Tonight was week 3 of my Eating Disorder Group Program….and it was….a lot.
After 2 weeks of feeling uncomfortably comfortable, tonight we started to dig into the deeper stuff and truly become vulnerable. I mean, I didn’t even have that much to share and I still was overwhelmed with emotion. I think empathy can be a curse sometimes, or I’ve seriously got a lot bottled up that I haven’t uncovered yet.
Tonight we started sharing our stories. Each week 2 people share their journeys of how they came to be where they are. For obvious reasons I’m not going to be sharing anything at all of what other people tell us, but I wanted to debrief how I felt.
I’m so lucky to be in a group of people that are willing to be so brave and honest by sharing their stories. I’m also terrified of when it comes time to tell my own I’m just going to be a blubbering mess.
The best part about this group is the strength I find in hearing other people’s stories. Hearing what happened, how they have been able to pick themselves up again….it gives me belief that I can do it. And most of all it really hits home that it’s not just me. I’m not alone. There are a group of us battling this thing and we’re all there for each other.
Every week I leave the session feeling more determined, and positive. Tonight was no different, and I’m truly grateful for the chance to be surrounded by such incredible people.
Our activity tonight was sharing particular scenarios and what emotions we were feeling. Since being diagnosed with anxiety I feel like I’ve taken some major steps forward with being able to identify how I feel in situations. Tonight was like adding another tool to my collection.
Then one of the facilitators mentioned in passing this simple sentence that blew my brain out of the water.
When your needs aren’t being met, often times your ED will meet your needs for you.– anonymous
One of the challenges with Binge Eating Disorder is the robotic way of eating – there’s a compulsion and auto-pilot that kicks in until the eating is over. When I engage in this behaviour I just go with the flow, not realising that I was actually feeling incredibly anxious at the time until it’s over.
Part of what I’m working on with my therapist is rewiring the brain to have a different response when the anxiety rises, but also how to prevent the anxiety from rising altogether. But what if….what if I was able to ask myself every time I go to the kitchen “what do I need right now?”
Could that potentially break the auto-pilot and help me to rewire my brain?
For example, today I engaged in some ED behaviour. When I reflect on what I needed at that time, I needed:
- Exercise – I had been sitting at the computer for a long period of time working
- Achievement/productivity – I needed to reflect on what I had been able to achieve in that time, and give myself a pat on the back
- Rest – a simple break from the computer!
- Nourishment – a drink of water to hydrate myself; I wasn’t hungry at the time and didn’t need food
- Purpose – I needed re-evaluate what my goals were for the afternoon and reset my mental focus
Instead, I distracted myself from my behaviour by continuing to work while eating excessively. The worst part was that it didn’t even feel like it was that dramatic a situation. It’s just become a pure habit to deal with feeling anything. I need the sugar and the start to get the ol’ fight or flight mode going again (thanks anxiety).
So my goal this week is to stop and ask myself:
What do I actually need right now?
My first need: I need to take away the power of my ED to meet my needs, and I’m going to meet my needs myself. I don’t need an ED to do that for me.