A story without a fairy tale ending

Cover of Hunger by Roxane Gay

As the year nears its end, I become excited about the publication of the Top 100 book lists. One book on every list I’ve seen is Hunger: A memoir of my body by Roxane Gay. When I am a grown-up writer, I want to be Roxane Gay. (Sorry Gabrielle Zevin, you’ve been usurped for now. I still love The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, though.) If you’re interested in reading Hunger, know that it’s not an easy book to get through. The author bares all in her writing.

I hadn’t known of her previously, but Roxane Gay is a respected author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is also morbidly obese in what she justly calls a fat-phobic society. She was gang raped at age 12, after which she gained weight to keep herself physically and sexually safe from others. Dr. Gay views herself as a victim rather than a survivor of her rape, and acknowledges she has not healed from the trauma. She suggests people stop judging the obese without knowing their story, and realize that fat [her word] people have other attributes too.

Dr. Gay, who has a Ph.D. in technical writing and is currently a professor at Purdue University, acknowledges years of self-loathing, challenged relationships, and discomfort in her own body. Her frankness about her life is both uncomfortable and enlightening. She described the profound effects of an emotionally abusive relationship in a way that still haunts me.

She speaks of the all-too-frequent judgement and the difficult situations that she experiences. Strangers censure what she places in her grocery cart and deride her as she walks down the street. Well-meaning friends patronize her by sharing their insights about food, nutrition, and weight loss. Professional colleagues cannot hide their surprise when, after corresponding on line, they first encounter her in her physical glory. Imagine realizing you’ve been provided a chair for a reading that will not comfortably support your body, and worrying the whole time that that chair could break.

This book helped me to imagine what being obese would feel like in a society where thinness equals beauty. Is anyone truly above judging people based on their outward appearances? I know I’m not.

Near the end of the book, Dr. Gay described an ankle break that resulted in a hospital stay, and her community of support’s unexpected rallying around her. Despite all her self-loathing, she realized how many people love her and would miss her if something were to happen to her. I was reminded of how moved I was by my own troops’ tremendous support of both me and J. when I was deathly ill in the ICU. I also recall how much I appreciated the teary hugs I received when I was finally sent home. I too felt that I would have been missed had I not survived.

I can’t say reading this book will be fun, but you too could scratch an insightful read off your Top 100 list. Like me, you may find that Dr. Gay’s insights stay with you. When I’m next on an airplane and the fattest person walking down the aisle takes the seat next to me, I’ll think about this book, and I’ll make as much room as I can. Do unto others and all….



A true Israeli breakfast of champions

Israeli breakfast buffet, eggs, olives, etc.

Lest I leave you with the impression that if you go to Israel, you’ll come back with a high bilirubin count, let’s talk about the food. It’s incredible, every single morsel.

Because Israel is surrounded by countries that are, at best, ambivalent about her existence, Israeli food is largely produced within its borders. In our travels we passed olive trees, date trees, banana trees, grape vines, and pomegranate trees dripping with fruit. The bananas were so tasty, J. refuses to eat another Chiquita.

(By the way, I don’t recommend eating an olive straight from the tree–it’s not a pleasant experience. Squeeze it and watch the oil ooze out, but cure your olives before you take a bite. I learned this lesson the hard way.)

Then there are the milk products, the yogurt and labneh and white cheese, which is a loose facsimile for our cream cheese but smoother and much tastier. Because so many restaurants and hotels in Israel have kosher kitchens to accommodate the religious Israeli residents and the tourists, many kitchens exclude meat from their menus. There isn’t enough space in this small country to produce a lot of meat. Rather, there is a very large sea known as the Mediterranean that is bursting with fish, and since fish can go either way–it can be eaten with milk products or with meat–the fish is aplenty.

Now imagine that all of this food finds its way into the buffets of the typical Israeli breakfast at hotels. This meal is often included in the cost of the hotel. We call it “Israeli breakfast” while Israelis call it “breakfast”. Whatever you call it, it is a perpetual exercise in self-restraint.

Imagine a variety of yogurt and cheeses, granola, dried fruits, and preserves. There’s smoked fish and tuna salad alongside a variety of breads and rolls. Add in eggs in various preparations, perhaps in spicy tomato sauce, or as an omelette to order. Of course there are sliced tomatoes, olives, and a mishmash of salads, including Israeli salad (which Israelis call “salad”). It’s finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Then there’s the stuffed pastry with savoury fillings like mushrooms or cheese.

