Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wearing my Purple Ribbon

Right now I'm a little concerned about the next few weeks while I wait for my first fill of my new lap band. As I heal from the surgery I can tell that there's less and less restriction from eating larger quantities of food. I'm not hungry yet, and the cravings have not returned in full force--more like twinges. I can generally wait them out. But I'm on a roll. I've lost 20 pounds. I'm already feeling and looking better. I'm in clothes that were too tight last summer. I'm hoping to keep losing while I wait for my first fill. This disease is insidious and just the knowledge that I can eat more makes me want to eat more before the real restriction starts to kick in.

I did have a scare this morning. I woke up quite dizzy-twice. I thought I'd better check my blood pressure--it could be too low or too high. I took the pressure in my right arm-which I never do and which my Dr.s never do. It was quite high. I took it in my left arm and it was a little high. Now I'm going to have to start taking it in both arms. I may have to make sure I take it as soon as I get up in the morning to see if I have a sudden surge regularly whenever I get up. It may mean another trip to the Dr.

I'm hoping that it was an anomaly, perhaps caused by the change in diet and weight and my body's just adjusting. Mostly my blood pressure has been going down.

I also read more on the lap band website and was struck anew by all the guilt people feel who've had lap band sugery. Especially Christians and members of OA and FAA. That is so incredibly sad. There's a lot of debate over whether or not to tell people about it, and who's safe to tell--especially in church and in OA and FAA meetings, which are places we ought to feel safest. I'm glad I made the decision to put it out there for everyone and to make my struggles public.

In an earlier blog I said that we ought to hold marathons and walkathons and start wearing purple ribbons to build awareness of this life-threatening disease and to offer support for those who suffer from it as well as dollars for research to help prevent and control it. It worked for breast cancer. I would bet more people die from this disease. In fact, obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer (and heart disease, strokes, colon cancer, diabetes and more). Breast cancer used to be an unmentionable disease. Now we all proudly wear pink ribbons. Let's get obesity and all food addicitons out of the closet and into the light of day so that no one ever has to feel guilty about seeking a medical solution for this medical condition anymore than they would getting treatment for breast cancer.

Why purple? Because those of us with this disease are all wounded hearts, because that color hasn't been used yet, and because we, too, are God's children. That makes us royalty.

God Grants Grace, not Guilt

I spent a lot of time yesterday and today exploring a lapband website. There's a religious forum with a page for Christians and there's a 12-step forum with a few threads for those attending OA (Overeaters Anonymous) and FAA(Food Addicts Anonymous.) After reading many of the posts I came to a not-so-surprising conclusion. Guilt and shame are a way of life for people suffering from food addiction. People seem to be heaping guilt either on themselves or on others.

Christians accuse themselves of gluttony and beat themselves up over that. Other Christians really do say horrible things to them like, "Why are you getting that surgery, why don't you just pray?" Many Christian weight loss groups can have so many rules to follow that most people are bound to fail heaping guilt upon guilt.

OA and FAA attenders get accused of taking the "easier, softer way" if they get lap band surgery for which they beat themselves up. They also suffer attacks from the food nazis who have taken over OA and FAA and and who are addicted to adding food restriction upon food restriction and enforcing rule upon rule.

Guilt and shame have a horrible history of sabotaging recovery and driving people deeper into the food (or any other addictions).

Whether you believe addictions are sin or not (I believe they are brain-based disorders, not sin, that came into this world as a result of sin and that under their influence people do commit sin), beating yourself up over them is a sure-fire path to relapse.

Serenity is extremely important in recovery and those consumed by guilt and self-blame have no serenity.

We need to break the bondage of guilt. Especially unearned guilt and shame. God gave us the gift of grace, not of guilt. I like to say I gave up guilt for Lent.

As far as the rigid rule makers and enforcers--most of these people have simply replaced one type of food obsession with another and their rigid adherance to a code is all they've got. They transfer their internal shame and need for control onto others. It's just another insidious form of this disease. They don't know grace, and hence can't grant it.

Someday, Grace will come again and banish all guilt. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Come quickly Lord Jesus.