Fighting My Inner Voice

Fighting my Inner Voice

As I look back at my past relationship with food, I don’t believe I would have changed IF I had not gotten so sick with “hyperinsulinemia.” For those of you who don’t know what that “big word” means, it is pre-diabetes…insulin resistance and insulin overproduction. It is also called “Metabolic Syndrome” and “Syndrome X.”

I couldn’t care less about what it was called. I honestly didn’t know anything about it. I only knew what it felt like and it was very frightening. Throughout my life I had anxiety attacks, never realizing the reasons behind it. “Hyperinsulinemia” isn’t something that happens one time. It happens over time, and symptoms can last for decades. Sometimes they speed up depending on family medical history and personal dieting history, as well as exercise history, but other times they happen “on occasion” when certain foods are eaten out of balance or food timings are out of whack. I had no idea about any of this. All I knew was that I was a compulsive, out of balance eater, preferring to snack and not eat regular meals. I delighted in bingeing, but unlike some who binge, I did not usually eat large portions of foods. I did, however, eat continuously….a bite here and a bite there. I had no idea what kind of impact this had on my pancreas, liver and other organs in my body. I was blind to all of this….unfortunately.

Waking up to the truth was a frightening experience. I didn’t trust myself to be able to control my relationship with food. Food was my answer to all stress….it was my major release tool AND it was deeply embedded in my subconscious mind along with the behaviors/habits that accompanied it. To make matters worse, I had a high level of hyperinsulinemia which meant that I would have problems balancing the amount of food I needed in relation to my exercise and stress levels. Strangely enough, I needed a lot of food, but the right kinds and at the right time. All of this was foreign to me. Asking myself to change everything and keep the changes “in motion” was the base of my fear.

I always considered myself an intelligent, successful professional person….easy to get along with and fun-loving. While all of this was most likely true, there was another part of me that ran my life in a disorderly fashion. This was my addictive self. Through the decades of my life it was my best friend and set all the rules for managing whatever stress came along…and there was a lot of that.

I married at a young age, moved to Europe, had adjustment issues including being lonely and frightened. I answered the anxiety with sugar and carbohydrate foods, over-exercising and other compulsive activities. I was completely unaware of what was happening inside myself. The anxiety and depression, made worse by the hyperinsulinemia went undiagnosed for decades. This became my new normal as the decades moved along. My symptoms were seen as some sort of anxiety/neurosis. I turned to more secret eating, alcohol and prescription medications offered by doctors who strangely enough never asked me anything about my family or personal medical history or what I ate. There were always the usual questions about past surgeries, but nothing more.

When I came upon the information about hyperinsulinemia I was blown out of the water. I was happy and horrified at the same time. I realized how much damage I had done, frightened that I wouldn’t be able to reverse it, and at the same time scared to death of that part of me that would not let me change. That part would rather kill me than help me. When I woke up to this reality I found myself frightened of ME. I remember the moment the revelation was brought to me….I must have sat for an hour in the chair before I could move into any sort of action. The fear was so huge that I was afraid to stand up and go anywhere. I didn’t know what to do. In a way, I was paralyzed.

Being afraid of “who I was” was an unraveling experience. I remember praying. I remember being freezing cold. After a while, I heard a little voice tell me to “move.” I stood up and found a piece of paper. I wrote some simple directions to follow….beginning rules. It was “as if” I had been sent to some sort of rehab hospital and needed to be told everything in a step-by-step manner. I knew there would be many rules, but I would be well again. This seemed to be certain, most likely an answer to my prayer. I felt some energy flow back into me, but not like in times past when I would decide to “diet” or start an exercise plan. This was a very different feeling. I felt like my tired body had been given a new spark plug, but it was going to take a long time to get completely well. My compulsive self had been replaced by a patient self that was willing to walk the path step by step along with “whoever” was leading me in those early moments.

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My Rebellious Self

INSIDE MY JOURNAL

I’m in the process of doing a “life review” for myself and have invited you to come along. My purpose is to introduce you to “self-reflection” and the power it has to heal deep wounds that often lie silently, but never dormant. They are deeply connected to addictions, eating disorders and keeping us at the “wishing well” instead of living the life we want to live.

My eating issues have been with me for decades. There have been times when I thought they were being managed, but to be honest there was never a day when I didn’t think about it. I wish I had all those minutes, hours, days and years back. I think about what I could have done with that time…but then again, I wouldn’t be doing the work I’ve done for the past four decades. In other words, I had to live through my experiences in order to serve others. Now, here we are in 2019 and I find myself still doing this.

