Friday, November 29, 2019

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts... (trigger warning about food addictions)

The day after Thanksgiving...  I always have regrets.  Many people do.  Most revolve around eating or drinking too much, or staying out too late, or spending more on Early Black Friday sales than they should.

I have regrets every year.  Mine almost always involves thinking about how I failed at coping with the day and trying to think of ways to cope better next year.  Sometimes the regrets do include how much food I ate or the kinds of food (ie - desserts), though since I'm not a huge fan of most Thanksgiving foods, I'm more likely to eat too much pizza than during a Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving is a horrible day for someone with an eating disorder.  Even though I'm technically not in recovery, as I haven't committed yet to working a program for food addicts, I know I'm close to making that decision.  I'll be honest in that I actually plan to wait until Christmas is over to do so.  I know that's not the smartest move, as one more month of literally feeding my addiction means I'll be even deeper into my addiction before I start to take steps, but I'm just not ready for such a big step at such a hard time of year.

That didn't keep me from thinking about how it will be different next year - and the rest of my life.  The Thanksgiving foods that I do tend to eat are probably ones I'll have to avoid in recovery.  I'm 99% sure that desserts will be out, even on holidays.

I went to a support group meeting this week and of course, they discussed Thanksgiving.  It's probably the worst day of the year for most of those in recovery.  The summary of the meeting was that the main thing to remember is that Thanksgiving needs to be more than about food - it needs to be about the people you share the holiday with.

Okay... that's a problem.  I also have social anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder.  To be frank, I eat because I don't want to be social.  It's a way to cope.  Yes, it's an unhealthy way, but it's the best way I know how in that situation.  I also cope with social anxiety by bringing my camera and shooting the get-together, but most people don't like having their pictures made while eating, so I can't really do that then.

The bipolar disorder just means it's hard to plan for the day.  If I'm manic, I tend to be better on the social anxiety front.  However, most of the time, my mania is not the fun, euphoric kind.  I almost always have dysphoric mania, which is basically anxiety mixed with mania.  (Note... it's not a fun day at the beach).  So if the anxiety is overwhelming the mania, I may talk to others but then I constantly worry that I sounded stupid with what I said.  If I'm depressed, well, of course, it's hard to deal with people as it was just hard to get out of bed and get going.  My depression also always includes at least a little anxiety too, so when I don't talk to others, I worry about the repercussions of not being social.

I am learning that my food tastes and habits change according to my bipolar cycles also.  I literally have had the same food taste different depending on if I was depressed or manic.  So that, of course, plays into a plan for attacking the "How to Cope on Thanksgiving" food issue.

I talked to one other person with an eating disorder who purposely shows up late so that she doesn't have to deal with the eating part of the day nearly as long.  I thought that was a genius idea until I tried it... and realized that my ethic of being on time is so ingrained that I felt horrible for doing it.  Maybe with time, I'll realize that putting my needs above the societal norms in this situation is the healthiest and best thing I can do for myself.  I'll just have to work on it.

My family is well, family.  Just like I do, they have both good and bad traits.  But for various reasons, I don't feel I can talk about my mental health and addiction issues with my family.  I know for a fact that they don't understand or really care to try to.  Family gatherings are one of the places I feel very stigmatized.

I am thankful I now have my very supportive boyfriend there with me because in the past I always handled it alone.  But even with him being there, I still felt like I need to apologize for my existence. I know that I have these mental illnesses which makes me not a lot of fun at parties... I know they aren't my fault.  But I'm still learning how to handle it when I know this but no-one else does - and they all blame me for being a downer.

No matter what, I'm glad it's over.  I know I handled it badly... I was moody and I'm sure I wasn't fun to be around until later in the afternoon, after I got my camera out, ironically.  (It honestly didn't help that I woke up with a horrible headache; I can't shake this cold I've had for weeks; and that I felt generally cruddy when I got there, but I shouldn't have let all that rule my day.)  I guess at this point I need to just know that there's nothing I can do to change yesterday and to hopefully remember some of this when it comes to Thanksgiving 2020.

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