Saturday, December 19, 2009

Skeleton Woman / Grasping At Rainbows / Living In The Present -- 2009

"Skeleton Woman"
Gouache and watercolor

(page 48)

It's been many years since the beginning of my recovery from anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating. I wrote "The Door" in the last miserable years that I suffered in secret from compulsive overeating, bulimia and anorexia, and I remember the first holiday season during which I experienced an astonishing freedom from the eating disorders that had manifested early in my life.

Even as a very young child I used sugar as a sedative which gave me temporary relief from acute anxiety. It was only later, when I was 10 years old, that I became obsessed with losing weight, despite the fact that I wasn't overweight. My reality from my earliest memories was that I could not stop eating sugar once I started. I used sugar as a sedative throughout my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

At age 36, I stopped eating foods made with refined sugar and stopped drinking alcohol. The terrible food cravings that allowed for no satiation were lifted. It wasn't easy at first and still isn't easy to live in a world where sweet foods are offered as love and reward, but I have had the support of others recovering from eating disorders for a long time now.

Twice in recent years I have experimented with returning to the use of refined sugar. Both times I found that I lost my appetite for food that wasn't heavily sugared and that I experienced insatiable craving again. Both times I began to suffer from ocular rosacea. Both times, it was very difficult to return to the way of eating that didn't trigger unbearable craving for excess food.

Knowing what I now know about alcoholism, i.e. the craving for alcohol (and for me, massive amounts of food) that is triggered by drinking alcohol, I have not tried experimenting with alcohol again.

Today, December 19, 2009, is cool and foggy in the coastal Pacific Northwest, but the Red-winged Blackbirds are singing this morning. Listen. It almost sounds like spring.


Loren said...

It must be especially tough this time of year, am.

The only thing I still desire at Christmas is cookies and sweets since presents. except for the children in my life, too often seem like nothing more than an indulgence in excess.

The Solitary Walker said...

I have had some alcohol problems in the past. My daughter also has some eating disorder/body image concerns. I think these things can be overcome, but it is difficult, and one never say the addictive compulsion is gone forever. You must be constantly mindful.

am said...

Loren -- It was tough until I realized that few people notice that I don't eat sugar. When offered Christmas cookies, I simply say, "What beautiful cookies!" and truly mean it. I can choose not to eat them and to celebrate the delight they bring to other people. I'm grateful for every cookie I ate in the past. I wouldn't have missed them for the world (-:

Solitary Walker -- Mindfulness is the key, isn't it? The addictive tendencies don't go away. Mindfulness keeps them in remission. For the most part, I am at peace with sugar and alcohol.

bev said...

Interesting that you were attracted to sugar as a sedative when dealing with acute anxiety. I'm not much for eating sweet food - it's not something I would normally crave, but when I'm under intense pressure, or things are going really badly, I will sometimes get the sudden impulse to buy something incredibly weird like a bag of red licorice or wine gums, and eat the whole damned thing within an hour. Usually, it leaves me feeling very weird after - I'll get a major sugar crash and feel shaky and wiped out for hours after. It's a very unpleasant sensation. I had the sugar impulse thing happen about three times during this trip. When it happens, I feel it's a good indicator that things are becoming too difficult and I have to find a way to slow down and defuse my situation. By the way, the word verification is "bities" which looks like the name of some kind of candy!

robin andrea said...

I'm just catching up here, am. I so appreciate your journey and your attentive eye to all that is around you. I am impressed by what you knew intuitively about life from such a young age. It is not always easy to be sensitive.

Dale said...

I've wondered sometimes how large a component of alcoholism the sugar content of most alcoholic drinks is. (I've read somewhere that maltose, the sugar in beer, metabolizes faster than any other substance -- the highest glycemic rating of all.)

am said...

bev -- What you said about the sugar impulse. It is my experience, too, that it lets me know that I have an opportunity to change something in a situation that is starting to overwhelming me.

robin andrea -- Thank you for your kind thoughts and words.

Dale -- What you said reminded me that people get tattooed after they have been drinking alcohol.

Recently I heard a young woman talking about her new tattoo. When asked by an older woman if it hurt to be tattooed, she said, "Not if you eat a bunch of candy bars first. Sugar takes away the pain."