Shake Well Before Using

“Shake well before using” could be the theme of my life for the last few weeks.  It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster, but at least it’s been an eye-opening roller-coaster. 

I have been relapsing.  Not hard-core.  Sort of a soft-core relapse.  (Wow, I can only IMAGINE the Google hits off those last two sentences.)  Well, until the last week.  The last week (or 10 days) has been pretty bad.

When Grandpa died and we were all there being stressed and upset, I held an iron grip on my eating and went to the gym EVERY SINGLE DAY GODDAMMIT.  It wasn’t actually all that healthy, and I was fully aware that I was iron-gripping it just so I could feel in control of something.  But I NEEDED some anesthetic, and I figured that although my mind wasn’t totally even-keeled, as long as I didn’t get stupidly low in calories or stupidly high in exercise, I was going to let myself handle stuff that way.  And it was ok.  I didn’t starve, I didn’t spend more than an hour in the gym (though I did go every day, no rest days – I had to burn off some stress or I was not a nice person), and although my mental state was stretched to the breaking point (both from the Grandpa-stress and the iron-gripping-stress), I managed to hang on to my sanity by my fingernails.  A minor relapse.

And then there was studying for the LSATs, which was a whole DIFFERENT kind of stress: not more, but very, very different.  For the last few weeks, my nights have looked like this: get home from work, change clothes, throw a load of laundry in, do some housework for 45 minutes or so, change the laundry over, sit down on the couch and study, get the laundry out of the dryer, put it away, get back on the couch, study some more, remember that CRAP! I haven’t eaten yet, throw a frozen dinner in the microwave, inhale it while standing over the sink, get back on the couch, studystudystudy, swear at the Logic Games, put the books away, crash into bed.  And during the last week it was more like, get home, sit down, studystudystudy, realize it’s been 3 hours and I haven’t eaten, realize I don’t care, I’m TIRED, dammit, go to bed. 

Or . . . realize it’s been 3 hours and I haven’t eaten, throw a frozen dinner in the microwave, pour a glass of wine, and by the time the dinner gets out of the microwave (6 minutes later), I’ve had 2 or 3 glasses of wine and half of a (*cough*familysize*cough*) bag of Doritos.  (Um.  In the interest of full disclosure, also some peanut butter cups.  And sometimes some crackers.)

I would like to tell you that the last scenario was the aberration, but truly, most nights that’s been the most likely scenario.  I’ve been drinking A LOT.  I’ve been eating junk food A LOT.  I have had a major relapse.  It’s been a long time since I ate and drank this way night after night: feeling as though something was at my back, coming up behind me, trying to explode through my skull, and the only way to beat it back is to STUFF IT DOWN, to bury it under the physical weight of sugar and fat and alcohol.  That food that sits in my stomach like a rock, that causes me to wake up the next morning feeling like I’m still full, tethers me to the earth when I feel like I’m being sucked backward, away from everything, into some black vortex behind me.  That rock of food left over in my stomach from a binge the night before reminds me that I am still of this world, still here, still functioning, even though I can’t seem to feel anything, and everything around me seems to happen through a thin pane of glass, cutting me off, separating me from everything and everyone around me.  It is literally an anchor.

(Note to self: you will not survive law school with those coping mechanisms.)

I had a different post scheduled.  I did not want to admit to this, to deal with it.  I was (am) sort of hoping that if I ignore it, it will go away, that I can dismiss it as an aberration.  But it wasn’t.  It was a direct response to the stress of the LSATs.  And I know that going to law school will be even MORE stressful.

It’s really easy to write ruminating posts, analyzing my emotions and my thoughts and wrapping up with some variation of, “And I’m so confuuuuuused!”  It’s easy because as long as I’m confused, I don’t have to take responsibility for my actions.  I’m still FIGURING IT OUT and FINDING MYSELF.  (I had an acting teacher who loved to say that the word “analyze” was really made of of 2 words: “anal” and “lies.”  Sometimes I think he was on to something.)

