Saturday, April 27, 2013

Writing as therapy: When the self saboteur comes visiting

Writing as therapy

This is going to be one of those posts that I whine about my failures. Particularly my bloody weight issues. It takes up so much of my headspace that this blog would be a lie if I didn't write about it here. And anyway, when I asked Shrink for his advice on how to get back on the diet bandwagon he said "blog about it".

The self saboteur has come again

Chocolate is my drug of choice these days and I am in full blown active addiction. Again.

I've gained back all 5kg I lost last year and I'm not liking it at all. Yet my self saboteur grabs another Malteaser and shoves it in my gob, the smooth chocolate coating combined with the perfectly crunchy centre soothes me, if only for a second.

Chocolate, cake, ice cream, lollies and lots of them. I'm even drinking more Diet Coke than I usually allow myself because my self saboteur says I can. She plays with the fact that I have absolutely no self control of my addictions especially when I've been rejected, criticised, blamed or judged poorly.

Last year when I quit sugar and did Droptober I felt so determined and full of motivation to lose weight and get healthy. I felt light, my moods were more stable, my headaches were gone, I slept better and woke up better. I felt clean and I even felt like I actually loved my body. It was such a sweet lovely feeling. And my self saboteur was nowhere to be seen!

That's all gone now. I feel heavy and toxic. My headaches are back and my joints ache. I'm back in my fat clothes and I certainly do not heart my body. I feel old. My self saboteur is back and she encourages me to consume yet another bowl of ice cream and chocolate sauce. It will make you feel better, she says. Who cares if you get fat, she insists, this tastes too good to give a shit. You've suffered and you deserve a reward. My self saboteur is very convincing.

I've put it out on my Facebook feed, and on this blog, so many times that I'm back on the wagon, this time will be it, blah, blah, blah. Then I get a little set back and she's back! She can smell my fears and sensitivities from a mile away!

Last night I put this tweet out there...

...and got this response

I wish it were that easy!

I hate myself when my self saboteur shows up but I feel completely powerless by her control over me. I am simply unable to sacrifice "short term gratification for the sake of long term goals" to quote my schema therapy book (which I highly recommend but should note I've also had extensive experience with group and one on one schema therapy). This is especially the case when I'm not feeling great about something.

You see I have the insufficient self control/self discipline schema (or as I call it my self saboteur). This is a basic summary:

"Insufficient Self-Control/Self-Discipline
This schema refers to the inability to tolerate any frustration in reaching one’s goals, as well as an inability to restrain expression of one’s impulses or feelings. When lack of self-control is extreme, criminal or addictive behavior rule your life. Parents who did not model self-control, or who did not adequately discipline their children, may predispose them to have this schema as adults."
- A Client’s Guide to Schema Therapy

I don't have tantrums any more (although I did up until about four years ago) but I'm impulsive. I always have been. I do things without thinking about the consequences, much like a toddler does. Although I know the consequences, I just choose to block them out during that moment of frustration or upset. Couple insufficient self control with my defectiveness schema and I'm the perfect candidate for addiction because I use the vice (in the past drugs and alcohol and now sugar) to overcome or avoid those feelings of defectiveness. It is a self defeating prophecy because by constantly failing to stem the impulsivity, and tell that bitch the self saboteur to fuck off, I'm just fueling the defectiveness. It is a vicious circle I've been playing in all my life.

This schema refers to the belief that one is internally flawed, and that, if others get close, they will realize this and withdraw from the relationship. This feeling of being flawed and inadequate often leads to a strong sense of shame. Generally parents were very critical of their children and made them feel as if they were not worthy of being loved."
A Client’s Guide to Schema Therapy

I want to find that golden moment again where I make the decision to tell my self saboteur to go to hell, and flick that magic switch in my brain that turns me back into the person I love: Motivated, pumped, committed. I want to hold onto that chick forever but I never do.

I told you all a little while ago that I was seeing a guy that I really liked. I put the hard word on him and I waited for a response. And I waited. The prick kept me waiting, giving me little life lines along the way but never having the balls to come straight out and say what he needed to say. When it became clear that it was over I just ate more chocolate. My self saboteur sniffed rejection and said fuck it, what is the point in being slim if a man doesn't want you, you might as well alone and fat forever.

I've come to the realisation that my diet is related to whether or not I'm dating. I lose weight, feel good, start dating, meet someone, get complacent because the relationship isn't right, put on weight, the relationship is over, mourn with chocolate, want to start dating again, lose weight...

Yes, I am a geek that keeps a record of my weight in an Excel spreadsheet and have done so for 10 years!

