Personal Growth is So Annoying

I’ve found myself saying “personal growth is so annoying” all week — to my husband, therapist, best friend. It’s been a week of intense introspection where I’ve realized I haven’t been taking care of myself as I should. I’ve fallen off the wagon of self care, careening right into binge eating and negative self talk. All these negative thoughts have been ruminating in my head.

I’m beautiful, and my body is beautiful.
I need to appreciate and nurture it

But the thing bothering me the most is my binge eating. Last year I had weight loss surgery — the gastric sleeve — and I really can’t eat a whole lot. But I find myself pushing my limits, eating until I’m uncomfortably full and can hardly breathe. I’ve gained about 15 pounds since the start of COVID-19, and I’m so ashamed. I should be thinner almost a year after my surgery. I shouldn’t be drinking Diet Coke. I shouldn’t be eating junk all day long — so long that sometimes my jaw hurts from chewing all the crap I put in my mouth.

I feel like a failure, but today I hit a breaking point. I’d been eating all day. It felt like my skin didn’t fit anymore and suddenly I was aware of every inch of my skin. I took a bath and tried to wash away my overeating sins and shame.

Then it hit me. I have to stop doing this. There was a reason I got the weight loss surgery, and it shouldn’t be a quick fix, it should be a tool, and I need to start using it as such. I’m not a lost cause. Sure, I’ve gained 15 pounds, but who hasn’t in the midst of the pandemic? Not that it’s an excuse. But I have to start eating more healthily or I truly believe I’ll put myself in an early grave.

For the first time in a long time I feel hope. I told David what I was thinking, and he was very understanding as always. I know sometimes I put him in a hard spot because I ask him to help me be accountable but then get mad when he tries to help.

He told me he believed in me and had a suggestion: I need to quit Diet Coke. This hit me hard. I’ve struggled for a decade trying to quit Diet Coke. When I got the surgery, I did for a bit, but then started taking sips here and there, which turned into a 12-pack every week, then two 12-packs.

I love Diet Coke. I love that when I come downstairs in the morning with the kids, who are usually arguing and not telling me what they want for breakfast, that the first thing I do is grab a Diet Coke. The first few sips are the best — it burns all the way down and is so crisp. I usually down the first one fast, then maybe one or two more before I take the kids. Then a couple throughout the day. It feels like a treat. Why I feel I need a treat that often, I do not know. It almost feels like a security blanket.

But diet soda just isn’t good for you (especially if you’ve had the sleeve), and although I love it, I must say good-bye. I need to bid farewell to disorderly eating. Logically, I know it’s not good for me, but in the moment I think it will be great. And it might taste amazing, but any pleasure I get is temporary.

Any pleasure I get is temporary. What’s not is the shame I feel. The discomfort and pain, too. That seems so permanent.

After my discussion with David, I threw out all the Diet Coke I had in the house, even the ones that I just bought today. It’s silly, but it made me so sad. I threw out the Butterfinger I had hidden in the fridge, the bag of white cheddar popcorn and a box of Fruit Roll-ups. The food I don’t care about. Eating healthy seems so much easier than forgoing my diet soda habit.

But I have to do what I have to do, because isn’t that all a form of self-harm — bingeing on junk food and chugging Diet Coke? I’m only eating my feelings, trying to bury them down deep and hoping for the best. I think it’s safe to say that this is not a healthy or productive way to deal with life. And someone like me, whose brain doesn’t function properly, can’t live that way. Nobody can, actually.

I have to learn to sit with my feelings. I have to retrain my brain on what constitutes as a “treat.” I have to rein in the negative ruminations. I have to get uncomfortable, be more vulnerable and let go of these actions that once served me but now do not.

Personal growth is so annoying.

But necessary.

Stay in the light.

Negative Self Talk

It starts with something seemingly simple, like telling yourself you’re stupid for making a mistake. Or maybe you begin comparing yourself to others because they have a better body, car, job, etc.

These kind of thoughts, called negative self talk, are extremely dangerous when it comes to your self-esteem and self-worth.

