Category Archives: binges

stepping back ..

I had a setback yesterday. Put simply, I woke up feeling down about the social situation from Monday, but instead of trying to deal with those feelings, I went right to my obsessive behaviors.

I’m obsessed over how many people read and comment on my blog. So, I shelved my feelings and went right to looking at my blog, and then I read and commented on someone else’s blog (with the hope that they will respond by checking my blog), and then I checked my blog’s stats (and felt disappointed), and then I commented on a message forum (with the hope that people would make their way to my blog), and then I checked my blog’s stats (again, dissapointed), etc. etc. This lasted for about an hour.

Afterward, I had to go back to my feelings, and, by that point, they had grown. That, coupled with my disappointments with my blog (which I can probably never satisfy), I fell into a depression, and I made a conscious decision to binge after my g/f left for work. So .. she left, and I binged.

Now, I haven’t binged in almost a month, and I thought I didn’t need to eat as much to get the desired effects (pushing the negative feelings back down in my body). Well, I was right and wrong–I got a terrible stomach ache (which I don’t normally get) and the feelings only grew along with my depression. As the hours progressed my actions grew more and more erratic. By the end of the night, my g/f was rubbing my forehead while I laid in our empty bathtub with all my clothes on, turning the water on and then back off again (just enough to get my back wet). I wish I could explain, I guess I just find comfort in the bathtub but I didn’t want to take a bath, I don’t know.

***

Anyway, my original intent for this post was to focus on the scope of this blog. I waver between thinking I can truly help people with social anxiety and thinking I can’t help a soul because I can’t even help myself. I’ve talked a lot about the healing process as of late, abstractly–I haven’t really thought about what it means to me, that is.

There’s always going to be setbacks. Two steps forward, one step back. Forward, forward, back. Forward, forward, back. It’s not quite that simple, either: there’s ups and downs, and yesterday I just felt like I was spinning around and around. But in the most general sense, yesterday was a setback.

This past month I’ve been trying to focus more on my steps forward. I want this blog to be positive. I want to provide support for people going through the same things I am. I want to be a leader. But I guess I’ve only been sharing one side to the healing process: my successes. Healing is also about failing. It’s about setbacks and destructive behaviors and hopeless, suicidal feelings. Having those feelings is good every now and then, because they are proof that I am healing.

So, I just want you–and I–to know that I am going to do my best to show this process more completely. To show the darker sides even if that’s not what you want to hear or what I really want to write about.

***

Finally, I’ve been taking care of myself today. I just got back from a run, and I’m going to eat a healthy breakfast. My g/f made pumpkin soup for lunch. I’m going to try to not stress about schoolwork. Maybe I’ll take it easy and watch a movie or go to a gentle yoga class or something. Or maybe I’ll just write a few posts. Or maybe I’ll take a bath (with water this time). Or read things like this. We’ll see.

Also, I’ve noticed that my obsessions with my blog only come out when I’m feeling depressed and/or anxious. They help to mask my feelings. I’m going to try to take it easy and just let things play out the way they should, but it’s hard. I know there will be a setback or two .. and that’s okay!

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on binging

I haven’t felt well the past few days. I’ve experience several ups and downs, including one period of depression where I thought I’d have to binge in order to bring myself back up again. Fortunately, I kept control and didn’t binge, and eventually my mood brightened and I began to function again.

It’s really strange that something so destructive (my binges) can make me feel whole again. I like to call it a release while my therapist calls it avoidance or suppression … regardless, I feel so much better after I binge. Actually, I want to step back: I want look a little closer at what happens before, during, and after a binge (because I just love breaking things down into tiny, manageable pieces). Without going into too much detail, before a binge I’m low–really low, obviously. My body, my mind, everything aches. There’s tension, there’s stress, there’s negative thoughts. Usually, I’ve stirred up some feelings or memories that I haven’t touched in a while. My brain feels mushy; there’s no other way to describe it.

