So I had a bit of a light bulb moment for whatever reason last night when driving back home from Bible Study. I think it was due to the conversation I had with Kristi samonim that had me thinking about certain things, back to New York, and then thinking about the pain gating mechanism, having just started reading, “The Brains Way of Healing” by Norman Doidge, and funny enough, earlier that day having seen an old episode (well they’re all kind of old by now, I guess) of House, where he is detoxing from Vicodin and smashes his hand to alleviate the pain of detox by focusing on his hand hurting, and Wilson brings up pain gating.
In any case, if I am thinking about this mechanism, I think it really explains how God worked in pulling me out of my relapse when I was in New York. I didn’t get how at the time, all I knew was that at the time, I got really sick, and when that happened, the ED voice lessened. A lot. I was feeling relatively okay with eating. Like, after a month of hardly eating anything – and even that didn’t feel too painful (I’ll get to that in a moment.) What I had speculated was that my body some how just shut up the ED, like survival instinct kicking in and just making it shut up or at least lessen so I would be able to beat that cold, or whatever it was that I had at the time. Pain gating makes sense now. Which ever is perceived as more of a threat, or pain perhaps, is the one the body will focus on. So in that case, it was like my body stopped screaming at me to stay away from food in fear of how it would harm me, and conversely, was able to eat in hopes that it would help me. The “pain” and fear of getting fat, thrown out, or at least squelched a bit, for at least short term survival. I had a feeling at the time too, that it wasn’t going to be so easy. Lo and behold, after the first day of eating about 1100 calories, which was more than in…so long, by the next day, not feeling like death, due to the cold, I put up more of a fight and fear of the food, feeling like I did not need it, ED much louder, and more distress and arguments of sort over food. But the okay feeling didn’t last long. Or not so much. I was deluded as to what okay felt like anyways, in a sense. By the next day though, I felt sick and weak, I tried to eat small amounts the ED allowed, and my body trying to process the food I had eaten the prior days was causing issues. I was weak, and just scared. I wasn’t able to do it on my own at all, but that is when I was able to get Kristi samonim to talk to someone, and explain what I felt unable to about AN, and magic plate. I remember a wave of relief just overcoming me. Feeling so thankful to God. In my mind just prior I had felt so desperate, praying to God, He would let them talk and take control from the ED. Gracefully they did. I was able to eat my first real meal in what seemed life so long after that. Even looking back at it now, it is somewhat amazing. I don’t even quite get how I was able to eat so much and it not terribly hurt (though the prior days, it had. A lot.). At that time though it seemed like my fear of dying, or at least of just being unable to function (I could barely move of the sofa there, and it the heat outside made my heart race). Looking back I know I was still thinking very disordered, but the initial sort of jump or chance I think shows pain gating, in a way.
I think it also has it make more sense when it comes to why perhaps cutting or other such things can bring relief to one when distressed psychologically. In Doidge’s book, he has a list of the parts of the brain, and how they receive pain, but also do many other things, and how one man used things such as visualization to , basically, use mindfulness in a sense, to rid chronic pain. It reminded me of Jeffrey M. Schwartz method in “Brain Lock”, or how Mark Freeman talks mindfulness practice, in acknowledging that the thing is there, but doing something else anyways, and eventually it will die off, bit by bit. I always noted how before, when I cut, it was the initial just…doing so, that grounded me and “off set” what ever psychological pain I felt. It gave me something easier to focus on in a way. It also might help explain why myself and others may grow “addicted” or dependent on exercise. It can cause a sort of pain or burn, which our society may at least see as more acceptable. When not taken to the extremes can be good, but. Yeah.
I have also noticed times prior, like when I fell down a hill running, and had huge gashes on my legs, that my anxiety was less. That because there was physical pain, it off set, or somehow filled the quota, so to speak and my mental angst was less. Also, like when I went to Haiti, versus Mexico, or Dallas. Haiti, in some ways, was much easier because of the physical discomfort. Aside from almost having carbon monoxide poisoning, which was a horribly nauseating, sick feeling, the car ride, the heat, and moving about, the cots, the showers and even having to stand and the food there, etc. It was more “difficult” and in some sense I think what made it easier for me to deal with in a way. When I’ve gone to Mexico, or Dallas though, we have stayed in Hotels. Nice cushy hotels. Or at least, you know, indoors, soft beds, clean bathrooms, showers, etc. I mean, there were still issues in all three cases with anxiety, or managing, but if I could chose, I would…be afraid for all three right now, honestly, aha. In New York, it was a completely different environment though, and on some level…well no, I did think it was too “easy” that is what made it way too difficult to eat. I felt it wasn’t justified, at all. I didn’t and honestly, probably still wouldn’t understand the point of eating. It’s strange to say, I know, but yeah. If I stopped and looked at my days now, I might think the same too, but yeah. Something about the more controlled environments, and fear.
