Don’t you wish we could come out of a depression, or a relapse, or compulsive episode, or an anxiety attack, and just slip back into life as if nothing had happened? Don’t you wish we could skip the “consequences” phase?
I sure do. This has been one of my sharper dips, and even realizing I was in trouble (H.A.L.T.) apparently wasn’t enough, because I found myself acting out badly. I think my biggest mistake was not asking for more help from other people; letting the loneliness convince me that I shouldn’t. At any rate, I am coming back–and not enjoying what is waiting for me.
There weren’t any drugs, thank goodness, but there was food. More than that, for a couple of days there was the kind of compulsive eating that crosses a line into truly worrisome behavior for me. The kind that goes on well after the body has had enough. The kind that becomes a senseless, masochistic ritual that for some reason demands completion, while a part of me looks on aghast and calculates what the consequences are going to be.
Not everyone shares my history of disordered eating, and it might be hard to understand how food can be like a drug. How overeating can produce dullness and grogginess, or one hell of a hangover the next day. How those crazy rituals can be played out in a search for oblivion, a search that requires more and more to shut off the growing horror at what is happening.
I have to humble myself and admit that this is the worst compulsive eating I’ve done since losing the weight. I don’t want to own it, but I have to. I also have to see it as a symptom, and listen to what it’s saying. I have to do whatever it takes to prevent it from continuing to happen, because I can’t live like that. So I’m telling people, and asking for help with some of the things that were overloading me.
Today my mind is coming back to a better place, and I have to live with the fact that my body is going to take much longer to return. It’s sick, sluggish and bloated with what I did to it, and it will take days or weeks of better treatment to reverse the effects. Fear and resentment about this try to drag my mood back down.
I used to feel a lot of self-loathing when I did these kinds of things. I wouldn’t say I am completely free of that, but a lot of it is less directed at what I see as my true self and more directed at the intrapsychic force that wants me dead or miserable. Instead of dwelling on how awful I am, I’m noticing how hard my “enemy” is trying to hurt me–and instead of hating myself, I hate it.
What I noticed in the last couple of days is that I hate “it” with an intensity that surprises me. The anger, the frustration, the loathing has a new flavor now, and I know why.
Our response to a threat is in direct proportion to how much we value what is being threatened. Between the time binge eating was a regular part of my life and now, I’ve discovered something in myself I value in a new way. Something that makes the price of acting out so much higher. Writing, and the ability to do it, is one mark of this thing, whatever it is–and my eating disorder made a big mistake this time, because it showed me that when it takes over, my creativity is part of the price.
That is why a part of my psyche is currently dressing in black leather, slipping knives into multiple sheaths and striding to an ominous bass beat. No. Hell, no. No more. Sure, it takes more than fierce desire to get back on track. My psyche needs to call its healers, its clerics and its sages. They need to help me use self-care and surrender to thrive within the boundaries my body needs. But every army needs a leader with a determination to fight, and it does feel amazing to know I have one now.