Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Mad Ramblings of an Addict
There are many places this post could start, but I feel it’s always best to “start at the beginning. And when you get to the end, stop.” There’s a little Tweedle Dum logic for you. I actually feel a certain kinship with Tweedle Dum. Poor dude’s a little whacked out, living in a crazy place, having to deal with the pressure of the Red Queen. Life’s stressful. I feel ya, brother.
ANYWAY, I’d love to say I’m over halfway to my goal and getting fitter and stronger with each passing week. I’d love to say it, but it’s not true. I’m hanging in there. I’m battling the same six pounds I’ve been working on since May. Summer has not been my friend. At first, I couldn’t understand it. I was workin’ it! Primal eating had become second nature! Exercise wasn’t just something I watched them do on The Biggest Loser while I ate my ice cream! So what happened? Addiction. Addiction raised its big iron fist and slapped me down hard. I’m still trying to get my feet back under me.
Before you get all hopped up about drug dependency and how different it is from this, let me clarify the situation. Drugs can kill you. So can food. It’s just a slower way to go. Instead of riding the meth rocket and burning out like Lindsay Lohan, you take the Slowpoke Rodriguez route. Either way, you still die. With my way, you get to die with all your teeth. That’s about it.
The downhill slide began in June. The school year ended, and being the glutton for punishment that I am, I enrolled in graduate school. I haven’t been in school for thirteen years. I can write fiction stories all day, but organizing an analytical paper? Studying? Doing research? Um. Yeah. Not in the repertoire of mad skillz I possess. At least not at the moment. Each morning I’d log in to my online courses, get overwhelmed with the amount of work I didn’t even know how to begin, and log out. Eventually, I was wound tighter than Beyonce’s weave. This did not bode well for me. If I could be a super hero, I would be Anxiety Girl. Even every day stresses tend to set me off, but something like this felt like a truck on my chest. I had no time for food prep. I dropped exercise because I was too ‘busy’ with school. I was beginning to find it hard to breathe. I needed relief. Without even thinking about it, I turned to my old coping mechanism. I pulled into the fast food drive through, ordered, and dug into greasy, sugar and carb-loaded junk food. I felt the tension slip away as I numbed myself to the stress weighing on my shoulders. I’d gotten my fix.
The fact that I was using a substance to manipulate my emotions didn’t occur to me until later this summer. I’d feel guilty for ‘falling off the wagon’, promise myself to go strictly primal, and try to pull myself together. It would work for a little while, or at least until the next six-page paper assignment, complete with citations and footnotes, arrived in the email. Then I’d be driving around looking for something to ease my nerves. My dealers aren’t hard to find. Most addicts have to search out a dude with saggy pants and a mouth full of gold. I roll up looking for Sonic or Burger King. I can find them on every corner, and my fix is fast and cheap. Unfortunately, once sugar and grains are back in your system, they trigger those cravings. Before I knew it, I was well and truly hooked once again. I still didn’t understand what was going on.
Here’s where the guilt began to add to the stress I felt. I shouldn’t be eating this junk. Hadn’t I posted about the dangers of eating that crap on my blog and FaceBook page? I know what it does to my body! So why didn’t I have enough willpower to stop and get myself back on track? Feeling depressed and discouraged, I embarked on a fabulous downward spiral of blame and self-loathing. That’s definitely not a ride they offer in Disney. I don’t recommend it or the tilt-o-whirl of disappointment. I kept thinking, I should be stronger than this. I was wasting all my hard work. What kind of example was I setting for my girls, or even the people watching me as I followed this journey toward health? I just didn’t understand what was happening.
It finally clicked for me one afternoon. I had five assignments due that week, on top of the fifteen articles and three chapters I had to read. Anxiety gripped me in its jaws and shook me like a dog’s chew toy. Chest tight, blood pounding in my ears, I got in the car. Five minutes later, I sat in the front seat shoving French fries in my face, slurping on a shake, and sighing as the familiar feeling of numbness washed over me again. I could breathe again. Then it hit me. I used food like a drug. Not good, healthy, primal food, but the addictive poisoning kind of crap nobody should be putting into her body. Thinking about it, I can see the pattern of abuse since I was sixteen years old. If I have an emotion I don’t want to feel, I bury it under a cheeseburger and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Food had become more than just nourishment for my body. It had morphed into this twisted method of stuffing my emotions down until I couldn’t feel them anymore.
Now that I understand what I’m doing, it’s a little easier to try to control the impulse to binge on bad foods. But like any addict, I’m going to have relapses. This last week, my neighbor’s tree fell on my house. While it didn’t cause major damage, I still have to work with insurance adjusters, contractors, and tree people. The weekend contained fried chicken strips, fries, and two trips to get ice cream. Damn. But as of today, my refrigerator is stocked with primal goodness, I’ve gotten a planner to keep myself organized for school, and I’m back at CrossFit. Maybe Satan can help me work out some of this anxiety! At least that's a healthier coping mechanism. Standing still has gotten me nowhere, so I’m moving forward. Because if I keep doing what I’ve been doing, I’m not going to get better. As Tweedle
would say, “That’s logic.”