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Eating Intuitively in the Midst of an Emotional Disaster

Posted Jun 18 2008 6:09pm

Last Saturday night my baby sister - who is all of sixteen - went to a party. There she drank, smoked weed and did sixteen Coricidin tablets. For those unfamiliar with this growning trend, Coricidin is a cold medication that doesn’t contain stimulants. It’s designed for people with high BP. It does, however, containDXM, a cough suppressant used by teens because it is easily accessible and gives a high similar to that of PCP. We don’t know if her drink was also laced, or the joints she smoked, but there’s a chance that in addition to what she did on her own, she was drugged at the party by a guy who made it known to at least one other partygoer that he was there to “get some” before going to prison (for what, we don’t know). My sister blacked out at some point and does not remember what happened while she was alone with the guy. She remembered leaving with him, but thought he was going to help her find her friend, who was in as bad a state as she.

Ultimately, she was picked up by the cops, screaming and stumbling in the streets while trying to find her friend. The next day she was given some of the details by another friend who was at the party… and then I convinced my mother, based on that, to take her for a sexual assault exam. At that point, they took pictures of bruises she had all over her body… and did a rape kit. She was very distressed and emotional… understandably so. The cops have since decided they aren’t pressing charges, and Hope seems to be internalizing the experience. I suspect, in part, because of how badly my family handled it… they refuse to call it rape, saying she doesn’t know if she consented. My feeling is, if you’re so wasted you don’t remember, it’s not consensual. My husband agrees with me, and was appalled when my mother left her home alone the day after all of this happened to go to work.

It’s been an ugly situation that involved us deciding with less than 24 hours notice to come out here, 1800 miles from home. It’s a good thing we did, because my mother expected this experience to “scare” Hope “sober” - despite my mother’s own long, dramatic history of addiction (she’s been sober about 13 years) and her training as a social worker. I asked her, ultimately how many times she was “scared” before she “got sober.”

Anyway, this whole situation has highlighted for me that my mother sober is not much better than my mother high. She and I had a huge fight and I am not sure things will ever be the same between us, unless she surprises (shocks, really) me and steps up to the plate and finally acts like a mother ought to for my sister.

I could get further into the drama, but I think you get the point. So, I’ll move on.

During all of this, there is a bright spot that I only recognized today. I am still eating consciously. I wouldn’t say that means I haven’t used food to some extent to comfort, soothe or relieve stress, exactly. However, it does mean that I have been very aware of that as it has happened. Also, in general, I’m not eating anymore than I normally would have at home. It’s hard, under the circumstances, to get what I want or need to eat at all times. But I’ve been getting by, which is better than I’d do under this sort of emotional distress in the past.

I can’t say I am “perfect” by any means, in terms of my choices. What I can say is that I am recognizing when I’m full, and usually when I am hungry (this is something I’ve struggled with even back home under ordinary circumstances anyway). In some cases, I have chosen to eat anyway… but that’s okay. It’s the realizing that’s the most important part for me at this stage of my treatment.

If I had been dieting, this is the sort of crisis that would’ve sent me into a binging tailspin that lasted well past the actual drama. It would’ve been emotional eating, then guilt eating for being “weak” and binging instead of dieting through the crisis. I’d have gained gobs of weight, and likely would’ve been back to where I started from before I stopped the tailspin. I feel like with IE, even if I gain a few pounds, there is no tailspin… and with everything else already so out of my control, it’s nice to not also have my eating beyond my control for the first time under these sort of circumstances.

It’s a small comfort, with everything else I am dealing with… and it’s probably making everything else much harder, because I’m not numb from binging. Which has forced me to find other ways to sort of unwind, or “shut down” my brain and relax amidst the chaos. The difference is mind boggling. Since I am not hiding from the emotions, the relaxing actually works and with every step I take, I truly feel better. I’m still overwhelmed, and it’s still really difficult. It’s just helping to deal with this as it happens, instead of hiding from it by having a mind numbing food fest. Which means I get to truly savor the foods I do eat, which is actually relaxing. It sounds a little twisted, and if you haven’t gone through it, you probably can’t get it… but when all you want to do is hole up alone and binge, going out to dinner isn’t enjoyable. You eat like a rabbit in front of people, because everyone knows or thinks you’re on a diet. Or that you should be, and you feel like you should be, too. Plus, you’re thinking of whatever binge food really works for you and the odds are, that isn’t on the menu anyway. Going out to eat when you have an ED is actually really difficult when you’re caught in the throes of whatever one you have. It’s a stressful nightmare. So to be able to have a relationship with food where eating out is relaxing and enjoyable in the midst of a crisis is huge progress for me… it’s a nice relief to go out with my husband and my sister and get away from my mother and the rest of our family drama for a while. It’s also nice to get my sister out of her negative element for a little while, and give her some relaxation time.

This is the first major crisis I have faced since starting therapy and working towards IE. I’m glad to realize that what I’ve been working on has made a difference. It’s one of the few bright sides to a truly horrible situation.



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