I’m No Longer The ‘Crazy Girl’ And I Feel Like I’ve Lost My Identity

Zara, why do you have to push yourself to a point of such extreme exhaustion? my therapist asked me three years ago.

What do you mean? I bit back, irritated. I felt exposed and raw beneath the harsh fluorescent light of her stale office. I found myself wishing I could throw an Instagram filter over the whole scene, something cool-toned.

“Zara? We just spoke about this. You push yourself to the extreme in everything. Your job. Your love life. Your eating habits

I gazed atthe wicker basket clumsily tucked underneath her desk. It was full of children’s toys, and I couldn’t help but fixate on a stuffed raccoon haphazardly placed front and center. I’m deeply terrified of all rodents, so even a toyraccoon was enough to send me flying over the edge. Clearly, I was fragile as f*ck.

I didn’t like being broken down, sitting still like that on the shrink’s couch, with nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

If it’s not burning, it’s not working,” I said.

“You think maybe it’s time to question that?”

I handed her a crumpled check for $150 and got the hell out of there.

Ever since myteenyears,I always felt like if it didn’t HURT, I wasn’t doing it right. To me, balance was thedeath of creativity, which only thrived in the wild extremes.

I got high off the extreme. And I liked being high. Itwas safe. Itprotected me from facing reality.

It all kicked off with my first stab at extreme dieting. I was 15, maybe 16, and despite having an army of loyal friends and being pretty high up on the social totem pole, I always knew that I was different. I was attracted to girls. The irrepressible sexual desires toward women were my secret reality.

But like I said before: I hated reality. Because I was thelesbian weirdo.

So I tried to starve theweirdo away. It became a lot easier to fixate on calories and numbers and a “goal weight” than any of the real problems lingering inside of me.

Starving and vomitingoffer acreepy, seductive bit of satisfaction that makes you feel superior. It’s like what Fiona Apple sings in her song “Paper Bag:”Hunger hurts, but starving works.

I lost a mountain of weight. And while of course I wanted to be pretty and perfect like my idol Kate Moss, vanity only played a minor role in the whole charade. I became attached to the idea that if you could endure suffering, you could get anything you want in the world. And visible ribs were living proof of your suffering.

When you develop these kind of whacked-out theories in your formative years, they’re hard to shake. The twisted mantras you say to yourself as a teen follow you into adulthood and play out in every facet of your life.

I thought love wasn’t real unless it came with a side of pain. I thought I wasn’t working hard enough if I didn’t pour every fiber of my being into every single project, leaving mecompletely drained.

For years, I felt like I was always on the verge of falling into a nervous breakdown. So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I self-medicated like crazy. I popped a Xanax to take the edge off my unhappiness. I hada few glasses of wine to unwind from the incessant anxiety of jacked-up adrenaline. Sometimes I self-medicated with people. Sometimes I self-medicated with work.

I’ve been on this roller coaster for a decade and a half. I’ve experienced some pretty mind-blowing highs on this ride. But the older I’ve gotten, the more the lows outnumber thehighs.

I’ve always known this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable forever. As much as I’ve scoffed at the New Age garble, I’ve always believed in the deep connection that exists between mental and physical health. I’ve always been aware of the fact that I was running myself into the ground, and that underneath it all, I wanted a healthy relationship with myself. Kids. Deep friendships. Stuff that you can’t hold on to in this fast, crazy wild ride of mental instability.

But damn, the crazy girl inside me has been hard to let go of. I mean, we’ve been in thistogether for 15 years!

In the past couple of years, I’ve been hanging on to crazy girl for dear life. Butwith age, I’ve been losing my grip. She’s been slipping throughmy fingers. And I’ve been afraid to let her go. Because by letting her go, I would only be left with real, raw me. The girl I am without the unstable exterior.

And when your identity has been wrapped up in being extreme and crazy for so long, what will fill those empty spaces?

Recently, my craving forbalance has become strongerthan my fear of reality. Ever since the year started, I keep finding myself listening to the girl I think I always really was deep down. The girl I was before I started subscribing to the “If it’s not burning, it’s not working” mentality. The girl I was before the eating disorder sent me spiraling down the extreme vortex.

