I’ve been dieting for the past two weeks and lately it’s really affecting my mood. In a way, a pandemic is a perfect time to start a weird diet (low-FODMAP in my case) because there’s absolutely no social pressure whatsoever. I can’t go out to eat, or eat at all, with anyone anyway so might as well be freaky.
Why try to lose weight now? Mostly because I’m bored. Also it’s very easy to count calories when you’re already cooking (or opening) everything you put in your mouth.
Also, I’m trying to emerge from this like a butterfly out of a cocoon. Once I finishing losing weight and keep going to therapy and keep meditating and keep gratitude journaling and occasionally doing psychedelics and am no longer trapped in my apartment alone it’s over for you hoes.
These interventions have helped make me better able to deal productively with my intense psychological discomfort. Rumination used to more often be the freight train my brain was on, regardless of what any other part of me wanted. Now it feels like there’s a part of me that can hop off the train and watch it fly by me. Consider it. Decide whether or not to hop back on. Now I’m able to remind myself that there’s a feeling below those thoughts that keep repeating over and over again in my brain. And that this will all resolve faster if I let myself feel whatever that is. I’m able to recognize what’s happening, which is that one part of my brain is having a big feeling that another part of my brain doesn’t want to face and so it’s distracting me with stories and explanations. And I’m able to choose to focus on the feeling. And that often shuts up the thoughts.
Sometimes I’m able to recognize that feelings are like weather. They happen to me. They don’t define me. They aren’t always meaningful. But they demand to be felt, in one way or another.
Today I realized it’s now the subtler feelings I’m beginning to notice. The big feelings always shouted the loudest. Back in the day (a month ago) I could just shut the quieter ones up with some food or booze or sex or drugs or sometimes all of those at once. Sometimes I wasn’t even noticing the whispered unhappiness. I’d drown it before it registered. I’m resilient AF, something I’m proud of. But sometimes that involves ignoring my own discomfort. I want to be more in touch with the pain I’m in because numbing myself to my own pain numbs me to my joy, and to other people’s emotions.
The biggest change in myself I’ve seen since starting The Interventions is this: Before, it was too terrifying to really look at my pain. When I would think about my IBS, for instance, I would fear I had undiagnosed Crohn’s disease and my stomach was eating itself and eventually I’d have to get a poop bag. So I tried not to think about it. When I would think about my anxiety, I would imagine I had undiagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder and that I’d never have healthy relationships and I was a net drain on everyone in my life and always would be. I don’t think of myself as a creative person, but when it comes to imagining far-fetched worst-case scenarios I do okay.
One interesting thing about all of this is that while I wouldn’t choose to have a poop bag or BPD, it’d be okay if I did. If you told me the poop bag would come with confidence, gratitude, kindness, and compassion… I didn’t like pooping the old way that much anyway.
What I have now is the ability to look at my pain. Instead of just being afraid IBS was slowly killing me, I went to the doctor and she recommended the low-FODMAP diet. Instead of being afraid I had personality disorder, I went to therapy and it turns out diagnosing personality disorders is kind out of fashion among therapists. Or maybe just telling people about their diagnoses.
Either way, where the worst-case scenarios seemed absolutely endlessly horrifying now they seem pretty manageable. I have IBS. This diet might help it. It might not. I might have to spend many months trying weird diets and at the end I might have to try antidepressants. And maybe it’ll always get worse but there’s plenty to try and there’s a reasonable likelihood if I keep trying I’ll find something that will make things significantly better. I have anxiety. I’m making progress on that. Progress might slow down, or even regress. But I know basically where to go and basically what to try to get back on the progress track. I feel like I can get my arms around my problems now. I feel like I have hope for progress on them. I don’t feel as trapped as I did.
It’s pretty baller. Now, I don’t want to be that middle-class white girl who’s all like, “I’m so thankful to the coronavirus for helping me become a better version of myself.” But, I have to be real. I’m absolutely that girl.
I fully recognize that most people don’t have an apartment to themselves, the ability to order exactly what they need for their weird diets, a WFH job, etc. etc. But to the extent that coronavirus has shaken you out of your old routines, and you have any room to make any positive additions or subtractions to your routines, I can’t recommend meditation, gratitude journaling, therapy, and the occasional psychedelic trip highly enough.
Philippines-born, USA-based artist Bea Camacho created this cocoon out of red yarn over 11 hours.
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