Wednesday, July 01, 2009
I am realizing that the momentary feeling of bliss does not fix the long term misery I feel. It feels so good when I am eating three breakfast burritos in the parking lot of Jack in the Box. Yet when I am done I feel ashamed, guilty, and overwhelming sense of lack of control. I tell myself that I am weak, disgusting, and that I won’t do it again, but I do over and over. Desperation hits and I want to make up for going overboard so I don’t eat anything else that day. Often I reason with myself that “I haven’t had anything to eat all day so it is okay” even when I know it isn’t.
It sounds like the problem is food but it is far from it. Masking my feelings, holding them down inside, I feel nothing but the craving for whatever food of the moment is. The regrets, insecurities and fear that I have are separate from the food. The food is just a short term fix to the years of been a dysfunctional human being.
I am transfixed on eating to avoid the pain. Yet I know the pain is always there but for a flitting moment pure joy. It is similar to being high. According to the Addiction and Recovery.org (http://www.addictionsandrecov
ction.htmi), the medical definition of addiction is to meet seven criteria as illustrated by answering the follow questions:
1. Tolerance. Has your use of eating gotten worse over time?
2. Withdrawal. When you stop overeating, have you ever experienced physical or emotional withdrawal? Have you had any of the following symptoms: irritability, anxiety, shakes, sweats, nausea, or vomiting?
3. Difficulty controlling your use. Do you sometimes eat more than you would like? Do you stop after a eating a healthy amount usually, or does eating lead to more eating?
4. Negative consequences. Have you continued to eat even though there have been negative consequences to your mood, self-esteem, health, job, or family?
5. Putting off or neglecting activities. Have you ever put off or reduced social, recreational, work, or household activities because of you would rather eat?
6. Spending significant time or emotional energy. Have you spent a significant amount of time obtaining food, eating, concealing food, planning to get food, or recovering from your eating physically? Have you spend a lot of time thinking about food? Have you ever concealed or minimized your eating? Have you ever thought of schemes to avoid getting caught?
7. Desire to cut down. Have you sometimes thought about cutting down or controlling your eating? Have you ever made unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control your eating?
If you answered yes to at least 3 of these questions, then you meet the medical definition of addiction. I answered yes to 95% these questions yet it is hard for me to say I am an addict. I have NEVER used illegal drugs, I appropriately use prescription drugs and I rarely drink alcohol. Let’s be honest the food I choose tastes awesome; I probably wouldn’t eat it if it didn’t taste good. It is so hard to come to the realization, that something that makes you feel so good, even though intellectually you know that it is bad. It is maddening!
I know that it is physically harming my body. My joints and legs hurt all the time, my feet and ankles swell due to the pressure of my weight, I can’t tie my shoes, and I find it hard to breath. I think that is the realization that my eating habits were out of control. I knew I was hurting but I continued to eat even though I knew it was bad. It is a spiraling effect. The worse I feel , the more I eat and the worse I feel. It is overwhelming and I feel hopeless. How do you fix something that is so ingrained in your mind such as feelings? Is it possible to change your feelings and behavior by exploring them and owning them? I think it is. I truly believe that once you understand yourself and come to terms with the lament, shame and insecurities that shape you , you can rise above it and move forward. Lee J. Colan in his book 7 Defining Moments said it well when he wrote, “Since we fear most that which is unknown to us, defining moments of change occur when we choose to know our fear”.
So what is my plan for overcoming this problem? Mark Twain said that “One learns through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect”. Work on identifying my feelings, expressing my feelings and coming to terms with those feelings is a big part of recovering and changing. I can’t afford to go to a treatment center. I can talk though and I will begin a eating disorder therapy group. I am journaling my thoughts in this blog. I am participating in individual therapy with a Licensed Medical Social Worker who specializes in eating disorders. I am reading books on the subject and participating in forums.