Tag Archives: Eating disorders

Delicious and Deadly: Cycles of Self-Defeat and God’s Solution

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

After searching the store for turkey roast, my son, who was with me,  finally found one.  Yesterday, I threw it, various vegetables, and some cream of chicken into my crock pot.  Almost everything but the soup was frozen. 

On the low setting, I allowed it all to cook for 10 hours. This is a no-brainer. Dozens of times I have cooked frozen ingredients on low for long periods, both in the crock pot and in the oven.   It always works, and everything is tender. 

No one in 37 years of home cooking has become sick on my food. (That is not to say my boys did not hate spinach when they were little!) However, after chilling the turkey stew in the refrigerator for 2 hours, I ate a bowlful and was sorry very quickly.

I have no idea what, if anything, I did wrong. Possibly the ingredients were already bad, and in their frozen state I could not tell. This one thing I do know – it was delicious and deadly.  (I am ok, by the way.)

Pacifiers are delicious

This stew is not the only time something delicious has been deadly in my life.  By “delicious” I am describing temptations of any kind.  In our humanness, we feel needs and wants. From a distance the solutions we choose appear delightful. 

For example, some of us live with a giant hole in our psyche left there by neglect, abandonment, rejection, abuse, or any type of lack of nurture.  That is hard, and learning to deal with it can lead to many tempting forms of relief. 

You know what they are – substances, food, sex, workaholism, co-dependencies … the list is endless. Chosen pacifiers that we come to believe we must have to survive, unfortunately are many times delicious, and emotionally, spiritually, and even physically deadly. 

Letting go of the temporary for the permanent

I am not going to sidestep what is of the essence with this issue. We are, (I too many, many times) trying to lean on toppling fences.  Because we see them and understand their power of relief, we assume they can hold us up.  Then comes the day that they do not. 

This week, I had to let one such pacifier go.  It was interfering with my ability (oh let’s be honest – my willingness) to trust Jesus in all situations. This dependency has served as a false god,  idol worship if you will.  It seemed easier and more substantial to run to it than to lean on the solid fence of God’s unchanging good (holy, love) nature. 

I feel freer, less burdened.

The good question to ask is, what have any of us gained by returning to those wobbly fences? The answer is pain, exhaustion, confusion, sorrow, and threats of death  because fake gods, or temporary pacifiers, will let us down.  Yuck.  Still, like a yo-yo I kept spinning back to this specific “solution”  as if the result would be different after a while. Insane. 

It makes much more sense to rely on God’s unfailing love, and the eternal salvation offered through faith in Jesus. This week, my emotions, mentality, and even physicality are taking on the challenge of letting go. It is rough, but I am full of praise for the loving arms of Jesus who has never let me fall without lifting me in his compassionate love and meeting every need. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Jeremiah 4 :1,2

 “… says the Lord, if you wanted to return to me, you could. You could throw away your detestable idols  and stray away no more. Then when you swear by my name, saying,  ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ you could do so  with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing …”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*pics by ALEXBRUDA of rgbstock.com

 

 

This is Your Brain On Drugs. Any Questions?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

oa6lkniDo you remember the televised public service announcement that showed a close-up of an egg?  The actor said, “This is your brain.” He called a frying pan “drugs.” Then as the egg broke into the pan, it bubbled and its edges curled. The actor said, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

Seeing this for the first time as a young adult, it seemed to send a quality message. The idea of destroying brain cells was a deterrent. 

My first car had been owned by a pot-head who was increasingly unable to use his limbs. The Dodge was adjusted for hand controls when he lost use of his legs. Eventually he could no longer drive. The car was reverted back to its original condition, and sold.  

That sealed it for me. No drugs. Ever. 

There is a great deal of rationalizing in homes, cars, empty warehouses, and in the arguments of those wishing to legalize drug use for recreational purposes.  “Marijuana is safe” is one myth floating about. Tell that to the kid who spent his life in a wheelchair. As with all forms of self-medication, pot can become a mental obsession and gateway to lethal experiments. 

Addiction is not only a chemically induced physical draw to the fix, it is also a mental game of repetitive cycles. “I can stop anytime I want” is followed by successful abstinence for a time, then an eventual return. It is not uncommon for someone to give up one addiction for another, either.

Rationalizations ran my life as food addiction took over my thoughts and body. While triumphantly avoiding the loss of brain cells due to drugs, my mental obsession with food nearly took me out.  Although my recovery has resulted in significant weight loss, there are continuing health consequences to pay.