I wonder if on some level, that is why, I didn’t really feel pain. Or that is physical pain. I was distressed within my own mind when I felt fine physically. It was like my brain was blunted, in a fog, but it was scary at once. I kept telling myself I would eat if I was hungry. I somewhat remember when I was in high school, the year my ED first started. I remember my stomach hurting, growling, and feeling like it was eating itself in agony. Going to sleep with hunger pangs and waiting for them to go away. This last time, no such thing. That was what was confusing. I didn’t feel physical hunger, but I got that, “my brain feels like it is dying” feeling, which at once I told myself was just anxiety over wanting food. Not that I actually needed it; because I didn’t feel physically hungry. Sometimes I kind of might, but the smallest amount would make it go away, and as such…confusion. I wonder though, if that pain was some how blocked out, due to my perceived greater pain, or fear of…”getting fat?” gaining weight? Whatever it is, at the core that drives the ED. It can make up a lot of various reasons, but I know many can just be post hoc rationalizations of sort and at it’s core can just be straight up fear of food, anxiety disorder. The conscious mind, beliefs, etc. can come into play perpetuating it, but yeah. I look back and am like, “Yeah, what was I trying to do?” Fear of weight gain seems to be the biggest thing. The OCD spiraled in on itself too, the ED liked that. It hates it when the OCD latches on to healthier/ not aligned with it’s desires, but once it can claw its way out of those behaviors and into ones it likes more, it is all for the OCD latching on and spiraling. So when I would eat one amount one day, I would be afraid to eat more, or think that since I ate that day, I definitely didn’t need any the next, but then if I didn’t eat that day, then the next day why should I need anything, because if I didn’t need anything the day before, why would I need anything that day? And so on and so forth.
Recently when it comes to anxiety and pain, I have been taking the stance of, rather than being anxious, and/or fear of pain that may come or is, saying to just find out and see what actually happens, what things actually feel like, rather than what the ED says it should feel like. My brain feels like it is spinning in the background a bit, perhaps waiting for that next bit of information to complete it, how I could use the Gate control theory to over ride such anxiety. Yet that is a bit presumptuous of me to think I can. Like I have been also saying to myself, or rather to God, as I recall Linda samonim saying, challenge God. That is, if I am doing this by faith, He has to take care of it. He has to not only take care of the physical pain, but the psychological pain as well. Rather than trying to induce some other pain to focus on and over ride, rather look to the Word. Though in that sense, that is what it can be seen as in a way. When one uses incentive. I have seen how some parents, make it so there children, in a way may how “no choice” but to eat for instance. One likening it to making their child swim up stream. The only way to do so may be to have some crocodiles and logs down stream to get them to start swimming. Kristi samonim actually brought up a good point yesterday, how when we’re worrying about other things, it is because we’re not focused on the Gospel. If that is all we cared about, all the other things would melt away. Of course the ED wants to argue I can not eat and starve and preach the Gospel [relatively] fine….until I can’t. I mean, I’ve had nightmare, where I am at my old church and preaching the Gospel to them and having a great time until, in the dream, in a cartoon, comical manner, huge plates of chocolate chip cookies and glasses of milk are brought out, at which I am hit by a wave of fear, and stand up to walk through and out as fast as possible, while they are all there, pulling at me, begging me to stay, while I just say I can’t and speed through the hallway and down the stairs. How one also goes about it is also a possible point of contention for me. The church I go to, uses their various events, and preach the Gospel, as such they want me to join in, and I then contend, why does it have to be that way. Of course, one could ask, how else would I? That is, it is fine, but would you go out on your own anyways? I’d like to, honestly. It’s just difficult to go randomly and preach to people. Or well, I guess it might not be if I didn’t have that self consciousness of sorts. Anyways, this is a bit of a ramble I suppose.
I do indeed feel like I am recovering though. Bit by bit. That is also what is confusing. People say they don’t expect things to be better all at once, but then at once when they say things other times, or by action, it seems to feel as though they do. Or at least they might push for it anyways. It can feel overwhelming and scary. At once, I remind myself recently, my brain will always want to make excuses as to why it shouldn’t be now, and always be later, but then months or years could go by as such, so why not now? Otherwise, it will always be “later”. The ED always says that I am recovering too fast. That it is bad, that if you were really sick, it wouldn’t be so easy for you. Get worse to show that it actually is a problem (ED logic). I talked to samonim about it last night, how it bothered me, I practically wanted to walk out within the first five minutes of being at Bible Study last night because of two comments made, on sister said, “I wish I had Kianni’s problem” at which….No. When Kristi samonim heard that, she was like, no, nobody wants that. Yet she has seen how soul destroying anorexia is. She know that, almost on some level, more seriously than I say it in a way, because she saw it, dealt with it from a third person perspective, not someone being confused and distraught in it. Someone who felt helpless to help, no matter how hard they tried. I stayed last night, as I told samonim, I had to remind myself, I don’t go there for the people, as my two friends at church would say, we go for the Word, because if it was for the people, we wouldn’t be going there. It isn’t even that they’re bad or terrible, etc. but we generally are very different, however the commonality we can be together on is Jesus and the Gospel.
