Hysteria in Aisle Two

handmade greeting cards, collage artI woke up yesterday frantic, bolted out of bed and grabbed up my journal.  Something had to be done.  I needed a plan.

The day before I’d stepped on the scale at the Y.  Twenty pounds had crept back on.  I nearly fainted with horror and despair.  Not again, please.  Not again.

So, I sat at my table at 4:30 in the morning, trying to figure it out, trying to find one thread I could pull out of that frayed panic to gather my Will and my focus back together.  Because, I reasoned, if I can’t stop the binging and the food frenzies, then how can I stop myself from compulsively spending?  If I can’t control my spending, I’ll never be able to save for a car.  I’ll be dependent the rest of my life.  If I can’t stop the weight from coming back, I’ve lost and the illness wins.

So, okay, I thought, today—only water with lemon, fruits and vegetables.  I’ll make smoothies.  I’ll stay at the library all day if I have to.  I can do this for one day.  I can.

But, even as I wrote that and meant it, another part of me knew I could never pull it off.  How many times had I tried extreme measures—fasts, cleanses, sudden dietary shocks meant to galvanize the metabolism?  That kind of clamping down on the ravenous feeding only made it worse.  Every time.  I knew, even as I promised myself one day of food sanity, that I was poking a very large animal with a pointy stick.

I white-knuckled it until noon, then found myself at the microwave, making a plate of nachos.

It was a relief, really, to acknowledge my true nature.

Compulsive eating is part of my illness.  So are compulsive spending and sex.  And because they are compulsions, there’s no rational way to get rid of them. Believe me I’ve tried.  My therapist and I have looked at these behaviors from every angle.  The only way I’ve found to work with them is to acknowledge them and give them space.  To hold them with an open hand instead of a closed fist.  Which seems counter intuitive when they are raging.  I want the gobbling to stop, not watch the freak show as it happens.  But, weirdly, watching does help.  It tempers the ferocity and lessens the destruction.

By trying to save money, I’ve put my self in a pressure cooker.  Being poor has always triggered me, so I knew choosing to be even poorer might be dangerous.  But, I also thought that having a goal, something to work toward, might make that stress easier to bear.  Could I temper the panic and the compulsion to spend money?

The answer, it seems, is yes.  But the anxiety and compulsivity squirted sideways in food frenzies.  They will not be denied.

I’m not giving up, though.  I just passed through a couple of ragged days, and it’s hard to watch when the depression, anxiety and mania color the view.  I’m clearer today, and calmer.  The radio in my head has dialed away from the Self-Hatred channel and is back on Easy Listening.  Today, I’m okay about gaining back the weight.  It’s a temporary adjustment to all the stress.  And if it’s not temporary, then, that will have to be okay, too.  I’m going to let it be.  Instead, I’ll turn my attention to the stress itself—the feelings of deprivation and powerlessness, the fear and uncertainty.

I’ll become an Observer, like September on Fringe, changing the outcome just by watching the experiment, noting the effects with a gentle, non-judgmental attitude.  Like September, I can’t be completely objective.  We both care about the outcome of the experiment too much.  And I may keep binging, but at least I won’t be eating raw roast beef sandwiches with seven jalapeños and tabasco sauce.  I still have a little dignity.

Fringe, September

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Littlesundog
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 20:55:36

    I really wish I could get you here for a little woodland therapy. There’s more work to do around here than you can shake a stick at… and it sure beats the hell out of poking a very large animal with a pointy stick!!


  2. docrob50
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 22:59:10



  3. docrob50
    Apr 04, 2013 @ 23:01:23

    I posted this on FB and Pinterest – hope you don’t mind the FB post.
    I follow you on Pin and you me so – I’ve found I like Pining more than FB anyway. I just shake my head seeing you in my mind’s eye – seeing you with kindness and compassion and admiration.


  4. judyrobbinsart
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 08:33:05

    Such honesty, Sandy Sue – most people do not look at themselves this hard. I don’t think an hour goes by without thinking about my weight and I have been like this all my adult life. So I am with you in the battle.


  5. Michelle at The Green Study
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 09:49:57

    Compulsive eating is usually a problem at the top of my list as well. If I have learned anything at all, it’s that rules and strict plans do the opposite. I’ll eat in defiance of them. It’s the panic that makes it worse. I try a gentler approach: “I would like to eat a house today, but maybe I’ll just eat the shingles with a side of shrubs.”

    Pick your worst case pigout and just make yourself walk back two steps. I can only handle the little choices. Massive starvation today will not solve a month of vacuum eating, but learning to walk back a notch seems a little more manageable. Mostly, be kind to yourself.


  6. pegoleg
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 11:46:16

    Oh jeez, Sandy. THAT’s what your comment on my post meant. I can’t believe we were both fixating on 20+ pounds yesterday. I am soooo with you on this – the self-hatred leading to self-denial, which never works.

    I’m hoping you can make small improvements. I think it’s safer to try to slow the train down a little, rather than hit the brakes all at once.


  7. ManicMuses
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:14:41

    All I can say is: I totally relate. Hate that head radio. Just hate it. Why can’t we get stuck on Easy Listening once in a while? 🙂 You’re so great at describing the noise of this illness. I hope you find center again very soon. Love from NL


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