“Look Mom I am Grieving without Bingeing!”
Here I am again sitting at my computer with a box tissues and a head full of introspective, psychological thoughts that only make me, “koko for Coco Puffs.” Hmmm, yummmm, coco puffs!! Cereal killing sounds good right now. No, I am not going to go on a killing spree! Cereal killing in the ED world is when you sit in bed with a box or boxes of cereal and watch movies. While you deny every emotion and isolate from reality. Focus Lara! What is it about going through a break up that makes me trip out about my past? Probing for the Holy Grail of my, “not enoughness.” And why in heck do I turn to food? Or my personal favorite self afflicted starvation and a punishing workout for a solution to an emotional problem? Where does this insanity come from?
So, the food thing I inherited from the women in my family and the media. I remember as a child my mom disappearing upstairs with a book and a bag of chips and chocolate very vividly. As though she was going on a vacation from her problems. I am not trying to criticize her for coping this way. Isolating with food is a learned behavior that has been passed down from generation to generation. My family isn’t exclusive to this behavior. Have you noticed in a movies when the main character goes through a loss, whether it be a break up, death in the family, loss of a job, cat dies, etc., The following actions habitually are consumption and isolation.
This is the vicious cycle that most Eder’s/addicts get stuck in. I know when I was in my eating disorder, “when the tuff got going, I went for cereal.” It wasn’t until my second year in recovery that I had major break through. Rebecca Cooper, once again coached me through something so simple, that it seemed ridiculously over looked. The Grieving Cycle! Naively, I thought that humans only grieved when processing death. This is not true, grief can occur in many situations. The power is being aware, knowing the five stages, and have healthy coping tools.
The Five Stages Of Grief and Coping Tools:
1. Denial and Isolation- denying reality and hide from the facts.
This should be a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain but unfortunately this is the phase some of us get stuck in. The numbing phase. Shock and denial provide emotional protection from being overwhelmed at once. Being aware of this will help with the pain you may suffer. It is important that you experience the pain fully and not hide from.
2. Anger- a strong feeling of annoyance.
As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Self afflicted anger and self-pity may arise. Rationally, we know better and do not want to be hurtful. Emotionally, however, we may resent other people, and ourselves. We feel guilty for being angry, and this creates angrier. Remember, grieving is a personal process that has no time limit, nor one “right” way to do it. Releasing anger in healthy and constructive ways is important in recovery. I like to get creative and paint but I also recommend having a support team.
3. Bargaining- attempting to alter the outcome or timing.
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control. And EDer’s love control!!!
If only I did this…
They should of listen when…
I can’t I stop…
How could this?
At this stage I recommend writing all of the annoying, nagging, ruminating questions and or thoughts that pop up in your head down on paper. Instead of clinging to the threads of the past and trying to change an outcome. This is an opportunity to look at our part in the situation.
4. Depression- moody or loss of interest.
In this stage, we begin to realize and feel the true nature of our emotions. Often times this stage gets prolonged due to the fact that our ongoing struggle with mental illness is heighted by our grieve. It is important to reach out and ask for guidance and support. Recovery form ED is sensitive to self-harm and punishment. The stage of depression usually needs support.
5. Acceptance- the action or process of being received as adequate.
Reaching this stage is like a breathe of fresh air. One day you wake up and feel enough. Understanding and being aware is the first step to acceptance. In my journey with recovery, miracles grow in painful experiences. Only in acceptance can there be recovery.
Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but don’t know where to place it. All of that unspent love gathers up inside your body, waiting for you to reach acceptance. Knowing that love always has a home inside you and your body.