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Tip Day Tuesday: Later

Posted Oct 25 2011 11:41pm
So it's time for another Tip Day Tuesday. I didn't get any emails or requests from you guys (please write! My brain is frazzled!), so I came up with one of my strategies for riding out ED urges.

It's so simple, in fact, I can summarize it in one word: later.

So what do I mean by later? I mean that ED urges usually come in the form of now. Purge now. Exercise now. Take the pills now. Skip the meal now. For me, the ED behaviors help me regulate my emotions, especially anxiety and depression. Over the years, I've gotten used to low levels of anxiety and depression, so by the time I start getting urgey, my emotions are pretty much skyrocketing. This means that I want relief NOW. Not later--now.

Of course, the ED works, but only for a short time and only with a very high price tag. Therapists and my parents would probably like me to say that "ED is not an option," but that feels a little bit fake. After all, the ED really is an option. A crappy option, but it's an option. Unless I'm being physically restrained, the ED is an option. So that line of thinking is a no go for me.

What does help me is to think "later." The ED can be an option in an hour or several hours or tomorrow or whenever. For some reason, knowing I have an "out" is calming in and of itself. It lets me know that if I really, truly, utterly can't hack it, then the ED is there. So the ED is an option...just not right now. I need to try other coping skills first.

So I crochet or snuggle the cat or blog or call a friend or text my therapist or (let's face it) swallow a lorazepam and try to ride out the urge. If the urge is still there at the end of the hour/afternoon/evening/whatever, then I delay again.

What I tell myself is this: if using behaviors is really a good idea, it will still be a good idea after my time is up. Also, I should feel comfortable discussing my decision with my family and treatment team. Feeling the strange urge not to tell someone about my new miracle plan? That's the ED and I should probably delay and talk.

It's not foolproof, and it's probably not workable for everyone, but it does help me. The ED helps me get through a difficult moment, and the idea is ultimately to find something else to work in the meantime. I also use a lot of self-talk to remind myself of the downsides of ED and the benefits of sticking with recovery. I won't lie--it's hard work. Much harder than just giving in to the ED and acting out. But I can also hold my head high and look at myself in the eye in the morning when I actively choose recovery.
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