No Reason

From Chicago Med Season 1, Episode 12:

Dr. Charles: You’re one hell of a performer. I mean, a real trouper. Keeping it up for so long, selling this idea you think who you need to be all the time, carrying around the weight of that performance…isn’t it tiring? Aren’t you exhausted?

The patient: I have absolutely no excuse to be sad.

Dr. Charles: You don’t need a excuse, man. You’re a human being.

This quote really resonated with me. I have been pretty depressed lately, but keep beating myself up for feeling that way. I keep saying to my therapist that I don’t understand why I am so sad. Objectively everything in my life is going well – I am in graduate school, I have a job, I have a boyfriend, I have great friends, a great family etc. I look around and see people that are less fortunate than me, and feel guilty that I am still sad and hopeless despite everything that I have. Logically I know that when you have depression you don’t need a reason to be depressed, but I still often feel bad about my mood being so low. So, it was nice to hear the line about not needing an excuse to be sad.

In addition, I could really relate to the first part of the quote. I am exhausted all of the time, and find being around people particularly draining. I think it is because when I am around people I put on this act that everything is ok. I act happy and energetic, and then come home and collapse. Dr. Charles is right that putting on that performance is exhausting.

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Feelings Are Not Facts

I try to stay away from political issues on this blog, but this was just too good to pass up. This past week on Last Week Tonight John Oliver pointed out some flaws in the Republican Party’s logic that really touched on something I’ve been working on recently.

My therapist pointed out that, for whatever reason, I tend to take eating disorder feelings as facts. I think “I feel like I’m gaining weight, so I must be gaining weight” or “I feel like I don’t need this many exchanges at this meal/snack, so I must not need them.”

This past week, John Oliver played a clip of Newt Gingrich doing the exact same thing during an interview with CNN! The interviewer tried to point out that statistically speaking (according to FBI statistics), Americans are safer than they were 8 years ago. Mr. Gingrich countered with the “fact” that Americans don’t feel safer. John Oliver points out that feelings don’t equal facts. If they did, then that would basically mean that candidates can create facts because they can create feelings.

Anyway, while watching this interview and thinking “Newt is being ridiculous” I realized that I do the same thing with the eating disorder. Furthermore, it made me think that the eating disorder is like Donald Trump – it’s a big bully trying to scare me. It tries to convince me that I will be safe with it by playing to my biggest fears, but there are no concrete ideas or facts behind the words. That realization makes me want to fight harder. I won’t let Donald Trump scare me with his words, so I need to do the same with the eating disorder!

Here is the clip. The part I’m talking about starts around minute 6:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNdkrtfZP8I

 

Obsessing

House: Started thinking about what you said, about me obsessing. Started obsessing about obsessing.

Season 6, “Epic Fail”

I have been thinking about this quote a lot as I try to work on decreasing my obsessive thinking. I obviously have obsessive thinking related to food and weight, but the obsessive thinking extends beyond that. My therapist and I have recently started talking about other types of obsessive thinking, and it’s been eye opening to realize that not everyone spends time obsessing about, well, basically everything.

I remember as a kid being very obsessed with saying or doing the “right” thing. I would replay conversations in my head and rehearse future conversations until they were “just right.” I know it’s perfectly normal to think about a previous interaction or prepare for an important discussion, but I would do it over EVERY interaction. I still struggle with this, although not nearly as much as I used to. I wonder if some of the obsession about food and weight is a way to take my focus off of these other obsessions.

My therapist introduced me to this thing called “Just Right OCD”, which fits with a lot of these obsessions. You can read more about it here. I don’t really struggle with making sure things are “just right” (i.e. that a pen is in the exact right spot on the desk), but I definitely obsess about making sure that I express myself “just right” or write an email (or even this blog post “just right.”

In light of all of this, I am now trying to focus less on making things “just right”, both with food and other things. So in honor of that, I am writing this blog post and NOT editing it over and over again. I apologize in advance for any errors, but hopefully this is the first step towards getting rid of some of this obsessive thinking.

Intellectualizing

From The Big Bang Theory episode “The Rhinitis Revelation”:

Amy: Sheldon, we’re all animals. And granted, there are aspects of you that are extraordinary, but when it comes to emotions and relationships, you’re just like everybody else.

Sheldon: Are you trying to suggest that my emotional problems are no different than those of a stupid person?

Amy: Actually, some research indicates that by not over-thinking, the less intelligent handle emotions better.

Now, with this quote I am in NO WAY suggesting that people who handle emotions better are less intelligent than those who don’t. I honestly don’t know what the research says about that.

I do like this quote, however, for two reasons:

  1. It’s a good reminder that everyone experiences emotions and it is normal to get emotional and upset
  2. It directly speaks to my problem of “intellectualizing” and overthinking things

I think number one is pretty self explanatory.  I know a lot of people, including myself, who think of emotions as messy and uncomfortable, and get embarrassed when emotional. I know I hate to cry in front of people. However, as Amy reminds us, having emotions are part of being an animal (trust me, my cats definitely have emotions too). It is ok to have emotions and cry and be “messy.”