When the actual decision is made (most of the time I feel like it’s already made for me beforehand) to go out to get food or alcohol–whatever I’m feeling like at the time, depending on the time of day (I never drink during the day, except maybe on the weekends or some holidays … ), etc–shame and guilt hit me. Before I even go to get the food, there’s guilt for what I’m about to do. But not enough guilt to stop me from doing it in the first place. At the store, when I’m picking up the ice cream or burrito or beer, the shame only increases. I feel like the cashiers know me by now. When they’re all together at some bar after work, they talk about me, referring to me as the “binger” or “loser”, that sort of thing. They know exactly how sad and depressed I am, because I wear my feelings on the outside. Everybody knows, for that matter.

After the food is obtained, my heart starts racing and my mood begins to lift. I have to get home as soon as possible. I race back, running up the stairs two at a time, and then consume … and consume … and consume. In all, it probably takes me less than thirty minutes to eat a burrito and a pint or quart of ice cream (my staples). If I’m drinking, though, I like to spread out six beers over a period of three or four hours. I hate getting drunk. My only goal is to get rid of the feelings.

The actual consuming is all done unconsciously. I usually plop myself in front of my computer, watching an episode of Star Trek or Seinfeld while shoving the food down my throat. There are no thoughts, the feelings disperse. Sometimes I’ll catch my reflection in the computer screen which causes me to pull back a little and assess the situation. I begin to feel shame, regret, remorse, anxiety … but before the feelings can take a hold of me I return to the food, unconscious once again.

When I’m done, the feelings begin to return little by little, but they’re different. Less tangible, and more abstract. They’re probably deeper in my body, too. Then, they start to grow again and I feel worse and worse, but, again, they’re still different. I’m not depressed or hopeless, but I just feel so much shame and regret. Eventually, those feelings disperse and I’m left with just a sense of contention. What’s done is done, my mind says. Pull yourself together. You have a future, you have worth. It’s like I have to hit some sort of rock bottom to see things clearly. When you’re down, the only place to go is up.

On Thursday I really felt giving into the temptation. The triggers were there, the environment was just right. But rather than giving in, I pushed through using a combination of awareness and cognitive techniques. I caught the thoughts before they could take control of me. I then distracted myself, and, finally, I replaced my negative thoughts with positive one’s.

It was a minor victory, but I learned something extremely valuable–I learned how to take back control. In the end, though, it’s not about controlling my thoughts or feelings or urges, because they may always be there; instead, it’s about not letting them control me.

No Relief

I’ve been overwhelmed with anxiety and depression these past few days. I honestly don’t know how I’m writing this post right now. My thoughts feel far away, I can’t connect with them. I wish I could describe to you the feelings going on inside my body–but I just can’t. My hands are pretty much shaking right now. I’m honestly scared. All I can think about is food, alcohol, and Ativan–those are the only things that will bring me relief. I’m going to try to push through it and just sit here and suffer, but I don’t know how long I can hold out for. I need relief.

Depression hit me on Friday, which carried into Saturday and on into today. I can’t seem to shake it. I tried drinking on Friday, and I binged on food yesterday. Neither brought any relief.

Anxiety has been with me too, especially anticipatory. I have to go to another interview at the library I’m trying to intern at in the Spring tomorrow. Supposedly I have to meet with all the librarians at once. All ten of them. I’ve been going over in my mind what that will be like. In every scenario I fail, and even when I do win, and get the internship, things will just get worse, because I will then actually have to engage with people in the Spring. A part of me doesn’t want to get this internship at all. I’d rather just sit at home, where I feel comfortable.

I increased my dose of Lamictal today to 50 mg. I really wish that would start working, I want to feel some relief, but for now all I feel like doing is covering myself with a blanket and crying.

What’s more, outside it’s sunny and warm, and all I can think about is everybody else in the world enjoying the day, without me.

I want to say more, but I can’t.

letter to my father

My father is a very proud man. I’ve never understood him, but for the first twenty years of my life I lived in his shadow. He influenced my way of thinking, what I studied in college and how I viewed the world. I had a role-model, somebody I could admire and look up to. In my early-twenties though things began to change, or, more precisely, I began to change.

I moved away, first to Poland and then New York and finally San Francisco. I saw new things and was exposed to new ideas, new ways of thinking. I finally got to see the opposites–the things my father rejects, and never converses about. The things that make humans unique.