See, here’s the thing: when I say that I don’t know what to do, most of the time I know EXACTLY what to do (albeit often unconsciously) – I just don’t want to do it.  I want another option, another choice, another solution than the one staring me in the face.  Usually I want an EASIER one.  (Easier solutions are not generally forthcoming, unfortunately.)

The only way to stop a cycle is to STOP.  To STOP staying up late, STOP buying chips (because let’s be honest, I buy chips KNOWING that I will inhale them later – I just pretend I’ll do differently), STOP hitting snooze and sleeping one more hour, STOP drinking too much, STOP.  Just stop. 

So tonight I will go to bed early.  I will not stay up and drink 3 glasses of wine and inhale Doritos (I can’t anyway, since I finished them yesterday).  I will set my alarm early enough to go to the gym, and I may or may not get up in the morning, but if I don’t, it will be because I’m legitimately tired – not because I have a hangover (from either alcohol or sugar) or because I stayed up watching bad TV until midnight.

The only way to get through this is to take responsibility for it.  I have to admit that I still wish there was an easier solution.


7 responses to “Shake Well Before Using

  1. You’ve read the studies about how if you exercise a great deal of self-control in one area, then you slack off in another area? Yes?? Take it easy on yourself – the LSATs, a loved one dying, a recent move: these are all HUGE life changes. You’re doing great. And good call on the Doritos – I can’t have them in the house either. (And Fritos. What is it about corn chips?!)

  2. Wish I could send you some carrots. (No, really! I have so many….!!) You could exchange them for the Doritos.

    What? Carrots don’t have the same anaesthetizing qualities as Doritos? It wouldn’t work? Well, okay, then…. I won’t.
    (Besides, it seems kinda silly to send carrots to California. I’m pretty sure they grow there, too…)

    And Charlotte is right – you have been going through a lot of changes lately. I would probably be found lying in a heap, surrounded by empty potato chip bags and Coca-Cola bottles, mumbling and babbling to myself.

    This, too, shall pass.

  3. Yep, I’m with Charlotte and Bag Lady–you’re under a lot of stress, so it’s not surprising something might slip.

    Sounds like you’re recognizing that it’s getting out of control and taking positive steps to get back on track. Might take a few attempts, but now that you’re taking it seriously, I bet you’ll get your self-control back.

    Good luck getting through this rough patch!

  4. Oh, Charlotte – FRITOS. Especially with onion dip. Yeah, I can’t have those in the house, either, LOL. I love them WAY too much!

    BL, carrots are definitely not the same! Though they’re both orange . . . maybe I could – nah, who am I kidding? Maybe if I covered them in nacho cheese? Pretty much ANYTHING tastes good covered in nacho cheese!

    Thanks, Crabby. I guess I’m mostly concerned about what I will do when I’m slamming busy ALL the time. I suppose I should probably start looking for some new coping mechanisms now – ha!

  5. It’s hard to be effective everywhere when under lots of stress. What works for me when everything is spinning out of control is to make sure that I’m exercising, and eventually my eating will stabilize. It works best for me to exercise at night, too damn cold to get up in the mornings. And I force myself to eat, even if I don’t feel like it, if I should and am not wanting to because I’m busy/stressed/distracted/etc. If I wait until I’m starving, I eat too much and too crappy.

    I think if you have no doritos, and have only carrots, you might just eat them, though they’ll be disappointing. That’s how I trained myself out of stress eating, it lost its appeal when there was only fruits and veggies.

    Hope you find the coping mechanisms you need.

  6. Yeah, I think missing exercise was the beginning of the downward spiral.
    I think if you have no doritos, and have only carrots, you might just eat them, though they’ll be disappointing.
    LOL, this is true. The problem was that I started making evening runs to the market to pick up said Doritos. Classic binge behavior. *wry grin*

  7. Move over and pass the chips.
    Whaddya mean only carrots are left? Well, whatever. I’ll share your carrots. Especially if you have some good dip.

    Would it be possible to hang up the car keys and “make your evening run” to the grocery store a literal run? Or at least walk?

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