Resist the Devil

The other night, my brother was telling me how he is learning to resist his urges to eat and how he has been able to lose 25 lbs.  Which is wonderful!  He’s been trying to lose some weight for awhile now and wants to get back to the weight he was at when he and his wife married.  He’s going to Weight Watchers, using an app to record his food, exercising like a fiend and he’s making a big dent…he’s already halfway to his goal.  He said he’s found that, as hard as it is, he just has to say no when he wants to eat if he’s out of points.  Period.  The “just say no” approach is working.  He’s cautiously optimistic about finally reaching his goal this time after many unsuccessful attempts in the past.   He admits resisting his impulse to eat isn’t easy (i.e. many unsuccessful attempts in the past).  But he has found new resolve.  He’s taking a stand this time.  He’s winning.
I’m rejoicing with him because I know it’s not easy. 
Then he related it to me.  Said that’s what I need to do.  When it comes to my eating disorder.  Just say no. 
Which is when the conversation became…well, honestly, it became pretty discouraging.  Because I try.  Really, really hard.  But I fail.  A lot. And I don’t know what to do about it.
I have good intentions.  I tell myself that I will eat good, healthy food in appropriate quantities.  I won’t restrict.  I won’t binge and purge.  What typically happens is that I restrict for most of the day until I become extremely hungry.  At this point, before I start eating, I am still telling myself I will eat healthy food in reasonable quantities.  Quantities I can live with and keep.  Great, right?  Until I sit down with my salad.  After a few bites, I am lost.  I go from salad to cheese sandwiches to chips and dip.  I binge, hating myself the entire time.  And then, to get myself back to a point of neutrality, I purge.  Then I’m hungry and the cycle repeats.  Over and over.  Somewhere in there, I kind of wake up and start trying to resist my urges.  Sometimes I can at least delay the inevitable for an hour or two.  But the reality is, there’s a lot more going on.  It’s not just about hunger.  It’s not just about food.   And that makes it harder to control.  At least, I think it does.
Or maybe it’s the depth of my depression that makes everything so hard.  Most weekends, it’s all I can do to get the bare minimum of things done that I need to do.  Again, I have such good intentions.  All week I tell myself all the great things I’m going to get done.  Then the weekend arrives and I turn into a Zombie.  No energy.  No drive.  Like running under water.  Just can’t make myself; just can’t get there.  Which makes me hate myself.  Because I’m such a failure.  So defective.  So worthless.  The self-talk is not pretty.
I know even normal healthy people have trouble resisting tempting cuisine that they particularly enjoy.  If they’re into desserts, when someone brings homemade cookies to the office, they indulge.  If there are donuts in the cafeteria, they just can’t help but have one.  Saying no to a treat that is calling your name requires a massive amount of willpower.  Willpower I evidently lack.  Or is it the same thing?  Is what I’m fighting different?  Is it really just a matter of “saying no” to an eating disorder’s twisted demands?
I’ve tried to understand what drives the disorder.  There are so many tentacles and they go very deep.  There is that drive for perfection.  The need to please.  The need to control.  The desire to get the emotions (associated with my traumatic childhood that was filled with abuse) out.  The need for comfort.  The need to punish (me).  The desire to be invisible.  The need for acceptance, at least surface acceptance.  Hunger.  Self-hate.  Pain.  This and so much more is all wrapped up in this insidious disorder that controls me.   I’m trying to resist.  But honestly, my efforts are largely ineffective.  Because no matter which way I go or what I do, when one or more of these needs or desires takes control, though I scream in frustration and anguish, I can’t seem to stand up to their overpowering urges for very long.  I can’t find the strength.  I can’t muster enough willpower.  At best, I can manage them by delaying them as long as possible.  But at some point, I feel I will explode if I don’t do as they command.  I will come undone. 
I don’t understand it, but my ED gets me through the day without a meltdown.  I function.  Barely, but I function.  I’m very close to not functioning, which scares the hell out of me.  No one seems to understand how closely I’m teetering to the edge.  How dangerously near the chasm I dance. No one seems to understand what little resources I have inside of me.  No one seems to understand what functioning is costing me.
So, I’m trying to resist the devil.  And I’m failing.  Which makes me worthless; at least, that’s how I feel.  Because I can’t seem to “just say no” to this whole eating disorder mess.  I resist with the little strength I have.  But this devil, it would seem, is far bigger than I am.  And much stronger.  And it’s laughing at me all the way to the toilet.

I blog for World Mental Health Day

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