Whether it was nature, nurture, or the combination of the two, I ended up in adulthood being a person prone to anxiety and depression. Early in life I learned that one thing that would consistently sooth me in these moods was food, and particularly things that were sweet and / or rich. As a child, I had only limited access to candy, ice cream, and the like, but as a grown up, the world seemed to abound in foods that could make me feel better.
The problem, of course, is that emotional satiety through food leads to a diametric lack of nutritional satiety, and so as I medicated myself with large amounts of junk foods, I learned to pay more attention to what was going on in my head and learned to pay little heed to what was going on in my stomach. Over the years, this led me to gain an increasing tolerance with over-eating. Even so, many was the night when I went to bed with a stomach so full that it caused me great discomfort.
During my childhood, my Father was an alcoholic, so I had always been wary of the concept of medicating oneself through drugs. I assiduously avoided things like antidepressants for fear that they would become Ďaddicting.í At the same time, I remained woefully unaware of my food addiction, and the trauma it was causing me. Probably the most significant factor that caused me to diet excessively and then to binge eat, was this emtional imbalance that I was unable to solve.
Four years ago, I adopted a healthier eating approach, lost weight in a no-nonsense way, and got to a slender goal weight without starving myself physically or emotionally. But as a thin person, I discovered that the problems with anxiety and depression that I always had in the past, did not magically disappear. In fact, I was left without one of my key tools for soothing myself.
After my Fatherís death last year, following on two years of being unemployed, and a few other crippling emotional events, I finally decided that enough was enough. Armed with a prescription for buproprion, I began introducing a chemical means of balancing my emotions. For anxiety attacks, I also had alprazolam.
What I learned was that these drugs, used wisely, took the edge off of the most debilitating symptoms, while leaving me clear and calm enough to deal cognitively with the core issues that were upsetting to me. I havenít been cured of my neuroses, but Iíve adopted an alternative to eating that seems to be working.
Now I am also able to begin learning something totally new Ė what the various signals of my digestive tract mean, and when Iíve had enough, or too much, to eat. Its amazing how little food it takes to fill me physically, and when Iím able to exercise that kind of portion control, I can even moderate my moods and emotions to some extent. Being a perfectionist at heart, I was hoping to learn those signals overnight and become a totally new person. What Iíve discovered instead is that it seems to be a sort of trial and error thing.
Last night I downloaded some meditational music on my iPod, because this week Iím going to practice quietly paying attention to my body and listening in to what it has to tell me. It doesnít seem to take a long time, or strenuous effort, but it does seem to require a level of consciousness that I havenít had in the past. Wish me luck. Ohm.