Making Peace (note for friends/family)

So that little cheesecake yesterday kind of freaked you out? I should never eat anything like that? Oh, it’s bad, really REALLY BAD?

Okay, what should fat girls eat? Lettuce dowsed with vinegar? Prepackaged Jenny Craig or Lean Cusine? Or just weigh and measure everything, always following rules and charts that define which foods are allowed, limited or absolutely forbidden?

Straight up, I am down… oh geez, got to do math. Okay, I now weigh 16 pounds less than what it says on my state ID and y’all know that I lost ye 50 pounds before that but I gained some back doing the up 3 down 5, up 7 down 2, and so on in typical diet/binge seesaw battles, and then down about 30 since I moved here, mostly since halloween when I finally had enough and QUIT dieting and, most importantly, QUIT bingeing. Exact weight loss? I don’t know, with all the ups and downs since 1971, I have lost somewhere between 2 and 3 thousands pounds. The thing is, I’m seeing lower numbers on the scales than I’ve seen in five years and as long as I do NOT diet/binge, those numbers will continue to drop down to somewhere around “normal” even if I occassionally have a slice of cheesecake.

Yes, I suppose you could call this a “lifestyle change” as living binge-free is a serious lifestyle change but it is a hell of a lot more than a food plan.

As for a “food plan” since some of you are so programmed to believe that a restrictive plan of eating is vital to life, I am using the idea of “Intuitive Eating” as a guide. In other words, I have yet to buy the book, but you can google to find the basic principles. It is a simple idea: eat when hungry, stop when full.

Part of intuitive eating is to MAKE PEACE with food. Feeding yourself should not be a war. Food is not the enemy. I happen to like food. I enjoy food and guess what peeps… you are supposed to!

I made the mistake years ago of using food to shove down “inappropriate” emotions that I was unable to express about things I did not know how to deal with. I was too locked in silence to talk to anyone. Then bingeing is such a horrid secret thing in itself, perpetuates into a vicious cycle. It becomes a bad coping mechanism for a lot of other things, a quick way to not feel whatever you don’t want to feel. I used bingeing as a way to contain emotions, to contain myself. The excess weight is a symptom, not the problem. Yeah, so I’m a little screwed up? But it is going to be okay… fair warning, dear friends and family, I am coming out.

Yes, I am coming out better and stronger and more devine than I ever was… that scares me but it is going to be okay.

Well, I hope this answers that “what are you doing to lose weight” question because if anyone asks me again, I’m just going to make up something silly that is obviously not true.

Thanks for reading!

The Last Bastion

A couple quotes (or misquotes) usually attributed to Albert Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

“You cannot solve a problem with the mind that created it. First, you must change the mind.”

Straight up, I am going to be very honest here and share my dirty little secret, the last bastion, the one thing that I hid from even the people closest to me. I am embarrassed as all hell to admit this, but it is the last bastion because I have worked on everything else. Yeah, so I am not totally messed up… just got this stupid little problem that needs addressed and dealt with. It is the last on a short list of serious issues that have prevented me from enjoying the freedom to be the whole and healthy person that I was meant to be.

I have binge eating disorder. There, I said it. Just saying it out loud zaps some of the power out of it. I know that it is totally messed up, right there on the edge of bizarre, and it doesn’t make any sense to anyone who doesn’t do it and doesn’t make much sense to those of us who do. I don’t know how to explain it. Call it a negative coping mechanism, a self destructive behavior, a defensive thing, a self protective thing, a mind numbing thing… it becomes everything all rolled into one and no one in their right mind could really understand when it makes no sense. It doesn’t make much sense to the people caught up in this mess. I have tried repeatedly over the years, a good 40 years, to not just understand it but to STOP it.