Sometimes I think about stopping writing and teaching. Part of me wants to put all of this away. My thoughts tell me that “I’ve taken care of myself. I’ve done the self-reflection. I’ve walked the long road. I’ve fallen down. I’ve struggled to get up. I tended to my wounds and entered an easier way of living….one of health and self-management. So, I should just go home and enjoy my life. Right? “Not so fast,” says my thought processes.

I’m in the supermarket. I look around and feel that old desperation as I pass shelf after shelf of what I call “horror foods.” I notice people placing these in their shopping carts. My eyes travel to see who would do such a thing. I ask myself, “Don’t they know?” Boxes of crazy cereals…aisles of cookies and candy. Two aisles of soda and sweetened water. A complete aisle of bottles pretending to be juice. I notice the bakery is bigger than the vegetable department. “Where’s the fish,” I ask myself. A young man who stocks the shelves with the “horror foods” points me to an area no bigger than my walk-in closet. “There’s our fish department.” I walk over to find out that half of the offerings are not fish at all but artificial “fish” of some sort, mixed in containers with ingredients that include high fructose sugar.

I start looking in people’s carts….an old habit of mine. When I began my “recovery” I wouldn’t let myself check-out until I did a thorough review of what I had in my cart, just in case my “imbalanced child-self” had placed something in the cart while I wasn’t aware. Sound ridiculous? Well, I can’t tell you how many times I had to go and return items to the shelves. Why did I do this? That undisciplined part of me made up stories about why I should/could/will buy whatever she wanted. This was a part of my sickness….a part that was busy killing me, but here I was…assisting the killer and with an underpinning of dangerous laughter at “how I almost got away with it.”

Supermarkets and fast food restaurants, pizza delivery, and bakeries played a big part of my food nightmare. I could write my own version of “war and peace” on these subjects, so my heart goes out to others who just don’t know what’s happening. Food is like a drug. The more imbalanced eating becomes, the more one needs those “horror foods.” Getting free and balanced is a journey…one that excels all others in life. This is not an exaggeration, but one of the most serious truths one has to learn OR experience the consequences of deciding not to take it on.

As I go through my “life review”, my journals and my memory bank I’m horrified at what I’ve done to my mind and body. I would have to add “spirit” to this grouping because I was not acting responsibly in taking care of what is often referred to as one’s “temple.” I was not only NOT taking care of it, but I was also killing it. My rebellious child-self was in charge, and the responsible part of myself was not only under her power but needed what she demanded. My sickness went beyond food. I remember the night when I found myself bingeing on a pint of ice cream in the dark while watching a rerun of The Golden Girls. It was two o’clock in the morning. As I placed each spoonful in my mouth, I delighted at the sensation. In the background part of my self was telling me that I would want to throw up in the morning and I wouldn’t be able to eat breakfast. I would be sick most of the day and most likely have panic attacks. “So what,” answered the rebellious self. “I’m enjoying this, so leave me alone.”

Living with a disorderly eating self is a nightmare. What’s become more frightening to me is that there are even more people with these issues than ever before. As I look around and see not only the obesity

but the children and the number of medications needed in order to manage the precursors of the chronic and killer diseases, I know that I cannot just “go home and relax.” My Higher Self will not allow me to do this.

So…OK…here I am. I’m opening my “truth” through my journal and path of recovery, sharing once more. I know the task is impossible. Perhaps little will change from my endeavors, but I cannot just “go home.” If only one person or one child is helped by what I’ve learned, then I’ve done what I’ve promised to do. When I prayed so many years ago, asking for answers to my illness, I promised to teach others. This was a commitment.

Anatomy of an Eating Disorder

For 2019 I’ve decided to dedicate my blog on publishersmarketplace.com to address the “anatomy of eating disorders”, and the tangents that connect to any type of disorderly eating. These can be addiction related, cognitive, and disease-related.

Unfortunately, most of us walk this dangerous path. While we may not have blown-out eating disorders, my clinical experience, as well as my observations throughout the years have made this clear. You just have to open your eyes and look at the number of people who are overweight, obese, even thin, but eating in unhealthy ways. The diet industry makes this worse.

This is a very personal issue for me. I’ve been a disorderly and compulsive/emotional eater for my entire life….well, at least from the age of three. Yes, I do know the “ins and outs” of the entire spectrum. You might say I’m a personal expert at this.

