Challenging the Truth

My therapist and I finished the program specific to PTSD in Seeking Safety by Lisa M. Najavits.  Some of it was good, some lame, but one particular exercise moved my whole life in a different direction.

We all have beliefs—things we know to be true.  But beliefs can keep us stuck if we don’t risk challenging them.  In “Discovery,” we take beliefs and create a plan to find out if they are really true.  In my first round of Discovery, I looked at how I believed I was helpless to stop getting lung infections every year.  I did two things to test that truth—I hired someone to come clean my apartment once a month to see if getting rid of dust on a regular basis would help, and I arranged to see a pulmonologist.

The effect of better housekeeping won’t show up for a while, but the pulmonologist I saw a week ago gave me some straight dope.  It’s doubtful I even have asthma (though I went through more testing earlier this week to be sure), and aside from anemia there was only one other cause for all my physical symptoms.  Obesity.

When I read that in the doctor’s report, I phased out for a bit.  Dissociated is the clinical term.  The brain protects itself by going bye-bye (My experience of dissociation feels like I’m about to faint—my hands and feet go numb, I can’t hear, and I lose time).

There’s something about food, dieting, fat and binge eating that feels too horrible to face.  If I thought I felt helpless about my lungs, the belief is multiplied a thousand fold around controlling my intake.  I can’t control it.  I never have been able to control it.  I firmly believe I never will.

But, I also knew the doctor was right.  I used to be a nurse.  I still remember a little physiology.  Increased risk of infection, higher blood pressure, skin breakdown, joint pain and damage can all be hitched to the Obesity Train.

So, I went back to Discovery, because I’m very stuck in these beliefs around food.  I talked to both Megan, my therapist and Sarah, the nurse practitioner, who are my mental health team.  We drew up a plan to test my truth, and I decided early on to say, “yes” to whatever they proposed.

Sarah suggested I try switching to a low carb/high fat diet (one diet I’d never tried).  It seems counter-intuitive, and feels really weird, but I’ve been doing it for four days now.  After eating vegan for a couple of years, it seems wrong to buy sirloin and pork cutlets.  But, I’m doing it.  I still feel like I have the flu—urpy, roiling gut, drop-dead exhaustion—but I was warned about this “adjustment period” as my metabolism switches from burning carbs to burning fat.

The compulsion to binge eat is still there, but there’s not much to binge on.  It seems easier (at least in this initial phase) to go do something else.  But, I hate the way food feels in my mind.  It’s like a rubber band that’s stretched too tight.  I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed that before—the discomfort, the pressure, the tension.  I’m seeing how I seek to be numb where food is concerned—something to explore in therapy.

I will lose weight, I always do.  It’s just that I’ve never kept it off and usually gain back more.  This feels like my last chance to figure it out.  I would love to have a toolbox for Food as comprehensive as my toolbox for Bipolar Disorder.  Pretending the problems don’t exist isn’t much of a tool.  Neither are the industry standards in nutrition.  As Sarah said, “We have to do more than think outside the box.  We have to create a whole new box.”

They’re both doing this low carb diet with me, and when I go for my appointments, we’ll do them walking around the block.  I feel like there’s a chance we could actually create something new.

Life is never what one dreams.  It is seldom what one desires, but, for the vital spirit and the eager mind, the future will always hold the search for buried treasure and the possibility of high adventure. — Ellen Glasgow

21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sawsan
    Jul 01, 2017 @ 23:08:22

    A whole new box, wonderful ❤


  2. Littlesundog
    Jul 01, 2017 @ 23:40:13

    This certainly changes everything, doesn’t it? I imagine it will feel strange for a while considering you’ve been vegan for so long. I had to get off my high carb diet years ago – it was the driving force that kept my cortisol jumping off the charts. I am really interested to see how this works for you, and how you feel along the way. I am all about improving diet, and feeling good. 🙂


  3. David Kanigan
    Jul 02, 2017 @ 04:00:03

    Moved by your authenticity


  4. BipolarOnFire
    Jul 02, 2017 @ 07:49:40

    This post challenged me since I am also obese and a binge eater. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly.


  5. Cheryl LaVille
    Jul 02, 2017 @ 08:31:30

    Thank you for sharing your honest attempts at change. I hope this one sticks.


  6. Val Boyko
    Jul 02, 2017 @ 15:11:45

    Trying something new takes courage. One more belief to face head on and to dissolve. I’m so glad you have a good team supporting you Sandy!


  7. Writer Lori
    Jul 02, 2017 @ 17:36:25

    Sandy, you are amazing. Full. Stop. (As our mutual friend DK would say) I am awed by your tenacity, your bravery, your willingness to try new approaches, plow new ground, consider ‘being’ another way. You are my hero…. Can’t wait to hear how you make out….


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 02, 2017 @ 21:21:11

      Thanks so much, Lori. I don’t feel very willing, just cornered. The day after I read the doctor’s report, I left the Y after my swim and thought, “I’d rather die than go through this again.” Well, I guess not. At least not today.


  8. pegoleg
    Jul 05, 2017 @ 10:20:27

    I hear you. I wrote about this earlier this year: I’m down to normal, thin person size once more and I’m really enjoying the feeling. But I gained 2-1/2 pounds over one holiday weekend of not even eating whatever I want, just some of what I want. Scary to step on the scale this morning and see how easy-peezy it goes back on after I worked 2 months, up and down 2 pounds, before a new 1/2 pound left my body. And to realize that what I consider active dieting is what “normal” people do all the friggin’ time to stay at their target weight.

    So I’m glad for you, and I know you can do it, but I also know that once you do it, once WE do it, it doesn’t stay done without constant vigilance. Sigh.


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 05, 2017 @ 12:11:00

      I went back to read your post. Yes, to everything you said.

      I don’t even know what’s true any more. All I really know is what’s happened in the past—what actions I took, how I felt, the kinds of thoughts in my head. I sorta believe my nurse practitioner when she says we have to create a whole new box to think outside of (did that even make sense?). But I don’t have any faith in my ability to FIND such a thing. It’s so uncomfortable, being out here in AWARENESS when I was miserably comfortable in denial. I checked out a couple of books from the library. They all make me phase out. But that means there’s some kind of truth there, which I can take to my therapist for help in swallowing it.

      The one I’m reading now is aimed at teenage to young adult girls, so I thought I could never relate. Oh, man. There’s good stuff here. “Better is Not So Far Away” by Melissa Groman.


  9. Elaine GREEN
    Jul 06, 2017 @ 14:57:26

    Checking in to say ‘hello’ .. I read your comments regularly and know that you are working really hard.. Sending love


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