Weighty Matters

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New Coping Methods

on February 22, 2012

Several years ago I was diagnosed with compulsive eating disorder.  I’d binge and eat tremendous quantities of food, in secret in the privacy of my apartment.  I found this out when I finally sought out a therapist instead of starting another diet.  The things I learned in therapy and then in the 12 step program of Overeaters Anonymous (OA) have been invaluable.

This is difficult for some people to understand, but it’s comparable to people using drugs or alcohol to cope with a range of negative emotions, or for some, with any emotions.  I medicated myself with food when I was sad, angry, depressed, lonely, stressed out — or just because.

Over the years I’ve had varying degrees of successful recovery from the behavior of binging.  I’ve had years of not binging.  It doesn’t mean that I lost weight in those periods, but I didn’t come home from a stressful day and inhale a big meal topped off by a pint of ice cream.  That’s a good thing.

Now that I’ve had the VSG, I physically can no longer binge.  Well, I suppose I could if I wanted to throw up multiple times.  I’m confident that a drastically smaller stomach pouch will be an effective deterrent .  I was never prone to bulimia purges.  I cannot imagine scarfing down two slices of pizza now to make myself feel better only to bring it all up again immediately.

The tool of the small stomach, however, does not solve the underlying problem.  Clearly in my life, I’ve had issues and turned to food to help me deal — until I turned to therapy and OA and learned much more about myself, including things like acceptance and better coping skills.

As I continue on the road of weight loss toward improved physical health, I know that I must also be vigilant in maintaining my mental and emotional recovery.  I cannot turn to outside things.  I’ve heard it is not uncommon for food addicts or compulsive over eaters to turn to drugs or alcohol when food can no longer be their “drug of choice”.  (It’s also not uncommon for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts to turn to sugar and food.)

I refuse to convert from one addiction to another.  I am determined that I will foster and encourage good emotional health through this journey.  I do not need a substance.  I can feel the feelings and handle things with energy, compassion and reasonableness.

Using food to cope or avoid or anesthetize my feelings is over.

Recovery requires balance physically, emotionally and mentally.  I can do this.  I AM doing this.


5 responses to “New Coping Methods

  1. londonmabel says:

    The worse thing about a food addiction is that you can’t stop cold turkey!

    Ooh the bubble bath “addiction” sounds like a good idea.

  2. Mary Stella says:

    Thanks so much for your positive comments and input.

    Marti, I know if Mom and Dad were alive they’d be in my corner supporting me however I need. Thanks for saying that about Mom and for “seeing” me for real. 🙂

    You know, I started doing this blog because it would help me process and go through this journey. I’m really glad that people comment and share what they’re thinking or experiencing.

    If you stop by to read and don’t comment, that’s okay too. Just know that I’m intent on keeping this a safe space for anybody that wants to share.

  3. Oddly enough, I was thinking about this on my walk this morning. I had read an article some time ago about people who had weight loss surgery and had replaced their addiction to food with something else – shopping, smoking, alcohol. So I’m really glad to read that you are aware of this and dealing with it in such a positive way. Food is such an easy go-to to make myself feel better and it is so hard not to go there! Your writing and putting yourself out there about all of this really is an inspiration.

  4. Martha Andrews says:

    Just need to tell you how proud I am of you – I know mom would be too 🙂 You’re really putting yourself out there with this blog and I think it will be an inspiration to many others… perhaps it might even be a book in the making…

    I’m sorry people have treated you so harshly; I was telling Pete last night that, while I have always *seen* your weight, I don’t ***see*** your weight… And trust me, Mary, all someone has to do is get past “hello” with you and they too will ***see*** you for the warm, funny, intelligent, caring and truly beautiful woman that you are.

    Just needed to say that.

  5. Hope says:

    When I feel stressed, I turn to bubble baths. If I had a bathroom like yours, I might find my baths turning into an addiction! :p

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