Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another Appointment with the ED Counselor


So I got a call last week from the eating disorder counselor's office stating that I had an appointment with Cloe the following day. I was surprised; I'd thought my next appointment was a couple of weeks out, but apparently she'd put me on the cancellation list and they got me in sooner. The only negative about that was I hadn't started the 'homework' yet of writing down everything I eat and when. I should have, but I figured I'd do that for the week prior to my next appointment. I still will.

My second appointment was more intimate than the first. Of course, some of the things I shared with her are too personal to share here, because I talked about some of my deepest feelings about why I have struggled with such sadness this fall. Actually I've shared some of that here already, so you can probably imagine part of the conversation we had. But when the talk came around to food and weight, she said some things to me that I needed to hear. They are things I have said to myself many times and even posted about on this blog, but hearing it from a specialist confirmed to me what I was already thinking, and the path I need to take.

When I described the way I eat now, Cloe immediately told me that I am self-medicating with food. When I am anxious or sad or uncomfortable, my first reaction is to grab a snack. A scoop of ice cream makes everyone feel better, doesn't it? My Mom taught me that. There's no stress that can't be reduced by crunching through a bowl of Kettle chips; there's no pain that won't be at least partially soothed by a mug of creamy potato cheese soup. Eighty percent of what I eat is medication and Band-Aids; nourishment has become secondary. I hadn't truly seen this slide into deep emotional eating that happened to me over the past (nearly) two months... a descent from the healthy high I felt when eating for health on AIP, down into the cesspool of eating starchy, sweet, and processed foods only because they make me feel better for awhile... even while knowing they are ruining my health. Self-medicating for sure.

If only I could turn back to self-medicating with food for the *right* reasons. I guess AIP is another form of self-medicating, but it's a fully conscious, deliberate choice to eat food as medicine to heal my physical ailments. That's so different from this kind of eating to soothe that gives momentary relief from stress but is not actually healing anything.

I did not ask Cloe why she is fat. I read all of the comments on my last post, and while I am curious, I still don't feel it is my place to ask her that. Mostly I wonder... if she knows all the things we need to do to be mentally and physically healthy regarding food, is something holding her back from doing it? Maybe she IS doing it. Maybe she's already lost 100 pounds. Maybe she has a health issue that causes her to be unable to lose weight. Or maybe she is telling me what to do because that is what she learned from a book. Why does it matter? I guess because I think of an eating disorder counselor as a guru. If there is an answer to obesity... to eating disorders... to stopping the madness that is eating enough to harm ones' self... she would have it. She would live it. Wouldn't she? Maybe then there is no answer, if she, too, struggles with her eating and "cannot" lose weight. Notice, I said "if." I still don't know if she struggles or if she even wants to lose weight, or if she already has. But those are the things that jumble around in my head regarding having an obese ED counselor.

She is very nice, kind, and understanding. I find her easy to talk to. She reminds me that exercise would release endorphins and help me feel better. She tells me I do not need to sit in the short-sightedness of food abuse; the space between my eyes, my mouth and an ice cream cone is not the universe and is not of highest importance. I can raise my eyes and look *beyond* the food, see my world, see what is truly important right around me. And that's good advice, because anyone who's ever had a food obsession knows that when you're sitting in the car with a Big Mac, the whole world outside the car ceases to exist. Everything else disappears when you are eating that. All the world is contained in a 3 foot space... until you're done, and the wrappers are on the floor, and you suddenly snap back to reality and see that you are sitting in a car in a parking lot with special sauce dripping down your coat. And then the shame sets in and you drive home, sadder than you were before. It doesn't have to be like that. By disengaging with your food and looking up and beyond, the world expands and so do our choices. When I am craving, instead of absorbing down into the small space and moment of that craving, I can break my attention away and look at the bigger world... my kids, my friends, my life... and choose to do something better. Better than just eating another cookie.

I'll keep seeing Cloe. I think that even if she doesn't have all the answers, she has enough, and she can help.

14 comments:

Karen said...

You are not alone in using food to soothe

Will you continue on with wheat/sugar elimination?

Here's to non food fixes and kicking false fixes to the curb so that you can live a different life.

timothy said...

good for you, and I'm glad it's helping!

Lyn said...

Karen~

I am gluten free. The sugar business is harder, but my goal is to cut it back out too, along with the processed foods. I felt so much better on AIP (without the grains/sugar/dairy etc).

JSP said...

I know a lot of people in the psychiatric professions that come from backgrounds that would be considered disfunctional. I am related to one, and a good friend to another, and while I think they still have their own issues, I see that they help people. Some of the most helpful things I have read have been from people still struggling. Since I have been following blogs I have watched people sort out their own problems and that has helped me to see ways to do that for myself. Just because someone hasn't won the battle doesn't mean they don't have strategies for the war.