Which is why I landed in this CBT that is flustrating the hell out of me. I have been in therapy before, usually for depressions as I’ve been dealing with reoccurring depression for just as long. I’ve had the “improve your self esteem so you won’t be depressed anymore” therapy and the “resolve childhood issues and you won’t be depressed anymore” therapy and the “teach me how to live with this shit” therapy, which btw, was the most effective. The great late Dr. Kraft in Warren, Ohio, bless his soul, taught me how to recognize and deal with symptoms, when to row and when to float, etc. I’ve enjoyed many depression-free days since… depression is still my nemisis, still comes back around, but I can deal. I also know when to ask for help, when to go back on meds if neccessary.
Anyway, when my new doc suggested therapy for BED (binge eating disorder) I was thinking yes… time to deal with the last bastion. I will learn the skills neccessary to finally be able to put an end to this nonsense once and for all. I was also leary because I was afraid that he was trying to backdoor me into therapy for depression because he also prescribed Bupropion HCL (generic immediate release Wellbutrin) dispite my objections – arguing that I am NOT depressed did achieve a lowered dose than he had prescribed when I was depressed awhile back.

Okay, I go off meds for two reasons: I either no longer need them or I just think that I no longer need them… sometimes, I really do not need them. Major clue there is that the pills mess with me if I really don’t need them. Sometimes I just think I don’t need them because everything is fine, feel fine, and taking the pill seems like taking a placebo. Going off then is usually a bad idea because that is a sign that meds are doing exactly what they are supposed to do. When the pills start messing with me, its time to lower the dose or go off… so, you see my reluctance to go back on meds when I don’t really need them.

Okay – so here is how this CBT is going:

Session #0: initial appt with shrink.
I take in a typed up outline, one sheet of paper, basically stating a brief history, my self help efforts, known triggers, etc. Idea is to save time… no need to rehash stuff I have already dealt with, the why it started, all the stuff shrinks waste months to learn while building up a trust thing or whatever. Like here I am, teach me the skills neccessary to effectively deal with this problem.

He tells me that all I need is 5 cognitive behavior modification sessions. I am to go to OA meetings (a twelve step program) to help me abstain from bingeing and he wants me to look up CBT so I know what to expect from this kind of therapy.

Okay, I check out OA and the nearest meeting on the WRTA bus line is at a time & place that I could get there by bus, but I would have to take a taxi home. We are talking about dropping at least $20 on cab fare. Yikes! With tip, that’s a c-note every month. Since I cannot afford that, I check out online & phone meetings and try very hard to keep an open mind.

I still have a problem with “step one” since OA substitutes “food” for the word “alcohol” to use (abuse?) the AA program of recovery for their own purpose as that means that I have to assign power to broccolli and chips and little red beans, sliced carrots and roast beef… food is just food. I have to PRETEND food has power over me? Sorry, it just does not ring true for me. Does this mean that I am incapable of being honest with myself? Or am I too honest with myself? The ONLY way that I can work a 12 step program for this problem is to substitute my OWN words, scratch out “food” and write in “binge” as it is the BEHAVIOR that can, and must, be abstained from.

Anyway, the jury is still out on the OA thing. Regardless of whether or not I embrace the program, abstaining from bingeing is and must always be my number one priority.

Session #1 (second visit to shrink, first cbt session)
This is the session where the doc threw out a bunch of what makes you feel this or that questions that apparently I did not answer adequately or fast enough. He also asked questions about my relationships with other people (family, etc.) And about things that I don’t like to talk about… apparently, most girls with eating disorders were sexually assaulted (my word, he used abused) as children. He suggested that I was “detached” from my emotions and so, took it as the assignment, think about what makes me feel this or that before next session.

CBT session #2
My assignment from this session is to write down everything I eat on paper or use a phone app… a known trigger! When I write down everything I eat, I become very obcessive about eating and it is only a matter of time before the constant thinking about food triggers a binge. This is a diet technique that I have tried many times, countless times in many variations over many years and always with the same results. What’s that quote about insanity?

I want CBT to change how I think, change the mind… cannot solve the problem with the same mindset that created it and I sure as hell don’t want diet techniques that have been proven, over and over again, to provoke the exact same response.

Okay… I like this therapist. He is a nice guy and all… but this is not working. I honestly think that HE thinks that it is not working, that it cannot work. Partly my fault as I am NOT just going along with everything in a bubble-head “okay” mindless compliance.