Finally, there’s dessert breakfast, usually consisting of babka, i.e., chocolate- or cinnamon-swirled heaven, and halvah. Halvah is tahini and sugar, with added flavourings like cocoa powder or pistachios or whatever you can imagine, pressed it into a block. For immediate sugar shock, shave some halvah onto your babka.

If Israelis ate breakfast like this every day, they’d all be morbidly obese. The full Israeli breakfast is purely a tourist phenomenon, not that I’m complaining.

You won’t be surprised to learn I gained 10 lbs over the course of 14 days. But you may be surprised when I tell you that J. gained 0 lbs eating as much or more than me. Then we came home, and within one week on my strict low-sodium diet, I was back to my fighting weight.

I’ll admit it feels crummy to gain 10 lbs in 14 days, but losing 10 lbs in a week more than makes up for it. Best diet ever. You’ll come back with your bilirubin level intact, but if you gain weight, it’s all on you.


My day of awe

Yoga class with overweight woman doing warrior II in forefront

I was in a yoga class the other day, holding my Warrior II pose, when I made the mistake of turning my head to look in the mirror ahead of me. Yes, the front wall of the yoga classroom at the gym is all mirrors.  I like being confronted with the shape of my body on a regular basis, but sometimes the honest feedback is a little much.

Over the years, as my spleen has expanded, I have stopped looking at myself from the side. I can look at my body straight on, but from the side all I notice is how disproportionately large my belly is relative to the rest of my body. When I glanced in the mirror the other day, I was confronted with a painful realization: despite my recent marked weight loss, my spleen has not gone down in size. Turns out my internal organs haven’t shrunk with the rest of me. I may no longer store much junk in my trunk, but I still look kinda pregnant.

Then I came to my senses. My recently transformed body is perfect for me. I have not an ounce left to lose, and still I am critical of myself. I should know better. I’m a psychologist, for God’s sake. I help people accept themselves as they are, and, hypocrite that I am, all I can see is my own room for improvement. Some role model.

Are women ever 100% satisfied with their bodies? Is it any surprise that they’re not? I recently met a young woman who used to skate professionally. Sk8tr grl spoke of the constant pressure on her and her fellow skaters to lose weight. One of her coaches actually insisted on weigh ins every two weeks. One day, as an act of protest, sk8tr grl stepped on the scale holding her bagged McDonald’s lunch. Eventually the skaters’ protests resulted in the end of the weigh ins, but in the meantime, many of sk8tr grl’s friends developed eating disorders, one even suffering a heart attack in her mid-twenties. Sk8tr grl was strong enough to resist these pressures, thank goodness.

After my recent lapse in body acceptance, I knew exactly how to whip myself back into shape, so to speak. I headed to Eddie Bauer. If you are ever questioning your body, especially if you should not be, I suggest a visit with Eddie. Eddie and I have never met, but I believe he must have a distorted body image because his sizing is so absurd. I can count on his clothes’ fitting me in a smaller size than I’d wear in any other clothing line. Might this be a marketing ploy? “You’re a size 10? I think a size 8 would more than suffice,” says the Eddie salesperson.

Eddie or not, here I come. I will stop hiding my body under layer upon layer of oversized clothing. (The worst habits die the hardest.) I will embrace my spleen in all its ginormous glory. I will look directly in the mirror at yoga, even during Warrior II, without wincing in shame. I will love my body as it is. Anyone want to join me?



What goes down must come up

Once upon a time I was a dieter. I lost weight, sometimes too rapidly, for short periods of time, but most often I gained it back. I have come to believe that I cannot sustain restricted eating for any period of time. Eventually I fall far off the perpetually-hungry wagon. As soon as I start forbidding myself certain foods or food groups, I crave them all the more.

Some things I have been advised not to eat for health reasons, and I can live with those few restrictions. Grapefruit is a no-no with many of my medications. Organ meats are one of the worst things a gout-prone person can eat. Although chopped liver is a Jewish staple I consumed frequently in my youth, I’m surviving fine without the delicacy as an adult. I may be on a low-sodium diet, but I still eat the odd sodium-laden restaurant meal and I enjoy the occasional potato chip from J.’s stash.

