I made it to 3pm, my cutoff time for taking the stimulant. Hooray! In the meanwhile, I distracted myself, and the pervasive food thoughts emerged. I scrolled through probably 15 restaurant menus. However, as soon as I landed upon something I “wanted” the hunger pull subsided. It was then I realized I was not truly hungry.
Consider this: Have you ever felt an irritation that drove you to drive to the grocery store or restaurant/cafe, and once you set foot in the building, that irritation subsided?
When “the bully” in my mind was vanquished for stimulants, I did not feel a tangible reward come over me. Perhaps this is where food kicks in. Food is packaged to be appealing, the smells of a restaurant overtaking, and the boost from a coffee recognized immediately. Food, therefore, is a chase and accomplishment you know you can win. It is like a guaranteed smile from your favorite movie; a nice wrapped up story that you know the beginning, middle, and end. In this case, food is the plot and the hero is you. Once your story is over, or for me, when the chase is over, the reward/prize is gone, yet the longing remains. If you overindulged, then you find yourself to be the villain. Once again, the longing to be a hero again sets off another story and you may find yourself in a binge.
Change the chase:
- Make a list of what you need/want to do today
- Even if you do not want to force yourself to do the easiest one first. Perhaps it’s 20 lunges.
- Once you’ve done that, take at least 10 seconds to thank yourself with a physical, engaging movement; whether it be a fist in the air and saying “oh yeah!” or physically patting yourself on the back. The point is make it palpable.
- I like to have a physical list that I get to check off, though to some, seeing a physical “To Do” list may give you anxiety. So, if you want one that is less on your mind, there are apps such as Wunderlist where the completed tasks vanish after completion.
- Lastly, do not forget the fact we are social creatures and isolation is where our fearful thoughts thrive, if you have nothing to do today, send a text of appreciation to someone you know. It could be as short as “Hope you’re having a great day!” the point is not to wait for a thank you or response, it is knowing that if nothing else you showed someone you cared today, and that is a admirable.
Today, what’s on the top of my mind is taking my ADHD medication. I know if I can make it to 3pm, I will not take it. I have removed my means of escape: ambien, so if I take it after 3pm, I will face a sleepless or restless night.
Arguments my brain is posing:
- You’re going to cave any ways.
- You need to take it to get anything done.
- It will assist you with your food cravings.
- No one will notice or care if you do take it.
- All of your successful friends takes it.
- You are not good enough to not take it.
- You can handle the effects, you are smart enough to mitigate the side effects.
- It’s not actually that bad of a substance, you’re just OCD.
- You’ll have no excuse to avoid the gym due to heart rate elevation if you do not take it.
- You’ll have a higher metabolism if you take it.
This negative brain chatter I might have consciously noticed 1 to 3 of them, but it took writing the thoughts down to really become aware of these arguments. When a craving hits, write down all the reasons your mind is consciously or subconsciously telling you. It is okay if you are not sure every reason it is lobbing at you. With time, you will become more and more acutely sensitized to the messages pulling you towards a substance.
After you write down these arguments, replace the messages with messages of strength of the transformed you that you outlined in Blog 2.
- I have made it 6 hours today without needing/caving. Even if it takes just saying no 5 minutes at a time, I know I can get to 3pm.
- If I split my time up and have conscious thought into my activities, I can get many things done, albeit if I do not conquer all, I will not hate myself, as I did the best I could.
- I should not ignore my food cravings as they are indicative of needs.
- I will notice and I care.
- My will is not dictated by what my friends do.
- I am made of the same atoms and molecules every human is composed of, I am deserving of a free life as much as any human is.
- I should not have to “handle” any effects
- If it was not that bad for me, then I would not have any cognitive dissonance when I take it.
- Great, the gym is good for me.
- Higher metabolism without exercise means negative cardiovascular side effects, denaturing of proteins with elevated body temperatures thus losing muscle, and rebound slow metabolism post.
After writing this out, I already feel much calmer and more confident in my abilities. This is not to say the craving is 100% gone, but I no longer feel weak. Try it out and tell me if it’s worked for you.
*Picture significance: the cloud over my head is manufactured of my own dampening thoughts and not indicative of the true nature inside
In order to transform, it is helpful to have an idea of what you want to transform to.
In my case, my transformative me would include:
- 0 nicotine consumption
- 0 prescription drug consumption, while not losing productivity
- energy during the day, ability to sleep at night
- a fit body
- healthitarian relationship with food, that does not display obsessive thought patterns
- an attitude which seeks to avoid pain by creativity, instead of numbing activities
- a total absence of fear
The last 2 bullets are tools and perception changes that are the basis of getting to where I want to be, and are universal for humans. I did not get to this thesis easily, as my first reaction was that fear was useful. Fight or flight evolved to serve humans. If I am not fearful, how would I know not to run away from a murderer. Fear is what keeps you from getting you murdered in all those horror movies!
Fear is stimulating, there is no doubt in me to that. However, acting defensively causes me to reach for the closest desensitizing object I can get my hands on. Whether it be food, chemicals, or even tv. This is not solving the source of fear. And to my horror movie thought, ignoring the fact it is a movie, is it really fear that saves those characters? It is logic and action. Fear may be the stimulus, but logic and action are the rewarding response.
Lately, one of my biggest fears is not being productive. I’ve caught myself thinking several hundred times today: “I will be more productive if I had _________.” For today, I have decided to conquer this fear with time management. It seems impossible to come up with a new diet plan for my new job, work, socialize, work out, complete errands, and relax, and I am tempted to throw my hands up in the air and reach for my ADHD meds to complete the tasks, or the vaporizer “to reduce stress” or a snack to produce energy. I decided instead to split my tasks up. For the work task, I decided I can complete it at least 20 minutes at a time. If I felt like I could keep going then I would. I ended up completing half of it in an hour straight. By the time I felt, “that’s enough this is excruciating” I was amazed an hour had already passed. My fear that I can not work on the same activity to the point of completion was vanquished. I continued with other errands then came back to it. The rest of it did require 20 minute sessions. However, it got done. And that’s all accomplishment really is, multiple completions til the end result is a work that is greater than the sum of its parts.
A fear I am experiencing right now is insomnia. The urge is to take a prescribed ambien. Perhaps me neglecting this desire is the intrinsic reward if someone reads this and is helped.