It was a bunch of little things. I let go of a love that hurt, because the hurting didn’t feel good anymore (I know, who AM I?). I had a piece of pizzaat work last Friday and didn’t want to die. I freaked myself out by my stable reaction of,“Oh Zara, it’s just a piece of pizza! It’s not going to kill you. Enjoy it.” This reactionwas sonew and foreign to me, but it felt good.

Thenone day, after I felt like I phoned in an article, I said to myself, “Oh, this article wasn’t your best work, but that’s OK, Zara! You write a lot. You can’t WIN every single one.” Just a year ago, I would have beaten myself into a bloody pulp over it.

And most of all, the self-medicating – the binge drinking, the Ambien obsession, the incessant need to Xanax reality away – doesn’t F*CKING WORK ANYMORE.

All of a sudden, I don’t like starting to feelfuzzy after the third drink. I don’t like the Instagram filter of booze or drugs anymore. Life is starting to look prettier when it’sa little more sharp and exposed and raw.

I think I’m becoming STABLE.

And while I know deep down inside this is so, so, so GOOD, and that I can still maintain my wild and creative spirit without life BURNING to the point of pain, a part of me is sort of sad about it. I’m mourning the end of a destructive era. Not in a way that’s tearing me apart, but like with any death, it’s a lot to process.

I officially said goodbye to the unstable girl over the weekend. As I knocked back the booze and didn’t enjoy the feeling of being drunk, something in me clicked. All things must come to end, and it’s time to let that girl go so the real Zara can come in. There isn’t enough space for both of us.We had some good times, but I’m ready for real things.

And as I mourn the death of my mental instability, I wonder what’s next. I don’t know. I don’t know a lot anymore.

But I do know this: If it’s burning, I don’t think it’s working. If it hurts, something is wrong. Now that I’ve stuck my toe into still waters, I’m starting to think that life isn’t supposed to hurt all the time. That pain doesn’t have to accompany excitement. So I’m going to dive into this new way of life and see what happens.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/life/sick-of-being-mentally-unstable/1494198/

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The Gut Microbe That Protects Against Peanut Allergies

The presence of a common gut microbe called Clostridia protects mice against peanut sensitization by keeping the allergens from entering their bloodstream, according to findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. 

In the U.S., food allergy rates among children rose about 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. We don’t know what causes food allergies, though numerous studies hint that recent changes in diet and hygiene (and the use of antibiotics and antimicrobial this and that) have altered the natural community of microorganisms in our gastrointestinal tracts – increasing our susceptibility to food allergies.

To see how altered microbiota affect immune responses to food, a team led by Cathryn Nagler from the University of Chicago exposed three groups of mice to peanut allergens: germ-free mice without any resident bacteria, mice given antibiotics as newborns to reduce their GI bacteria, and control mice with a normal cohort of GI bacteria. 

Germ-free and antibiotic-treated mice showed strong immunological responses, producing higher levels of antibodies against peanuts allergens – compared to mice with normal gut bacteria, which seem to provide some degree of protection against food allergies. 

This peanut sensitization (the rodent model of human allergy) can be reversed. When Clostridia bacteria were reintroduced into the intestines of germ-free and antibiotic-treated mice, they were no longer sensitive to peanuts. Introducing another type of common GI bacteria, called Bacteroides, failed to alleviate sensitization, further suggesting that Clostridia bacteria are the ones mediating the protection.

To identify the protective mechanism, the team looked at the immune responses on a cellular and molecular level. A gene expression analysis revealed that Clostridia induced an immune response – the production of molecules called cytokine interleukin-22 (IL-22) – which reduces the permeability of the lining of mouse intestines. This results in less allergen reaching the bloodstream. “The bacteria are maintaining the integrity of the [intestinal] barrier,” Nagler tells Science.

Finally, the team gave antibiotic-treated mice either IL-22 or Clostridia. When exposed to peanut allergens, mice in both conditions showed reduced allergen levels in their blood, compared to controls. Accordingly, allergen levels increased when mice were given antibodies that neutralized IL-22.

