I met with Dr. G. last night and shared with her my concerns about blogging, as well as those of my loved ones who voiced their concern that perhaps ithis outlet was fueling my obsession and hurting me, rather than helping me.
I shared that I got a variety of responses from my readers and loved ones, and how I wanted her opinion as a professional. If, as my therapist, she saw harm in it.
So she asked me if my chewing-and-spitting and midnight incidents had lessened since blogging, as this was the behavior we were initially working to change. (Yes — they still occur but far more infrequently than pre-blogging).
She asked me if I enjoy blogging. (Yes, absolutely).
And she asked me if I would miss it if I didn’t do it. (Yes, I think I would; I love to write).
She also asked what would happen if, say, I didn’t journal or blog, since I do still fear gaining weight. I said that since I know how to eat right and since I already exercise regularly, I probably wouldn’t gain … but also that I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the plunge to find out, especially since I’m above where I want to be to begin with.
So we didn’t do that systematic desensitization exercise (where I’d not journal for a day or something). What I like about Dr. G. is that she always has another method on tap if something isn’t going to fly; she always has multiple solutions.
(I ought to state up front that Dr. G. doesn’t think I have an eating disorder; everything we talk about leads to me using food or disordered eating habits as coping mechanisms for anxiety. She’s helping me understand how my brain works and why I feel the way I do).
She brought up something we’ve discussed before to put my concern about blogging as helping or hurting into context: that there’s the elegant cognitive behavioral therapy solution of assessing a patient (which looks at the patient from a more holistic view — where the patient acquires cognitive strategies for not only the present problem, but also prepares the patient for future challenges) and a text-book CBT (built off case studies and research applied to patients).
With me, she’s been using elegant CBT solutions, as she realized from the onset that I wasn’t really in therapy for eating issues so much as anxiety/perfectionism/OCD issues which run the gamut for a host of future challenges. Which meant that one size wouldn’t, naturally, fit all.
The way she sees it, what she wants me to get, most of all, from therapy is self-efficacy, self-confidence … to be at a place where I accept myself as I am, trust my own instincts and my own decisions, and don’t rely on others for feedback that what I’m doing is right or wrong. Because ultimately what’s right for me might not be right for you. But that doesn’t make it wrong.
So while textbook CBT for someone like me might say, “This woman should ditch the food journals and ditch the blog,” Dr. G. is looking at me and asking me to look inward and come to a conclusion myself, so I can use these decision-making skills in the future.
Sure our opinions can be influenced by others, as we often build consensus and choose the best possible option … but in reality, only I can be the judge of whether or not blogging is helping or hurting me — if it’s fueling my obsession or not.
Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but it made sense. I realized I need to trust myself more; I have good instincts. I know blogging makes me happy and is fulfilling; it keeps me thinking rationally, if aloud.
And maybe if I trusted myself more, I’d be more confident in my decisions — instead of weighing things out and drafting pro-con-con-pro lists and journal entries galore to solve a simple problem.
Looking at it as if I were my own friend, I’d say, “Wow, Melissa, you’ve cut back so much on your disordered eating behaviors. You’re learning coping mechanisms and new thought patterns. You have a huge audience of readers who really understand what you’re going through. You’re learning to accept your hardware. And you’re not talking about food or exercise as much anymore, even if you do write about it and think about it. You’ve learned to cut yourself some slack at the gym, and you (generally) enjoy meals out now. Plus, you’ve learned not to feel guilty for things that don’t warrant guilt.”
Daaaaayum! … Looking at it that way … I am definitely going to continue blogging. None of those are negatives; all have come from the combo of blogging and therapy. And I can credit myself and my amazing support network for my progress.
That said, I admitted to Dr. G. that some days I don’t have something brilliant to say, but that I still blog because I have cultivated an audience of readers and love the feedback, the dialogue we’re creating. I thrive off your comments whether we agree or disagree, because it causes me to reframe things or think of something in a new light, with new perspective.
So we talked about a little test to see if my behaviors become more or less obsessed without blogging. For example, if there’s a day I don’t feel like blogging, I won’t.
Will it make me anxious or more obsessed? Probably not. I enjoyed my time off from writing at Thanksgiving. But I don’t view it as a job or a chore; it’s a hobby, a passion. Some people blog about their fossil collections; I blog about food issues.)
Ultimately, it’s up to me. She doesn’t want me to fall into the vulnerable trap of worrying what everyone else thinks; I know myself best.
Who knows, maybe I’ll get to the point where I truly trust myself and my decisions, my judgment … and maybe the physical weight will come off as well as the emotional/psychological weight, along the way?
How about you? What do you think of Dr. G’s advice?