The other day a dog training colleague of mine posted on facebook:
" I'm so mad at my kids, I could eat a sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies."
When I read it, I laughed, mostly because I remember how this red-headed looked when she was mad. Thinking about it, however, it's a good example of the effect of our emotions on eating.
Emotions can play such a gamut on our eating. For some, they turn to food, for others, they shun it. At times during my ED, I fell into both categories. There were times, I was upset, so I'd eat that piece of cake, then feel guilty, and purge. In other moments, I restricted, saying I'd show them-that how they hurt me, would teach them, and I'd become thin as a stick.
The emotion that was most difficult for me was anger. Growing up, I honestly do not remember ever feeling anger at all. But when high school hit, I think there was a period when all my pent-up anger was geared towards my parents and an eating disorder became my outlet. It seemed easier to express whatever anger I felt through starving, purging, overexercising than to actually express my anger or any other emotion for that matter.
I remember two specific incidents, both where I was incredibly angry at my father for something, and I cut my wrist with a knife. These were the only incidences of cutting I've ever had, and neither were life-threatening. However, at the time, I was so angry that I truly wanted him to hurt. I've had other incidences in my life involving anger and punishing myself, but I've gotten better with dealing with that emotion. It's no doubt an emotion that will likely always be difficult for me to express, but at least now, I can better manage it without harming myself so much in the process.
So what do I do? I find venting to non-judgmental people one of the best things for me. (My mom is very helpful for this) Sometimes, I'll shoot an e-mail to someone or just simply write as it dispels those thoughts into the air. Other times, I've taken a walk, driven somewhere else, etc. I have to be careful with the exercise bit, because that's gone to the extreme before too.
That comment reminded me of how powerful emotions can be and how it is so important for us (ED or otherwise) to be able to express and monitor them as well. As for my colleague, she later posted that she only are half of a sleeve of Thin Mint cookies but that last year it would have been the whole thing. I'm hopeful that at least by writing out what she felt allowed her to express her feelings. And I know for her, this did feel like some progress.
How do you do deal emotions? How do your emotions affect you eating disorder/your recovery? Does anger play a role in your ED?
Note--*I hope no one feels like I'm saying eating thing mints is wrong when upset and angry This is only an example.