“The first step in getting sensitized to a food allergen is for it to get into your blood and be presented to your immune system,” Nagler says in a news release. “The presence of these bacteria regulates that process.” Her team is working to develop and test compositions that could be used for probiotic therapy.

Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Flickr CC BY 2.0

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/gut-microbe-protects-against-peanut-allergies

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Lindsay Recap Part 2: Until She Fucks Up You Can Assume She’s Going To

Last night’s Lindsay on OWN delved into one of the hardest issues facing young women today: getting the keys to your 5,000 square foot apartment and finally signing your lease. Seriously, this lease-signing has been presented as the most significant challenge she’s ever faced. Like, who gives a shit about the fact that Dina got arrested for a DUI last night or that Michael has a second and third family, let’s concentrate on Lindsay’s struggle with having to live in a 5 star hotel for over a month.

Lindsay’s mom got a DUI last night yet this episode chooses to focus on the SERIOUS issues at hand. Where’s the lease?! The realtor is stuck in Soho! What will Lindsay wear today!?


Anyway, personal assistant Matt was about to have a meltdown this episode as I see his job consists of excessively texting realtor Cash until he answers, waking Lindsay up and telling her she has to get dressed, and getting into taxis parked behind the SUV so she can unsuccessfully escape the paps.

One interesting thing about this episode is that we find out that part of the deal with Lindsay doing this documentary is Pilgrim Studios has to pay for her apartment. Unsurprisingly, Lindsay doesn’t understand the concept of the whole exploitation work for pay thing and sees Pilgrim Studio’s act of not agreeing to pay for the apartment if she doesn’t show up for filming as ‘bribery’. Those bastards! They want a contract honored in exchange for money!

A third of this episode was Lindsay texting her realtor about if he has the keys or not, another third was fitspiration with life coach AJ, and the final third was Lindsay being pissed off smoking a cigarette.

I can’t believe someone doesn’t trust Lindsay Lohan to show up to filming. Craig Pilgrim gets on the phone to explain his devious withholding of checks and I’m surprised no one in the room said anything to her about the fact that he was speaking to her like she was mentally challenged or couldn’t speak English. “Honey, I took the checks so cash wouldn’t run away from them. To protect you and the studio.”

Michael Lohan then shows up to save the day. We see Lindsay gets her acting skills from Michael who plays the role of ‘concerned and unfairly blamed sympathetic dad’ this episode. I’m sure Michael Lohan’s “two random fucking kids” appreciate being brought into this.

After Lindsay’s lunch with her dad we were left with several questions. Who’s Gavin? Who’s Lindsay’s new boyfriend? Does eating vodka sauce constitute a crime against sobriety or just dieting in general? Michael Lohan obviously wants to be the one to get Lindsay to reveal this guy’s full name so he can get more camera time.

This family obviously places a high bar on pride.

Michael Lohan: I’m so proud of Lindsay for not drinking herself into a stupor after things didn’t go right with getting the keys to the apartment.

Honestly I see how Lindsay got this fucked up after watching like 10 minutes of discussions with Michael Lohan about the family dynamic.  Lindsay, much like the Hulk, likes to state when she’s angry. “Now you’re getting me angry. Stop naming names.”

Lindsay: It hurts me to see my little brother need a $48,000 car just like the rest of his friends have and he can’t have it. You’re not going to build your way back into Cody’s life by not buying him a car. #LohanFamilyValues

Linds’ life coach really gets at Lindsay’s deepest struggles like, ‘how do you feel about not getting the new apartment keys?’ and ‘do you prefer top or bottom?’

This fake car chase is such ridiculous drama that I can’t decide if it’s dumber than the apartment key saga.

Can personal assistant Matt get his own spinoff show about the trials of being Lindsay Lohan’s average looking assistant? #MattsWorld.

Staying sober is like studying for a test, which I never did either.

The format of this show is basically Lindsay fighting with various people with random breaks for dramatic music and words on the screen that look like this:

49 days. Still no keys.

Finally Lindsay moves into this apartment and we can end this fucking plot line. This apartment is actually very nice, I should invest in some Pilgrim Studios stock.

Read more: http://www.betcheslovethis.com/article/lindsay-recap-part-2-until-she-fucks-up-you-can-assume-shes-going-to

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