I started joining radical political groups and got rid of my car and stopped eating meat, anything to piss my dad off. For once, I wanted him to recognize me for me. I didn’t care anymore if he couldn’t see himself in me.

Because of all these changes, I’ve become angry at my father, and my father has become angry at me. We rarely talk. When we do it’s awkward and forced. I say hello, he says hello, I ask how he’s doing, he says fine, and then I ask to talk to my mom. At the time of writing I haven’t talked to him in at least three months. I’m waiting for him to call–it’s his job, right?

I’ll get to the point: I no longer want to be angry with my father, and I do not like this distance between us. There may always be geographic distance, but I’d like to be closer in a spiritual sense, or at least in a father-son sense. At this point, he’s less of a father to me and more of a long, lost friend. It’s sad.

What’s more, I don’t really know how to repair the damage between us, if that’s even possible. But I think a good starting point is for me to start being honest with him.

I think the most logical part to start with is his alcoholism. He’s been a functional alcoholic most of his adult life. It’s not easy to address because he’s not the quintessential alcoholic you see on TV or in the movies. He’s never hurt anybody in the family, and we rarely see him drunk. But he still has a dependence–and it has greatly affected our relationship.

I’m also afraid of my father. He has such a big ego. Nobody can tell him anything that goes against his way of thinking, and so I think the only way to get through to him would be through writing–

Dear Dad:

I hope this letter finds you well. I know we don’t talk much, and so you must be surprised that you’re reading this right now, but I think this is something we can address later. For now, I want to jump to the point.

For the past year or so I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing my past in order to understand how those experiences create meaning for me in the present. You, being my father, are a big part of that, obviously. You’ve had your say in who I am today, and I thank you for that. I have inherited a lot of great qualities from you. I deeply care about the world and the people in it, especially those I associate with–which is why I’m writing this right now.

As you can tell, I’ve changed a lot since I moved away. I’ve taken the theories I learned from my childhood and adolescence–the things you taught me–and tested them in the real world. Some work, some don’t, and that’s okay. At this point in my life I think my most endearing quality is how open I am–I’ll listen to anything, I’ll give anybody a chance. Everybody has something to say, and everybody needs someone to listen to them. Right now I need you to be open, and I need you to listen.

I strongly believe that you are an alcoholic. You are not a fall down drunk and you’ve never laid a finger on anyone in the family, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an unhealthy dependence on alcohol. And it’s certainly impacted our relationship. Whenever I’m home, you’re always in the basement drinking, and when you’re not, more often than not, you’ve had too much to drink. Frankly, you’re less of a father and more like comic relief for me, as sad as that sounds.

You can do whatever you want now. Your actions are your choice. But I am no longer going to be an enabler. If you want to continue drinking, I believe the distance will only increase between us, and our relationship will continue to falter. What you do now is your decision. I’ve made my choice. It’s time for you to make yours.

I may never give this to him, but it still feels good to get it out in the open.

self harm: why?

Self harm is a way for me to deal with negative feelings. When times get tough and there’s just too many negative feelings, I engage in self destructive behaviors to push those feelings and/or emotions and/or memories back down into my body. This behavior serves me–and it serves me well.

I wish I could say that I’ve found healthier alternatives, like yoga and/or meditation and/or exercise etc, to deal with these feelings, but I haven’t … not yet, at least.

I’ve been using self harm as a coping mechanism for a long time. It’s a way for me to feel like I’m in control (and I’m addicted to the serotonin rush).  I do not condone it but I’m not proud of it, either. If you don’t do it– please don’t start; if you do, it’s okay. In fact, it’s probably good that you’ve found a way to keep some emotions at bay. You can’t go around feeling everything all the time. Sometimes it’s too much. I think there are healthier ways of dealing with things, but it’s much easier to suppress the feelings through self harm than to learn and utilize the alternatives.

You’re not alone: Self harm is something most people engage in. It’s less about if people do it, and more about how.

