another. I started going for walks on the beach, from the cliffs where they started all the way to the resort hotels a few miles further on. I would wander for hours, usually around the siesta, when everyone else had gone back to their rooms to eat and sleep. Later on, in the last months before I left, I taught myself to run.

I never intended it to be a habit when I started, but soon I was walking for hours every day. I also started losing weight.

It's about this time that my image issues showed up.

I've never been a particularly thin girl. For most of high school I weighed well over 200 pounds, and that didn't change much when I got to college. But once I started walking, things did change. In the year and a half I lived in Spain, I dropped 75 pounds and 12 dress sizes. It wasn't even on purpose-- at least, not at first. Once I got over the annoyance of not having pants that fit, I realized I was starting to feel better.
This was good.
What wasn't good was that I tied in my mind it to losing weight. My physical appearance became a surrogate for all the anger, all the frustration, all the hurt I felt. Trying to control how my body looked gave me something concrete to focus on, something that could be "fixed," at least hypothetically. The fact that I can't make my legs thinner, or longer, or more attractive, is my fault. As long as I can concentrate on that, I can ignore the other things that were hurting me because I can't change them.

I wound up dropping down to 125 before I was convinced not to lean on that particular crutch anymore. I was a size 2 and weighed less than I did when I was 12 years old. I was still pretty sure that if I lost another 15 pounds, I'd finally be satisfied, even if I could already count my ribs in the mirror by then.

Constructive, huh?

And now I'm going through another, ah, tough spot. For a while I thought I might wind up going through the "unmoving statue" phase again, but it seems that my subconscious is just cutting straight to what works. For the past few weeks, I've been biking, walking, and running somewhere between 40 and 70 miles a week. I can't say for certain if I've lost weight since I haven't allowed myself to look at a scale for over a year, but I'm pretty sure it's a go. I poke and prod and stare at myself in the mirror, thinking that I would look so much better if I just lost 15 more pounds. Again.

I've volunteered to work as a nude figure model for art classes at my school this semester. I'm still trying to decide if I'm doing it out of masochism or to make me accept myself as I am. Probably the former, because if there's a better phrase for "standing in front of a group of twenty people naked, some of whom will see you in the halls on a regular basis and at least one of which will be giving you classes next semester" besides "self-torture," I'd be glad to hear it. Still, I suppose there's always hope. *wry grin*

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