COPING WITH ANXIETY
I think back, 6 weeks since the hospitalization for a serious GI bleed. The terror of my body draining out blood without my knowledge does send my adrenaline off the roof. But that was 6 weeks ago, and I’m not sure explains my inability to go back to sleep when I wake at midnight, 1am, 2am, etc… Terror is not too much of a word. Excuse my bluntness, the head hospital Doc made me promise to pay attention to stool color; black means blood or the distinct possibility of it. If I ever see black again to go right to the bariatric surgeon and find out why the gastric stapling over 30 years ago is now causing problem after problem, this one, life threatening.
I realize my nervous system is running on overload 24/7, so my usual sleep challenges are not quelled by the the discipline of telling myself, ‘Stop the thinking, lie still, stay, you will go back to sleep,’ and I often do. Not now.
After a few responses to kind, caring blogging friends who ask why I’m up again at 3am, I think about my explanation of hyper-vigilance. Hyper-vigilance for sure. Fear.
Fear. That is what it takes for me to try to change a life-pattern of stuffing food down as fast as I can since the age of eight when Danny attacked; details so horrific they have not surfaced except for all the peripheral events….him creeping around in the dark, sitting gently on the bed beside me. My relief that it wasn’t a monster but my beloved brother.
He said so softly, like buttered syrup, “We’re going to play a game, “I’m the Daddy and you’re the Mommy.”
Then blankness. The only memory is the day after in the bathtub when I began screaming from stabbing pains ‘down there.’
And I know a violent rape occurred because when I approached him years later in my twenties and asked, he said, “It is better you don’t know.”
His next suicide attempt succeeded.
My eating began like a machine at age 8. Waking nights, I went to my mother, “I’m going to throw-up.”
“What do you want me to do, spit straw?” she bitterly grumbled in her sleep.
She had 8 children to care for. Her husband had just died, my Dad. Her cute little babies had grown and she couldn’t handle them. ‘She did the best she could,’ the motto I heard repeated over my lifetime like a mantra.
She fed me. I ate. And her sons kept attacking me, one by one, over and over.
My eating is not enjoyable, or savored, or even done without guilt, every bite. Fat people should not even be eating. That’s my belief. Not for others, just for me.
So how do you handle your anxiety? I’ve used many forms, but eating will always be my albatross and a challenge. These past several weeks my great constant fear at how I’ve been treating my body has come in question. I have to pay attention to its workings and not separate from ‘it’….oh, I’m so sorry poor body for calling you that. Let’s come together in love and wholeness.
Eating quells my anxiety. I hadn’t realized how much. That keeps me up these nights, along with the constant shoulder ache— because I am not allowing myself to be an ‘eating machine.’
Even when the ache diminished, my thoughts race like a thoroughbred. Taking away my coping strategy of eating to calm anxieties without a replacement strategy means highly heightened anxiety. I have eaten much smaller amounts these past weeks, and most of time, without mindless stuffing to the point of being stuffed. And chew. Not throw down food as fast as possible, chewing by counting to thirty chews. To stop ‘wolfing’ food I must be present. And that’s great. But now how do I handle the anxiety of daily life if I remove the coping mechanism I’ve used for the past 55 years.
I’ve missed too many days of meditation. So I go back to what works, and begin to dedicate my daily half hour, a requirement. Adding an evening half-hour would help, but probably won’t happen. That is a daily priority. It calms those racing thoughts, and brings me back into myself.