Yesterday was a really good day. I started off by taking all my pills (Zoloft, a little Clonozapam to help with my initial anxiety, Vitamin B and then a One a Day Women’s Vitamin pill). I was able to eat breakfast with only a minor bit of anxiety (1 on the scale) and then surprisingly at noon I was hungry. I ate lunch until I felt full and then surprisingly again I wanted to eat more later, so I had a few snacks. Then when I got home I was hungry for dinner and ate right away. I was so excited that I had an appetite and I was able to eat. It was a good day.
This morning was not so good. I think that subconsciously I wanted it to be as good a day as yesterday. I started off by taking my pills and started to eat a banana. I could feel the anxiety growing past 1 to 2, to 3 maybe even 4 (See Anxiety Scale Post for more info). I tried listening to my positive affirmations and that seemed to only make me think about it more so I stopped. I tried breathing but I couldn’t get a deep breath from my stomach. I was breathing pretty fast and high in my chest. I retreated to the bathroom where I tried to think through my situation. I thought to myself “What am I saying to make me feel this way?” I returned to my desk and got out my journal to help me figure it out and I responded, “I have to eat breakfast, I have to improve, I have to have a good day like yesterday. I have to stop feeling this way.” The Perfectionist was shining through all mean and demanding and ugly.
So I questioned the worst case scenario- “What if I got sick? What if I couldn’t eat breakfast or lunch or had no appetite? What if I stopped improving?” I responded with, “So what! So I get sick. So I skip breakfast. So I wait until my body tells me it’s hungry instead of forcing food down it. So what if the day isn’t perfect. Life will go on, I will go on. Then I focused on one of my positive counterstatements, “There’s no need to push myself.” I read them over and over from my journal but my mind was still racing and it really wasn’t doing anything. So I got a scrap piece of paper and started writing the affirmation out- in cursive. “There’s no need to push myself. I can take as small a step forward as I choose.” Still, the cursive was to fast. And the word forward was bothering me because it was making me feel bad that I wasn’t necessarily moving forward. So I took that one out and I made myself print each letter and read it as I went. “There is no need to push myself” until I had written it out ten times on the piece of paper. Then I could feel my heart slowing down and I started to believe it.
It also might have something to do with the fact that its pizza day. That’s when the whole company gets pizza for lunch. It always makes me anxious just going up and assembling around the pizza and having to pile my plate. I usually bring it back down to my desk to eat it. Which is what I will do today but I think there is some anticipatory anxiety there as well. So I have about an hour before the pizza comes. While I am in a calmer state right now I am going to prepare myself for the event. What am I telling myself that is making me a little anxious about getting pizza? “What if someone comments that I am not taking enough food? What if someone wants me to eat with them? What if I can’t eat it because I feel sick? What if…?”
Ahh so it’s the Worrier now, making me so upset over something that hasn’t even happened.
Ok so now I will respond to these worries. “If someone comments that I am not eating enough or taking enough food, so what! I can tell them that I am not very hungry and not worry about what their reaction might be. If they pass judgment on me what’s the worst that could happen? People are going to not like me or think ill of me no matter how “perfect” I might try to be. So I should stop trying to please them and do what I want, because I’m the one that has to eat it.” “If someone wants me to eat with them I will if I am calm, but if I feel anxious I will politely say, ‘I have a lot of work to do so I need to get back to my desk,’ or I can be honest like my therapist said and say something like, ‘You know, its weird but I tend to lose my appetite when I am eating around others, so I can come and sit with you but I might not eat very much.’ And it might sound awkward but what’s the worst that could happen? They could again pass judgment on me but I have to learn that it’s their problem if they think ill of me, not mine and that I am being me which is the most important thing!” “If I feel sick and I don’t want to eat, than don’t eat. My body will tell me when it is hungry and there is no need to push myself. I can take pizza down to my desk and put it in the fridge for later when I am feeling better.
In going along with this theme I have stopped counting calories and weighing myself until I am more comfortable with eating in general so it won't aggravate the Perfectionist! Its been tough, I pass the scale a couple times and want to but I tell myself no, no good will come of that now, I am not ready for that step yet.
The important thing to remember right now is that I am already worthy as a person and I don’t have to prove my worth to people. I am already OK just the way I am. And the counter statement I want to focus on the most today is “There is no need to push myself.” I think I might make it somehow visible in my cube where I can see it as a daily reminder to myself.The exciting thing about today is that I successfully managed an anxiety attack before I let it get out of control. I was able to use the coping skills I have been learning about in the book Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Bourne which is a sign of hope and progress in itself- a different kind of progress from yesterday.