The basics are still the same. I'm lonely, isolated, depressed, and wish to die, but at present am waiting for death rather than actively seeking it out. I'm still trying to attain the focus and energy to pull it off in a way that is 'right' for me. I'm still trying to understand what unconscious blocks might be in place. I have only left the house a few times in the last (almost) 4 years, and my passport expired almost 3 years ago.

GK and I have not gone back to being a couple. We remain friends. He is shy, so if anyone out there is interested, please contact him. As for me, I am open to discussion, questions, conversation, with no expectations. Sometimes it is helpful for me to have a topic to zero in on for a while, and if I can offer any input or help, that's a bonus.

In 2012, my weight has been higher than in 2011. Also, in 2012, so far I have logged less than 70 hours of exercise, while in 2011 I had logged approximately 280 hours by the end of the year. Because of the amount I exercised in 2011, it might take less effort to maintain a certain level of fitness, but when it comes to my body type, in 2012 I feel like I'm in the frumpy category. I don't know. I've been reading too many online comments lately, and people are absolutely brutal. Will I ever turn things around again? It seems there is a certain kind of pressure on women to get photos out there that demonstrate how they have bounced back from weight gain, having a baby, or a movie role which required them to adopt an unglamorous look. They have to prove they've still 'got it'. As far as the whole, I don't really know how others would perceive me, or how old I look or seem in person. It's impossible to be objective. But, according to what I've read about all the various ways to turn people off, and the lack of response to my website, I suppose I should take the hint that I'm turning everyone off.

Anyway. I can't even remember the last time I had a b/p episode. It's been a long time. And it's not that I am constantly fighting the urge and winning, it's that there's been a shift or a transfer. I don't have the inclination to binge on food. Instead, I drink. Years ago, this would not have been possible, because bulimic behaviour was my primary addictive behaviour and although once in a while I binge drank, most of the time I didn't really want to.

Also, on hangover days in the past I often had the urge to b/p, but somehow that changed. Hangover days are actually pretty manageable with water, coffee, and meals at regular intervals. It may sound odd, but I often have the sense of having a very restful sleep.

I don't crave fast food. This has changed slowly, and I suppose is kind of interesting. It's been more than a year since I've had the things I used to break down and binge on (like cheeseburgers, fries, pizzas, and various kinds of junk foods). I will often make pizzas myself, but I don't binge on them. I very rarely eat meat. I regularly eat tomatoes, sweet potatoes, leeks, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, baby spinach. I also eat pears, apples, sometimes avocadoes and bananas. For a long time, I very rarely ate vegetables, and even fruit intake was lower. I would not describe myself as healthy, or having a balanced diet or approach to exercise, but there have definitely been changes.

In the last two years I have been cooking more, and trying to match wine with food. So while I do drink to excess, part of the experience is to have a specially prepared meal with wine.

I shouldn't underplay the significance of this. It is a definite change. Since the age of 13, I have had a very messed up relationship with food, and now, after all this time food isn't the main problem. What that perhaps says is that food was the only way I knew how to express the underlying problem, which is still with me.

I think it would be a mistake to think that at any time I could have just tried to accept my weight and the problem would have been solved. The feeling of compulsion and lack of control was very ingrained. Even now, I don't think it's a 'success' to accept a higher weight if I also accept the idea it means I will never have sex again, or if the underlying issue, the wish for death is still with me every day.

It could be that all the writing I have done, thinking, experiencing I have done over the years has changed something. But, it also seems related to life experience, in the sense that both food and alcohol were substitutes for life experiences I wanted but that were out of my reach. The fact that both activities push those life experiences further out of reach while compensating for them perhaps symbolizes or represents the initial conflict in some way, the thing that I can't resolve, or that there is no resolution for.

And, as I said, what has occurred is a transfer. Instead of eating large amounts of food and vomiting, I drink large amounts of alcohol. By any standard, I am a heavy drinker. Stopping drinking in itself is not the answer. I would need something to replace it with, and something to look forward to. I still give up drinking for periods of time, but I always have the idea that this is only temporary. I do it mainly when I am trying to lose weight.

Does the photo at the top of this page look 'natural'? It is not more natural than other photos on this site which are more extreme. I am wearing a wig in the photo. What I am wondering is if it is possible to challenge people's ideas of what the 'truth' is. We seem to want to believe in the truth of photos.

I will also comment on perimenopause, because this is still a topic that I don't see people discuss all that much. Most people don't know when menopause occurs, or what it means. I have read that the average age of menopause is 51 (I'm 46) and that what that means is at that time all periods have stopped for one year. Up until that time, periods may be increasingly irregular, and there may be a variety of symptoms. These symptoms vary from woman to woman, including when it comes to severity and age of onset.

The idea of some of the symptoms, including mood swings and severe depression, as well as weight gain and some sexually related symptoms, like inability to produce lubrication, thinning of vaginal tissue, I admit were/are pretty scary to me. I've already been depressed for so long, how on earth would I deal with another level of depression, as well as more and more signs that I'm sexually undesirable?

I also expected worse PMS. Because so few people talk about perimenopause, I have decided to try to write down some of what I personally have experienced.

So far, I haven't noticed worse depression (that doesn't mean my depression doesn't remain severe), or increased trouble with periods, but there have been some changes with my period, and sometimes I experience breast tenderness for what seems like a significant portion of the month. For most of my life, including the years when I was on the pill, I have had a 28-day cycle, however, in recent years, sometimes it is now a 26-day cycle. Also, during times when I exercise strenuously, I sometimes notice that at the end of my period, spotting drags on past the 7 day mark - usually at the very end of my period within the last couple of days there has always been a bit of brownish blood, but now during times of heavy exercise, this spotting can continue for days after it would normally have stopped.