Cookie Monster in Oscar the Grouch's garbage can saying "I hate cookies"Right now, I’m losing weight rapidly, but I can assure you I’m not dieting. Six weeks ago now, my hunger switch blew a fuse. I went from eating normally, sometimes excessively, to nary a hunger pang. Normally I’m one of those people who goes from zero to ravenous in seconds. I’m perplexed I haven’t been approached to star in one of those Snickers commercials. My hungry alter ego would be a hybrid of Oscar the Grouch and Cookie Monster. Currently my hungry-grumpy self is on vacation. I eat because I know I have to, but I’m full in no time. I’m oddly fascinated by this turn of events.

When I was discussing this problem with one of my doctors, she said that there is a fine line between lack of appetite and nausea. I have been straddling that line, but remain firmly on the lack-of-appetite side. I’ve told you many times that I am not a puker.

I don’t recommend this extreme approach to weight loss and I can’t tell you how to shut your appetite loss. I am not intentionally trying to lose weight; I am having trouble eating. There is a huge difference. It’s been a while since I’ve craved a particular food and felt compelled to satisfy the craving. I miss the old days when I ate with enjoyment.

This experience is not all bad, of course. I can leave the house unconcerned about missing a meal. I no longer need an emergency snack ready for consumption at all times. And I am miraculously slipping into clothes that haven’t fit for some time. Whenever I clear out my closet, J. encourages me to hold on to some smaller-sized clothes just in case. I must be going through a just-in-case phase.

I may sound too cavalier about my shrinkage, but my doctors have reassured me there is no cause for concern. So long as I’m feeling alright (which I am), and my blood work is largely unchanged (which it is), I am not worried. I expect my appetite will come back with a vengeance once I figure out how to replace the fuse. With my renewed appetite, my lost weight will miraculously reappear. In the meantime, let me enjoy a few weeks in my skinny jeans, alright?


Running, or walking, or crawling on empty

Car with hood open getting tune up, hands visible working on car

I didn’t manage to publish a post last Friday, despite my best intentions. I was caught up at the doctor’s office for longer than I had expected. No, nothing was wrong, I had been recalled for regularly scheduled maintenance with Dr. Family. Even we sick people need to ensure we’re not going to get a flat tire on long, hot summer drives.

More often than not, when I go to see my master mechanic, I am seen by one of the many apprentices training under her expert wing. This time, my apprentice was a week from graduating with her ticket, so she handled my tune up with the expertise of a seasoned professional. Still, any apprentice takes longer to get the job done, and has to run everything by the boss before the car is allowed back on the road.

After a thorough review of my hefty file, Dr. Apprentice completed the routine checks from top to bottom. She ensured all my fluids were filled to appropriate levels, that my spark plugs were firing and my motor was functioning, and that my tire pressure was adequate. Then she inspected me all over for any unusual dents or markings.

Before we were done, we discussed the issue of my gas tank, which seems to have shrunk, along with the rest of my body, in recent weeks. If this lower gas consumption continues much longer, I’ll be reclassified from sedan to compact for the first time in years. I confessed I’d been having trouble filling’er up past the half-way mark, which is highly unusual for this Little Miss Piggy. Dr. Apprentice looked at my current weight, which had eked its way into the healthy range, and showed little concern. I imagine I’d have garnered more reaction from her had I stopped filling my tank altogether, or if I’d confessed that parts (or is that “pants”) had started falling off while driving, but since I still seemed to be running fine on half a tank, she barely raised her eyebrows.

I was sent off with the usual blood and body work, and told that the office would contact me with any recall notices. Sounds good to me.

Stalled car with hood up by side of roadThen the weekend came and, for the first time since this lowered gas consumption started, I tanked. I could barely turn over my engine. I virtually stalled by the side of the road. That’s when J. decided to start the force feeding.

In case you were wondering, I haven’t voluntarily adopted a calorie-restriction diet in order to live longer. You’ve heard of those, haven’t you? Crazy people are actually choosing to go hungry in order to extend their lives. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me. I am not them, I can assure you.

This Friday, I will be seeing Dr. Joint, or Dr. Goutfire, or Dr. Uri–so many options, so little time to decide!–and we will discuss the gout-busting pills that seem to be making it hard for me to fill my tank. Hopefully Dr. No Name Yet will support a medication adjustment so I can resume eating again, assuming my gas tank has not shrunk permanently. That leaves me four more days to fit into those favourite jeans….