My whole sense of self worth must be centred around whether or not a man could love me. My defective self thinks I am unlovable if I am overweight so my self saboteur swoops in to provide evidence of that fact. Are you with me?

It has been a month since I sent him that text asking him where our three months of dating was heading. I've gained 2.5kg in the last four weeks and 2kg in the month before (which I can attribute to my attempt to return to office work).

I don't want to blame that dick-face for my weight gain. Or my anxiety about work and my subsequent mood slide. I need to take responsibility for my own health. I just hate that when I feel like shit (defectiveness schema) I do my utmost to make myself feel shittier in the guise of trying to make myself feel better (insufficient self control schema).

I guess it is lucky I have a psych appointment this week to work this shit through.

If you made it this far through this "writing as therapy" session, thank you.

What are your coping mechanisms? Go for a nice long walk? Meditate? Or shove your gob full of chocolate cake like me?


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Denyse said...

Dear V, I hear you. That twit who tweeted back has NO IDEA. As a long time comfort eater I made a choice never to diet again. I was stuck though as I had nowhere to go. I didn't want to deprive myself & I didn't want to keep on eating for emotional needs. One night in late January as I couldn't stop my inner critic I googled in desperation & found this:

I have discovered so much of what has been literally & figuratively weighing me down & it's a process. Nothing like a diet. In fact it's so little about food but much about past & current behaviours and relationships which lead us to eat what we do & when.

The program is amazing. It's an on-line interactive once written by US based Psychiatrist Dr Roger Gould. It costs $90 (taken out in 4 instalments) & I'm at week 11 of the 12 weeks.
I have learned much much more about me & have started to review my faulty thinking . It's worth having a look at it V as nothing or no-one is going to change you until YOU decide. Denyse

Psych Babbler said...

I used to use comfort eating as my coping mechanism but in the past few months I've been using the gym to work out harder as a way of coping. But totally understand how difficult it can be. I'm sorry to hear things didn't work out with the guy you totally sucks, doesn't it? I don't get why they can't be straight up about it...just be honest and it's easier for us to deal with it than being strung along and then given the silent treatment or something along those lines.

By the way, I'm impressed you are undergoing schema therapy. I just got trained in it in February and am still navigating my way through it but personally, it has totally screwed me over!!! As part of the training, we psychs had to complete the schema questionnaire ourselves to identify our own maladaptive schemas and while that's all well and good, one of the things the trainers mentioned completely fucked with my head. They said something about how when you feel intense chemistry with someone you meet, it's probably a result of the schema being triggered. Which was helpful --- not! Given that I've been dating and stuff it just made me start questioning every time I felt chemistry! Gah!

Oh...and being slim has nothing to do with relationships...I'm the only one of my friends in the dating stage with the rest of them in long-term relationships...and I'm the slimmest! :| Try and do it for yourself and not any man....they aren't worth it! ;)

Hugs and hang in there! said...

Hey Psych Babbler. I would love to switch my coping mechanism from eating to exercise but I've injured my knee (more woe is me) and while I'm waiting to the see the orthopaedic surgeon at the end of the month I can't do much physical stuff at all without my knee getting really sore. I really need to have my diet as my first level of defence because when I lose the weight hopefully my knee will hurt less!

I actually did the 17 week schema group out at St John of God in Burwood in 2010. It was amazing. We had to do 12 weeks of CBT first because schema brings so much stuff up for people. When it comes to relationships I'm always thinking of my schemas! I have a bit of emotional deprivation too which would explain why I always go for guys who are emotionally unavailable. If a date doesn't feel right the first time I always give them a second chance because I wonder if it is my schema saying the guy isn't right. We were told that if it doesn't feel right it probably is right! That is a headfuck!

I do have to rewire my brain into believing my weight and my health is for me, not a man. That's why I wondered about hypnosis. But I'll keep working it through with my psych.

Thanks for commenting. V said...

Hey Denyse. I will look at that Shrink Yourself. Food addiction and comfort eating are definitely psychological issues. It's not just about gluttony and laziness as some people wrongly think. Thanks for telling about about that course. V.

Kim said...

Hey V, just wanted to let you know how much I'm enjoying reading your blog. You write beautifully, and are so brave sharing your struggles. Very inspiring stuff. And I can totally relate to the sugar/chocolate addiction, I'm in the exact same boat. Have you tried Sarah Wilson's I quit sugar book? I'm about halfway through, and so far it's working for me. I've also found I've stopped eating other unhealthy foods too. Fingers crossed it keeps working :) Plus 'The End of Overeating' by David Kessler is an interesting read. It made me feel a lot better to learn that junk foods have been painstakingly designed to be addictive, some as addictive as drugs! Good luck :)

Debyl1 said...

