Anxiety Hunger Trick

I have major issues with anxiety sometimes. Often, when I get really anxious, I am repulsed by food and don’t want to eat.

This is a major issue if I am lifting heavy, since I want to build muscle, and that requires calories and protein every day.

Last night I got home from work and the anxiety settled on my shoulders like a blanket, and I couldn’t stand the thought of food, even though I’d only eaten about 1500 calories so far that day. I know I need more food than that, but it was just gross to think about eating. I mentioned this on a weightlifting group I’m in, and they suggested I try having some pure sugar – just a spoonful of honey or a sugar cube – and waiting 15-20 minutes to see if I felt like eating.

I figured it couldn’t hurt. I mean – it’s honey. Either it would do nothing, or I might feel better. And sure enough, I felt better – and hungry – after about 15 minutes. I probably ate half a tablespoon of honey or so, not a whole lot, and then within 15 minutes I felt like I could handle some food. So I made myself a chicken quesadilla (since SSH had already eaten by then), and felt MUCH better.

So if you’re ever in a mind space where you know you need to eat something, but are not really able to convince yourself to eat, try giving your body just a little bit of sugar. I’m not sure WHY it works, but it sure did work for me.

Rewriting my inner narrative for 2014

Putting this below a cut, so you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to – this is me talking about, thinking about, and deciding to retell the narrative I have about my body. If you are uncomfortable about bodies, or are triggered by discussions of weight, restrictive eating, or other related topics, you may want to skip this post.

Continue reading “Rewriting my inner narrative for 2014”

Skills and Stress

As evidenced by a high blood pressure reading at my most recent doctors appointment(s), I’m stressed. This is nothing a) new or b) abnormal, especially with a job in a corporate office. I’m working on my stress-relieving/coping skills, and finding that they’re pretty limited.

I take showers. (This is not very good for the environment, and I feel a little guilty about taking wanton showers that I don’t need, but it DOES help me de-stress)

I go for walks. (When it’s not dark. And when my joints cooperate. Also, I need new shoes.)

I try to meditate. (I’ve been learning various kinds of mindfulness meditation for the last year and a half, though I’m admittedly not very good at it. Still, focused breathing, even if I can’t get to focused, non attached thinking, helps)

But I kinda need some more tools in the box. When I’m really anxious, eating a snack helps, but that doesn’t really help with stress – and depending on the availability of gluten free snacks, can be a stressor instead of a de-stressor.

I’m open to trying some new things to help me manage this. So what do you do to manage stress?

Big Bad Binary Brain

My brain is really excellent at binary thinking.

Given any situation, I will come up with two answers, one of which is complete failure (resulting in failure) and one of which is unattainable perfection (resulting in failure). Therefore if I choose either column, I fail, and am therefore subject to more mental berating.

If I attempt to choose another, more moderate option, I am berated for not being good enough to try for the perfect. There is elaborately cooked, time intensive dinner, or there is failure. There is compulsively clean, 100% taken care of house, or there is failure. There is 100% kindness to everyone all the time, or there is failure.

It’s a kind of twisted perfectionism that I’ve spent most of my life perfecting, it seems. (I should mention that even if I come up with something I initially think is good, my brain will pick holes in it until it looks like every other failure, even if I’ve accomplished something. It’s … kind of sick.)

Nowhere is this better illustrated than with exercise.

With exercise, there is either “exercise until exhaustion” and “nothing”. Compound this with my joint disorder, whereby I can’t do things like lift weights (because my joints go squishywibble and won’t work properly, so I can’t even get my muscles engaged) or run (impact is bad, yo) or really most “normal” exercise, and there are two options. Do nothing, or walk until you can’t feel your knees and then go lift weights anyway, even though it makes you feel awful for two days.

There are two kinds of exercise I mostly tolerate (verging on enjoyment) – biking and yoga. I’m not allowed to bike because of the pressure it puts on my wrists (which, plus my hands, are the only joints that hurt on an everyday basis anymore). I just bought a new bike in October. Failure. I’m not supposed to do yoga for the same reasons.

But Anna, yoga has infinite variations and modifications! Why not do one of those?

Because so far I can’t. Well, physically I could. Mentally I must either do the full version of the pose, or I might as well not bother because I’m a failure anyway. This is compounded by my relative ease with kinesthetic adventures like yoga and dance, which I learn quickly. I’m also naturally extremely flexible, so I have never really done modified poses. I am still adjusting to this new way of living in my body. (Also, let’s not even get into being fatter.) Doing a modified version anyway, in a sort of “fuck you, brain” only results in having to listen to myself for the rest of the day.

To be honest, I feel a lot of sympathy with Gollum.

It’s all extremely unkind, and difficult to live with a lot of the time too. There are entire days when I wish my brain would just SHUT UP and GO AWAY. I’ve tried asking it why I only have these two options, but the answer isn’t fit to type.

I fight against this every day, some days with more success than others. Some days the crazy is just too loud, and I don’t really function beyond going through enough of the motions to not get fired. Recently the crazy has been very loud, and so I’m not getting much done. It’s too much work to try to deal with it, to try not to resist, but to … not accept. Just… allow it to exist and do whatever I need to anyway?

My awesome therapist says that “What we resist persists” – the more mental energy I throw at resisting and arguing with the crazy, the more it pushes back. Instead, I’m supposed to say “ok, I appreciate that you feel that way” and do whatever else anyway. (I know it sounds crazy, but somehow this works better than the alternatives.)

It’s very draining, just doing everyday stuff.

I’m trying really hard to “work on it”, but its hard to change something that seems built in, if that makes any sense. Meditation helps, as do naps. Journaling helps when I manage to do it without automatically setting myself up to fail at it. (How you fail at journaling, I’m not sure, but I manage.)

Today I managed 8 hours of work, plus 3 sets of pushups and squats and a set of “hang on the pull up bar and think really hard about it” (I can’t do pull ups). I’ll put something together for dinner – probably out of the freezer (maybe tamales). After dinner I will sit on the floor and attempt to get my brain to slow down for awhile.

And that’s going to have to be enough.