Technology is no doubt distracting. Our phones are constantly buzzing with notifications, and apps are vying for our attention so they can increase their revenue from advertisers. Shows are increasingly binge-worthy, video games have evolved to the graphical fidelity of live-action films, and the endless sea of content gets larger and larger each day. For people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), who already struggle to focus, the engrossing pull of technology is all the stronger.
When I drive through the familiar streets of my hometown, I experience a sharp realization that time is passing. My family is older, hair is thinning and greying. My friends have moved to different cities or states. I notice I feel completely differently about my life and my future compared to when I was growing up with an eating disorder. My experience with eating disorders, and specifically binge eating disorder (BED), used to suck the vitality out of my life and leave behind a rigid pattern of living that made me dread my future.
I am a relatively healthy person, apart from having anxiety and the physical symptoms associated with it. I'm lucky. Like a lot of people, I take my physical health for granted. Sure, I try to eat right and exercise almost daily, but on the whole, I go about my days, assuming my health will continue to serve me as it has. Very recently, however, I heard from my doctor that I need a special test where cancer is suspected. Managing my anxiety while waiting for my upcoming appointment has become my latest challenge.
Do you know the feeling when you successfully book your flight tickets and accommodation for a vacation? No, not the feeling of excitement. An uncertain feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you something might go wrong on the trip-- anxiety.
Boundaries are one area in my life that I wish I was better at. I have trouble completely putting myself first, even if it becomes a detriment to myself, especially my mental wellbeing. It dawned on me though that I have set boundaries before. While I had thought I didn’t really have any, I do have boundaries I’ve set up to protect my mental health. The reason I’ve never really thought of them in that light is because I’ve struggled with feeling like a bad person by doing so.
Distraction from bipolar symptoms is something I rely on as a coping skill. In fact, it's pretty much an everyday coping skill for me. Bipolar symptom distraction may sound overly simplistic, and sometimes it is (although, not always), but sometimes the simple things just work.
This is going to be another one of those posts that doesn't have any easy answers. I've realized that many of my mental health issues are ones that don't have simple fixes, and that sometimes, the best I can do is think out loud to at least attempt to get a better understanding of what I need for myself. I hope all who read will allow me the indulgence.
I never really had a hobby, per se. I married young and had three kids. That, plus a full-time job, left little time for me, let alone hobbies. I write—this blog, for instance—and read, but I don't consider either of these hobbies. As a creative outlet, and with the hope that I could channel my thoughts and energy into something that wasn't all about my trauma and residual anxieties, I decided it was time to pursue a hobby.
If you had asked me a year ago to describe someone suffering from depression, I would have given you a generic and straight-up basic answer. My response would have gone something like this: A depressed individual--versus an individual who is currently battling depression--is sad and doesn’t enjoy pleasures that were once joyful. I’ll be honest, my answer is not incorrect, but I can’t seem to shake the hint of judgment in my tone birthed from ignorance towards depression that I had at the time. I would even go as far as to say that I had an unconscious bias towards the illness and mental health issues in general; little did I know, depression, like people, comes in all shapes and sizes.
In a previous blog post, I illustrated how I combat harmful thoughts about food. Now I want to take this a step further and examine how I recalibrate behaviors around eating. These days, I have a healthier relationship with food than I ever thought possible. I attribute much of this transformation to a framework called intuitive eating—and the decision to make a peace treaty with food as part of my eating disorder recovery.