Saturday, January 30, 2010

DAY 174 Spiders & Looking in the Mirror Part 2

Hi Journal & Friends,

Quite a few years ago I was bitten by a Brown Recluse spider. Apparently it crawled into our nice warm waterbed, bit my hip during the night, and sneaked away before morning. I was fine when I went to bed... the next morning had a crater starting to form on my hip. The bite of that kind of spider causes necrosis of the tissue, and it keeps on dying, quickly eating a hole into you, unless you DO something.

I didn't know what it was, but it hurt, so I went to my doctor the next day. He took one look and said "I know exactly what that is, that happened to my son!" So I was able to get it treated right away, and it finally healed. Physically, that is. 

But it did something to "me". After that, if I saw a spider I would react in a physical way. I actually felt sick to my stomach, my heart raced, and I felt like I was going to pass out. It was sooo embarrassing, but it seemed I had no control over this panic-attack type reaction.

I finally told my doctor what was going on, and he told me how to get over it.. by using desensitizing techniques. I had to start by looking at pictures of a spider. At first even a PHOTO of a spider sent me into a panic attack. But I was determined to get over this, and gradually I could look at a spider picture, and not over-react. I still did not LIKE them, but they didn't set off a physical reaction. 

Later, as they appeared "in the flesh", I gradually took back my "power" by gleefully squashing them! 

Why do I bring this up?? Because I am still thinking of Dayne's post (here) about how we react to pressure. I first wrote about this Thursday (HERE). But this feels important to me, like there is more there for me, and I don't want to miss it.

It's as though this is a piece of my puzzle. I knew I used food as a drug, as an escape, a diversion, all that. Happy, sad, mad or glad, was a reason to eat. But the worst to resist, for me, was the stress eating. My reaction to pressure, or stress, was to escape... and my means of escape was food.

I can remember one time considering getting down that dusty bottle of rum from the cabinet. It had been there for probably 5 years, from the Christmas I made rum balls for gifts. 

But you know what stopped me?? The way I abused food, I just knew if I started back drinking, I would end up a raging alcoholic. In my B.C. days (that's "before Christ" for all you non-religious-fied folks) I used to drink and do the pot party rounds. I can even remember a couple of years ago wishing they would legalize pot, so I could "veg out" without calories! How sad and desperate is that?! I conveniently forgot that when you smoke pot, you ALSO get a huge case of the munchies. Sigh. Seems like I had to face my issues after all, and not run from them.

Back to Dayne's post ... The athlete he talked about had learned to interpret pressure in a positive light. He even went so far as to say he LOVED pressure!!  He connected it not with a negative, like I did, but with  the positive OUTCOME... with WINNING the game. He must have quite the competitive streak, because he seemed delighted about the fact that most people do NOT perform well under pressure, and that gave him a distinct advantage.

I am not interested in the competitive advantage, but I AM interested in how changing my interpretation of pressure will help me. If I really viewed it as a positive, I would no longer have that inner response to run from it, AS THOUGH IT WERE A SPIDER. If I can change my automatic response, then I am thinking it will remove a huge reason that pushes me to overeat.

I have learned all kinds of cognitive behavioral techniques that have helped me get this far, substituting OTHER things instead of eating. 

In fact, I had planned a whole post on it... new payoffs for new behaviors. The ways I have learned, without using food, to achieve emotional relief, physiological calm, and stave off the desire for immediate gratification.

But... wouldn't it be great to REMOVE a huge chunk of the core problem, so I didn't even NEED to struggle with it?? I am talking again about the way I interpret pressure. If I didn't view it as a negative in the first place, I think a large percentage of my drive to overeat would be eliminated.

So, I am back to the question:
When pressure puts a mirror to your face... what do you see?

To help me remember my answer, I picked an acrostic:

S.A.S. (I like it... it sounds sassy)


Right now I am having to consciously think of this. But I am hoping that in time, it will really sink in and transform my response to pressure. Instead of wanting to dive head first into a tub of mac n cheese, I will be thinking: oh boy, I wonder what this will help me achieve??

I am still looking for a visual, since I think better in pictures. The picture of me strapped to a lit Roman candle or a rocket shooting up into the sky, crossed my mind... but nah. I didn't like the coming down part.  I'll keep thinking.... :-)

From Dr Phil's book: "Our filters powerfully influence the interpretation we give to the events in our lives."

My verse for today: "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer."

My quote for today: "Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." --William James

Enjoy the Journey,


Edited to add: If anyone is interested in the whole train of thought, here are all four parts to this epic: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4


Ms. PJ Geek said...

Brown recluse bite! and you healed both physically and emotionally. That is definitely some SAS.
You are already so strong..sure the tub of mac and cheese is the easy comfy way out and the first thing we think of. For me, I remember those times where I was forced to deal with an unwanted change or pressure to my life and how I couldn't see it then , but can see it later in retrospect that it did teach me and get me to where I needed to be. I think back to some of my worst times that I did get through and am now better for and it comforts me to remind myself of that..(so no mac and cheese for me.)

Shelli Belly said...

Wow I'm going to ponder this for awhile. This road we're on is changing me in so many ways. Most of which I didn't see coming. Hmmmm

Deb Willbethin said...

I'm with you on this, Loretta. I know what kind of pressure drives me to hide in food--it's the EXPECTATIONS of others and MY fear of FAILURE to meet those expectations. I wonder when I learned that I had to be perfect?

