Last week I asked the question, ‘How Do You Deal?’ and received some very supportive, honest answers. In times of stress I have found myself trying to deal with boulders by trying like hell not to let whatever is happening in my life CONSUME my life.
Discussing enormous stress-related issues always gives me a reason to use the swimming analogy:
When things are going smoothly, you’re in the shallow-end doing nice, easy laps. You’re relaxed because you have complete control of your surroundings: you can clearly see that the other end of the pool is nearby; if you happen to get tired you can easily ground yourself by touching the bottom if you’re so inclined.
When stressful or anxiety-filled situations start entering your life, you don’t feel as much in control as before. You may sense that the bottom is still there but it’s harder to see. The water isn’t calm like before. You’re fatigued but you know that you can still make it if you keep your head clear, stay calm and maintain a slow but steady pace. You have an idea where the other end of the pool is but because of all the choppy water it now makes it more difficult to visualize.
When stress becomes all consuming you can’t see the bottom anymore. The end is no longer in your sight and you can’t sense where it is. You feel like you’re swimming against a strong, choppy currant and you start hesitating, wondering – even doubting if you’ll ever make it.
For me, that’s when panic sets in and I begin frantically searching around me looking for stability. It’s usually around that point when I see what I think is a life preserver floating nearby. It’s not, though. It may look like one but this floatation device looks and tastes just like a donut (minus the sprinkles).
The trick of course, is to not allow myself to get to that last scenario. I’ve always said that I use food as a means of coping – a band-aid to help me deal with whatever is going on. I never realized that my choice of words were utterly inappropriate for what I was describing. My food – my safety device, my ‘band-aid’ is not an aid whatsoever. All my band-aid does is cover up the wound so that I can’t see it while I’m busy distracting myself.
Huh. Why is this just now clicking with me? I mean, deep down I always knew it wasn’t a healthy way to cope, but I think that sometimes it’s easier to give simple answers to hard questions because we don’t have the energy to sit down and think about what they actually mean.
This morning I read Kyra’s post on Anti-Coping. It resonated with me so much I had to share a link to it from here. Her words hit me at precisely at the right time and I feel like I have a better understanding of why I use food in times of extreme stress. It is powerful, direct, to the point and absolutely worth reading if you happen to use food like I tend to do when stress becomes too much:
…from The Never-ending Adventures in Fitness and Life: Anti-Coping.