Deb Willbefree said...

There's been comments on both sides of the need for counselor self-disclosure. I had intended to never bring that up again (!) but your post and a comment has provided such clear arguments for self-disclosure that I'm plunging in again.

Here's your beautifully expressed example of what happens to a client when that counselor self-disclosure doesn't:

"Mostly I wonder... if she knows all the things we need to do to be mentally and physically healthy regarding food, is something holding her back from doing it? Maybe she IS doing it. Maybe she's already lost 100 pounds. Maybe she has a health issue that causes her to be unable to lose weight. Or maybe she is telling me what to do because that is what she learned from a book. Why does it matter? I guess because I think of an eating disorder counselor as a guru. If there is an answer to obesity... to eating disorders... to stopping the madness that is eating enough to harm ones' self... she would have it. She would live it. Wouldn't she? Maybe then there is no answer, if she, too, struggles with her eating and "cannot" lose weight. Notice, I said "if." I still don't know if she struggles or if she even wants to lose weight, or if she already has. But those are the things that jumble around in my head regarding having an obese ED counselor."

These wonderings of yours are absolutely a typical and expected client reaction. A brief explanation would put all of that to rest, leaving space to move on down the road.

Another commenter described the benefit of the disclosure along with insight into the why/how of it:

"they still have their own issues, I see that they help people. Some of the most helpful things I have read have been from people still struggling. Since I have been following blogs I have watched people sort out their own problems and that has helped me to see ways to do that for myself. Just because someone hasn't won the battle doesn't mean they don't have strategies for the war."

If the counselor's weight is not related to food misuse, that info would remove your mental noise. If her weight is due to her own eating battles, the questions in your mind would be reduced as well, and the benefit of being joined in the struggle as noted in the comment above would be found.

Just couldn't pass up such good examples of why measured counselor self-disclosure is considered good practice and how it's not about blame or proving oneself at all.

I'm glad your visit helped to remind and confirm what you have so clearly expressed in the past.

The visual of lifting your eyes and looking beyond the food/eating is a good one. I'll be rereading it and using it. Thanks for sharing that.

Deb

Connie C. said...

I'm glad you were able to learn some things from her and will keep seeing her. Sometimes I feel like counselors seem to tell us things we already know, but we never listen to ourselves, do we?

Karen said...

Many of your past blog topics and cyclic loops are great counseling topics. Have you let your counselor know you that you blog and share with the www?

Leslie said...

Glad you have found this gal to be helpful. Also that you trusted you gut and proceeded with her according to who you are, not what others say you should or shouldn't do. Keep the faith Lyn - and thanks for sharing about this. The idea of the world outside of my head, my mouth and the food is great, and one I can put to work in my own life.

Winner at a Losing Game said...

I think it is hard to not notice that she is having an issue with the very same issue you are there for. I can't really fault her for her weight, because if we all had the answer of the magic bullet, this blog would not even exist. I am certain that she can speak to you in a way that will resonate and be helpful. While I don't subscribe to sending a religious message, there is one that comes to mind in that God can choose any vehicle to speak from. Maybe in this case looking at the vehicle with the same issue actually has more credence.

Anonymous said...

i just think that we ALL use food as a soother, or celebration or whatever... that's the hard part about losing weight. we *have* to eat to live.

i would personally ask the counselor about her weight. that's me though, and probably i would completely offend. or maybe she's waiting for you to ask her? who knows..

Anonymous said...

Would you care if someone asked "How is someone who is obese blogging about losing weight, getting healthy and escaping obesity? No? If you and your spouse went to a marriage counselor would you demand to know the counselor's previous and current marital status? No? Don't ask her! She's there to help you and there's no reason for you to question her health and personal life.

Steelers6 said...

An overweight eating disorder counselor seems to be sort of a sensitive subject.
It's thought provoking, anyway.
I got to pondering, & felt like while it is curious that she is overweight, I might personally feel more comfortable than with a very, very slender counselor. I don't know.
I'm so happy you like her & she's easy to talk to!
Chrissy

Anonymous said...

I just wonder if Chloe had any clue about all of this discussion from perfect strangers about her weight. She's probably enjoying her day of lollipops and gumdrops while we sit here and analyze. It just made me chuckle! If you leave there feeling a little more informed about your self or feeling a tiny bit better about your situation, then I would say she's worth it. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. What is wrong with people? Its NO ONES BUSINESS what your body is like. If you don't like it, go somewhere else. Really offensive, folks.