Taking Up The Sword Again

After trying a couple of mood stabilizers (ie. anti-psychotics) in November and December, and going boo-boo faced and dipsey-doodle in several different directions, I told my shrink I’d take a break from drug trials through January.

The experience gave me what I hoped for—a chemical slap upside my brain that shook it loose from the depressive tar. Since Christmas, my mood has been noticeably better. I’m back to making art and moving ahead with my therapist.

Our current Adventure—one I vowed I’d never try again—is working with my compulsive eating disorder. But I’ve learned my lesson about saying never.

The first phase was to keep track of what I ate by Food Groups (protein, dairy etc.). Doing it this way seemed to drain out a lot of the shame and resistance. Even when I binged, I could still make my little tick marks.

My pattern is to try something new like this for a week or so, binge/gain weight/lose hope, and quit. I wanted to quit several times, but I’m still at it after three weeks.

This week we added a new task. After a lot of discussion and tears (on my part), my therapist gave me a tiny lava lamp that was actually a two-minute timer. Before I eat anything, I’m to watch those groovy bubbles for two minutes with the mantra “I am becoming aware.” After the two minutes I can eat whatever I want.

This does a couple of things. It interrupts the compulsion and creates a tiny gap for a bit of mindfulness to creep in.

I was terrified.

I also watched the bubbles. And DAMN if it isn’t doing exactly what Sonya said it would do.

I’m finding that the exercise calms my mind. The Observer moves in front of the compulsion and watches without judgment. Most of the time, I make healthier choices about what to eat after watching bubbles. I’m not as scared about my Drug of Choice being taken away from me. I’m not as resistant to reaching for bubbles before Cheetos.

I don’t know if I can break pattern and keep this up, but today I feel a little like Graham McTavish’s Dougal from Outlander (above). Sword in hand, the Bipolar Bad-Ass is back. With bubbles.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Hatfield
    Jan 07, 2022 @ 11:19:20

    This is awesome, Sandy! Thanks for posting. This is a great idea for breaking any habit, like my smoking even.

    Reply

  2. Anita S
    Jan 07, 2022 @ 11:30:00

    This is an intriguing idea. It sounds too simple to work, but I would like to give it a try. Do you have any idea where your therapist got the timer? I also eat compulsively and feeling pretty hopeless about it at this point.

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Jan 07, 2022 @ 14:15:42

      I don’t know where she got the timer, but she works with a lot of kids, and I think it was in the toy box. I’m thinking a dollar store might be a good bet.

      Reply

  3. Lori Seavey-Christian
    Jan 07, 2022 @ 11:37:15

    👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

    Reply

  4. TamrahJo
    Jan 07, 2022 @ 12:01:38

    Congrats! The moment you wait, and track what you ARE eating – truthfully, for yourself – you find an ‘everyday’ you can live with – I TRULY believe this! For me? The minute I give in to ‘busy/stress/craving sweets’ which I normally do not crave salt or sweets to the extent many around me do! I see that ‘craving’ more and more as a ‘reminder’ for me to check in with meself and see what I’m stressed about, working to hard on, frustrated on, etc.

    I’ve also noticed, over the years, that the moment my daily ingestion includes ‘fast/ready to eat’ things – (i.e. snack cakes, candy, chips, crackers) I can ‘graze all damn day, and still be starving – – and yet, let me have some pasta shells on hand, let me have that block of velveeta cheese and somedays? i’m just ready for quick/easy meal to throw together that provides ‘comfort food’ for me – I just had in some stuff – peppers, onions, some kind of veggie – – spices for digestion and digestive health – some kind of protein (tuna, bacon, hamburger, chicken etc.) and well?

    It satisfies my BODY more AND I don’t feel as if I am still starving, after eating it…

    The same cannot be said for my ‘quick to grab, eat, I’m BUSY working!!!! Too much work to do!!! I don’t have time to cook!!!!” things –

    I only share this with you because I truly believe some foods interfere with our ability to ‘feel satiated and full’ – no matter what our mind/heart/coping skills are – I truly believe that, as experienced by myself – And I recently put in another ‘rule’ for meself – based off the advice, “Whatever you eat first to break your fast (breakfast) sets the ‘mood’ for the day – thus? If I wake up hungry? Because I didn’t eat right yesterday? I do a monkey dish (about 1/2 a cup) of roasted almonds – proteins, fats, trace minerals that are good for who/what I currently am….