The seriousness of my eating disorder was a gift. It brought me straight into the fray…as I mentioned earlier, I was knocking at the door of adult-onset diabetes, but that was not all. The anxiety and panic from food stress was making me a prisoner of my life. As a knowledgeable medical professional, I did know that something was very wrong with me, but I didn’t know exactly what that was and no physician properly diagnosed me, nor “asked the right questions.”

THE THERAPEUTIC SELF VERSUS THE UNDISCIPLINED CHILD-SELF

When it became clear to me that I was “on my own” with all of my symptoms, I decided to consider myself “my own patient.” I was always good at getting to the bottom of things when it had to do with my patients and their care plans, so now I had to do this for myself.

When a problem is multi-faceted like most nursing diagnoses, the nurse makes a care plan for all areas. This means asking lots of questions and doing thorough research on the presenting symptoms. I decided to begin my work with a journal and some meditative techniques. I needed a place to go to “center.” Remember, my cognition or mind was as sick as my eating issues, so the beginning was rocky. I had to call on my “Therapeutic” Self to lead the charge and begin the discipline of my very undisciplined child-self.

Getting to know oneself deeply is both interesting and frightening. I kept thinking of the movie “The Exorcist.” Coming face to face with this part of myself was perhaps the most difficult challenge. It’s important to understand that an eating disorder is not only about the food. It has many tangents, it’s own history and anatomy. There is a part, however, that is about the food, but often not in the way one thinks. There are genetic factors to be considered, as well as the damage already present from the over-production of insulin and what is called insulin resistance. There is the amount of fat that has been stored, as well as the small lean body mass that has been slowly destroyed over the years. All of these tangents need exploration, then discipline and motivation of that “undisciplined child-self.”

The level of the task depends on the history of the patient, in this case myself, and how strongly the negative habits have been engraved into the subconscious mind. My background is in Oncology and Medical Hypnotherapy. I decided to treat myself “as if” I was a seriously ill patient, which I was. The Therapeutic part of me had to stay grounded, ready to explore and study the dark recesses of the “anatomy of my eating disorder.” The journey was going to be both arduous and exciting.

I wish I could say that the undisciplined part of me was going to fall into line easily, but that was not to be the case. I was about to become my most difficult patient EVER. MOTIVATION… Besides exploring anatomy, I had to design motivation right from the beginning. No one moves into change without some sort of motivation.

There are two sides to the “motivation coin.” There is positive motivation meaning that one goes towards what one wants. This is where “desire” comes into play. Then there is negative motivation, mainly based on FEAR.

I remember clearly my very first day of walking onto my new path. My undisciplined child-self was walking alongside of me, not keen on any of this. She had been watching me closely, realizing that something was going to happen and she didn’t want any part of it. I could sense the resistance in my body and my thoughts were bouncing off the walls of my mind. Many I call the “yes-no” thoughts. Yes, I should do this, and no I should not do this. You are probably familiar with this way of thinking. It’s connected to what we know as “procrastination.” This is the Therapeutic Self arguing with the Undisciplined Self.

Recognizing this, I used a technique I taught my oncology patients over the years. It is part meditative, part imaginology or visualization. I describe this in depth in my books and on my mp3 programs. We ask the subconscious mind to “wake” us to the thought, and then we detach from it. This is a release tool that works well for thoughts as well as emotions and body sensations.

The best programs I have for this can be found on my websites. One program is called Becoming Aware and the other is Mental Biofeedback. The program for Thought Management also works well. It’s imperative to release or re-edit thoughts that are negative-habitual, especially those that have been hanging out in the subconscious mind for decades.

The Anatomy of the Eating Disorder helps to recognize where these originated. My early positive motivator was asking my Undisciplined Child-Self what it would not like to feel. The answer written in my journal was twofold. “I would like to be free of being tired and anxious.” Wow…now all I had to do was focus on a body/mind that was free of those. This is another hypnotic tool called “Interactive Self-Hypnosis.”

My negative-motivation was a spin-off of the positive-motivation. I “suggested” that not following the plan I was putting in place would cause an “increase in fatigue and anxiety.” Now, we were ready to implement the plan of change. Remember, we had to uncover the tangents, care for the Anatomy and the Physiology of the damaged body and also the mind programs. If you are new to my work, my mp3 Sessions are on my websites. . You can also find my ebooks on http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Bohorquez-RN/e/B009Q5YLTQ  The ebooks for disorderly eating are in four parts. If you have questions feel free to contact me.

Where to Begin…Always the Best Question!

