Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Journey: Therapy for my Emotional Eating Habit

A few years ago, the thought of talking to someone about my emotional eating tendencies would have scared me enough that I would have never considered it. And I never did, until now.

I hit rock bottom this year, thanks to postpartum depression. Because of that, I was more than willing to go to therapy to work through my emotions and learn the coping skills that I so desperately needed to simply function and overcome the anxiety that I had developed. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still haven’t completely recovered. It’s a process that takes time and a lot of work.

I had a therapy session yesterday where we talked about how I feel like my hubby and baby girl deserve someone much better than me. It was the hardest session that I’ve had yet and it made me realize how deeply I have shoved my emotions into my heart.

We focused on how I feel like my hubby deserves a woman who has it more together. Someone who doesn’t have all of my issues. Someone who is fit, thin, and beautiful. Someone the opposite of me. And once again, it all came down to  poor body image, intense feelings of shame & guilt, and not loving & accepting myself.

We talked about my pregnancy and how I never really got to enjoy it because I was always worried about my weight and felt like I was ugly & huge. I never got to experience really having a “baby bump” because I already had a plump figure. No one could even tell that I was pregnant—it just looked like I was getting fatter and fatter.

I told her about something my doctor did to me in the last few weeks of pregnancy and the emotions and shame swept over me like it had just happened again. I sobbed. My heart is still broken over that and I never took the time to heal and come to terms with the experience, which is why I still feel the pain of it so strongly. I feel like it is finally time to blog about that experience so that I can finally heal. I’ll share that when I have the time & gain the courage.

It all came down to my weight, my negative body image, and my negative self image—once again. And I believe that may be the root of my problem. I don’t love myself. I absolutely hate myself. That didn’t just happen over night but it has been a lifelong accumulation of negative self talk, and believing what any person said about me like it was the gospel truth. It’s because of a lack of confidence. It’s a feeling of unworthiness.

My therapist seems fairly religious and I am thankful for that because she brings insight into how God might view my situation. Her thoughts cause me to think differently about my experiences and it helps to spin a more positive light on my situation.

My biggest take away from this appointment was that God created me and He knows that I am not perfect and that I will never be perfect. But if I am living my life trying to become what would please God, then that is enough. He loves me, despite the fact that I am imperfect.

Maybe I don’t have the perfect body and I struggle with my weight. Maybe I have postpartum depression. Maybe I am not perfect. But because of these physical & emotional imperfections, great things have been done in my heart.

If was had been born with a perfect body and no eating issues, I would never have been able to understand what it’s like to be bullied & belittled and maybe I would never have had the empathy that I have now. I never would have needed this blog as an outlet. Perhaps the entire course of my life would have changed, and quite honestly—I have a pretty good life the way it is.

Life may have been a lot less complicated and easier if I had not been predisposed to postpartum depression. But if it had never happened, the restoration that is occurring in my heart and soul would never have happened. Once again, it has helped me to have empathy and compassion for others.  It has caused me to seek out God more earnestly. The experience has improved my marriage and brought us even closer together. And it is because of this experience that I am even beginning this journey of therapy to address the issues that have lead to my weight problem.

How can I have shame about my perceived imperfections when these are the very tools which have molded me into who I am?

How can I expect to attain perfection when God has created me knowing that I will be imperfect, and yet loves me anyway?

These questions are like the effect of the warmth of the rising sun on a densely foggy morning—they dissipate the fears and bring clarity to the distant horizon. It’s a start. I can see my goal, but the road to get there is still long and winding.

My mission for the next couple of weeks is to begin to track my emotions when I “go off track” or when I am eating for reasons other than hunger. I stopped at Target and bought a little notebook that I will keep in my purse. And wouldn’t you know that my first entry is: ate a chocolate chip cookie from Starbucks because I was emotionally drained after therapy.

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It is amazing how physically draining emotions can be. After the appointment, I never did get my energy back. I spent the rest of the evening just taking it easy. I feel better after a good night’s sleep.

This was my first therapy session where we discussed how I need help with the psychological reasons of why I am overweight. She told me this is something that we can work on. And that gives me hope. By journaling, she believes this will bring insight into why I am overeating, etc. and then we can go from there.

And so this is only the beginning.

5 comments:

  1. I KNOW my "extra eating" is related to my emotions and what is happening AT THAT MOMENT!! Then I look at the food and literally say...."I am not hungry I am only going to eat this because it will taste good right now and it will make me feel better RIGHT NOW"....and then, yes, I eat it.

    It doesn't stop me from eating by acknowledging the reason why. I am an emotional eater. I know it. It's very hard to turn off that thinking.

    Hope it works for you....can't wait to see how your journey goes. ;-)

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    1. I could've written your comment! Just the other day, I picked up a bag of 3 points plus popcorn and was about to pop it. I mentally said, "You aren't hungry at all. Why eat this?" Then I proceeded to pop it and eat it! Not a "bad" food but I know I didn't need it, told myself so, and still ate it! I was tired from grocery shopping is why I ate it, I'm sure!

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  2. Emotional eating is a killer! It's so hard to stop and put it down when we can justify the reason we want it. Keeping a journal is a great way to stay on top of this! I think about God when I'm down on myself too. He made me, and although I'm not perfect, He is, and that is a good enough reason to be happy with myself. :)

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  3. Emotional eating is so hard to overcome because we face so many emotions each and every day!!!

    As for therapy and the emotions and being wiped out? I went to marriage counseling with my ex for a while....I would go home and literally just sleep on the couch for a few hours.

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  4. Therapy IS draining; for me, it was mostly all the crying, which is both physically and mentally exhausting. But anyway. I'm happy for you, for digging a little deeper and really working to get to the root of your issues so you can resolve them. It's so so so hard sometimes, but you will be better for it! Journaling is a great tool; I also carry my journal everywhere I go.

    Whenever I start feeling really down about things, I remind myself that God has had all of this orchestrated since before I was even born. Every single thing that I have experienced, every "wrong turn", has brought me to this very point in my life where I am right now. And where I am right now, while maybe not the most glamourous, is pretty darn good. He's had it planned all along!

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