Thursday, February 10, 2011

part 2 {survival}

in my first post on body image i recounted my experiences of enslavement to bad body image. here, i explain how i moved from enslavement to survival by a fairly unlikely means.

about a year ago, i began watching season 1 of grey's anatomy.

all of my friends were participating in a campus wide tradition known as step sing [it's a song and dance contest between campus organizations]. i was still gaining weight and attending roughly four therapy/doctors appointments per week. when my nutritionist told me we'd have to up my meal plan in order for me to participate, i promptly erased my name from the list.

my friends were all in the show and constantly in rehearsals and then performances. consequently, i found myself left with a lot of alone time for the first three or so weeks of the semester.

one late afternoon, my best friends along with 65 other chi o's participating in step sing exited the house in a whirlwind for their first dress rehearsal. their streaming chatter and noise no longer resonated between the house walls. it was filling the crisp air between sorority quad and the auditorium with visible breath and chi o cheers and laughter.

the house was completely quiet, but the stabbing, deafening thoughts in my head were just getting started.

i looked in the mirror and shook my head at the husky girl who stared back. i was angry at my body, i was angry at myself.

i tried to reason with the thoughts, but for every successful cognition in which i told myself i was seeing distortions, my disorder fired a hundred flaming "you're fat and disgusting" arrows back.

i couldn't be in my head any longer. i wanted to escape, to stop feeling like a punching bag for my disorder. i knew exercising would help, but i also knew that somewhere deep inside me wanted to recover, and that exercising would only eventually make things worse.

i sat, slightly dazed, on my bed and wrapped my hand loosely around the bed post. i glanced around the room for something, anything that might give me a break from my thoughts. my eyes stopped on my roommate's collection of grey's anatomy seasons. i took out disc one of season one, slid it into my computer, plugged in my ear buds and left the world outside seattle grace hospital in a foggy distance.

it was utter bliss. it took less than a week for me to finish season 1, and i immediately began season 2, then 3, then 4, then 5.

i was living and loving life, but when i couldn't fight off my thoughts any longer, grey's anatomy was an escape, a numbing agent.

in the past, when bad body image has attacked, i've jumped straight back into my disorder. even when i truly wanted to recover, the pain of hating my own flesh was too much, and i knew no other solution for ending it, besides my age old pattern of restriction.

at first, i felt guilty for how much grey's i was allowing myself to watch. but then i considered the fact that i had an eating disorder for five years. my mind was finely trained to replace discomfort with numbness via starvation. this time around, i was escaping the excruciation of bad body image with something that might leave me temporarily mush-brained, but most assuredly wouldn't kill me.

this may sound silly, or even a little a scary, but i allowed grey's anatomy to stick to as closely to me as i'd allowed my disorder. my therapist and i agreed that when i was ready, i would separate from grey's and find my thoughts manageable on my own, but until then, grey's would keep me safe and grey's would keep me eating.

i think this concept could be helpful for anyone struggling with a maladaptive behavior from which they seek comfort. it's nearly impossible to "just quit"an obsession without replacing it with something harmless. the idea is to try to live life as naturally and normally (no one is normal) as possible until the temptations/thoughts become too much to bear. each time the arbitrary replacement is selected over the maladaptive behavior, the ties between the maladaptive behavior and person on whom it preys are weakened. eventually, the ties become weak enough that the individual is free, and strong enough to fight and to sever the remaining ties on his or her own.

by May, i had watched every episode of grey's anatomy, including those from the current season. my second night at home for summer, i watched the season 8 finale with my mom.

this past fall, i watched the first episode of season 9, but i couldn't tell you anything that's happened since.

life has been too much fun for grey's.

part 3{truly alive} coming soon.



1 comment:

  1. I can definitely relate to this.
    I have found comfort in similar ways.
    Sometimes we need to switch off and then eventually, we don't have that same "need" for distraction. We can start allowing ourselves to just "be."
    I adore Greys, and have watched a lot of it, alongside many other shows.
    I have an obsession with Friends and that is like my get out of life clause.
    If I need a few hours out of life, I put on my favourite episodes, sit back and enjoy.

    Sometimes being in ourselves can be so hard, that we need to "escape."

    As with you, I have moved past that.

    I have also moved past the point of body image awareness.
    I barely notice myself that way anymore.

    It becomes, distant and it is something, in time, will become distant for you too xxxx