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Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Evolution: How Six Weeks Turned Into A Lifetime, Ep. 5

I'll start by apologizing for missing a week (or two?) with these Evolution posts - my journey got a little tricky over the last ten days or so, so I had to back off and focus on me a little. The good news is, I managed to put a bit of my nervous energy into my second book as well as my music. Now I'm closing in on 40K words (20K to go!) and I've got a ton of lyrics to play around with this weekend. But I realized yesterday that something was definitely missing - I forgot/neglected to share some of the finer points with you. A couple of you mentioned that my writing these posts meant something to you, because it helped remind you that you weren't the only one feeling these things. I'm happy that these posts help you too, because they've been truly cathartic for me. 

Last week, I cried - a lot. I questioned my ability to see this through, and I questioned my ability to change. I spent ten days feeling so anxious that I felt like one of those rubber band propellers, wound tightly enough to snap. Worst of all, for me anyway, is that I was afraid to eat. I just said it out loud to process it better - I was afraid to eat. I'll tell you why. 

No more than a year ago, I dealt with stress, depression & anxiety by eating. And before that, I combined all of that eating with cigarettes and hard liquor. My drugs of choice (food, drink, smokes) were easy to come by. In comparison to the food, dropping the cigarettes was easy. Controlling my alcohol intake was easy. Food? I've realized in the last year that it's been my biggest crutch. Cooking and Baking have always sent me to a Zen place - feeding people and stuffing my face a long with them did the same. And it was all easy to come by: macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes (my recipe was such that, for a long time, I was convinced that I could live off of this alone), brownies, cupcakes (Elvis Cupcakes. I cultivated the recipe myself - what the hell was I thinking?)... the twisted shit was that I was not only addicted, but I've always been everyone's supplier (my own included). Whenever I was stressed, sad, or even lonely - I'd tie off a vein and inject. Food is my drug of choice. I've always known that I have an addictive personality, and I spent so long trying to avoid hard narcotics that I didn't think that my most volatile relationship would be with food. 

Now, last week things piled up on me (as they tend to do for us all) and I pretty much went sh*thouse.  And when I didn't turn to food for comfort and medication and numbness, I started to crumble. Things I hadn't felt since my teens and early twenties came rushing back. I definitely wasn't expecting it; I was certain that last Tuesday was going to be the day I gave up. 

Here's where lights and bells and whistles go off in my head: I didn't! I didn't do any of the thing I thought for sure I wanted to do to dull the pain. Among the nicer things were: 
  • Bake and scarf a tray of my homemade Salted Caramel Brownies while binge watching Diane Keaton movies. 
  • Walk directly into a Dunkin' Donuts and order the Sundae of Death: A glazed donut beneath a pile of peanut butter cup ice cream and topped with whipped cream and caramel.
  • Cook an entire box of spaghetti, whip up a batch of Gran's red sauce with meatballs and proceed to only spread the whole damn thing out over two meals along with a bottle of vino.  
What did I do instead? I let myself cry. I put on my coziest hoodie, tied my hair up in a messy bun (I call it my 'sleepy hair') and got under the covers. And I slept it off. When I woke up, I brushed my teeth and told myself that I'm better than the anxiety that threatens to control me most days. And, wouldn't you know it, I came out of it. Were my nerves a little frayed for a couple of days after? Sure. But I count this as a victory, only because I know it could've gone so differently if I'd let it.

I'm sharing this story with you guys because it really is a win for me. For people who suffer with depression and anxiety, triggers exist everywhere: at work, at home, on the street. A huge part of the fight lies in not letting all of that negative energy control us body and mind. When we let it win, we fail to reach our true potential. It's important to remember that, when all is said and done, we are only what we allow ourselves to be.

I am in no way making a sweeping declaration that I'll never have a meltdown again, and I'm certainly not making light of what you or I go through - I know just as well as you do that all things are easier said than done. I've been there and, the truth is, I'm still there. Fighting to break the cycle, fighting to believe that I'm more than my demons and dependencies. I can't let life swallow me up and I certainly won't face death with shouldas, couldas, or wouldas. I'm worth the fight - we all are. 

I ask myself every day: How? How do I keep going? How do any of us keep going?

I don't know babies. We just do. If you want more out of life, you have to help yourself. And, in my case, there's no need to medicate with food. I can save the treats for happier occasions: Birthdays, Babies, Weddings... cheat days. ;)

One day, I'll be in control of all of this. One day, I'll be able to say confidently that I "did it" - and then the road will continue onward as I make the rest of my life legendary. 

First things first - we evolve.



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