||[Jul. 23rd, 2004|11:09 pm]
Compulsive eating and "the real problem" discussion follows, but it's long, and possibly dull...|
It's kind of a shame, the way words get torn apart. Words lose their meaning, or end up unusable, because of new associations.
One of the big ones that comes to mind for me is "pussy". I don't know the etymology of this word as it relates to a person who is a wimp, weak, and/or unable to take care of (usually him-)self. I would have thought that it referred to a pampered kitty cat, as opposed to, say, a big dog. But, it's also slang for a vagina, so it could have come from the notion that weakness is a feminine trait .
Even if the etymology referred to "pussy cat", it really wouldn't matter, because of the possible confusion today. But, it's kind of a shame, because there are times when I feel that I need a word to describe a quintessential wimp, and, because of when, and where, I grew up, "pussy" is the first word that comes to mind for such a wimp.
This is a bit of a long introduction, and I'm still not done yet, so be patient.
Take a fairly tough person, one who can take some of the hardest knocks that life can throw a person, and respond "Is that all you got, pussy?"
(see, I bet you're wondering why this was all relevant ... in fact, that particular thought/phrase has stuck in my mind mostly from a South Park episode. Nevertheless, it is an awfully useful idea ... "That was your best shot? I scoff at you!". )
Imagine that person feeling two steps away from breaking down crying. You'd figure that it has to be a serious load of pain that would put a person into that state, right?
And, then you find out that it's because the person can't gorge themselves on pizza, or have a half a dozen snacks over the course of the night, or something similar.
You'd probably think one of two things. You'd I think that the person wasn't nearly as tough as you thought, or, you would realize that there is a pain that you simply do not understand associated with food for that person.
I've seen a few live journal entries that have dealt, directly, or indirectly, with eating disorders. I don't have an eating disorder, not by any stretch of the imagination. But, I feel that I could have, and I think I understand a large part of how eating disorders work.
(I don't know if this will prove my credentials, but, I am 5' 11", and, in December of last year, weighed 260 lbs.. At that time, I was exercising regularly. Today, jogging 40 minutes a day, most days at work, and bicycling to to three hours a week, I still way about 235 lbs.. Given how much I enjoy exercising, and given how hard I try to stay in shape, I should probably weigh in at about 200, or maybe 210 lbs., and that's assuming that I'm starting to lose my battle with middle-aged weight gain.
And, thinking about this over the past few days has made me think about one of my concerns about programs that are supposed to end compulsions.
The 12 step programs are at least somewhat successful in treating some compulsive behavior problems. (right now, I'm treating chemical addictions as being somewhat behavioral, since they involve obtaining, and using a substance. )
I think that they might be incomplete. I think that they might be useful in a first-aid sort of way, or maybe as part of a greater whole.
Here's the thing: If I'm in a good mood, and I have the food craving, I can make some kind of compromise with myself. The pain is there, but it's not really unbearable, and I can put off some of the food for later, with a small quantity of a treat today. But, if I'm in a depressed mood, the pain is almost unbearable.
Now, keep in mind, one of my theories of depression is that it's a defense mechanism. Your brain surrounds itself in a dull, gray, haze of pain, but nothing feels much worse. Sure, you don't feel good, but, this is about how bad it's going to get. Depriving me of food, or, at least depriving me of comfort food, is one of the things that can bring me closer to breaking down then just about anything else. It's a special kind of pain, sharper, and deeper, and, for some reason, more meaningful, and many others.
Mind, there are certainly other pains that will bring me close to breaking down, but this is the one that is so painful out of proportion to its meaning that it strikes a special chord in me.
It's not because of physical hunger, and, while it might have something to do with the fact that carbohydrates can help produce serotonin, I don't think that's everything. Something about certain types of foods just makes them comforting, in some way, and helps them alleviate a desperate, hollow ache that I feel.
Again, it's possible that this is related to serotonin, but there are certain types of food, like pizza, or certain snack foods, that seem to fill this ache better than other foods that have just as much carbohydrate content.
If I were to stop eating compulsively through "willpower", or with the help of a program, I don't think that it would help the underlying problem.
I would still have this hollow ache, and, unless something taught me how to avoid that ache, all I would have done is learned to let myself suffer one way, to avoid suffering another way.
The only proper answer would be a way to ease, or erase, all of the suffering.
I hope that, in some ways, I've taken some steps towards doing that. I don't know, because most of the indulging that I have done over the past few months has been out of habit, and I haven't faced that deep ache in a long time.
But that is one of the things that bothers me about programs that are developed to stop a particular behavior. I'm not sure if they do enough, and, while I don't blame them for not doing more, I think that more might be necessary. I think they might be, at times, treating only one of the symptoms, rather than treating the true problem.