Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2016 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
The most popular blogs have a number in the title – or so I am told.
3 Ways to Boost Your Confidence
6 Steps to Becoming the Real You
We love numbers because we can measure them. It comforts us to know that our problems and their solutions have a beginning and an end. If we want our bad habits and relationships fixed, it is easier to read “3 Simple Solutions” than to do the time-costly and difficult introspection that precedes permanent change.
Obsession is in the mind and manifested in behavior.
Addictions are first and foremost obsessions. Addicts think about the next fix all day long. The where, when, and if of the fix greets the addict at first light of day. It is the last thought before going to sleep. Addicts might be your friends and family members, but are not able to deeply respond to you in healthy ways. Why? Because their thoughts are on the fix, not you.
Addicts hurt their loved ones because everyone else’s rights and needs falls second in priority to the obsession. Think about it – if you are not an addict and on your way to pick up your child from school, will you allow anyone stop you? Now imagine replacing your child with the fix as your number one thought and priority. If opportunity to achieve that fix arrives, will you let something so trite as picking your child up from school, stop you?
Obsession is obsession, even it is dotted with sugar or covered in gravy.
Food addiction is no different from other substance use except it seems more culturally acceptable than laying in a ditch or hiding in a filthy room waiting for a stranger to shoot God-knows-what into your veins. Food addiction has all the same symptoms, types of behaviors, deceit, and obsession as alcoholism and drug addiction.
Sober alcoholics, clean drug addicts, and recovering food addicts (of which I am one) share the same story. We used to plan days, weeks, and months ahead of time for future fixes. We hid our substance where no one would find it. We stole money. We repeatedly did things we swore we would never do again. We did insane things for the fix – an alcoholic may have ingested rubbing alcohol, the drug addict may have stolen pain medication from an ill family member, food addicts may have eaten trashed, or rotten food. All have put their health in peril. Secrecy, shame, and compulsive acting out are our commonalities.
Active food addicts fear not having access to their stash. They will manipulate situations and people to achieve their foremost goal – the fix. Food addicts will be unreasonably angry when the fix is withheld. Likely, food addicts will not eat much in public because the image of self-control is more important than self-control. A food addict will (at least inwardly) resent anyone who interferes with a fix. They will hurt people in their never-quite-ending pursuit of food, but will deny up and down this is true.
Food addicts have many of the same excuses. I had them all. “I just love food.” (Clearly. By the way, so does everyone else.) “I deserve this – no one else appreciates me.” (How would you know who appreciates you? You are busy hiding with your food.) “This is ‘me’ time” (Just you and your resentment, boredom, self-medication, loneliness, and fear) I am not mocking. This was my life, and food addicts can relate.
Some people are hard drinkers or hard-eaters and are not addicts.
Food addiction is not the extra pie at Thanksgiving. It is not the midnight snacks. It is not your preference for unhealthy foods. Addiction is obsession of the mind and an addict cannot, I repeat, cannot stop. Hard eaters can determine one day to change their ways, go on a diet, and maintain weight loss. Because of this, stigma about food addiction remains. Addicts cannot stop unless the psychological issue of obsession is addressed, and denial stops.
Due diligence is far more fruitful than instant solutions
In recovery, addicts need each other. A number is involved, but there is nothing quick or easy about it. 12-step meetings are meant to keep us from being alone in our personal fight. The support of these groups and sponsors are key to success. The process of becoming a better (more sane) person is lifelong. It occurs with our continuous practice of the 12 steps.
More than anything, 12 step meetings and recovery depend on admitting our powerlessness over the fix. We recognize our own power failed us and always will. It is only a Higher Power that can save us from ourselves.
So we implore for this help. My Highest Power is God, whom I call Jesus. By asking him to help me when the fix grips my mind, I am able to be in recovery. Complete honesty with God, ourselves, and another human being kicks secrecy and shame out the door. Participating in human support from those in recovery is vital.
There’s no 1-2-3 Pow! Freedom from addiction is about due diligence. Turning our will over to God is a daily and lifelong challenge. Recovery is difficult, but doable.
Today’s Helpful Word
Psalm 32: 2,3 NLT
“Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.”
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.