Introducing the incredible shrinking woman!

Shot from the movie The incredible shrinking woman, tiny actress on big armchair

Thanks to all of my witty and creative readers who forwarded inspired names for my new doctor-to-be. (Take a look at last post’s comments if you haven’t already. I guarantee you will laugh out loud.) I may call a vote to decide the winner. Don’t worry, contributors, you’ll be able to vote anonymously for your own brilliant submission.

Today we have something even more remarkable to discuss, if that is possible, since I try to intrigue and delight with every post.

My weight has always been the bane of my existence. I insist I’m large boned, but that excuse will only go so far. I have likened myself to a pufferfish, and have spoken of my 75th trimester pregnancy (“trimester” may not be the appropriate word here). I generally watch my weight, but do not do anything about it, i.e., I am not a dieter. I may try to modify my eating if I fall off my Great Sugar Revolution wagon, for example, but I do not deprive myself of anything. Deprivation leads to bingeing, folks, remember?

For the past few years, my weight has been largely unchanged. I am overweight, but not excessively so.

But no more. My appetite has been MIA for two weeks now. I ate very little breakfast this morning, and now, at 1:20 p.m., I must have missed the lunch bell. I’m making myself consume small portions to keep myself going–I’d hate for my large bones to start protruding–but I have not experienced a hunger pang in some time. This is odd. My large pants are loose, and I even look a little less pregnant (which can happen if you’re not pregnant). I have re-entered the healthy-weight range for the first time in two years.

Normally I love food and I love eating, so why are the pounds are falling off me? I am not intentionally restricting my intake. I can assure you I don’t have an eating disorder. I’d eat if I felt like it. I don’t feel like it.

Of course this change of events could mean that my health is amiss, but there’s no sign of that. I feel absolutely fine, although I’m not sure how I’m functioning on so little food. Rather, I’m wondering if my latest combination of medications is to blame.

Many of my medications list loss of appetite as a possible side effect, but I never have the pleasure of experiencing that. I gravitate toward the tired side effect instead. Whatever combination of pharmaceuticals I’m consuming, I’m always famished. In fact, when I was speaking to Dr. Family the other day about my many medications, I told her I was hoping for the possible nausea from one, since I’d like to lose a few lbs. She looked at me quizzically, and then, despite herself, she laughed.

Perhaps the answer to this mystery is in my blood work, which Dr. Blood will review with me tomorrow. Whatever the reason for my incredible vanishing appetite, I’m hoping to extend my disinterest in food for a few more weeks. By then I should fit into my favourite jeans again.


My salty little secret

Every Monday from 3 to 6 p.m., I volunteer at Canadian Blood Services. As I’ve already mentioned, this volunteer position is so complex I can’t believe they hired me. I am expected to serve soup, cookies, and drinks to blood donors, thank them for their donation, and watch that they don’t fall ill. Sure, there’s some juice and cookie restocking and occasional dish washing, but it’s a pretty lame position that I have mastered handily, except for my soup ladling, which could use work. I’m always dripping everywhere, despite my best efforts.

I chose my shift to keep myself awake once weekly during my usual rest hour. If I’m not napping at that time, I’m eating to keep myself awake. (Bad habit, I know.) It takes all my energy to get to the clinic some days, but once I’m there, I stay awake through my shift. I’m in trouble if I forget to take a snack along with me, though, since the generous pickings are slim for my liver-compromised body.

Donors need to replenish their fluids and one of the best ways to do so, other than taking in liquid, is to eat foods that are sweet or salty. That’s why the clinic stocks canned soup and salty crackers, as well as an endless variety of cookies. Because I am still trying to reduce my sugar consumption, I do not fall down the slippery cookie-laden slope. I’m focussed on the end goal here, so steering clear of sugar is no biggie.

That leaves the salty options, including the soup sodium bomb. As a child who walked home for lunch every day, I often ate canned soup to warm up in the winter. Since I’ve had to monitor my sodium, I’ve scorned anyone who indulges in canned soup, mostly out of envy. I miss canned soup and wish they made it for sodium restricters like me. Ah, the nostalgia I feel at the thought of eating soup from a can.