Loss of brain cells or not, addiction of all types interfere with…

  • Relationships. How can we pay attention to other people’s needs when our focus is on our obsession?
  • Common sense. We will rationalize anything to have our fix. A PSA  for food addiction could probably look like a close-up of an egg, a red-hot frying pan symbolizing deteriorating health, and a hand snatching the sizzling egg and shoving it into a mouth. Food addiction is that insane.
  • Our social choices. We will hang out with people who do not challenge our behavior.
  • Intellect and critical thinking skills. We are only interested in information that supports our addiction.
  • Faith. We do not want to surrender to God and lose control over our own decisions.
  • Physical health. We live in denial.  
  • Our sense of worth. We turn to the fix to feel better – which never works for long. Shame haunts us. 

Addiction charges a high price. There is hope if we will accept drug use and self-medicating as the dangers and destroyers they are.

Help is available. Drug, alcohol, eating disorders, and other mental health issues are addressed by caring people in treatment centers, addiction counselors’ offices, and in anonymous 12-step groups all over the world. 

God is the difference-maker. I do not mean a shadowy imagination of a potentially supreme being. I am talking about God as described in the Bible. Through his Son Jesus, we have been given the source of life and love.  It is freedom to pray to the Highest Power for strength. 

This is a brain on prayer – calmer, comforted, complete. Yes, exactly what drugs promise and endlessly fail to deliver.

Today’s Helpful Word

John 15: 9  
“I have loved you the same way the Father has loved me. So live in my love.  (Jesus)

 

*****Comments are always welcome (see tab below) 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.

– frying eggs pic by Teslacoils on rgbstock.com

 

Anorexia Nervosa: Starving for Unconditional Love

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

the-scale-1541514The world became more aware of Anorexia Nervosa in 1983, when 32-year old Karen Carpenter, the famous drummer and singer in the brother-sister band called “The Carpenters”,  died of heart failure due to this eating disorder.  We see pictures of celebrities suspected of anorexia. Because photos are so often touched up to help enhance models, we must suspect photos of so-called anorexia patients to also be exaggerated. None-the-less, in performance industries, thinness is held in esteem as if it is a sign of worth.

We read and hear the message constantly – “Get your beach body by summer,” “This supplement guarantees 12 pounds lost in two weeks!”, “Ask your doctor if bariatric surgery is right for you.” The message that thin is better consumes some people. Eating disorders develop as vulnerable minds absorb the idea that acceptance and true love come with losing, or not gaining, weight.

Along with that superficial message, come the ones from health industries. As a society, we are supposedly on the attack against childhood obesity. A billboard near my home reads, “Childhood obesity is going down!” I think of all the overweight kids and their bullies who read that sign.  It does not describe the benefits of health (“Run and play for your health”) or promote kindness (Invite your friends to a swim party”).  In my opinion, human nature interprets that sign as “I’m defective” and “take down the fat kids.”

These never-subtle messages infiltrate our society at the familial level. I heard of a grandfather who told his normal-sized eight year-old grandson that no one would ever like him if he ate all the french fries on his plate. He whispered out of earshot of the rest of the family, “You’re fat. No one loves a fat boy. No girls will like you and you won’t have any friends.” The boy’s reddening face gave away the problem, and his mother asked him later about it. From that point on, the child could choose whether to visit this abusive grandfather or not. He often chose to not.

Is it really any wonder then that young and old alike struggle with body-image? For some, self-loathing can lead to obesity because these people no longer believe there is anything to fight for. Who cares if you are extremely overweight if no one can love you anyway? Why worry about health when your life seems worthless?

For others, thinness becomes a perpetual goal. Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by binge-eating followed by “purging” which is ridding one’s body of the food before it can be absorbed into the body. Vomiting is the best-known means of purging. As in most disorders, Bulimia takes various forms, including not binge-eating or not vomiting.

People who develop Anorexia Nervosa basically stop eating. What they see in the mirror is not what we see when we look at them. Ironically, they are terrified of gaining weight while everyone around them wishes they would.  People with Anorexia can become gaunt, emaciated, and hollow-cheeked. They lose muscle tone, hair and nails become brittle, and women stop having their menstrual periods. What we might describe as skin and bones, they see fat.

