Posted by: Marie | May 15, 2012

(633) A melting iceberg – Part 1 of 5

Post #633
[Private journal entry written on Monday, June 6, 2011]

Today was therapy session day . . .

I’m feeling pretty comfortable with Edward now . . . I guess I’ve been with him long enough that I’m feeling safe with him – physically, emotionally . . . I actually look forward to going to his office and meeting with him.

Photo by Martin Chen

He started out in his usual way . . by asking how I’m doing and then watching me intently as I answered . . .

———————-

Me: I’m doing pretty well . . . still hanging out on the positive side of the tipping point between wanting to die and wanting to live. Yesterday, I spent a bit chunk of time working on a music composition – a piece that is kind of like a concerto. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Edward: Good! Am I hearing you say the composing brings you joy?

Me: Yes . . . I get lost in the creating . . . it is a great way to connect with and express my deepest feelings.

Edward: How is everything else going for you?

Me: Very well . . . just keeping busy with planning out the upcoming school year. I’m excited about what all I have planned . . . I enjoy the planning.

Edward: Great! Is there anything pressing on your mind that you would like to cover first today?

Me: No . . . I mean, not beyond what I talked about in my latest email.

Edward: Would you like to start there?

Me: Yeah . . .

Edward: I read your email, but could you summarize what you said in the email for me? I’d like to hear it directly from you . . .

Me: Sure . . . basically, I’m frustrated that the harder I try to take better care of my body – my physical health – the worse I do. I do more destructive and compulsive behaviors when I put my focus on incorporating healthy behaviors into my daily life.

Edward: I think I hear you saying that your anxiety increases when you try to take better care of yourself . . . is that accurate?

Me: Yes, that is accurate.

Edward: Can you tell me more about that?

Me: (After a moment of thought) I’m not sure what more I can tell you . . . I mean, I want to take better care of myself . . . eat better, exercise, do more with hygiene than just making sure I don’t have body odor . . . when I try to do better, I get triggered and end up doing worse. I do better if I don’t try at all.

I don’t know what else I can tell you about it.

Edward: Would it be okay if I asked you some questions about it? Maybe I can lead you through the conversation and uncover some things you haven’t yet thought about . . . would that be okay?

Me: Sure . . .

Edward: Can you tell me more about how you go about trying to eat better and doing some exercise . . . what does your plan look like? How do you go about implementing it?

Me: (After another moment of thought) I have figured out that it doesn’t work well for me to try to follow a very strict, rigid plan of eating, exercise, self-care . . . I can stick with it for 36 hours, then I end up triggered and I crawl back under the covers. But, before I crawl all the way under the covers, I eat a pint of B&J ice cream.

Edward: What kind of things do you try to implement?

Me: I plan out what I will eat each day and at what times . . . I make sure I have the groceries I need in the house . . . I schedule a particular time in my day to go to the gym and I plan out exactly what I’m going to do at the gym . . . I make sure I have time before I go to bed to wash my face and brush my teeth . . . I keep a checklist with me throughout the day and check off each thing as I do it . . . the checklist helps me keep focused and I feel good when I check things off . . . at least I feel good when I can force myself to do it.

Edward: That sounds like a strict plan . . . not much room to allow for accommodating real life . . .

Me: Yes, that is true . . . and it hasn’t worked well . . . I get triggered very quickly by it.

So, I’ve tried a different way . . . I’ve tried to implement very small changes, one change at a time. But, even when I try to implement even the smallest change – even when I take the smallest steps possible, I still get triggered.

Edward: Specifically what triggers you when you are implementing even very small steps?

Me: When I look at that “to do” list, I am overwhelmed. I feel a pressure to do it perfectly. I don’t consider myself “successful” unless I get everything checked off – or at least the important stuff.

So, I figured I could do better if I didn’t track how often and how much I got checked off each day. That way, if I did “nothing” for a few days, and then only checked off 50% of the items the next few days, I wouldn’t be able to look back and be mocked by my “failure”.

Instead, I could just focus on congratulating myself when I did anything that moved me in that direction. It’s not as easy to beat myself up over having low “success rates” when I’m not recording those rates. I just follow the plan as often as I can force myself to follow it and let that be good enough.

But, even with that approach, I still get triggered. The only difference is that I might make it two or three days before I’m back to binging on ice cream and hiding under the covers.

So, that doesn’t really work for me, either. And that is really frustrating . . . I mean, how easy do I have to make it for myself before I can stick with it?

Edward: (With hand on heart) Ouch! Ouch! Of course that is frustrating and painful for you!

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. Very much looking forward to this exploration

    • Thank you for your interest, Evan!


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