The past few weeks, I’ve become so hungry (or is it tired?) during my bloody shift that I’ve ladled a very small amount of soup, maybe a few tablespoons’ worth, into a cup and eaten it, relishing every drop. I feel like I’m committing a sin before God every time I do it. The guilt is overwhelming. I can’t help but hear His disapproving voice, “Hey there, pufferfish, yeah I’m talking to you, what’s the point of reducing your sugar consumption if you’re going to increase your salt intake?” Is it rude to tell God to mind His own business?

So far my favourite indulgence has been the vegetable soup, with the mushy vegetables and the tiny letter-shaped noodles. Today I caught myself searching for copycat recipes on the internet. I may have to make one or two or seven to try to replicate this little can of mushy sustenance, but I’m sure whatever I make won’t will taste nearly as good as the real thing since I’ll be leaving out the salt. At least God won’t chide me when I eat it.

Bowl of Campbell's vegetable soup

Sugar mommy: it’s not what you think

Being married to someone who is always right is challenging. I spend considerable time trying to avert situations where J. can say: “I told you so.” Some days, this is not easy, like today.

Please sit down before I go on. I don’t want you to faint when you read on.

I have largely dispensed with my last remaining food vices, sweets and sugar. I say “largely” because I would never banish these evils in their entirety; were I to, I’d be setting myself up to fail. But I have recently become one of those people who eats one square of chocolate for dessert rather than the whole bar. I’ve become blind to the supermarket’s tempting bulk bins too. I despise people like me.

Following our strudel-filled vacation, I spontaneously slashed my sugar and, I must say, I feel like a million bucks, for someone who has leukemia. Miraculous things have happened since I’ve made this change. I can see my toes again, and my belly no longer enters the room well ahead of the rest of me. My waist circumference is barely recognizable. I’m no longer having blood sugar crashes, or insatiable cravings, and, watch out, I’ll fight you for that washroom stall. Look at me, the incredible peeing wonder!

This shift was unplanned and unexpectedly easy. One day I asked myself why I cook healthy food if my chaser is sugar-laden dessert. I have always known that sugar consumption leads to fluid retention via osmosis. (Don’t ask me to define osmosis; chemistry is beyond my soft-science scope.) Simple sugars spike insulin release, resulting in the body’s hoarding sodium and retaining fluid. Hence, just like Chinese food, excess sugar causes bloating.

J. has been asserting this truth for years, but I have not been listening. (I can be a petulant child sometimes.) I did not want to give up sugar; I love sugar. I can’t get enough of wine gums and licorice and chocolate and baked goods. Leave a bowl of Jelly Bellies within reach and I’m the first to dig in, and dig in, and finish them off.

Don’t confuse this change with dieting, however. I don’t believe in diets. Diets inevitably lead to a binge-starve cycle. No thanks. Rather, I’m making a minor adjustment to my diet, which so far seems to be helping. My goal is to feel better, not to lose weight.

Drawer filled with chocolate and sugary treatsHow have I accomplished this wondrous feat? With the support of my sugar mommy, who is keeping our current treat stash out of my sight and out of my mind. (I understand she plays a similar role at work, where her colleagues are permitted reasonable access to her snack drawer.) When I want a little something, I have to ask J., which I do surprisingly infrequently. I’ve discovered her hiding spot, by the way, but no matter; I’m treating the easy-access container like a safe with an uncrackable code. I could dig in, but since I’m feeling so much better, why would I?

So no, I’m not dieting, I’m breaking a bad habit. Reducing my sugar consumption hasn’t killed me; it’s made me stronger pee. And so today I concede publicly but begrudgingly: J., you were right. You always are.


The dire disaster with my vacationing diuretics

Pufferfish swimming in black backgroundJ. and I usually take a longer, i.e., two-week, vacation once a year, although this year we’ve doubled our fun. This is what happens as our long trips wind down:

1) We start missing Jelly, which is ridiculous because she is a dog.

2) We miss our own bed, and our kitchen, and our hers-and-hers sinks in our washroom, and our daily routines, however boring they may be.

3) Our bodies start to hurt from the hours of daily walking.

4) I become so tired I can barely put one foot in front of the other, and even J. slows her pace somewhat.

5) (And here we diverge,) J.’s pants start falling off and mine start bursting at the seams, even though we’ve eaten comparably for the whole trip.