Tactics range from self-deprecating humor to suicide. For the most part, I use binging (on food or alcohol, sometimes both) to suppress my emotions. I know, or have known, people who overspend, abuse drugs, and cut themselves. Aside for suicide, I don’t believe any one method is more dangerous than another. It may be more socially acceptable to binge on alcohol or overspend than to cut oneself, but it’s not really fair to compare methods. They all serve a common purpose, and they all can become addictions. Besides, drugs and alcohol poison your insides and overspending can wreck havoc on the lives around you, while cutting really just leaves scars–which really is worse?

Feeling terrible

So, I felt terrible last night, and I’m feeling even worse now. I went through a pretty difficult social situation earlier, where I met a friend of a friend at a museum. I’m proud of myself for going but like always it didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to go. I didn’t live up to my standards.

I felt out of place because I didn’t know what to say most of the time. The conversations felt forced, and I tried opening up, but that too felt forced. I tried so hard to connect with this person that I think I probably came across as desperate or, infinitely worse, socially inept. I kept asking myself, Can he tell that I’m anxious? What does he think of me? And the same voice answered: Of course he can tell. How could he not? He thinks you’re anxious, nervous and boring. You are unpleasant to be around.

We left the museum after an hour to go eat, and at the restaurant we sat in front of a mirror and I kept checking my expression. I looked terrible. My face looked tense and tired. I looked exactly how I felt on the inside.

Finally, on the way back to the museum, he bailed at the last minute, claiming he had to clean his apartment, by running toward a bus without even saying a proper goodbye. This confirmed my suspicions: I am shit. In the end, I feel sorry for him–that he had to hang out with me. I wish I didn’t disappoint everyone who comes in contact with me.

And now my weekend is total crap, and it was going so well. I avoided a binge last night and went running for an hour earlier today. I feel really depressed, even worse than last night.

I’m going to drink the pain away tonight.

And the same voice answeredever

Poland, part 2; or: the socially anxious traveler

This post is a continuation of Poland, part 1….

While studying in Poland, I traveled extensively throughout Europe not only to see other parts of the world, but also to get away from the other Americans. Again, I had high hopes when I returned to Poland after I fled back to the states–expectations that I couldn’t live up to. The second I got off the airplane I knew things wouldn’t be different. I wouldn’t connect with anyone or fit in or feel comfortable–and I didn’t. And so, I spent as much time away as I could.

I’d now like to document my travels, which I should have done a long time ago ..

BEFORE POLAND

New York City (January 7th-11th, 2006)

I had a blast in New York. In fact, I had such a good time, I ended up moving there a year later. We (my ex-girlfriend and I) stayed in a YMCA hostel near Times Square for a night, but after getting no sleep, because of the extremely loud steam heating system, we moved to a hotel (also near Times Square).

Unfortunately, most of the pictures taken either have me and/or my girlfriend in them. So I can’t post them.

On liberty island, looking toward Manhattan.

Watching a band at CBGB who described themselves as Radiohead meets Pink Floyd. They turned out to be nothing like that. It was still cool, and I’m glad I went because the club closed later that year.

London (January 12th-14th)

After New York, we flew to London. I don’t think I saw the sun once, which somewhat prepared me for the weather here in San Francisco.

Buckingham Palace

Dali Museum

Tube

Big Ben

Paris (January 15th-18th)

Paris was/is definitely one of my favorite cities. Again, I didn’t see the sun or sky, but the wonderful architecture made up for it. I also fell in love with crepes and nutella–and nutella on crepes.

Arc de Triomphe

Madrid (January 19th-23rd )

Next up was Madrid. I honestly didn’t care for the city (aside for the Prado Museum), but that could be because I was starting to get a bit burned out. I did get some sun, though. These pictures are of no significance ..

Rome (January 24th-27th)

I got sick the first day in Rome. I didn’t really enjoy the city. If I wasn’t sick and was Catholic I probably would have enjoyed it more. I’ll make a mental note of that in case I ever go back.