Well, that’s about as much as I feel like saying for now. That somewhat content feeling. Oh wait, there is a bit more; I noted today, how it was like one of the first days, more or less, I felt more at ease with food. I don’t know how to state it exactly, but in my mentality, towards just getting my food, and eating it, it was different. More relaxed. I have noticed that the last few days too, around exercise/ movement. But today around lunch it felt different. It felt nice. I wasn’t all anxious or super frantic. My brain had it’s idea of what is said it wanted/ I *should* have, but then there what was what I suppose I actually felt like eating, which may not have seemed to different to others, but broke various ED/OCD rigidity rules and scary ideas of how it was “supposed to” be and rather than feeling anxious after, felt rather okay in a sense. Anxious, or weird in a way because it felt okay, but tried to not indulge, so that it didn’t blow up. I was able to even relax a bit, and when things went a bit “off schedule” or rather I caught myself in trying to make things “exact” and “on time” as the OCD likes, being afraid of what would happen otherwise, but reminded myself, that was the point. That what I wanted wasn’t to be so rigid, but rather to do different things and if the time was different, or I felt a certain way at the time, so be it, and I could deal with it when I got there, and that doesn’t mean it is wrong. So yeah.
Interesting, seeming more “normal” day. My brain is inclined to saying it was the first “normal” day I have add, and maybe in a sense it is, but know since there was still so much anxiety percolating, it’s kind of…there but not. Hard to describe. It’s like I hit a different plateau of…consciousness? A few years ago I was just frenetic and anxious all the time, couldn’t sit still, or would freeze and get “stuck” unable to move or do things, so petrified. Then I got to being more free, and yet anxious in some sense, but more of a jerk in a way, aha, more “normal” able to exercise my own will and thoughts in a way, or at least more freed up from constant anxiety to at least think of other things and way, and now…still kind of the same, but different. It’s almost like now I have to deal with things more “normal” people deal with. Going through the stages of sorts. What is this more “normal” sort of state though…? It is perhaps because not everything freaks me out now, so I may have more of an idea of what I want to or do not want to do. Before everything scared me basically, so no matter what I just had to do it, because the only way out was through. Now it’s like since I have more freedom, there are, to a point, some places I can hide, and not feel uncomfortable, so purposefully going out to feel anxious is well, crazy. Or at least may feel like it in the moment. As such I wrestle with such things I suppose. Hence having to remind myself to go forward in values. Also knowing I have to keep being challenged, otherwise I could so easily slip back into everything being petrifying again. God has to protect me from that, and He also has to push me in to those situations at times when I fear them or think I can not, so I have no other choice but to depend on Him. At once, going forward of my [seeming] own volition, and believing God will take care of it all is much more…safe feeling. Often when I am thrown in a situation, the reason it is distressing is because I am not sure if God actually wants me to be there or do that thing. If I think it is wrong, then how could I believe God would want me to do something terrible? Yet, my perception of course can be errant, yet it goes back to understand what God would want. That is the tricky thing in a sense, because when it comes to things like that, people will or may just say God wants me to, but…Yeah. As if the fear of doing so is enough to say so. I don’t think that is the case though. For instance, tomorrow, I know there will be a birthday cake at church. I won’t partake in the cake. I don’t know if they’ll push it on me, but it really makes no sense to me. Like, why would I? They will say it is just cake, but I’ll be like, wth? It is ‘just cake’. They say it won’t do anything bad, but that doesn’t make any sense to me. It won’t do anything “bad” necessarily or make me “Fat” so long as it is within a certain calorie range, or as much as my body needs, but that is where they lose me, as what I intake is calculated, so it makes sense to me that if I eat it, it may be too much, and as such that “bad thing” might actually happen. As it stands now my values do not include eating food for the sake of eating food. Or well, yeah. Not in such a way like that. I just don’t get it. I mean, maybe it they sat me down and tried to reassure with numbers, but when they just flippantly say it, that is what bothers me. Just like that sister’s comment about wanting my “problem” it reminds me of that verse in Deuteronomy where God says His people die due to a lack of knowledge. I remember when Thomas said, “What, you’ll die because you don’t know how to eat?” laughing in a sarcastic manner and I thought to myself, no. I’d die because people don’t understand this. That is why I’d die. If the shepherds do not know something vital, and lead the people, that would lead to destruction. Of course, I pray that is not the case. I hope, and that is why I continue to just share my heart with them when I can, or at least attempt to open my heart in a way expressing these things, because as people it is true we are generally blind to our own weaknesses. Acknowledging them though, is necessary in being able to learn and grow. That is part of the reason, since I was in high school, at some point I just cracked when it came to my shy personality. I know the ED makes me a bit darker and jaded, but part of me was also like, “Screw it” I don’t care who knows or who I tell, I want to talk about it, I want to find out, I want to know, I want to understand and makes sense of these things and make informed decisions. I don’t want to just assume or think, but *know* to the best of my ability, to have as many sides seen as possible, to not discount things. In that way, one might think you can almost never be certain, but in some ways, that is also quite reassuring. Things are contextual. Context matters. What is not of faith is sin, but what is of faith varies from situation to situation, in what God speaks. It is not always the same thing situationally, but it is always His will, when He speaks, if that makes sense.