And the rum... I don't drink for the same reason. chuckle. That's just what I would need--to be fat and an alcoholic!

But, as I said--this year, we're going to find FREEDOM!


Oh, I left you a note on my post. Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked my determined little turtle! (Determined was the first word I thought about him.)

cmoursler said...

That dog looks IDENTICAL to my dog Duke.
my dog is a huge baby and thinks he is a lap dog.
I use pressure to give me a competitive edge, but I am competing with myself.
all the time.
Great post Loretta..

antgirl said...

I hope I'm all caught up with you now. :)

Wow. You've given me so much to ponder. btw, spiders have been my biggest phobia since I was very young.

Part of my reconstruction, OK the biggest chunk of it, was dealing with depression and panic/anxiety. I'm talking about 24/7 anxiety attacks. That was my life. It had started with the big D. The drugs made it all worse. I was so broken.

I had to change my wiring, my thinking. That was the only way out. I called it 'reprogramming'. It's work I tell ya, but it can be done.

Writing is what helped me most, because every morning I could divert my thoughts to something productive. Eventually, it trained me to get up and turn my thoughts. Eventually that led to the D going away. Then the anxiety began to lessen and lesson. But anyway, I had to change the way I was misfiring and my behavior. Point, it can be done.

I also changed my thoughts on diet/exercise. I tapped into lessons learned and began looking at it all from a different POV.

Although, I can tell you that Friday, when Nini was at the vet's, and I was really upset that some odd thoughts about food flitted through my head.

Patsy said...

I could never kill a spider so I had hypnotherapy to overcome my arachnophobia - and it worked! :o)

Kristina said...

First, thank you for commenting on my blog. I loved your post. I have a huge fear of spiders as well, and living in the south, where brown recluse are in every corner, Im always looking, lifting, etc before doing the summer mostly. Im glad that you found it and were able to take care of it right away. Nasty little buggers! And I liked what you were saying about the negative. I have always done that too. Id look in the mirror and glance away quickly because I didnt want to really SEE what I was looking at. All negative thoughts would go through my head, but not any longer, now I talk to myself (hubby thinks Ive lost it! lol) and I encourage, lift myself up and try to find something I like and can speak positive about! I am completely amazed that you have lost so much weight. We are on a long, lifetime journey and Ive no doubt we can do it. Im a follower now so I can jump back over and encourage! Have a great Sunday!

CinciMom11 said...

Wow! Your spider story gave me goose bumps and made me feel sick to my tummy. That's so neat you were able to get over that fear using desensitization. You go, girl! I got a smile imagining you smoking pot.

You've really got the hang of the cognitive-behavioral techniques! I love that you're changing the way you react to pressure. Great post!!!!

Dayne Gingrich said...

"But... wouldn't it be great to REMOVE a huge chunk of the core problem, so I didn't even NEED to struggle with it?? I am talking again about the way I interpret pressure. If I didn't view it as a negative in the first place, I think a large percentage of my drive to overeat would be eliminated."


If we attack the core, we no longer run out of band aids... we'll instantly create the solution to the REAL issue(s).

Great job taking my post and breaking it up into pieces... and then putting it back together to fit your challenges! You're incredible, and you're helping soooooo many!


Nancy said...

Hm, so many things to think about in this post. (Thinking in pictures...are you aware that this is an autism trait? Yes, Temple Grandin wrote a book called thinking in pictures about that very subject. I'm convinced after reading so much about autism that we all have one or two of these traits, its when too many of these traits show up that its a problem. Thinking in pictures should not be a problem but it could be since our society is geared to think in words...anyway, this was off the subject but it just reminded me of Temple Grandins book. She is actually have a movie made of her life, she is really inspirational)

Anyway, its also interesting to me that you say in your B.C. days you drank and smoked pot. I have never ever connected drinking and smoking pot to think non Christians did, because in fact I know so many so called Christians that do this to excess. And I am told it doesnt matter because Jesus died for them. Whatever.
I say thats baloney, Jesus didnt die for you to get stoned, LOL
But the point here is (I know I'm rambling) that I have had a B.C period of time and an A.C. period of time and neither time involved drugs and alcohol because I just didnt have that in me. HOWEVER I have heard of people that finally figure out their eating problems and they get thin...only to become alcoholics or drug addicts. I sure dont want that to happen to me.

I like that you are searching your soul and not just dieting and exercising which is just fixing the packaging and not the guts! It takes guts to fix your guts first!


Rettakat said...

NANCY: You wrote: "HOWEVER I have heard of people that finally figure out their eating problems and they get thin...only to become alcoholics or drug addicts. I sure dont want that to happen to me."

I would have to strongly disagree that they figured out their eating problems! All they did was switch "substances". They quit abusing food, and substituted drugs or alcohol instead. The learned how to limit food and lose weight, meaning, they went on a DIET. Not the same thing at all as what you and I are doing.

If we are dealing with core issues, and not on a "diet", then we are facing the reasons we want to overeat in the first place. If we have dealt with it, and resolved issues, then there is no need for the drug of choice, whichever it is.

It all comes down to facing our stuff, not stuff our face... or turning to drugs or alcohol instead of dealing with our emotions and mixed up thinking.

Lots of work, yes. Uncomfortable, yes. Frustrating at time, yes.
But worth it? YES!

The reward? FREEDOM


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