Thoughts keep tumbling through my head and I'll catch myself thinking, "Wow, I ought to blog about that," but I don't do it. I could wait until everything comes together and makes sense, but I haven't the slightest idea of when that might happen, so let's just throw it all together and see where we come out.
Each day makes it even clearer to me that my weight problem is just the very tip of the iceberg. Much like the poor, doomed Titanic, the thing that everyone can see (for me, my fat body; for the ship, a little iceberg sticking out of the water) is the least of things to worry about. The disordered eating, it's becoming clear to me, is actually my coping mechanism for dealing with my mental illness. So, there's a part of me that thanks God for giving me something I can use to escape. I'm still not sure what exactly started this whole cycle, nor what exactly I'm trying to escape, but I understand now that mental illness can create lives of unrelenting misery and pain...and at least I've always had the food to escape with. (I know that sounds crazy - and it probably is - but there really are much worse options I could have chosen.)
It's also become clearer and clearer that the antidote to escaping (via food, shopping, TV watching, whatever) is mindfulness. Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life has been both a challenge and a window into what might be if only I am brave enough to take the first step. It's challenging because, although intellectually I know I can't go on the way I am, emotionally I do not want to give up my escape hatches from reality, and that's what this book would have me do. It's such a gentle book...no pressure, no judgments...but it still shakes me to my core when I'm reading because of what it would mean to never escape again when I'm scared or angry or anxious or frustrated.
When do I escape?
* When TCB and I argue. I literally leave the house, disengage, and usually run somewhere to get something to eat.
* When Al the Wonder Pug starts to bite me or my clothes. I have become so aware lately of how much poor little Al provokes my flight response. It is impossible to escape from reality when I'm around him - he needs to go out several times an hour so that he doesn't "go" inside the house, he eats anything on the ground that attracts his attention (so much for taking him on relaxing walks), he constantly pulls on his leash because he wants to walk faster than I'm comfortable with (ditto the preceding item), he chews on and tries to destroy furniture in the house if left unmonitored. I love the cats because they just exist without needing anything from me. Al needs every bit of me when I'm with him. (So I hide upstairs most evenings, leaving him with TCB, and keep him in his crate for all but 30 minutes when I'm with him in the morning.)
* At night, after work. Once we've eaten, I run upstairs to turn on some sort of distraction - TV, Netflix, something - and watch for several hours (usually while munching on some sort of post-dinner snack) until I'm relaxed enough to sleep.
What the heck am I trying to escape anyway? Maybe if I try the mindfulness thing I'll figure it out. Maybe that's why I love/hate reading Savor - I'm scared of what I'll find. But really, whatever it is, can it possibly have more power over me now than what I'm doing to my body by disconnecting myself from it, stuffing it full of crappy food that makes me feel horrible, and not giving it enough activity every day?
And all of the preceding is probably a sign that I'm going into a hypomanic state for a little while...lots of neurons firing, feeling creative, feeling like I can handle anything. (Funny that I never noticed it until my therapist asked about it, but I can see the switch from one state to another pretty clearly now.) I don't know how - or if - mindfulness would affect the bipolar disorder, but I don't think it would be detrimental, you know?
At the very least, it will be good to be a little mood elevated rather than depressed for TCB's 40th birthday tonight!