BringChange2Mind

December 6, 2010

Refocusing Your Goals

Filed under: Story, Youth — Tags: , , , , , , — Linea @ 12:00 pm

As many of you know from my last post, Food and Coping, I have been having some issues with an eating disorder. The anxiety induced through my bipolar has decided to take it out on my body leading me to stop eating and start focusing my perfectionism on something dangerous and very un-Linea, weight. I have always had severe and painful perfectionism. The kind that no matter how much you accomplish and how much you change it leads you back to the thought, “I’m not good enough”. This pattern is very harmful and has in the past led me to take it out on myself physically or to punish myself mentally. Along with my bipolar disorder this has been one of the most painful and exhausting parts of my personality.

There are, of course, good things about perfectionism. The drive to work hard and accomplish your dreams. The endurance to do your best. But there are, of course, so many painful things. The most important thing that I have developed in all of this however, is the realization that this, like my bipolar, is something that I have to come to terms with and live with. I know that I get obsessive. I know that I can get overly hard on myself. I know that I like to do a lot of high-level tasks. So, I realized that when this eating disorder reappeared that I was using the pounds lost as a way to feel and see that I was “accomplishing” my “goal”. I had, and at this point still have, the idea that I can finally scientifically see that I am reaching my goal because it is demonstrated by concrete numbers on the scale. I am not having to go off of other people’s abstract compliments or comments of “good job” or “you are doing so great”. I have, in a very bad way, convinced myself that I am accomplishing something.

This is of course a lie, because although I can make numbers decrease, I am actually increasing health risks. I am far less than perfect when it comes to taking care of my body. Starving yourself is not achieving perfection, but rather denying it. And I know what everyone will say, there is no perfect.  I know this, but I try to get as close to it as I can, in spite of the fact that there is no top to the mountain I am climbing.

Now that I have realized that my goals have become the dangerous focus on numbers I am going to try working against it as I work to get healthy. Here is one way that I am going to try to accomplish this: I know that I like to run. I love to run and it soothes me and lets out the excessive anxiety that I usually feel. However, I cannot run without anything in my stomach. It is dangerous to run when your body feels faint with no calories. So, I have convinced myself that I want to run again. And to run I need to eat. Each day I have to eat at least three meals, with snacks, before I can run. And I’m starting to do this. Because the anxiety that comes from not running is worse than the hunger of not eating

I know that my mind and body like to have a goal to work towards, so I have decided to try to refocus my goal from loss of pounds to increase in miles run. There is a half-marathon in June and I would really like to get to the point where I can run in it. To start I will have to eat. And when I have accomplished eating rather than weight loss I can start to run. From there I can focus that need for proof through numbers towards miles and food consumed. I don’t know that it will work, but I know that I am a person who needs a goal. I can’t always seem to make a goal out of taking care of myself, so this is at least a way to trick myself into doing it. I will let you know how it goes and hopefully my ability to understand and know myself will help me move to safety and on towards healthy goals and accomplishments.

November 22, 2010

Food and Coping

Filed under: Story — Tags: , , , , , , — Linea @ 6:10 pm

photo by Linea JohnsonCoping with a mental illness is hard. Living with the thought that this is a life-long thing is painful. And sometimes, even when we are happy and “stable” we find ourselves trying to cope with this fact.

I am about to admit something big. I, as many of you readers know, am very open and honest with the public and even strangers, but this one is very hard for me. In my past I didn’t know what a mania was. In the depths of that hurricane, when everything was whirling around me I tried to find my own ways to cope. I found that my doctors kept giving me the wrong medications leading me to get sick or manic and I decided I would find ways to soothe it myself. So I tried alcohol. I tried drugs. I tried self-harm. And eventually I altered my relationship with food to an unhealthy place thinking that it made me feel better.

That was five years ago. But today, this month, I find myself struggling again. As you know from my last post I have hit a bump in this bipolar ride. I have at this point finally found a way out of the hurricane, but my coping habits have yet to return to normal. Today I once again find myself struggling on the line between disordered eating and an eating disorder.

Why is this the hardest thing for me to admit? Why do I hold such a stigma to this and not to my other symptoms and diagnoses? When I was young I didn’t understand eating disorders. I didn’t know that they were deeper and different things than vanity and our culture’s influence. Though these may play a part in my relationship with food it is something stronger. It is, as many people who are well-versed in ED know, much about control. Control of the changing climates of bipolar. It is also, for me, about punishment and anger. Punishment from an extreme perfectionist for not being able to “fix it” and anger for not being able to control my mood swings.

I find it very important to address eating disorders because I find these very misunderstood in our society. I feel that I am even hesitant to write about it because I still don’t fully understand the jargon, the reasons, and the power they hold. But I do find it crucial for us to have a conversation about healthy coping skills.

So here is what I am doing to try to find my way back to health: I am trying to take life one step at a time. I am trying to eat at least three meals  a day and sit with the anxiety that comes with this process. I find that even eating a slice of an apple is painful. I am trying to make a healthy schedule for my life so I can balance work and play. I am being open and honest with my family, my friends, and my medical team. I am using Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) with positive self-talk and challenging the negative and illogical thoughts in my head. I am trying to breathe.

What healthy skills do you use when you feel your life is out of control? How do you take care of yourself when life is not treating you kindly?

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