“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”- Edgar Allen Poe
Addiction -the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. Just think about that word “addiction”, and its meaning for a moment. Everyone has SOMETHING they are addicted to, most likely something “bad” because addiction comes with a negative connotation. I am no different. I didn’t realize until recently, that losing weight and trying to find self acceptance was about MORE than just those things, it is also about over coming my addictions. I tend to substitute one bad habit for another, equally detrimental, just in a different way. I used to be a self injurer, from about the age of 11, up fairly recently. I realized, when I stopped cutting myself, that I started eating instead, and for the same twisted reasons as when I would cut. Having realized this, it occurred to me that its been so difficult to lose weight because its an issue much deeper than physically trying to lose weight, its trying to rid myself of an addicting behavior. I was able to stop cutting because I was able to eat, and since I don’t have another negative outlet, its been extremely hard to change. How do you quit something you’ve been addicted to since you were 11 years old? At this point, it SEEMS like, hurting myself (be it sharp objects or food) is part of who I am, so how do I change who I am? I have lost weight before in the past, but this time there’s this addictive behavior attached with it that is making it significantly harder, and to add insult to injury, being bipolar on top of it only perpetuates the cycle. How do I fight against myself?
I thought about that, and then I realized something that made me smile. I can do it, because I’ve done it before. I realized that this self injuring addictive behavior is part of my character, but I also realized that another part of my character is this warrior who is scarred, tough, and determined. So, really, the only thing left to figure out, is which one is stronger. The light side, or the dark side. I can fight, or I can be submissive to my addiction, and frankly, I’ve been weak, and have been feeding my addiction for too long (pun intended), and its time I start fighting it. Part of having an addiction is convincing yourself that you NEED it, or that its what you deserve. I would cut myself when I was guilty, angry, upset, hurt, or anxious, and now I eat anytime I feel that way, and with having bipolar, I can feel that way often. Cutting myself would alleviate those emotional feelings, just like eating made me feel better. I’ve tried finding healthier outlets like playing my guitar, drawing, painting, and writing, and although those sometimes help, its not enough. So if I can’t find a replacement addiction, I need to fight it.
I’ve heard the expression “Once an addict, always an addict” and that may be true, and this may be something I always struggle with, but how much power I give my addiction is totally up to me, and I’m ready to get back in the drivers seat. There are going to be extremely stressful days, full of anxiety where I’m going to think that one set back is justified, but I’m not going to give in because I know that all it takes is ONE slip up, one domino, before everything comes tumbling down. When I start feeling those negative emotions, and I want to eat, I’m going to eat fruit. I can’t fully change the behavior – yet, but I can outsmart it. Part of the addiction was eating something bad, because I knew bad food was bad for me, and therefore would hurt me, if I eat healthy food, I’m still going through the motions, but I’m not hurting myself, and eventually I won’t feel the need to eat when I feel all of those emotions, because it won’t be as satisfying because it won’t be bad food.
Its going to be a process, but realizing my addictive behavior, and deciding to change it, is a step in the right direction, and I know I can do it because being strong and determined is part of my character. For every little success along the way, every time I eat an apple instead of a slice of pizza, every time I opt to get on the treadmill instead of sleep, and every pound I drop instead of gain, I will do a little victory dance because I’m winning!
If you want to change you need to be able to find the strength to get back up when life knocks you down, and yell back, “YOU HIT LIKE A BITCH!” Find that inner warrior, and know that your addictions only have as much power as you allow them to have over you. Don’t give up if you slip up, or have a set back, that’s how you lose, start over, and be stronger than before! Wear your scars proudly because you are a warrior and you can do anything! YOU GOT THIS!