Wednesday, November 15, 2006

There But For the Grace of God

Just got done looking at the grocery store fliers. Around here the new sale week begins on Thursday at most of the big supermarkets, so all the weekly special fliers come in the paper today.

Of course, everything is geared to Thanksgiving. All the fixin's you need to make your big meal are on sale: turkeys, potatoes, ingredients for stuffing, pies, you name it.

Can you get an anxiety attack from supermarket fliers? I had to put them down and walk away because I felt overwhelmed by the urge to go out, get a tube of crescent rolls and eat them all, slathered with lots of butter. Oh, and don't forget a deep dish apple cranberry pie for dessert.

Ugh. I hate these moments. Those times when I long for certain foods, when the desire to eat with no limits takes over my mind. I know now from experience if I can find ways to distract myself, to let myself calm down, these thoughts will crawl back into the dark crevices of my mind. But they never entirely go away; I still see their beady red eyes staring at me from those murky places.

Last night I caught about half of the HBO documentary "Thin." It's about the patients of an eating disorder clinic and their battles with anorexia and bulimia. While I've never been hospitalized for my eating issues and have never dealt with health issues as serious as theirs, I could really relate to a lot of their feelings. Their need to purge or starve themselves is not that far removed from my need to eat; all three give the person a feeling of release and comfort while they're being performed. It's taking control of one's body (albeit in an unhealthy manner) when everything around them seems so out of control or out of their control. And even when they know they're causing damage to themselves, they can't seem to stop the behavior and will turn to it in an almost rebellious nature when someone is trying to help them -- I've sure been in that mindset in my life.

I guess the most disturbing part for me was seeing the similarities between these women and myself when I'm in my weight loss mode. When they had to sit down for meals they didn't see the food as sustenance to fuel their bodies; they looked at the food in horror, fretting over the fat grams, the carbs and the calories. In their eyes food is the enemy. How many days do I do the same thing? Not all the time, but often enough, especially at parties or restaurants.

I could try to make myself feel superior and say I'm smartier or healthier than them: I work hard to get a good balance of protein, calcium and other nutrients my body needs. I know that going below a certain calorie limit is dangerous and don't go lower than that on my daily totals.

But in reality, "there but for the grace of God go I." I know in my teen years I flirted with becoming one of these girls; I had my anorexic moments when my goal was to eat less than 800 calories a day, and a very short period where I almost became bulimic but got halted by dehydration and a hospital stay. I suppose there were two things that saved me from permanent problems: one, I weighed so much it would have taken me a long time to become underweight, and two, there was still a part of me that knew I needed help, and at that time I started my long association with the psychiatric community.

And let's not forget the basic fact that I love food so damn much. It can never be my enemy for long. I can only play hard to get for a short time, until the tastes, the aroma, the allure of food pulls me back into its sweet embrace.

What a strange, disturbing post today. I apologize to anyone reading who thinks I've gone off the deep end. I'm doing my best to process these thoughts and in doing so get them out of my head. I'm in stubborn mode right now; I refuse to let these anxieties and old feelings wreck the good work I've done. I'm going to go eat my fish and green beans and forget about the Pillsbury Dough Boy for today.


Vickie said...

I think both ends of the spectrum of eating disorders (starving and binging) are OFTEN treated at the same facilities - probably not so different as you point out.

Grumpy Chair said...

I'm always having to remind myself that the Pillsbury Dough Boy and Little Debbie are not my friends. Their offer of 'friendship' will destroy you.

Also, this time of year is awful with all the food and candy catalogs coming in the mail. When I was pregnant with my 3 year old, I would drool over the Harry & David (those beautiful pears!) and The Swiss Colony catalogs.

Lori said...

Hey, lay off my BF, the Pillsbury Dough Boy! (Remember I have a photograph of me with him.)

But yeah, boy, it's like reading porn when you look at cooking magazines, Food Channel, fliers, etc. Drool, drool, drool.

When I had my little breakdown over the Idiot Man this spring, I really didn't eat much and I really got into it. I could go all day on some yogurt, some protein and that's it. I can see why it would be an addiction in a way. And I see why some Victorian women got into anorexia; it was some way to control something in an uncontrollable life. And let's not get into the female aspects of it and hiding our sexuality. Great post.