    If I wake up and not hungry until about 4 hours later? Still, try to be careful about the very first thing I eat – i.e. not grab the christmas candy that was gifted via stocking stuffers last month – LOL for the sugar rush to push through and ‘get er done’ – LOL

    This is all wonderful news, to me, Sandy Sue, hope you don’t mind I shared my own journey, in hopes something of it might be of use to you! But I hear ya! The minute I’m tempted or think a “Pepsi’ sounds good in the afternoon? I know, after years of ‘on again, off again’ even keeping it in the house! that I’m in deep doo-doo and sadly, I know, even if I’m craving it? If it tastes good? I’m in even deeper doo-doo – cuz mostly, anymore? Years after weaning myself off it? Once in awhile I push hard, don’t eat right, am tired and stressed, but if I give in?

    It doesn’t taste good and I can’t even finish a 12 oz can of it – Thus, I look about the fridge, freezer and pantry and say to me self, “Okay, self, what sounds good? Tuna? Pickles? a veggie stir fry?” and then just STOP and fix what sounds good – if nothing sounds good?

    I’m obviously not that hungry – – LOL

    Reply

  5. kirizar
    Jan 07, 2022 @ 12:44:01

    Back with Bubbles…it sounds like a great novel title. So many ideas pop into my head. (Or ‘Bob’ into my head as spellcheck insisted I really meant.) I’m just torn between the story being about a Monkey Named Bubbles who comes back from outerspace with increased intelligence and reports to mankind on all their failings as a species…or…Bubbles is a former stripper who goes to Harvard–at first to out all the students who hang out at her establishment and paw her after hours–but then for the education she’s now able to pay for from all the stripping she had to do.

    I’m not saying these are my best ideas, but sometimes you just have to appreciate what your brain gives you to work with. They don’t all have to be earth-shattering–unless you are a monkey with a cautionary message from beyond the stars.

    Reply

  6. Val Boyko
    Jan 07, 2022 @ 12:59:34

    Love the lava lamp idea! I used to have an elastic band on my wrist, and when temptation arose, I’d pull it. That ouch! Did wonders for my awareness. I don’t think it’s a therapist approved method though 🤣
    Good job Sandy! Really 😎

    Reply

  7. Writer Lori
    Jan 07, 2022 @ 17:38:52

    Oh so good to see and hear from you again, Sandy. Your success with the bubbles make my soul effervesce with joy…💕

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Jan 12, 2022 @ 07:05:27

      …which makes me even happier.

      Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Mar 09, 2022 @ 12:04:28

      Hey, Lori! I wrote a reply to your last comment, then realized I wrote it to the wrong person. I’m so out of practice here! Anyhoo! Thank you for being such a good friend and faithful reader. I remember us meeting on DK’s blog, always loving what you had to say. All my best.

      Reply

      • Writer Lori
        Mar 09, 2022 @ 17:53:26

        Awww, you’re so kind, Sandy! Yes, we were lucky enough to meet through DK…have met several kindred spirits there. Wishing you fair winds and smooth seas, my friend…❤️

  8. Catherine Cheng, MD
    Jan 10, 2022 @ 09:22:08

    Sending all the love! The longer I live the more I appreciate mindfulness practice in every domain of life. I’m the chubby sister, and this past year I finally signed up for Noom. It’s evidence-based and right up my alley of self-awareness and self-regulation through pattern recognition and interruption/redirection. The lessons are redundant (which is how we learn), short, and written lightly, which I so appreciate. This time around I really feel empowered to have gained both abstract insight and concrete practices to exercise agency, if not total control, over my behaviors. And that is all pretty damn good, I think. Standing in solidarity with you, Sandy Sue!!

    Reply

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