I hate having an upset tummy, though I am not sure there are very many people who enjoy it but I really don't like it. I would go as far as saying that there was a time when it was a full blown medically diagnosed phobia. I was told by a doctor that I had "a very creative eating disorder"- it had nothing to do disorder body image. I didn't want to loose weight, actually it was the opposite. I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to be happy and I didn't want the nasty demon of disordered eating riding my shoulders any more. I just didn't eat because I was scared I was going to throw-up at any point, I still had radical, disordered thinking but it had nothing to do with how I looked. At my worst my food intake was limited to "safe" foods that didn't appear to be contaminated. Bagels, cream of wheat, ice cream and cookies were the foods of choice. All I wanted to do was eat but the last thing I wanted to do was deal with the mental discomfort of having food in my belly and the fear of that at any moment I might just throw up. Talk about not having much faith in ones own body. I'm not even sure where all this abstract thinking came from, just one day it was there.
There is a positive aspect to this chapter of my life. I, thankfully, was honest with myself to be aware that this was an issue. Something that I needed to dive into a work on. Dig it up, get to the root and get the f*ck over it. So with baby steps I did, but it was hard. When I was hungry I felt at peace, there was no worry that I would spontaneously reject whatever was being digested in my stomach. However, I was hungry and I knew that I needed to eat and I wanted to eat but I just couldn't eat. My mind wouldn't let me so, I used this to my advantage. At the time I was a smoker and I wanted to quit, I had my reason and I finally had my self control. I used this habit of forbidding myself the things I really wanted (food) to forbid myself from smoking. It worked like a charm, the cravings were easy to deal with and I actually found quitting to be easy. I am thankful to have been able to have done that so easily when I was so young.
Another thing that happened was my full blown phobia of Spiders were minimised to just a fear or concern. This was a fantastic realization because not only did I feel free from something that use to haunt my all summer but also, I learned that phobias and fears can shift. Get better. Move on.
I worked long and hard and bit by bit I slowly began to trust my body again. With the support of close friends and my family I started to get over it. I would hit bumps along the way but I'd jump right back on and keep working my way back to health. The worst part were the panic attacks and the times where my tummy would get upset (never amounting in my worst fear though). I had safe crutches along the way, the biggest thing was first of all being honest about what was going on for me in my head. Not only did I learn the depth of peoples acceptance but also, I learned about other peoples anxiety as well so I could be a support to them too. This phobia wasn't going to be my dirty secret.
Gum, Pepto, Peppermint Tea, Peppermint Oil, Tums, wiggling my legs and time all became my crutches to get me through the physical or mental discomfort. As did connecting and eventually I was eating a healthy diet again (minus a few things that were still "scary" to me). Yes, I wasn't eating very much meat unless it was Lamb, Duck, Bison or Quail. Garlic was an offender as well so I became a lover of the rich and creamy nature of french food. Mmmm... Fast Food, cheap restaurants, deli meats and processed foods (cookies aside, of course) were still taboo to me. It wasn't a bad diet, that's for sure but I knew that I wasn't eating the "offending foods" for the wrong reasons. I was scared of them. So, with the help of a woman who I recently employed to help give me the last push I needed. I entered into cognitive and behavioral therapy and found myself facing my final fears head on. My crutches weren't being used as much and with my gently nurtured confidence in my body, I dove right in. I ate beef on a bun, chicken at the pub, ham in my submarine sandwiches. I didn't shy away from food at my friend Rheann's wedding which was heavy on the BBQ and low on the veggies. I had a steak sandwich which I hadn't had in years, mini burgers where were last eaten in 2006 (is that right Calvin?). If I had an upset tummy I would still eat regardless.
My body did rebel, I haven't had such an upset tummy in years. I think it has almost gone into shock with the stress of life mixed in with all these nasty foods I had not eaten in years. The panic attacks came back last month but I am not giving into it. Yes, I need my friends more right now then I may have last year at this time. But they are there for me, cheering me on with support. And I've been there for me too which is something new. Last week when trying to keep a panic attack at bay so I could get my work done I discovered that searching "Beautiful Pictures of Nature" on Google would put everything at ease. I don't have a place in my head that I can go too when I am distracted by anxiety so manufacturing it by looking at images. Within 5 minutes I was back at ease. On my own. Without the aide of anything other then my imagination.
This post originally was just going to be a short one about searching for pictures on Google and finding them helpful in calming my mind but it ended up being more of a confessional, taking on a life of it's own. Many know this story, but it is an old story now. It doesn't effect my life as much as it once did, even as I challenge myself with my final fears. True, I still keep stock of Pepto but I don't stock it in my purse anymore and if I do, it's No Name Brand. I'm better then I've ever been , even though I feel as though I am floundering and flopping around like a fish out of water. No one ever said change was pretty. It will come together because I want it too.