Struggling with Self-Comfort

This very restricted, pre-surgery diet that I’m on is, as I’ve written, really difficult. But the entries about this subject have pretty much only dealt with the physical reasons why the diet sucks. I’ve been completely ignoring the emotional and psychological side of things. I think it’s time to change that.

As I mentioned in “The Monster Inside”, food has long been a way for me to feel like I had control over at least some aspect of my life. What I didn’t mention is that food has also been one of my various self-comfort methods. That is, it’s what I use to calm myself down or make myself feel better in stressful or otherwise negative situations. When I feel anxious, sad, or worried, my first impulse is to eat. Being that I’m more high-strung than some, I often feel anxious, sad, or worried. And being that I’m not a robot, I also often feel a whole host of other emotions that trigger that “must eat now” response. This is one of the things I know I’m going to have to find a way to overcome if I want to be psychologically healthy as well as physically healthy. And during my pre-surgery diet, well…I’ve had a few instances of wanting to curl into a ball and cry. Or whimper, at the very least.

I can’t utilize any food-related methods of self-comfort right now. Well, actually, I can’t do it anymore at all if I want to successfully lose weight, but I’m trying not to focus on the permanence of the change right now lest it cause more issues. I’ll cross that bridge when I’m not highly stressed because dammit I’m constantly hungry.

But so that’s a mental adjustment I’m having to make in addition to all the physical ones. I want to resort to my usual means of self-comfort. And I can’t.

But writing about it is very cathartic. (Seriously–if you decide gastric banding/another bariatric surgery is the way to go, I highly recommend you keep a journal, private or public.) It also leads to another Important Question:

Why do I find food so emotionally comforting?

Another way I self-comfort is by snuggling things. These things are often stuffed animals or the like, and occasionally one of my cats if it vociferously demands attention. I can’t bring a cat into work, however (more’s the pity), so I think I might start bringing in something snuggly I can cuddle when I’m feeling down in the dumps. Is that an odd way to soothe emotional issues when you’re twenty-five going on twenty-six? I believe most people would find it so. But there are times when I just stop giving a damn about what other people think and…y’know, this is one of them.

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5 thoughts on “Struggling with Self-Comfort

  1. coemaria says:

    I have a stuffed animal here at work with me. I don’t use it often, but I have used it in the past. I think that it’s a good idea for you.

    Also, I am very proud of you. You have courage and wisdom beyond your years. You are a strong woman and you will succeed!

  2. Astrid says:

    HA! So I’m not the only one. I always feel that my eccentricities have been validated when I hear that someone else has them, too.

    Thank you! I’m pretty proud of you too!

  3. Heather says:

    I have a tiny (maybe 2 inches) panda that goes in my pocket with me to work if I’ve been having an especially bad time. Or sometimes I’ll carry a small buddy in my bag, but obviously I can’t carry that around a craft store. And…my bed is lined with white rabbits and black cats and other things. It’s like a war between light and dark on the top of my futon ^_^;

  4. […] Food is often used for self-comfort, even by people who don’t necessarily have an eating disorder. Been there, still trying not to do that. On the other side is Excuse-proof your workout by Jenny Everett on Health.com. If you’re the type who likes to keep busy (like me), these might help. Really what it boils down to is just telling your mental excuse emitter to shut the hell up and then going outside and enjoying the weather. I foresee a walk in my future for this evening. […]

  5. […] I asked, a very long time ago, Why do I find food so emotionally comforting?. I have yet to really come up with an answer. But in retrospect, that might not have been the right question to ask. “The ‘Warm Embrace’ of Addiction“, written by Gabor Maté and published on October 21st of last year, details that, “The first question–always–is not ‘Why the addiction?’ but ‘Why the pain?’” I can absolutely see the logic in this. My eating disorder is a symptom, not a cause. As for what is a/the cause…I’m not going to speculate. At least, not right now. I think that question is too large for me right this moment. But if I ever do make it in to speak with a counselor, then at least I have a record of it here. And I can certainly ponder it on my own, though it honestly feels so large that I would dearly love to have a guide to help me navigate its terrain. But I wanted to share this article here. Certainly I’m not the only one involved with this blog who’s been asking this type of question. Maybe, like me, you haven’t been asking the right question? […]

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