Let’s focus on (5), shall we? By the end of our vacation, while J. is wasting away, I start to bear a frightening resemblance to Bloat, the aptly named pufferfish in Finding Nemo. Although my fluid intake stays constant, my output slows to a trickle. I take my diuretics religiously every morning, but they too go on vacation. So much for needing to stay close to the washroom for two hours after ingesting my wee pee assistants; there is no need because of their temporary hiatus.

People with problems like mine–liver issues and resultant sodium sensitivity–are advised to weigh themselves regularly to monitor for major fluctuations, which may indicate fluid retention. Nonetheless, I don’t haul my scale on vacations. I also don’t eat to excess, and I increase my activity level considerably.

Once we return to, among other things, my washroom scale, I resume my regular weigh ins. Thus I learned that I had put on 7 lbs in 14 days. To provide a reference point, J. lost three lbs. over the same time period. Needless to say, I resent J., a lot, and I become discouraged. “Dear God, why can’t I pee like a normal person?” Then I wonder, how could I possibly have gained 7 lbs when we ate two of our three daily meals at our vacation apartments? Need I mention it doesn’t feel very good to retain that much fluid over that short a time?

J. is always there to catch me after my first weigh in, although she might not be able to hold me up because I’m veritably chunky. She reminds me that every time we go away the same thing happens, and that within a few days, I’ll be back to my old slimmer but in no way thin self. She’s always right, but am I the type to listen to the voice of reason? Of course not. I’m too busy being despondent, in between trips to the washroom.

Turns out not long after J. shares her wisdom, the floodgates open and I experience what most people do on a regular basis: I have to pee. And then I have to pee some more. And even more. It’s a miracle, I’d say, right up there with the wonder of creation. Now, five days after our return, I’ve lost all 7 lbs. My size 12 jeans are falling off me again.

Thank you little pee pills. I couldn’t have done it without you.



I feel shame, you feel shame, we all feel shame.

Two beagles on chair, first sign says "I steal the socks" second says "And I eat them."

We all feel ashamed sometimes.

I recently read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I wrote about Brené–I should call her Dr. Brown because of her Ph.D. in social work–previously when I heard her speak at a conference. It’s no wonder her books have sold like hotcakes.

In this book, Brené discusses how we experience shame and how much difficulty people have talking about shameful experiences. Hence the silence around abuse as well as eating disorders, addictions, and other compulsive behaviours.

A friend noticed “shame” in the title of a chapter I was reading and questioned my choice of reading material. “You don’t have shame,” she said. Her comment was ironic in light of Brené’s assertion that everyone has shame, although so many of us are reluctant to acknowledge it or talk about it.

I have often written about shame in my blog, although I may not always have labelled it. For example, my protruding belly has more to do with the size of my spleen than my dessert consumption–sure, my dessert consumption probably isn’t helping–yet I often feel ashamed when someone asks me if I’m pregnant. I may make light of these incidents here, but inside I feel very self-conscious.

I also feel shame for times I’ve shamed others, those times I’ve said something insensitive or sarcastic or just plain mean. I know how crummy shame feels; the last thing I’d want to do is to make someone else feel that way, but I know I have. Haven’t we all, whether intentionally or not? No, you’re right, it’s probably just me.

People have said and done things to me that have been shaming as well, but I’ve shared only some of these incidents with you in my blog. If I knew you a bit better, maybe I’d disclose more, but many of you I don’t. I believe Brené would support my discretion here, since she has only two safe people she approaches when she is at her most vulnerable. Two sounds about right to me.

I am struck by people’s shame about things for which they are not responsible. Blaming the sexual abuse survivor–if only you hadn’t dressed like that, if only you’d kept your legs together–reinforces the shame that survivor already feels. To disclose the abuse and not to be believed only compounds that person’s shame.

That’s why, as much as sharing our shameful experiences with others is important and healing, we must choose carefully the people we share them with. As a psychologist, I have been entrusted with many such disclosures by clients over the years. At those moments, I try to allow the person to feel safe and heard and supported. If I’m successful, we can then work toward the survivor’s no longer blaming him- or herself for what happened.

I hope that all of you have a safe person to share the bad stuff with. You can always pay a therapist if you think that would help. It’s important that you let someone in, however scary it feels. Trying to keep those shameful feelings inside is too heavy a burden. Trust me, I know, and not just from my work.