Vatican Museum

Ancient ruins

Colosseum

DURING MY TIME IN POLAND

Budapest (February 10th-12th)

So, as I said in my previous post, my first few weeks in Poland were hard–so hard, in fact, I had to go home. When I returned, a week later, all the Americans welcomed me back by feeding me shots of vodka. We all went out that night. I don’t remember much. In the morning I awoke to an angry girlfriend who said she was going to go to Budapest to visit her ex-boyfriend–who she dated when she lived in Hungary with her family on an exchange program–because I apparently did something stupid the night before. She wouldn’t say what exactly, and I was still a bit drunk so I didn’t care.

In retrospect, I don’t think I did anything–she was just looking for an excuse to see her ex-boyfriend.

Anyway, my girlfriend left, and I went back to sleep. I got up again a few hours later. Sober, I realized what had happened, and so I hightailed it to Budapest. I don’t remember much of the city because I honestly didn’t do much. I spent most of my time in a hotel, hungover.

Chain Bridge

Prague (March 9th-13th)

After Budapest I had a month of social hell–everything from attending classes to going on a pub crawl (and blacking out) to leaving my room to brush my teeth was very difficult. That said, Prague was an amazing city–one of my favorites, architecturally speaking. Oh, and we also got snowed in for a night.

Prague Castle

Red roof city

Drinking the pain away ..

Germany: Frankfurt and Heidelberg (March 24th-26th)

We flew on a discount airline (like $20 a ticket) from Warsaw to Frankfurt–a boring, ultra-modern city, I felt like I was in the financial district of NY–and then took a train to Heidelberg, a small college town in the south-west portion of the country. I enjoyed the city.

Skyscrapers in Frankfurt

Tree path in Frankfurt

Heidelberg–red roof city 2

Famous church in Heidelberg

Poznan, Poland (March 31st-April 2nd)

I don’t remember much of Poznan, aside for the excellent local beer from the bar at the hotel. I think we saw more of the bar than the actual city.

Old town square

Former Pope, John Paul II memorial (about 90% of
the population in Poland is Catholic)

Gdansk, Poland (April 7th-9th)

I also don’t remember much of Gdansk, namely because all the Americans went there together, as an organized group, and I had a terrible time. I think I’ve blocked most of it out. I remember three hour dinners each night, having to sit at a table with fifteen other people I didn’t connect with. I drank a lot.

Solidarity memorial

Bird flu

Hurghada, Egypt (April 15th to 22nd)

We spent spring break in Egypt. It was great–I got to forget all the horrible social interactions in Poland, and I even forgot I had to go back. We bought our tickets through a Polish travel agency and ended up staying at a Polish resort.

Red Sea

Trip to Giza / Cairo

Resort

Krakow, Poland (April 30th- May 5th)

Krakow. Another group trip. Another disaster.

Auschwitz

Jewish cemetary

Salt mine

Wawel Castle

Amsterdam (May 6th-10th)

Amsterdam was a nice break–got high, saw Radiohead.

Canals

More canals

Pot

Heineken Brewery

Thom Yorke

Brussels (May 12th to 14th)

I wasn’t planning on traveling that weekend, but I found out we had a group dinner, and so I picked the cheapest flight. I was very depressed in Brussels. There also wasn’t much to do. I spent most of my time in the hostel and only came out for a few meals of ice cream and waffles. I got so bored, I took a train back to Amsterdam and got really, really high.

Cool church

Arc de Triomphe

Random street

Manneken Pis

AFTER POLAND

Oslo, Norway (May 21st to 23rd, 28th to 29th)

Saying goodbye to everyone in Poland was difficult. Those who really made connections with people were crying. I just felt like an outsider, giving forced smiles and hugs. When I stepped on the plane, I felt an immediate release. I could escape again.

Norway was beautiful, but Oslo wasn’t so great–just another big city.

Harbor, round 1

Harbor, round 2

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Bergen, Norway (May 23rd to 28th)

Bergen, a city surrounded by beautiful fjords and seven mountains, was absolutely amazing. So beautiful, so wonderful. I wanted to learn the language and stay there forever.

Harbor

Mountains ..

.. fjords

Cool church

City

Alley

London (May 29th to 30th)

We had a layover in London before returning home. It was actually sunny, so I spent the day running around the city taking photos to make up for the gloomy photos from the first time around.

Big Ben

Big Ben, Westminster, London Eye

Colosseum