We spent part of this sessions discussing weight loss techniques. My goal is NOT weight loss, that’s not the biggie problem here… binge avoidance, elimination of that negative coping mechanism, whatever you want to call it, THAT is the problem, so what are we treating here? The problem? Or a symptom?

He tells me that he suggested OA because it is FREE and weight watchers & all the other weight loss support groups (diet clubs) cost money… rattles off something about the OA program is “three meals a day, no skipping, two snacks, and no white…” He stopped after the “white” but I may have been glaring at him by that point. Wow, he really don’t get it. Even with my limited knowledge about OA, it is definately NOT a diet club and the only food plan is a take it or leave it TOOL that some people choose to use. There are like a zillion million types of people using that program for all sorts of variations of eating disorders, each free to define what abstainance means to them. To USE the program as a diet club is ABUSE of the program and if one of the purposes for me to attend real meetings is to “socialize” then whoa… I can go play bingo.

The thing that really makes me think that he doesn’t believe that I can recover (or simply clueless about treating this disorder) is that he asked if I would consider bariatric surgery. He does a lot of pre-surgical psych evals. The man sees “dumping syndrome” as a “positive” reinforcement!

Oh sure… if the problem was in the stomach, mutilating abdominal organs would solve everything… offering a lobotomy would make more sense since the problem is in the frikkin head. Both are like suicide: permanent solutions to temporary problems. Except for that little thing about still being here.

So, guess I’m left to face this last bastion on my own, but not really… I’m not out of resourses yet. Abstainance from bingeing is, and must always be, my number one priority. It has to be, as a friend told me, a “non-option” as in, can’t do it, not an option. I’m still not sure about the OA thing… still trying to keep an open mind.

Its the mind that has to change so I am seeking help with my fingertips, searching the internet to find what I had hoped CBT would provide. Found a wordpress blog in my google seach that seems like it may be helpful. The URL to a post offering CBT worksheets is http://iveronicawelsh.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-worksheets/

Regardless, this is my last bastion… I have to own my own recovery. I have to tear down the walls, so today, I am tearing down the wall of silence. It is hard to keep a dirty little secret when it is thrown out there on the internet for anyone on the globe to read. This is like shining a flashlight under the BED and hoping the monsters disappear. Silence kills.

Next week, I will hit the bookstore and look in the self-help section. I’ve toyed with the idea of “intuitive eating” and most binge-free days seem to follow those principles so maybe I should buy the book.

Any suggestions for blogs, books, etc.?

Pink Therapy

I have come to the conclusion that cognitive behavior therapy is like anything else. To eat the fish, spit out the bones. If his suggestions do not work, then I must find what does, take the bull by the horns and own my own recovery.

So I gave myself a manicure, painting the nails “Petites #240 Hot Fushia” even though my fingernails are now short and neat like man nails. I did the toes to match.

Sounds stupid, but biting my nails again seems to be the only “behavior modification” replacing the behavior that I am trying to erradicate from my life so it is best to nip this right in the bud. I gave up biting my nails when I started smoking. Spent my teen years replacing one bad behavior with another, self medicating, and developing negative coping mechanisms.

Now I am 52 years old, have already dealt with “issues” that sparked the behavior in the first place, and still… it is hard to let go of what I do not need anymore.

So what am I so afraid of? Will the earth shatter if/when I stop trying to contain myself?

No… in fact, no one would even notice. I have spent most of my life trying to contain myself, to slide under the radar pretending to be normal. I can’t do it anymore… even this blog, to bee out loud, runs cross-grain to that pretend persona.

Part of it has to do with how we were raised. We grew up in glass houses, church parsonages, so it was deeply ingrained in us that whatever we do reflects on our parents. It is a cardinal sin to embarress your mother. There are people to this day who believe that “Nancy is so quiet.” Nancy is this… Nancy is that… very few people actually know me. Nancy is happiest when she is being her own self, not pretending to be some quiet little mouse of a woman fading off into a neutral background.

Oh… it is time to come out and play. I cannot contain myself anymore. Hot fushia pink nail polish on hands in fur trimmed fingerless gloves? Oh yeah, so me.

Recovery is me, too.