That Thing You Do

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You’re someone who’s different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that, in my view, is a serious illness. ~ Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die

Like I said in a previous post, this entry is an examination and explanation of perhaps where my ticks and tricks merge or collide. Here is your chance to get a preview inside the inner workings of my head. Scared? Excited? Yeah, I would be too. (Note, this is a link heavy post. Please, click around!)

Shout out again to Jessica Lea Mayfield for helping me kick this post off with her lyrics, “I have a dream and the dream is perfection.” That is me, without a doubt. My need to feel perfect is the overall ringleader and root source for where my coping mechanisms like self-destruction stem from. I hold myself to an often times exceedingly high and unrealistic idea of what perfection and being perfect means. “If only I was perfect, I’d be happier. Thinner. Stronger. Smarter. Better. Better than what or whom? I don’t know, I would just be better. If I was perfect, I would have been accepted to UC Berkeley — for both undergrad & grad school. If I was perfect, I wouldn’t feel a constant weight of anxiety on my shoulders that something unexpected is going to trip me up. And if something did mess with my flow, I would perfectly know how to navigate the situation. If I was the perfect daughter, my parents wouldn’t have to worry about me or where my future is going. If I was perfect, I would know what to do with myself in order to have my perfect job with the perfect income so my parents, wife and kids? (no, I don’t want kids…) would be secure, safe, and provided for. I’d be someone worthwhile, doing something notable and exciting for my family to talk about and impress their friends, co-workers and other family members. If I could just take on the weight of the world and come out on top, then I’d be perfect.” Wow. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to re-read that paragraph! Cue the signal for an overwhelming need for control, narcissism and excessive ego, and you have me. I know perfection is an absurd and insane thing to strive for, but I can’t let myself give up hope either. (Kudos to Radiohead’s Creep, too.)

Ticks: I love to read, unfortunately the blog I’ve started to frequent is usually more annoying than helpful. I like to believe that because it’s on NPR, it’s correct and well-informed, but most everything I read on The Salt makes me upset. Stupidly, I can’t stop myself and love to revel in the outlandish articles that seem so off-base to me. Most articles offer no alternative answers, suggestions or viewpoints. It’s surprising how much they appeal to the masses and what the “average” person wants to read with regards to food & health, while the rest of NPR’s articles and radio shows appear significantly more intelligent than what an “average” person would actively select their news exposure to be. Priorities, I suppose… (Are other orthorexic’s triggered by what they read in the media?) However, though entirely horrifying and gross, the article 3 Fast Food Ingredient Secrets isn’t triggering because I don’t consume or support those fast food chains. Same goes for the 15 Grossest Things You’re Eating.  It does however make me want to slap the world and say, “Wake up! If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Is that the orthorexia talking, or common sense? Where does this disease end and I begin? I feel so disconnected from the way “average American’s” eat.  And Great, Wal-Mart, is once again changing its labels… Now let’s just remove all critical thinking skills and objectivity when grocery shopping and let corporations control that for us, while conditioning us to automatically look for “good” over “bad” labeled products. Is this the beginning of orthorexia for people on a fixed or low-income budget?

Articles like this are triggering to my uppity attitude, but how do you stop free speech, especially from yourself? You don’t. You just change the way you look at, talk about, and analyze what’s in your world. Changing your entire spectrum of communication and personal thoughts is no easy task. But with something like an ED, your thoughts had to switch from a “normal” way of thinking to an ED way of thinking at some point, right? I fully believe you can unlearn your previous ways. I clearly remember my therapist in 2010 and how she helped me recognize the way I phrased or said things, especially about myself and my relationships. She helped me become aware of the positive ways to be more descriptive or clear with my communication to others, and especially myself. Maybe it’s my fondness of words and part of being a writer, but the way we communicate– from our private inner-monologue to a conversation with a stranger or old friend– those words and expressions are coming from our emotions and thoughts; there has to be some sort of psychological impact on our psyche.

