Recidivism

Having completed 92% of my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology has significantly and falsely inflated my confidence in my ability to control my own mental health. However, it has come to my recent attention that memorizing theories makes me no better at remedying my own cognitive malfunctioning than any other average Joesphina.

I don’t want to say that I’m relapsing, because to say so would indicate that I had, at some point, completely recovered, which would be a false claim.

Diagnosing mental disorders is complex, due to the complex nature of the human mind. In physiological pathology, there is typically physical evidence of that particular disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with a renal cell carcinoma, the doc has detected cancerous tumors on your kidneys. However, mental disorders manifest themselves behaviorally, and behavior is dynamic, idiosyncratic, and highly unpredictable.

I have struggled with an eating disorder since I was fourteen years old. (You can read more about it here) and it has displayed itself behaviorally via various mechanisms over the years. We initially thought that my Anorexia was a co-diagnosis with depression. However, after years of self-reflection, I’m convinced that I’m not depressed at all, really. I am anxious.

Today was Mother’s Day, and the first thought on my mind was “Today is going to be a disaster.” Why did I start a perfectly beautiful Sunday off with such a damning thought? Because I knew that today was going to be a “bad eating” day. And boy, was I right.

I eat according to a premeditated, perfected, measured, perfectly balanced and repetitive menu. Every. Damn. Day. And if it get thrown off, everything goes to Hell. There is simply no in between.

With Mother’s Day being a special occasion, my family hit our favorite authentic Italian pizzeria for dinner. As soon as we were seated at our table, the anxiety set in, and my brain started racing. My eyes danced up and down the menu in vain, because I already knew that I was going to be ordering the salad (After all, I’d already eaten a roll with breakfast, and I NEVER eat bread) but the aroma of fresh-baked crust was making my mouth water.

That’s when I knew I’d already surrendered my control. The waiter took our orders, everyone ordering a pie but myself, and my thoughts began to race. What if I’m still hungry after I eat my salad? Will I be able to decline offers to eat somebody’s crust or eat more than my share of the appetizer? What if I can’t stop? My breathing rate sharply increased.

Our plates arrived, and I eagerly eyed everyone’s plates but my own. I scarfed down my salad as quickly as I could; my brain demanding that we take in as much as we can, because we could go into self-induced starvation mode at any moment.

Mere minutes had passed since receiving our food, and I had already cleared my plate. My attention immediately shifted to what everyone else had on theirs, and I began snatching crusts, half-eaten slices, and toppings off of others’ platters, and shoving them down my throat, breathing minimally.

I had completely ceased control, and something automatic and instinctual had taken over my executive functioning. “More, more, more!” my brain screamed, as if we were preparing for a famine, and I continued to consume other peoples’ calories.

My family were all critically commenting on my vulture-like behavior, and giving me strange looks, but honestly, I was hardly listening. I continued to eat off of everyone else’s plates until they were completely clean.

And then the guilt came pouring down. I wiped my face with a napkin and excused myself to the restroom so I could lift up my shirt, poke and pinch at my stomach, and tear myself apart until my sister was knocking on the bathroom door, yelling at me to hurry up so we could leave.

Situations such as these are a frequent catalyst for anxiety and a complete surrender of self-control for me. I had convinced myself previously that I was capable of managing my impulses and anxiety attacks, but this is simply not the case. In fact, I probably won’t sleep tonight, because I’ll be replaying this episode in my head until morning, at which time I will be exerting myself at an extensive cardio session at my local gym.

So it appears that I require another round of cognitive therapy so I can get a grip on this persistent problem of mine, because frankly, my disordered eating habits are annoying and exhausting, and I have so many more important things to invest my energy in, like becoming a badass master of academia.

I hate to admit it, but I require assistance. People get over these kinds of things, right?

M.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Recidivism

  1. I’m sorry you had to go through this. It sounds really torturous and horrible. But the good thing is that you are seeking help and you recognise that you have a problem. Everyone “requires assistance” and help. I feel the same way about asking for help and needing help, it makes me feel weak. But those thoughts are illogical because no one is perfect. No one can run smoothly all by themselves. Humans are socially characters and we play off each other- we all require help from others to get along yet a lot of us don’t realize that. So being brave enough to admit that you need help, like you have, is an amazing virtue that most of us don’t have the courage for.
    Also, if you know you’ve got a dinner like this coming up, try to plan ahead. Maybe think about going online and finding the website of the restaurants – most will have a menu on them. If you look at the menu beforehand, you can see what there is and what you’d feel comfortable eating. I always do this when I know I’m going out to a restaurant and it helps a great deal with anxiety x – E

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  2. Oh, honey. The truth is that the work doesn’t “stop.” One isn’t cured. It’s not a “disease” in the traditional sense. There’s no quick, finite cure. You, and everyone else who struggles (depression, anxiety, eating disorder, alcoholism), we must all remain vigilant. Not to the point of exhaustion mind you, but *mindful* that we are living creatures and are always a work in progress. It’s not a failure to have a bad day – it’s just the universe reminding you that sometimes you need a hand. It’s ok – tomorrow is a whole new day and you can wake up tomorrow, remember how things went today, and be mindful about keeping your anxiety in check for the day. You don’t have to fix today, and you can’t, rather when those feelings start sneaking up you, address them and move on until they rear their ugly head again. It happens to all of us. Don’t punish yourself, you deserve better than to dwell. Take that anxiety, recognize it, and come up with a plan for the next time you meet it. You’ve got this, girl! You’ve come so far, keep going! No one has a straight path. We’ve all got bumps. ❤️

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