The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building through giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience. It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some newer members of our community.
This post is by Brittany of Recovery By Ink.
Staying in the Present With Your Emotions
The purpose of this blog post is…
- To define staying in the present as it relates to emotions.
- To give examples of times we as addicts in recovery (whether that be from an eating disorder like myself or from drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, etc.) disconnect from the present, on purpose or by habit.
- To give ways in which we can stay out of the past and future and in the present with our emotions.
While reading the book, Eating in the Light of the Moon, I found a quote that resonated with me:
“ADDICTIONS REMOVE US FROM REALITIES WE FIND INTOLERABLE.”
This is absolutely true for ME! Maybe for you too? I think this is one of the quintessential things about those with addictions or certain mental health disorders- we want to get away from our lives, the world around us, even if that means sacrificing our own health and sadly, even sometimes our own lives.
I’ve had my eating disorder since elementary school and my behaviors were my coping skills. I had no idea at the time what I was doing or really that I was using them to escape. Hindsight is definitely 20/20. Now that that I’ve been in treatment more than once, I have discovered multiple reasons for my eating disorder- it is multifaceted- and you know what? It ALL stems around emotions, which create thoughts, which can create behaviors. If I am not present with my emotions in order to fully conceptualize and verbalize what is going on, then I am not going to recover.
Good thing I finally figured that out.
SO WHAT ABOUT THIS PRESENT I SPEAK OF?
The phrase ‘staying in the present’ can be interpreted in different ways, as it actually has multiple, yet fairly similar meanings in our society
I’m sure to the average person being present means to stay focused; to enjoy what’s going on around you; to not be an electronic zombie and ignore your family and friends, etc.
For those who meditate or practice mindfulness, staying in the present equates to being in the now– really purposefully focusing on one thing in the moment while pushing aside distractions and bringing yourself back to the present.
What I’m referring to for the purpose of this post is staying in the present with your emotions- with an eating disorder emphasis.
Why, pray tell, would someone want to be present-focused with their nemesis?!
I’m actually recently starting to figure this out for myself…..
- First, one HUGE downfall to having an eating disorder, or I’m sure any addiction, are the obsessive thoughts.
A thought about the past-
I keep making mistakes in my life; I’m such a failure. I’m not eating for a week- at least then I’ll be skinny.
A thought about the future-
Alex invited me to the pool on Saturday. I hate my body and am freaking out. Until then, I plan on working out at least x hours a day, doing x number of crunches before I go to bed, only eating x amount of calories a day, and going to get a colonic the day of. Then I’ll be fine.
If you have these negative thoughts and can stay present in the moment with them in order to define what emotion you are REALLY feeling, you’ll be better prepared to fight them.
Instead of perseverating about the past and letting it, I could have felt the emotion and then combatted the thought- I am feeling really embarrassed and upset; I may have made some mistakes, yet there is always today and tomorrow. I am going to stick with recovery because my mistakes don’t define me as a person.
In lieu of a negative thought about the future, which by the way, we cannot predict nor control, I could have thought, I am feeling anxious and worried about Saturday because I really like Alex and want him to like me as well; I think if I am not comfortable, I can wear a one-piece or tankini and still continue with my meal plan and not overdo the workouts and still go hang out with him while feeling good about myself.
- Next, we use our addictions and disorders to escape life and not feel.
I don’t know how many times I worked out x amount of minutes/hours in order to not go home or to not feel the feeling I didn’t want to feel.
I don’t know how many times I didn’t eat so that I could feel empty.
I know know how many times I purged so that I could pretend that I ate to look normal and then get it all out of me to make myself “feel” better.
BUT GUESS WHAT?
Not only did I feel better just temporarily, but I wasn’t able to ACTUALLY IDENTIFY THE REAL EMOTION AND FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL IT.
This is what is detrimental to those with eating disorders- we aren’t sitting with our emotions. We aren’t taking the time to pause and be present, identity the feeling, and feel the actual emotion.
Once we do this, we are able to think more deeply about what is really going on. It’s not about food. It’s not really that I’m nervous to go to the pool because I like Alex. There is something deeper going on and those things need to be established in order to fully recover. Until I was able to do that, I couldn’t have the appropriate therapy sessions that would target those emotions and reasons behind my ED.
- Lastly, (although I’m sure there are other points regarding this topic) we unfortunately avoid, run away from, and disconnect from things and people that we love and those who love and support us.
CRAZY, RIGHT? WHO WOULD DO THAT?
Well, I did. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…
I used my ED behaviors to not hang out with people, to avoid situations; to continue to do things my way and live in my comfort zone, to punish myself, and the list goes on and on. Who wants to live that like? I sure don’t…any longer!
HOW DOES LIFE KICK ASS NOW THAT I CAN LIVE IN THE PRESENT WITH MY EMOTIONS (FOR THE MOST PART)!
- I am mostly behavior-FREE, which has NEVER happened, because I am able to finally pause, define the behavior and thought, and do something about it that is positive.
- I have been able to feel emotions I haven’t felt in forever.
- I discovered another reason for my ED, which I wasn’t aware of prior to treatment; that shows how much opening yourself up and being introspective will do.
- I have SOOOOOO much more time to do things I really want to do!! It’s so much fun!
- I’m hanging out with my friends and family more. 💙
- I am now more vulnerable…in a positive way.
- I realized that my soon-to-be-ex husband does not need to be in my life any longer.
- I have discovered new hobbies and have revisited old hobbies.
- I stand up for my needs, my health, and my mental health.
- My self-care time can actually happen.
- I’ve discovered new ways to move my body rather than extreme exercise.
- And I can’t wait to find new ways to live without ED!
I’m ending on another great quote from Eating in the Light of the Moon:
“DISCOVER THE PRESENCE OF THE REAL HUNGER THAT UNDERLIES THE DISORDER.”
I’m continuing to do this; recovery is a process.
If you have read this post and have any ways in which you stay present with your emotions or even have any tips or advice for those battling addiction or a mean to a health disorder- please feel free to leave a comment! 😄
UNTIL NEXT TIME, FOLKS!
You can find Brittany on her blog Recovery By Ink.
Thanks so much Brittany for participating in the emerging blogger series!
You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series here.
Do you want to be the next emerging blogger?
- personal blog focused primarily on mental health and illness
- relatively new blogger, with WordPress following <100 preferred
Interested? If you fit the criteria above:
- email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com
- let me know the topic you’d like to write about and include your blog name/URL