Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Those Eaten Feelings

You might not know it from my blog posts, but this is a very hard week for me. I struggle with PMS for about 5 days out of almost every month. I always have. When I was in 7th grade, I used to get so sick I'd stay home from school and lay in a recliner with a hot pack on my belly all day, too sick to move. For some reason, my mom never gave me anything for the pain or cramps, so I just suffered. When I was older with small children, I'd get so sick for a week that the neighbor would say to me, "are you okay? You look almost green!" My skin would get this sickish cast to it and I would battle cramps, headaches, nausea, and fatigue for days. And then, poof! It would be gone and I'd feel great again when my cycle started.

I have seen several doctors and tried different medications, but what has made the biggest difference in my PMS is what I eat. Sugar and junk makes it worse. Low carb healthy eating makes it better. In fact when I am on plan, there are months I don't have even a hint of PMS at all! And even when it's at its worst, like right now, it is 90% better than it ever was before I was eating right.

Anyway, I have been on plan for 18 days now. (My goal is to make it to 100 in a row). But this week has been hard... very hard. Not so much the physical symptoms, which are there but very mild (very slight, occasional headache and nausea, and bloating/cramps that are pretty minor). But the emotional effects are there... and WORSE right now. Every day I have had moments where I felt like going off somewhere and crying. Every day I have felt frustrated, angry, and upset at least briefly to the point of tears. Every day I have had negative thoughts that aren't usually there. Why? Because I am not using food to cram them down.

When you stop eating your feelings, they start bubbling out. They need to be felt. They come to the surface instead of constantly being shoved back with chips and ice cream. Believe me, I am a pro at stuffing my feelings down with food. And now that I have stopped, PMS is just the hormonal tripwire that allows everything to slowly start coming up and out. And I have to sit with those feelings, and feel them, and acknowledge them.

The eating this week has not been hard. I am on plan and have very few cravings or desires to go off plan. Whenever I see or smell something yummy but off plan, I just think, "nope, not going down that path. Not worth it." And that's that. But throughout the day I find myself upset about the most random things, like that I am not sure which of my kids' lock of blonde hair I found in a baggie, or that my house doesn't have a decent deck, or that our yard is smaller than the neighbors. I saw a picture in the paper of a little boy running to hug his father who was returning from overseas, and the huge smile on his face and his mother's following behind to hug her husband, and I got all emotional because I never got to experience that kind of relationship with kids who look up to and adore their father, a father who is a pillar to the family, a life partner who adores me. I mean come on, looking at that picture and having this huge emotional reaction about my own failed relationships is a bit over sensitive, I think. I see the neighbors having a barbecue and my emotions get the best of me because I don't have the luxury of a husband who barbecues or a yard for entertaining or a lot of close friends to come and celebrate anything with me. Oh, it's all silly stuff, really, because I do have a good life, but it is stuff that apparently has been bothering me on some level, and the thoughts are all coming out NOW because I am letting them, instead of eating them.

So it's a rough week, I am emotional, but not turning to food and not considering turning to food. It does get exhausting dealing with a million little feelings that have been mashed down and contained for 20 years with binge eating, that are all slowly leaking out at once. All the "if only I hadn't"'s and "if only I had"'s is tiring, but it needs to be done. Once I think them through and let myself feel them, they go away. I don't dwell on them anymore. And I think that is healthy... letting it out. And I know next week will be much, much better.


MeeM said...

I think healthy eating makes everything better, PMS included. I no longer have the physical effects of PMS that I had as a teenager, that all went away with my first pregnancy. No bloating, no cravings, no horrific cramps, or nausea. But I still get some of the emotional side effects and it can be hard to not stuff them down with a box of Chinese take-out.

Aaron & Carrie Warnick said...

Thanks for sharing that. I recently found your blog and found it incredibly inspiring. I have stuggled myself my whole life with weight loss and have been a rollercoaster in that struggle. I too have a blog but I am not ready to share with everyone what I write. but I look up to people like you who can put it out there and help people like me. Thank you so much. Hang in there. We are all with you on this journey. I too am an emotional eater but find that it is always better when I am PMSing that if I exercise and eat better I feel better. It is a weird concept and when I don't I always feel worse. Stay strong! Thanks for all your words of inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you are suffering from such back menstrual health issues! I was the same way with my own periods, except that no medications, prescription or over the counter, ever helped. My parents would not let me stay home from school for "just" cramps, so teachers would instead send me to the health room "because I looked green." It was awful. I also got killer migraines from the hormones. I remember lying in a room with a heating pad on my stomach and crying and flailing in pain (every month!)

I'm now going through early menopause, so no longer suffering from cramps, but I have terrible mood swings and horrible PMS-type symptoms from the shifting hormones. I know exactly how you feel, (((HUGS))).

Your post was incredible and really touched me, because I have the same problem with not stuffing down my feelings with food anymore. It's such a normal defense/coping mechanism in my family that my mother, sister, and a cousin I was close to growing up, have all become outraged when instead of doing so, I actually confronted them and told them what was upsetting me. We just don't do that in my family, we use food instead, which is likely why everyone is so obese.

No more. With Medifast, I have become much healthier, not only my body, but also my emotional responses to things.

Feel better!

Hugs, Maria

Leslie said...

God Lyn, I'm in the same place right now. It's very hard and very painful. My thoughts are with you - you're doing what needs to be done, and that takes determination, perseverance and courage.

bbubblyb said...

I know what you mean about PMS being the tripwire it is for me some months too. I know about stuffing the feelings with food too. I'm glad you are making it through without the food but I know too how hard it can be sometimes to feel the feelings. Hope you have a better week.

❦ fitcetera said...