Tricks: I thought it would be a good idea to list a few positive, healthy things I, and everyone can do without drastically changing a lot to your normal routine.

  1. I’m so happy I’m starting to do this again: drink a warm glass of lemon water first thing in the morning before other tea, coffee and breakfast. This is the first thing entering your body, coating your stomach and making contact with your liver and kidneys for the day… Be good to yourself! You’ve got a long day ahead of you.
  2. Feeling stressed? Focus on your breathing. I think it’s fun and relaxing to have private minute or five to myself and exhale some Dragon or Lion breath. I look forward to those moments when I can reconnect with a lighter or sillier side of myself.
  3. I haven’t been the best about this, but enjoy each meal! By that I mean turn off the radio and TV, close the laptop, and step away from your cellphone. If you can, sit at a table. Just focus on your plate or bowl and enjoy each bite. Be mindfully of the smells, tastes, and the textures. Chew thoroughly before putting the next bite on your fork or spoon. Why does it always take longer to make dinner than it actually takes to eat dinner? I hate that Thanksgiving syndrome…
  4. Read and surround yourself with things that inspire you. Put positivity into your life. I know I’m one to talk, but by making the effort to change what I put into my life it will start to change what I give back to myself and the world.
  5. Last but certainly not least: Listen to your cravings. Your body is signaling to you it’s longing for whatever vitamin, mineral or other compound is in the food you’re longing for. If you satiate the desire just enough, you’re less likely to binge on your craving (and other things) later. And we know the destructive spiral of self-restricion, to binging to purging. It’s such a vicious fucking cycle, and much easier if you just listen to your body instead of fighting against yourself.

Sometimes I really miss beer and just want a Corona or Newcastle. One day I’ll get there. 

Yogi Tea Wisdom 

2 thoughts on “That Thing You Do

    notokinthehead said:
    February 11, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Very good tricks, GH. But how can you force yourself to think that way when your body and mind are forcing you think ‘negatively’?
    My mind tells me that if I don’t restrict, if I don’t purge, if I don’t lose another 5lbs, and another 5lbs, and another 5lbs, so on… that I will never find that special woman, I will never find a happy place. If I eat five crackers instead of three, then I’m going to gain five lbs. If I gain weight, I will be failing myself and everyone who has expectations for me. If I don’t lose weight, then I will be failing myself and everyone who has expectations for me.
    I am proud of my self-control (I know, I shouldn’t be) and use writing or reading to get me through my cravings until I take some RX and pass out.

    Thank you for sharing. I am moved by your writing and your in-depth descriptions of what you feel and think. I can sincerely feel for you.

    CMRock responded:
    February 11, 2012 at 11:37 am

    First, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and feeling moved enough to comment. I really, really appreciate it. Thanks!

    I am not a professional on this, I can only speak to what my feelings are like, so please, read this with that in mind and interpret it as you see fit:

    Having an ED is not a rational thing. We know, we really know, deep down eating 5 crackers will not result in us gaining 5 pounds. But we let that irrational side start to overpower the rational side to our inner-monologue. What we can do when we’re feeling irrational and panicky is take a moment to stop, breathe, and analyze where the real anxiety and fear are coming from. It’s not the crackers fault we feel like we’re going to gain 5 pounds, there’s some other stimulus that is triggering those feelings of being out of control vs. in control. Look deeply to where those feelings are really coming from.

    I know that the darker, unrelentingly negative side of my mind can out scream and eventually quiet the rational part of my brain that knows it’s unhealthy to skip meals, then purge if I do eat. It’s about learning to give power and strength, LOVE, to the good side of yourself. Trusting yourself. Loving yourself to care and listen. To not let the ED win. As hard and painful (emotionally/physically/psychologically) as it is to have an ED, it’s even harder to fight, to love ourselves enough to overcome this.
    At some point we can let the ED control us, or we can dig deep and start to take back ourselves.

    Keep on keeping on. Remember that the moments of anxiety will pass. Breathe.

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