Anorexia is not the angst of a foolish school girl. It is a terrifying life-threatening disease that affects all ages of both men and women. Why then do we not see more older people with the disease? Many die of this disorder at young ages. Astonishingly, more people with anorexia die than those with any other mental disorder. Did you read that right? “More than any other mental disorder,” is a higher mortality rate than schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar. Not only are people dying of starvation, they are dying by suicide.

Eating Disorder HOPE published an article explaining in part, why Anorexia can be so often fatal.

  • Comorbid conditions such as depression and extreme anxiety increase one’s risk of suicide.
  • Refeeding Syndrome is a potentially fatal complication of restoring nutrients and fluids via eating.
  • The Endocrine System can shut down.
  • The Gastrointestinal System can wreak havoc on a body in a starvation situation.
  • The Pulmonary System can malfunction.
  • Anorexia is further complicated by its chronic nature. Patients can progress periodically through treatment, but frequently relapse.

According to Eating Disorder HOPE,  studies covering 5,590 Anorexia Nervosa patients proved suspicions of a high mortality rate.

“Among those who survived, on average less than one-half recovered, one-third improved, and 20% remained chronically ill. Anorexia nervosa is a very complex and complicated disorder. It requires early diagnosis and access to care with close follow-up and often long-term treatment.”*

As with all disorders, people with Anorexia Nervosa need support systems and access to care. To manage their disease and thrive, they have to learn to avoid triggers and change negative influences such as people, places, and things.

*********

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

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.

– picture from freeimages.com

*MSN,RN, and CRNP credential holders, Gail Hamilton, Lisa Culler, and Rebecca Elenback conributed to  Anorexia Nervosa – Highest Mortality Rate of Any Mental Disorder: Why?  Retrieved September 4, 2016 from http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/

 

It Can Take a Long Time to Change

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

It’s funny. In going through my draft file of potential posts, I ran across this title. The memory of writing out “It Can Take a Long Time to Change” is still clear. I was convinced my metamorphosis from depressed, relationship-challenged, scared, and confused gal to joyful, surrounded by friends, fearless and wise woman was taking much too long. I believed my goals (or fancies) had to be reached soon, or else.  

Or else? Others said I was being much too hard on myself. Therapists said I was actually improving at a significant pace. This did little to lessen my negative self-view. I remember a sense of doom, a guarantee of utter failure if this process would not speed-up.

That was a full three years ago.  An addict in treatment once said, “I want the crazies to stop now. Somehow I thought that one morning I would wake up and be a different person.”  

If only. Change is hard, and it takes much effort to swap out a worldview. Self-esteem is not going to hop up and grab us; we have to build it.  Wishes do not make dreams come true – hard work does. 

“But it’s not fast enough! I want my problems resolved now! Why can I not be a normal (aka: perfect) person right away?”  This frustration is common among those suffering with the symptoms and fallout of major depression. We do not want anyone kicking us when we are down yet are so willing to do it to ourselves. It’s counter-productive. If our goal is to be up and running, self-affirmation is more helpful.

For me, healing was slow with extreme mood swings. A woman on a crisis line told me I was flirting with death, but also flirting with life. She was right, and months of ambivalence caused more heartache.  This was one massive, burly major depressive episode, and it  took me 16 months until I was able to thank my psychologist for the phone call that saved my life.

Time was necessary to practice new ways of thinking, to grasp uneasy truth, and to learn to walk within my evolving  worldview.  There were many significant forward steps, a few missteps, then a fall back to old behaviors followed by try, try again.

It was worth it.

I was in a treatment Center once with about 35 other women, many of  whom were trying to  recover from eating disorders. Some of these brave women suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder which is a fancy term for what you see is not what you get.  Whether gaunt, obese, or anything in-between, women with BDD saw something different from reality in the mirror.

The treatment center had funny mirrors in each room, like the ones you find in fun houses.  No image was true to form, so in this way those obsessing over their weight could take a break.  This allowed therapists an opportunity to teach truth to clearer minds.

Perhaps you too want your paycheck, children, friends, function, and anything else mental illness has taken, returned NOW! 

Purpose to ask each day, “What kind of person do I want to be? What steps will I take today toward becoming that person?” Remember, slow progress is progress. Your stride will get longer, steps more frequent, and you will accomplish the unexpected. 

And that’s good enough in any stage of recovery and healing.

*******

Comments are always welcome (see tab below) 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.

  – Pictures from Kozzi.com