*Hugs* Lyn!

Bonnie said...

Lynn, have you considered getting a partial hysterectomy? It was a solution for me. So was a divorce.

Amanda said...

Oh I feel you on the poor relationships wagon. My sons' father is... well, he wasn't a good choice, and it kills me because although I can handle the consequences of the choices that I make for myself, I see my boys knowing their father has basically abandoned them and it just kills me.

And ditto on the PMS as well. Mine isn't as bad physically as it once was, but psychologically it's like an anvil of depression and anxiety is dropped on my head twice a month: once at ovulation and once about 5 days before The Deluge begins.

Congrats on 18 days on plan! 82 more to go... it doesn't sound like too many at all at times :D

Bunpoh said...

How often do I read your blog and go, wow, we're going through some of the same stuff?!?

While reading today's post I had an epiphany. What if, instead of being a pain in the ass, it's actually healthy for us to cycle emotionally? What if some degree of PMS is really actually a good thing?

Believe me, I know how bad it can get, just went through it without the benefit of my usually amino acid supplements that keep me more stable, and man, it was hard. I cried a bunch, I was pretty down. But also, as my counselor pointed out, I needed to grieve about a few things too, and this probably allowed that to happen to a degree that I normally can't get to. I got some great support that helped me feel better, went back on my supplements and suddenly the world lifted off my shoulders, more so than before that had happened.

I do think we should do what we can to suffer as little from PMS/hormonal effects as possible, but I am starting to see that there may be really good reasons for emotional as well as physical cycles.

Congratulations on being able to sit with your feelings and not stuff them. That's awesome.

han said...

Dr Christiane Northrup's book "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" has some pretty interesting stuff to say about women and our cycles, about stuff that rears its head repeatedly when we have PMS, about not dismissing all that 'stuff' with "oh, it's just hormonal..." At any rate, it's worth a read. I've learned a lot about myself -- and I thought I was pretty tuned in to my body already! I think you'd like it...

hopeful and free said...

Some folks can run from their feelings for their whole lives, god bless them, who am i to judge? But. Sometimes you get a choice about doing that or not. It hurts like heck. On the other hand, you get to be real.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, cutting out sugary carbs makes all the difference in many many health problems, not just PMS but a long list of health problems. I started eating Paleo about a month ago and it changed how I felt completely. I went from have lots of acne to none, I went from working out 5, 6 times a week and getting nowhere to 3-4 times a week and losing 7 lbs in no time. I have lots of energy and would never go back, eating sugary carbs is just not worth the health problems...just remember to add more healthy fats if you are cutting out your carbs or your energy won't be there at all.. Coconut oil is awesome!

Lori said...

A very wise friend once told me not to judge my insides by someone else's outsides. I remind myself of that often. It is so easy to look at someone in a moment in time and think that person's life must be wonderful. That they must have no problems because they're pretty, have a nice house, have a spouse, have a car, and on and on and on. There is no way to know what their life is really like on the inside. What they had to go through to get that thing that makes us envious. That person may very well be looking at you thinking if I just had a pretty little girl in ballet, or strong high school sons, a yard just that size, etc, that life would be good. It always gives me comfort to think of that when I start to look at others and wish.

You are doing great. You have done so much with so little. Take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments. Don't dismiss or belittle them. You are a strong, strong woman. Remember that.

RhubarbLady said...

I can relate to the husband remarks. Thank you for sharing Lyn. Review and preview. You have made the decision to move in a forward cycle-just keep moving forward one day at a time and pat yourself on the back for each bit of progress even if it may seem insignificant at the time. You're doing well and you can make it.

Like you pointed out in an earlier post, we're entering the seasons where it's easier to get better food for our bodies and minds.

P.S. If you're in for a bit of a laugh, you can see our post of how gummy bears should not have too much water:

MB said...

I was a pro at eating my emotions and stuffing my feelings back down with food. It's hard learning how to feel them and deal with them but the longer I do it the easier it gets.

Sometimes I think you should just let yourself cry, let it all out, even if you don't know exactly what it is you're crying about. It's a relief to just let it go.

Keep focusing on the good things and you'll get through the bad PMS days.

Shala said...

There are many fish in the sea Lyn. You need to go to the river to catch one. I may be wrong but I get the sense that you spend a lot of time taking care of your kids (you're a great mom)and not so much seeking grown up company. I'm not saying to go to bars or anything. Maybe take a course that draws lots of males or take up golf. Maybe take up actual fishing!
There's a lid for every pot. You deserve to be happy. At least you know what not to look for now. Don't think of the past as a failure. You have wonderful kids.

Chupchake @ definingmore said...

Wow. I needed to read your post this morning. It resonated with me. Thanks for being so honest. I hope you feel better today. *hugs*

Theresa said...

a partial hyster worked wonders for me too. Hugs to you as you suffer.

Anonymous said...

I'm also worried about the emotional thing -- fortunately in summer I don't need to see anyone (except husband, who knows I'm odd) most days, so if I need a crying jag or whatever, I can take one. But it's hard for me to NOT go into "professional mode" or "hide mode." Professional = get done the minimum so I can handle the next class, maybe sketch out in more detail exactly what I'll say, so I don't accidentally go "wrong".

Hide = normally reading comic books, a novel, catching up on a tv show on DVD -- anything where I can get lost in a story -- someone else's life, basically, not my own. Hiding'll be my big temptation this summer - I consider Pro mode to at least be useful, but I want to see if there's some other, true mode, where it's not just crying or whining in writing, but actually problem-solving the feeling, so things don't recur. I'm rambling now, sorry.


(argyle's my handle on the mymedifast boards, but I don't have a google account with it)