I understand your words totally and send much strength your way hon.Xx

mumabulous said...

I hate to hear you being so hard on yourself. You've achieved so much for yourself and for Ned. I think you need to cut yourself some slack. Sure - its a worthy goal to eat well and get to a healthy weight. I dont think you should give up but I also think you should focus on just how fantastic it is that you got yourself clean rather than beating yourself up for eating a bowl of icecream.

I dont know what you are doing for exercise but I found that a little bit of cardio and weights it really helped me feel better about myself.

Claudia said...

Beautiful Vanessa, I too have struggled with my weight my whole life. My mother blamed me, my family blamed me, bullies and society blamed me and worse still I blamed me. I don't over eat and don't comfort eat but I love carbs! That has been my weakness. Then I found out very recently I am insulin resistant and now that Im on medication my life has changed dramatically. Cravings are a thing of the past and my old enemy hunger is nowhere to be found.
Could you have something more than just psychology going on? said...

Hey Kim. Yeah, I've got Sarah's book and David Gillespie's. That's what I did last year to quit sugar (although I can't stand coconut oil). It is like giving up booze or cigarettes, it's always easiest the first time and when you relapse you know you have to go off it again for good but don't want to let go again. If that makes sense. I will have a look at the Kessler book. Thanks for the recommendation. V. said...

Thanks Deb! said...

Hey Mumabulous. I know it sounds like I'm being hard on myself but I just hate being a slave to my addictions! I hate saying I'm going to do something and not following through. I ask myself all the time why can I be alcohol and drug free for five years but not give up on cake, chocolate and ice cream for more than a couple of months.

I can't do any real cardio at the moment because at my recent attempt to get back to personal training I badly inflamed an old knee injury. Waiting to see an orthopaedic surgeon in a couple of weeks. Even the smallest amount of impact and it ceases up. I will definitely step it up again after my knee has been sorted.

Thanks for your kind words. V. said...

Hey Claudia. I have quite a few blood tests every year because of my iron deficiency and thyroid issues (which are now both stable). I always get the whole lot checked and nothing has shown up re insulin resistance. We don't have any diabetes in our family so I'm hoping that won't be an issue for me. I'm due for another check up soon so will ask about that. Thanks for commenting! V.

Jeanie said...

It is so true how often weight is tied with emotion. The problem with obsessive/addictive anything is that you analyse it too much, it starts beating you down and making you its plaything, I have found.

There is also the element (for me at least) where my weight is actually a protective layer - my most miserable experiences have always occurred at my skinniest and darn, it is hard to get past that fat=happy equation when you are trying to gain that elusive skinny and perfect life the dream factory drip-feed us all - and the whole "trim=healthy" stick that is whipped out to whack you if you so much as contemplate that you aren't buying it - and if you put into the mix "well-meaning" friends or relative who let you know that they are keenly watching your every morsel, every effort, every failure and ticking off in their minds how it is your fault...

Hmm - perhaps this is my therapy session?!

Diet Schmiet said...

I chuckled over the twitter response. I was chummy with a US blogger for ages and ages. We read each others' blogs, were the same age (different types of lives), but we really connected. Except, she got all motivated on a weight loss program of late and decided to start giving me advice. I don't mind advice but she's never experienced an eating disorder, so for her it should have been as simple as 'don't eat this or that'. For her, being unhealthy was a chocolate bar; for me it was 4 x 250g chocolate blocks. The moment I decided I couldn't have something I'd obsess about it OBSESSIVELY (like I can't do anything else BUT think about whatever it is!). I tried to explain this to her but it became complicated and we stopped commenting on each others' blogs and have gone our own ways. It's kind of sad, but it was a reminder to me that we never know what someone else is going through.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

'I just hate that when I feel like shit (defectiveness schema) I do my utmost to make myself feel shittier in the guise of trying to make myself feel better (insufficient self control schema).'

That is me and carbs. I have a house full of easter eggs still and not interested.

No carbs though. I ate them all last night when MPS and I had a fight.

Kathryn OHalloran said...

The not buying chocolate works for me because I live in the outer burbs without a car so if it's not in the house, it's a hike to get it... at night even further.

Seriously though, when I was going to my shrink and was complaining to her that I'm a comfort eater, she told me that... well not that it's a good thing but it's not such a negative, that's good to be able to know how to comfort yourself. I think what is nurturing would be to rip him a new one. I'm really starting to turn against all this shit about being the better person and not reacting or, in the case of lurve, to not give someone the satisifaction of seeing they hurt me. It's bollocks - the reality is I feel so much better giving a big fuck you (or the polite but firm version).

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