Some years ago I wrote a short story personifying my bad habits and body dysmorphia. As time goes on and I become more aware of myself and continue to learn how my brain functions, I’ve come to understand that this particular difficulty is not a simple matter of discipline and eating for comfort. It’s not a silo’d event or island because I, as a spiritual being and biological unit, am not an archipelago but a vast countryside of many biomes.
So when I want to, and do, eat junk or simply overeat healthy things, it’s the last stop. It’s the culmination of a turn of events that I was probably not even tracking to begin with. That habit, that is the habit of self-awareness, is one I can say with some confidence I have strengthened. I can see the dominoes falling, sometimes even from the first. The question then becomes what to do about them and how to stop them.
ADHD, overeating, anxiety, bad coping behaviors. Each is a track on the same transit system. They go together. So when I catch myself stuffing my face or engaging in other such poor habits, I have to stop and consider and I don’t like what I see.
I become anxious because X. Sometimes X equals a general, existential lack of control but sometimes it equals a specific thing. On other occasions X equals the impending doom of inattention: I’m going to forget to do something, or blurt something out. So the ADHD triggers the anxiety triggers the poor coping skill. It’s a wild ride of comorbidity and I’m not even factoring in the spiritual implications here.
The more I pay attention the more I see the effects of ADHD in my life, both positive and negative. Though mostly negative. ADHD inhibits dopamine production and reception, so the feelings of satisfaction one expects from normal human focus and accomplishment doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to. Completion and accomplishment are made more challenging by the fact that my brain is hunting for that dopamine wherever it can find it, even if it’s the thing I’m not supposed to be doing that the particular time. Or the not the thing I want to be doing at the time.
So what’s the upshot?
I’m told “pills don’t teach skills,” so the prognosis is a terrible cocktail of self-acceptance and dogged determination. I must keep moving forward and continue the journey of self-awareness and, for lack of a better term, salvation…but I also have to be kind to myself. Beating myself up has done very little for me in the past. It’s as bad, or worse, a coping skill as overeating.
A better coping skill is sticking with my meds and using practical means such as to-do lists, visual organization, Pomodoro technique, body doubling, prayer, shit like that.
It’s good and it’s bad but it is what it is.
How are you?