WHERE TO BEGIN…

For some reason today I find myself inside my disorderly eating history. I questioned my journal, “why,” and the answer appeared, “because.” We learn from where we have been, and “for sure” I’ve been in a life of chaos from a very early age. The chaos was managed subconsciously by what is called an “eating disorder”, so…this is “why.”

We want to begin at the beginning. Sometimes we can identify when binge or a pattern of disorderly eating began. I mentioned that my first binge was around the age of three. This was the year my father died in an automobile accident. It was my third birthday. In those days family were waked from the home instead of a funeral parlor. I wasn’t allowed to see my father in his casket but instead was sent to the garden with a plastic bag filled with cookies.

My next memory was opening the forbidden door to the living room and walking over to the casket. I remember yelling and someone pulling me out of the room. It wasn’t my mother. She was in shock and remained that way for many years. This was the day I lost my childhood and became a caretaker. From that day forward my young life was filled with stress and fear.

I lost my oldest son in 2011. He was a rock climber. At the time of his death he was climbing in Colombia, South America. It took us six months to bring his remains home, but that story is for another blog post. My husband died three months ago. He had been ill for several years and I was his caretaker. So, it is no surprise that my eating disorder decided to stop in for a visit.

Very early on I found solace in food. No one paid any attention to what I was doing. I don’t remember ever being corrected. However, I was criticized by an Aunt who told me that “(I) you always have something in your mouth. You will grow up to be a fat pig.” I’m sure she meant to help me, but I can still remember the feeling that flowed through my body….guilt, and shame. From that day forward I began “secret eating.” I think I was four or five.

While food was my solace, I was also a very hungry child. This was true physical hunger. My mother took me to our family doctor when I was seven because of my appetite. I was not fat…just hungry. The doctor gave me three little boxes filled with pills….amphetamines. They were cute boxes like little matchboxes. The pills were different colors…red, green and yellow. Very appealing. I swallowed them before each meal but still continued to be hungry.

I don’t remember returning to the doctor. I simply didn’t eat in front of anyone. My mother saw the problem as “solved.” I share this because of the importance of a missed diagnosis. From the very beginning, I was sensitive to refined carbohydrates. These were my secret binge foods and they kept me “hungry.” I was a very active child, so I burned off the calories but needed more. This became my “circle of horror.” It was all a secret….that I never shared with anyone until many decades later when I finally understood what happened to me and what was still happening. I was lucky. I almost died.

You may not consider this luck, but the level of my illness from “food” and “disorderly eating” forced me to find out what was wrong with me OR perish. While this may sound like an exaggeration, it is not. As I became older, had children, and continued my food crazies, I found myself looking to alcohol and prescription medications to handle the anxiety….which was caused by the very things I was doing. My symptoms were as crazy as my eating. These included major fatigue, sleep disorder, pain throughout my body, dizziness, poor vision, instability, emotional roller-coaster rides, shakiness, etc. resulting in phobias that kept me paralyzed with fear of leaving the house. Doctors labeled me as “neurotic”, depressed, anxiety-prone, etc. Certainly, this was not a self-esteem builder! I truly feel compassion for that Self who survived so many years ago.

No one ever asked me what I ate or drank. No one asked about my lifestyle behaviors or how I handled stress. No one asked anything… For a time I believed them, but there was always a little voice inside of me telling me to “find the truth.” Through all of this, I was a mother, wife and registered nurse. I hid everything…including the crazy bingeing that was well out of control by this time. I knew I was killing myself, but I couldn’t stop.

By now I was bingeing everywhere. What I didn’t know was that my pancreas was over-producing insulin and I was nearing the door of adult-onset diabetes. I had serious hyperinsulinemia or reactive hypoglycemia. My secrets were going to kill me if I didn’t find the way back to sanity.

I remember stopping the car one day on my way home from work. I pulled to the side of the road and prayed. I bargained. “Show me the way and I’ll do whatever it is and then….I’ll spend the rest of my life helping others.” The answer came in a strange way the very next day. The information came to me explaining what had been happening over the years. But, the way back to food sanity was going to be a rough haul for me. I would have to change everything. Once again I was paralyzed with fear. “What if I couldn’t do it??” I felt the fear melting…it was a very strange sensation. I knew intuitively that help was on the way.

I was now on a quest and strangely enough, had to fight others in order to live my new life. This was unexpected…more than food and secrets had to change if I was to truly live the life I had been given.

Now, here I am in that dark place once again. It is part of my grieving process, but this time it is different. I have insight, knowledge, wisdom and power. I know how to care for myself. Eating disorders are not about food, but out of control habits that attempt to help us through rough passages.

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