On the pill my periods were lighter, and when I stopped taking it (late 2008) they went back to 'normal'. At present they are still pretty normal. But, in June 2012, I experienced a 'weird' period. It started about 10 days or so early, and was unlike any period I have ever had. When exercising a lot in the past, I would sometimes get a period early. It would follow the pattern of a regular period, but there would be less blood, and it would be shorter. The 'weird' period was all over the place. There was not any heavy flow, but it was almost a week and it didn't seem to be totally over. I did not know how to predict what would happen. Just when I decided not wear a tampon, it would seem to start up again with very red blood. I had not been exercising at the time. I had heard that this kind of unpredictability might relate to lack of ovulation. On a couple of the days, I had some fairly painful cramps. Most of the days I had not noticed much in the way of cramps, though.

After that 'weird' period, I noticed I had some itchiness - I think this was related to wearing tampons 'just in case'.. I would sometimes leave them in too long, or pull them out dry, and this might have contributed to an unusualness or unhealthiness - it occurred to me that when having weird periods, I would be best off trying to find smaller tampons ('light') ones, or only wearing pantyliners. The problem was that because of the unpredictability, I was reluctant to go to bed without a tampon in, in case I stained my sheets. I had some dryness after that period, but at present it seems like things have returned to 'normal'.

My next period came at least a week later than expected, so maybe the two periods balanced each other out. The following period was a 'normal' one.

I know that in the next few years I should expect some changes. I know that periods are likely to become more erratic. I may miss periods, I may have periods of heavy bleeding. I may have wicked PMS, cramps, exaggerated symptoms. I may have hot flashes. I guess I am scared that I could feel worse than I already do. The idea of drier skin, or skin losing elasticity, is difficult, although I have already noticed as the years go by my skin is becoming drier and I have to put in more effort to moisturize, and that exercise can't compensate completely for the fact that my skin isn't as tight. Reading about things like vaginal tissue thinning, atrophying, vaginal dryness, and it sounds like the kind of thing that 'you shouldn't mention or talk about' because it will turn people off. It may be 'natural', but it reinforces ideas of women being sexually repulsive or irrelevant once they reach a certain age.

One symptom that I have is increased urination (I don't have noticeable thirst - when I drink liquids, it is usually because I think I 'should', not because I'm thirsty). I don't have incontinence, but over time I have noticed that I have to pee more frequently. This changes if I have more to do, if I am less bored, but I have read that when thinning of the membrane of the outer urinary tract? occurs, there may be increased urination or a feeling that it is necessary. Through the night, I have to get up and pee every once in a while. This might partly relate to being oversaturated with sleep, as I spend almost half the day in bed, day in, day out.

Having icthyosis all my life, it's never been easy dealing with my skin, and I admit this is something I find troubling to think about. As I get older, will I be able to manage this problem comfortably? The climate here helps, but is it a match for natural aging? Also, I am not sure I would be able to give up alcohol and coffee, which probably add to the effect.

My first period started just after my 12th birthday, which means according to the average, I was a bit early. Some of the correlations with early menstruation relate to divorce of parents, high weight (I was not overweight), perhaps early sexualization, but one thing that occurs to me is that since I skipped from grade 5 to 7, maybe I 'synched up' with the other girls in my class.

It's not so much that I will miss having a period. Before I started menstruating, I remember that I used to have a collection of pamphlets about menstruation that I kept in my dresser, and when I would look at them, I would feel sexually excited. I wanted to have a period, I wanted the other changes to occur, I wanted to have the body of a woman, I wanted to have sex. That's what it meant to me. Some of the truths about women and aging are things I have found difficult to deal with. When it comes to sex. I am afraid that losing my period is the last nail in the coffin, the sign that makes it official that I am not sexually desirable. I might know that already in a sense, but be reluctant to completely accept it until I reach this stage. On a biological level, since at that point I will no longer have any chance of bearing children, my survival instinct might stop fighting me so hard. I guess on the plus side, it should be reassuring for anyone who knows they do not want to have children that a woman who has reached menopause can't have children, and so it's at least possible sex can be less of a worry and responsibility.

I still don't know how to or maybe don't want to override a certain programming. I think I've had a certain belief that if I keep trying to question or challenge what is 'appropriate', if I keep trying to communicate in a real way, if I face fears, if I don't play games, if I don't try to deflect issues, if I don't stop trying to understand other people's perspectives while not devaluing my own, eventually I will express enough that others who could like me would be able to find me and communicate with me. But what I have most wished for is a kind of 'love' I can imagine but have never experienced. I have been open with all partners about this wish through the years, and I have never 'cheated'. I think I'm stuck now in a state where I am grieving the loss of the possibility of the kind of love I wanted. I know there are different kinds and stages of love. I think many people will argue that for them 'real love' only occurred when they had lived and experienced enough to know themselves, and that this kind of love doesn't depend on youth or the physical. But I really wanted the physical to be part of the experience. I wanted to be at my peak, and to be able to really experience all that my body could do, and I wanted to be as beautiful as it was possible for me to be.

I thought that if I communicated authentically, it would draw others into my life. What I mean is, this is a kind of underlying belief it has been very hard for me to let go of. I can challenge it, and tell myself there are no guarantees, and that if I am going to communicate I better be sure it is what I want to do and not that I am expecting some kind of 'reward'. It's still difficult to completely accept that so much of what I communicate must remain one-sided, something it is impossible for anyone to respond to.

-Xesce, 25/08/12















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