Saturday, August 15, 2009

Routines and Relapses

Routine is a bandsters frenemy. I've noted in the past couple of posts that the lack of routine in my summer has led to my ADHD having a field day resulting in dead batteries and tickets. On the other hand, Ive written two children's stories and this is my 60th post (I think). I also came up with some good ideas for my school that are being implemented.

Routine makes me a better driver. Lack of routine can help release my creativity. Safety and and comfort vs. creative unpredictability.

It isn't just ADHD people who respond to routines. Food addicts develop all kinds of routines to help them manage their addiction. Diets have always been routines we're intent on following, hoping to make the weight loss permanant. Eating at certain times, having meals pre-planned and ready-to-go, having contingency plans (like having a supply of "legal" foods at work if we forget a lunch), knowing which restaurants work well for us, these are all examples of routines that help us stay on track with our food.

We are also fond of routine at work and home. A bad hair day can make us late for work making us rush all day and make mistakes we would not have made if we'd had the time to set up our day properly. Upsetting the apple cart at work or at home can upset our emotions which can upset our food. Sometimes our failsafes fail (happens to me frequently), and we're cast into the insanity of spontaneity and having to make choices. This is when even the most successful bandsters can (temporarily) get caught up in making their old, comforting food choices.

It seems that even those who get to the sweet spot (when their band is filled just right and healthy choices are almost automatic), can end up eating when their life is in upheaval. Often it isn't any one major disturbance, its usually a bunch of little things piled on top of each other. Emotionally, we're at our wits end and only food can soothe our jangled nerves.

For people with no addiction, this may seem like no big deal. Everybody has those days (especially at if you're PMSing). Most people go right back to normal food intake.

But an episode like this can send a food addict off and eating. They feel like they've blown it so they might as well keep eating and then the guilt and shame over that drives them to keep on medicating with food.

Good grief! What a vicious cycle!

I've seen several people on lapbandtalk start to get caught up in this cycle. What seems normal to most people, to them feels like a relapse. And maybe it is. But those who get out of the cycle and back on track seem to recognize that the food served a purpose by relieving what is often extreme anxiety. Now they can and do get back on track.

I think having the lapband gives them the confidence to do that.

It would be great if we could get to the point where an occasional overindulgence didn't send us into a panic. Our fear of our own food addiction actually feeds our food addiction.

That's why non-shaming support groups are so important. We can not only talk about the food we got into, but also the disruptions in our lives and the emotional upheavals that triggered the binge. We reassure each other that we are not bad because we binged. The food served its purpose and now we can get back on track.

Each time, hopefully, the binges will be less traumatic, less extensive and eventually less frequent.

Support groups are the way God picks us up, hugs us, croons "I know," sets us back on our feet, pats us on the butt and says, "Now go get 'em, tiger."