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.
I am 38 years old, female, a degree-holding stay-at-home-mom, and I weigh 278 pounds. I have been obese for ten years now. Time to get out of this fat prison I have made for myself.
--This is the original introduction I wrote when I first started this blog in 2007. I leave it as a reminder to myself of where I came from. Currently, I am 46 years old and weigh significantly less...see the blog for details. I lost 103 pounds, then had a partial regain, and am once again working at weight loss and better health.
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