I have no problem admitting this is one of my weaknesses. I catch myself saying things like:
“You’re ugly.
You’re fat.
Everyone thinks you’re a loser.
You’re a terrible mom.”

Just to name a few.

I do my very best to correct these insults as soon as I think them, so I won’t feel worse about myself, but it’s very difficult some days.

That’s the problem with negative self talk — once it enters your brain, it’s very hard to get them out. And once they’re there, they can burrow in deep, making you not just dissatisfied with yourself but dissatisfied with your life in general. It can take a toll on your confidence, increase shame and limit personal growth, according to Psychology Today.

Your thoughts — negative or positive — turn into actions and that’s why you have to be diligent in stopping negative thoughts in their tracks and fostering healthy, happy thoughts, especially if you have depression.

I know that if I let unhealthy thoughts play out, I’ll enter into a depressive episode and practice unhealthy behaviors.

The best way (for me) to think about it is that I have to do some things on a daily basis to maintain my mood and keep depression at bay. For example, exercising. Interrupting my inner critic is no different — just an exercise my mind must do to be healthy, too.

And for me, it’s not enough that I stop the thoughts in their tracks. I find it more helpful to correct my unruly thinking by saying something positive about myself. Like, “I’m a good writer. My kids love me. I’m a kind, generous person,” etc.

It also helps to name your inner critic — this helps separate the negative voice from your own. And at first, I thought I needed to get rid of my inner critic but my therapist has taught me that the inner critic is a part of me and that I need to love her. I initially named my inner critic Ursula, because I thought of a fat, ugly sea witch, but I know now that inner voice needs nurturing, protecting and loving. It may sound weird and I’m not proposing you embrace the mean things your critic tells you but that voice is there for a reason. Maybe it started off trying to keep you safe before it turned negative, I don’t know. But I renamed my inner critic Ann, my grandmother’s name.

I believe I must come to terms with Ann in order to love myself fully. I’m not an expert, but I do challenge you to do the same.

Another thing that helps me with negative self talk is to phrase things to myself the way I speak to my kids (a best friend works, too) when they need comforting. I would never tell them they’re stupid or say something else ugly — never — so why is it OK for me to talk to myself that way?

If you catch yourself thinking mean and hateful things (and can’t change the negative to positive), I highly recommend trying cognitive behavioral therapy. I love therapy and it has helped me grow so much.

For more ways to stop negative thinking, read this Psychology Today article.

Stay in the light.

Whomp, whomp

Once again, my brain is playing tricks on me. Last week I was flying high, going to the gym to run and eating healthy. These past two days I’ve felt myself going down the drain and it’s so frustrating because I haven’t done anything differently. I’ve been surrounding myself with positivity but now even that is hard to conjure up. The TMS technician did warn me that it’s a emotional roller coaster at first but I just wasn’t expecting such extreme mood changes. My anxiety is higher than it has been in weeks.

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Tomorrow I plan on eating a healthy breakfast, heading to the gym and continuing eating healthy throughout the day but there are knots in my stomach and fear that that won’t be the case tomorrow. And it’s already making me feel guilty. I’ve been reading all about showing up for yourself – not missing a workout or blowing your “diet” – and how it’s about integrity. Now I don’t feel like I have any integrity, which makes me feel even worse.

I’ve even regretting signing up for a 5K in November. I feel like I should’ve gone to the gym more last week, I should have run longer and farther. I’m scared that my depression will keep me from running more this week and then comes the guilt and fear again.

I know I’m in control. I know if I want to go to the gym tomorrow, I can go but there’s also that part of me that just wants to crawl in bed and ignore the world. I didn’t feel that way last week. I also know it’s all about getting uncomfortable and breaking habits but I’m just not sure I can be positive when all my brain is telling me is negative.

Stupid, asshole brain. It’s never easy with my brain.

Hopefully, it’ll get better as I’m approaching my 8th treatment and you’re supposed to feel better in about two weeks. I hope so. I really felt great last week.

It’s like being two different people at all times and that’s exhausting. Truly exhausting.

I feel weak, sad and worthless now. All I can do is pray for help and try to keep positive – fight all the horrible things my brain is saying and making me feel.

Here’s to tomorrow.