Wednesday, January 22, 2014
as I visit my therapist. Okay, I promised I would let you know how it went, when I visited a therapist to seek assistance in freeing myself from disorderly eating. I will spare you the gory details, but I will share with you some of the things she is asking me to do, in case you find any of it helpful. So far, we have not done any Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (C.B.T.) which is what I told her I was seeking when I began this counseling. She is experienced at C.B.T. but she said she uses a "mixed bag" of skills to help people. I promised myself I would keep an open mind, and I have, so we have just talked through the first couple of sessions. Last week, she gave me an assignment. She asked me to name a food that I eat compulsively. I told her I find ice cream is a food I have historically had trouble with. She said "I am not going to tell you not to eat ice cream. You know you will and I know you will. I am only asking that you pay attention to what is going on, when you eat it." Oddly, I did not rush right out and buy ice cream to commence with my homework project. But, when I did buy some several days later, I felt like I bore out one of the things she and I talked about. She told me that when I feel almost helpless to stop eating certain things, once I start, it isn't sheer weakness or just my imagination. She told me about an article she read, about food executives meeting, and their discussion about how to promote their foods. One quote, that stuck with me, was "we have figured out the perfect balance of fat/sugar/salt/chemicals to reach the bliss point in the brain." I find this chilling. It reminds me of a bunch of drug dealers/evil scientists figuring out how to make heroin even more addictive. Although, my experience is that I don't eat compulsively to reach a "bliss point", I eat compulsively to shut up the urge to eat compulsively - the urge that nags and pesters and bugs me to the point that I just want it to shut up and leave me alone. I don't always feel compulsive around food, though. Certain conditions allow me to feel less vulnerable around trigger foods - having gotten plenty of sleep, being engaged with whatever I am doing or whoever I am spending time with, having eaten plenty of nutritious food, especially protein, and, something I have always noticed, is that I feel less compulsive around food when I am listening to music (as opposed to watching t.v., or using the computer, or reading). So, anyway, back to the assignment, I paid attention to when I was feeling the most compulsive about eating, and it is often preceded by my feeling anxious, or bored, or if I have gotten through a very stressful event. I don't eat when I am truly sad. So, this is not new information for me - I have observed this in myself many times. But, I reported back to the therapist. We have a good rapport, already, so I find her quite easy to talk with and to listen to. She gave me two new assignments for this week. When I find myself saying "I need to......" whether it be "I need to do the dishes" or "I need to call my mother" or "I need to listen to my husband" or any of the dozens and dozens of things I tell myself I need to do in any given day, or hour, I am to change the wording in my head to "I want to....." and just see if I notice a difference. I think she is on to something. I have always observed that most of the people, especially women, that I have known who battle with weight are also people who tend to do a lot for other people. They tend to be people who volunteer a lot, who are hardworking and conscientious employees, and the people who are the caregivers in their family, and the people who think of others and do for others and help and help and help and give and give and give and put themselves last on their own list. They (we) seem to do much of this "good" behavior in an attempt to prove worth and to avoid disapproval. I often feel like I empty myself out, doing for others, and eating is a quick way to fill myself up, and I don't just mean with food. It is an easy way to feel like I am taking time that is just for me, where I am tending to me and no one else. The other assignment is for me to ask myself what jobs I can "fire myself" from. Again, she is onto something here. I have a history of doing for others what they can and should do for themselves. This is an obvious one, but will be difficult. I love to take care of other people (except when I resent it, and get tired of it). I can remain generous with others and still take good care of myself, and be generous with giving myself rest, and time alone, and time to do things for me, and time to pursue interests. I told the therapist that I am keenly aware that I deserve to be treated better than the self-sabotage of compulsive over-eating. Mainly, I just feel ready to put more of my focus on taking care of my own self in a way that helps me find peace of mind, especially as it concerns this tiresome old struggle of food and weight. Obviously, food and weight are just signs that I am out of balance and that I need to continue to make changes, some of them uncomfortable (for me, and for others). I am grateful to have SP, and all of you, be a part of the on-going process.