As for number two, I think that because I am uncomfortable with emotions, I tend to over think things rather than feel them.  For example, instead of just saying “I feel anxious,” and letting myself experience that emotion, I tend to rationalize all of the reasons why I might feel anxious, or why I should/shouldn’t feel that way. The rationalization then leads to judging myself and feeling guilty on top of everything else. I am working on allowing myself to just feel emotions, rather than think my way through them, but it is definitely a work in progress.

Shame

From Grey’s Anatomy Season 12, Episode 6:

“They say shame controls every aspect of human behavior. It’s about who we believe we are, but in the end you can’t hide and the body doesn’t lie.  The truth is right there for the world to see. Our shame can choke us, kill us, can rot us from the inside.  If we decide to let it.  Don’t let that happen to you.”

Shame is definitely something I think a lot about, and I think Meredith is 100% right that it can really get you from the inside out.  This quote made me think of an article I once read by Jane Shure about shame.

In the article, she talks about the difference between guilt and shame, and how shame leads to these automatic beliefs of inadequacy. Specifically, she says, “Shame is that feeling of being inherently flawed, damaged, and defective….people often confuse shame with guilt, but there are important differences that distinguish them. Guilt focuses on an action that we have done or failed to do. With guilt, we feel bad about our behavior, while with shame, the feeling isn’t that we have done something bad, but that we are bad.”

I know that I often say that I feel guilty about a lot of things, but reading that article made me realize that really what I have is shame. More so than feeling guilty for bothering a friend or being annoying, I feel shame because I think I am a bother or I am annoying, not just that I’ve done a single thing that is bothersome or annoying.

Even without thinking about it, feeling that way makes me turn to the eating disorder. I feel ashamed for being myself, so starving myself seems to be the “solution” in some sort of twisted way.  Ironically though, I feel a lot of shame about the eating disorder itself.  I am constantly trying to hide it, and whenever anyone brings it up, I often shy away from talking about.

I think what Meredith says rings true for any kind of shame, but it’s even more true with an eating disorder, particularly anorexia.  I can deny all I want and try to hide when I’m doing well, but if I’m losing weight or just overall malnourished, people notice. As she says, “the body doesn’t lie”, and it is right there for people to see.

As she says, the key really is to get it out in the open so it can’t rot you from the inside out. Talking about shame or bringing up things that feel shameful is like an exposure – it is really anxiety provoking and scary.  But in my experience, it usually ends up being far less painful than keeping it in.

Grey’s Again

From this past week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.  It really hit home about “managing” things.  I usually feel like I am managing things fine, and then seemingly out of nowhere things start to crumble.  But as Owen points out, perhaps I am actually doing too good a job of managing things.  Rather than trying to manage things and keep everything under control, I need to allow myself to experience the ups and downs, the good days and bad days.  Maybe the more I try to keep up this appearance of managing, the more I’m actually setting myself up to relapse.  Oh, and spoiler alert – Derek is dead.

Amelia: I’ve got the dead-Derek thing completely managed…but I’m good. I got this. I am fine….except today, I yelled at Richard… Who was only trying to invite me for coffee, and then I went and scored oxy from this junkie doctor. 

Owen: But you haven’t taken any? 

Amelia: Not yet. But I might. That’s the thing. I really actually might. I have been sober for 1,321 days, Owen. I was fine. It was managed. But I might. 

Owen: All this stuff you’re… managing… You’re not supposed to be managing it. You’re supposed to be feeling it… grief, loss, pain. It is normal. 

Amelia: It’s not normal. 

Owen: It is. It is normal. It’s not normal to you ’cause you’ve never done it… instead of feeling it, feeling the grief and the pain, you’ve shoved it all down and you do drugs instead. Instead of moving through the pain, you run from it. Instead of dealing with being hurt and alone and afraid that this horrible, empty feeling is all there is, I run from it. I run off, and I sign up for another tour of active duty. We do these things. We run off, and we medicate. We do whatever it takes to cover it up and dull the sensation, but it’s not normal. We’re supposed to feel. We’re supposed to love and hate and hurt and grieve and break and be destroyed and rebuild ourselves to be destroyed again. That is human. That is humanity. That’s being alive. That’s the point. That’s the entire point. Don’t avoid it. Don’t extinguish it. Derek died. [Voice breaking] He died. 

Amelia: I don’t want to feel it. I don’t think I can. I don’t think I even want to…I can’t. I can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t. 

Owen: You have to. If you don’t… 

Amelia: No, I can’t. Shh, I can’t do this! 

Owen: You have to. If you don’t, that bag of oxy’s not gonna be your last. You’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna survive this, okay? Everybody does. It’s perfectly normal. It’s boring, even. It’s so normal.