Weighty Matters

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About Compulsion

on October 21, 2014
com·pul·sion
kəmˈpəlSHən/
noun
 1.
  1. the action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.
    “the payment was made under compulsion
    synonyms: obligation, constraint, coercion, duress, pressure, intimidation

    “he is under no compulsion to go”
  2. 2.
    an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.
    “he felt a compulsion to babble on about what had happened”
    synonyms: urge, impulse, need, desire, drive; More

     

    Since I deal (or not sometimes) with compulsive eating behavior as part of my binge-eating disorder, I thought it might be a good topic to discuss.  I know how the behavior manifests, but figured it would be good to see how compulsion is actually defined and then assess how it resonates to me.

    So, definition number one doesn’t match.  Nobody forces me to overeat, eat when I’m not hungry, eat and keep eating, etc.

    Definition number two?  Yes, that’s the one. If there’s a way to highlight words in WordPress, I can’t figure it out, but if I could, I owuld highlight “irresistible” and “against one’s conscious wishes”.  Yes, I really do feel sometimes as if the urge to eat is irresistible, even unstoppable, and it occurs regardless of my conscious desire to stay on my plan.

    Compulsion is a horrible feeling.  Imagine if you couldn’t control your hand and had to watch while it picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed you in your own thigh.  Yes, that’s a really dramatic image, but it serves a point.  When compulsion overcomes my conscious wish and give in to the irresistible urge to eat, I hurt myself — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    I wish the weight loss surgery had also removed the compulsion, but it didn’t, so I still struggle with it every day.  However, the surgery set me on the road to a good long period of recovery and weight loss.  I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been, so while I have my off periods, I believe in myself.  I’m definitely not going to gain back my weight.  Ultimately, I have come to believe that with the help of a Higher Power, a program, and all of the tools at ready, I am stronger than the compulsion.

    One of the big tools is to set myself up for success instead of creating situations where failure is more likely.  For example, being in the vicinity of bags of candy for Halloween — that’s a big time, doomed-to-fail scenario.  I am absolutely capable of compulsively eating piece, after piece, after mini-piece of candy until I’m sick to my stomach.  Setting myself up for success means not buying the bags and having them in the house.

    You see, once I start, it honestly does feel sometimes like I can’t stop myself.   The time to bring all of the weapons forward to beat back the compulsion is before I take the first piece.  The call to action needs to happen while I still have conscious thought — and when I’m still conscious and aware that the compulsion is bubbling up.

    I’d like to substitute healthier, more positive behaviors for the destructive compulsive ones.  That’s been an ongoing effort.  Exercising consistently.  Practicing good, positive thinking.  Reshaping those old truths.  Exploring the flavors of healthy food and experimenting with new-to-me foods and cooking techniques.  These are all positives.  They take practice.  Continual practice.

    Also on the positive side is recognizing that I have an addictive personality.  If it wasn’t food that became my drug of choice, I know I’d be addicted to drugs or alcohol.  There was a time when I was hooked on cigarettes and also a regular pot smoker.  In the early 80s when I lost more than 100 pounds on an extremely restrictive, medically supervised, diet, I did not yet know that I had an eating disorder, so I wasn’t in any kind of treatment to help me understand and deal with the other aspects of the disorder.  I was only eating nine ounces of protein a day and I wasn’t drinking alcohol when I went out to the clubs three or four nights a week with my friends.  So, I still needed something to make up for the lack of food as a coping mechanism.   I started getting high almost every night.

    Although I spent a lot of years partying in rock clubs with my friends, I didn’t drink to drunkenness every  night and I wasn’t much for drinking at night when I was at home.  I think observing and dealing with my mother’s alcoholism probably contributed to me not making that my addiction.

    I gave up pot a long time ago and have no desire to pick it up again, even on rare, recreational occasions.  I was never into coke or other illegal drugs.  I also tend to avoid prescription pain killers unless absolutely necessary — as in the pain level I’m feeling is at least an 8 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being unimaginable pain.  Even after surgery when I was recovering at home, I only took a couple of doses of the pain medicine the doctor prescribed.  Today the orthopedic doctor offered to write me a scrip for a stronger medication than over-the-counter pain relievers.  I politely declined.  I’d rather not have it in the house and run the risk of swapping one addiction or compulsion for another.

    Compulsion is ugly, challenging, frustrating and, sometimes, disheartening.  When all is said and done, however,  I refuse to be its victim.  I’m going to borrow from one of my favorite television shows, Scandal, and imagine myself as a gladiator.  I may not win every battle, but I do not run from the war.

     

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5 responses to “About Compulsion

  1. hoperoth says:

    Do you find that the compulsions have lessened over the course of your journey? Or are they there, and you’re just better at beating them back?

    • Mary Stella says:

      They were less evident the first year to year and a half after surgery. Then they regained strength but I was better at beating them back. Right now I’m having more difficulty so I’m more aware of them beating at me.

  2. Amber says:

    Thank you for sharing, are you apart of OA?

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