Aiming for Stability (Sometimes Missing the Mark)

Yesterday was a decent step in the right direction, as far as days go for someone desperately struggling to transcend depression. 

I wrote upon awakening, honoring my commitment to re-engage in a daily writing habit. 

Then I spent most of my day with my grandma, helping her with chores and enjoying her company. 

I also went for about a mile-and-a-half walk.

So far, so good. 

On the way home is when I started getting thoughts of having a food binge. I wasn’t hungry, nor was I dehydrated (two factors that can contribute to cravings), so I think the ideation was purely psychological, perhaps based on the anticipation of stress at home. 

Home is stressful for me, because first of all, it doesn’t really feel like home. My mother and stepdad have been gracious to take me in over these last couple years, and the situation was meant to be much more temporary than it ended up being. 

Essentially, I feel a self-imposed pressure to perform in life at a level I’ve been unable to figure out how to live up to. Self-sufficiency has evaded me thoroughly throughout my life.

Home is also stressful for me, because I associate it with lethargy, stagnation, depression, anxiety, and isolation. Home is the place I’ve been glued to my bed with sweaty legs stuck to the sheets, where my muscles atrophy, and where I nurse or hide from my emotional wounds. 

So, yes. It was on the way home that I started thinking about binging. Part of me wanted to stop at the store and load up on a couple packages of sushi, Nutty Bars, and a tub of cottage cheese. I probably would have gotten more than that, too.

But I didn’t do that. I felt satisfied with my accomplishments of the day, and that was enough to carry me home relatively unphased by the minor craving. 

Instead, I had a sensible dinner and rewarded myself with Netflix. 

But then, getting close to bed time, I started to long for some big beefy sandwich from Quality Dairy. It’s a terrible thing to long for, really; they aren’t even good by any reasonable metric. 

Instead, I went for a walk.

But during my walk, my mind started going haywire with cravings.

So, I ended up running up to the store and fulfilling those cravings, and then going to sleep.

As a direct result, I woke up probably half a dozen or more times through the night. Sometimes with acid reflux. My body’s sleep functions were being interrupted by my overly-taxed digestive functions. 

And psychologically, there was a “back to square one” sense, which is a mentality that people with addictions often go through. It’s like if you mess up, you have to start over, which actually isn’t true at all.

Yesterday’s positive moments still count. They haven’t disappeared. There are still neural pathways in my brain associated with that positivity, and they haven’t been completely eradicated by my mistake. 

What I do next is crucial. My choices today matter, rather immensely. 

I can build on those positive pathways from yesterday, and strive not to feed into the negative. I can make the positivity stronger and the negativity weaker.

This will be tricky, because I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I will need to be careful not to over-exert myself, and to rest when I need to. 

Writing these words today has been extremely useful for me, personally. Sorting out these thoughts is valuable. After three consecutive days of writing, now it feels more natural to sit down and do it than it did when I started.

That’s the nature of habit. The nature of momentum.

It may be difficult because I’m so out of shape physically, but the same can be applied to walking every day. It gets easier the more I do it. 

Binge-eating is a gnarly set-back to exercise, though. Especially when you look at the cumulative effect that it has on my sleep and henceforth sanity. 

So here’s to re-enforcing the good, and shutting down the bad. 

As an added support, I may try an Overeaters Anonymous meeting this weekend. I have had an aversion to 12-step programs in the past, but humility and a receptive mind can go a long way…

Also published on Medium.