Today, it has suddenly struck me that much of life is about how you deal with the unexpected obstacles, roadblocks, dead ends that come inevitably to all. It is generally those that persevere in spite of these things that achieve their goals.
At the moment, it feels like there are potholes all over the road I’m travelling on and my general tendency has been to simply avoid all roads with potholes. This week, I decided not to turn to avoidance and to confront head on my restrictive tendencies.
In a conversation I had with a mental health professional a few weeks ago, she suggested that perhaps my mood would improve and become more stable if I can regulate my eating. I am loathe to do this. Restriction feels very natural to me but in truth, I don’t think it is the way forward in life.
Restriction works for me because not dealing with food means I can focus on writing or doing things. When I am eating often or in greater quantities, I feel totally paralysed. Unable to move, to focus on things, to enjoy the company of others or conversations. It is so back to front but it is what it is.
But I know that the fluctuations in my mood are also very dangerous. There is no mental stability when I am like that and there is the feeling that I won’t know which me will appear on any given day.
So, for the past week, I have given regular eating (3 times a day and then shifting to 4 times a day) a go. The first 3 days were awful and filled with a lot of tears and self-loathing and a hyper critical voice. Then I took a day off because it just felt like I was torturing myself. Day 5 was a hot mess and it was as though I was trying to punish myself for eating by overeating. Day 6 was another awful day filled with tears and more self-loathing. Worse still, I was so mad at everything and everyone, ready to flip out at any given moment. This subsided somewhat by the time evening came around and the company of a good person helped a little. Day 7 was more of the same with a rock bottom mood to top it off. I generally am not one for staying in bed the whole day. In fact, I don’t do that. But yesterday, was that type of day with tears after all 3 meals.
I can’t say exactly what the upset is about. At the start of the week, it was anger and then it morphed into supreme sadness. I know why I am sticking with it and generally, once I start something, I like to finish it no matter how challenging.
This process over the past week feels much harder than the refeeding I did early last year. It’s like the challenge last year was the physical symptoms which come with refeeding (oedema, sore joints and muscles, constant urination, night sweats, painful feet which meant walking more than 5 minutes was tortuous, swollen body etc). All that lasted about 9 months. But what I didn’t experience so much is the emotion which I am experiencing now. The tears, sadness, self-loathing, negative voice.
I don’t think this is depression. It has a different face. I don’t know what it is but I know I have to stick with this road – the road less travelled.
Whenever I hear anyone say ‘sit with it’, I want to punch them in the face. I hate those words even though they hold value. For me, this week has not so much been about sitting as much as lying in bed with it. Squirming as though there are ants all over my body, crying as if the most awful thing has come to pass.
I am giving this process at least a month, to see whether my moods do become more stable. I worry that my writing has gone to pot somewhat because mentally my head is so filled with distress that there is no space for creating. But this post in itself is some small success because I am up, showered and writing even if there is no beauty in this post.