From the Doc’s Couch to Your Laptop

pd_therapy_070709_mnI 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?

14 thoughts on “From the Doc’s Couch to Your Laptop

  1. I am glad you made the decision to continue blogging. I certainly agree with dr. G, in that you should come to these conclusions and decision on your own. That is very similar to the way my therapist wants me to view things. Our therapists are working for US. So anything that positively impacts our lives is something they are going to be proponents of. In this case, it was not only the blog having a positive impact, but also the fact that you were able to decide to keep it on your own. Confidence and self-assurance!

    Have a great day!

  2. I think that was an excellent advice. It can sometimes be hard to step back and look at yourself through an objective view. That’s hard to do in most situations, especially when trying to improve self esteem/reduce anxiety/improve eating behaviors, etc. The more you do it, the more naturally it will start to come. Not only to see the progress, but take credit for it, because it is your own=)

  3. I’m glad you’ve decided to keep blogging for now as well. I often feel as though you say a lot of the things that I’m thinking, even though I’m obsessive about different things than you are. While you may obsess over missing a workout, I obsess if my meals that I cook don’t look nice enough!

    I think that keeping an objective view is very important, and as long as you can keep that and keep blogging, go for it!

  4. Thanks so much, ladies. The feedback she gave me was really helpful and the fact that I’m coming to the decision based on my own insight into how I think really helps. It’s empowering.

    I really like how she’s explaining how she’s treating me. It makes it all make sense. If that makes sense πŸ™‚

    LOL Mara — I eat such boring stuff compared to your beautiful dishes!

  5. It’s wonderful to read about someone whose therapist is doing CBT properly! I’m very glad I found your blog, and I hope you continue blogging.

    Yes, there are many textbooks and papers that describe dumbed-down approaches, trying to treat the “condition” while ignoring the person. That’s not how CBT was ever meant to be, and it doesn’t work well either.

    Now, how about persuading Dr. G. to start a blog of her own? πŸ˜‰

  6. I love the advice given by Dr. G.

    I think that is so interesting about how Dr. G doesn’t think you have an eating disorder. This has been on my mind a bit. I feel like my eating is disordered, but I question whether I have an eating disorder. I don’t think I have distorted view of body image. My question is, is the REASON for disordered eating the main way to determine if someone has an eating disorder? Because for you, anxiety was the main reason right? which is why Dr. G. says you don’t have an eating disorder.

    Hope this makes sense!

  7. Thanks CBTish πŸ™‚ I’ll make that suggestion to her πŸ™‚

    Hi Madison — it’s kind of a chicken-or-the-egg type question … she even told me chewing and spititng is anxious behavior, not clinical ED. (my physical health is not in danger from thinking about food a lot). She doesn’t think food is my problem — my anxiety issues just manifest themselves in food. The DE behaviors are coping mechanisms for anxiety. It’s really quite fascinating!

  8. πŸ™‚
    Your therapist reminds me of mine when i was seeing one. She had such a nice way to make me see things in other perspectives, and never related to food, because to her, i don’t have trouble with food, i’m just a very anxious young woman. And i have zero self-confidence in my choices or opinions. I’m still working on it, but sometimes, the anxiety is so strong that I can’t even get up in the morning and go to work.

    I’m glad you decide to continue blogging as well. It’s always a pleasure to read what you have in mind. I’ll always be a faithful reader πŸ™‚

  9. I think that is such great advice. I was in a program in High School called “Peer Facilitating,” in which we would “counsel” middle school and elementary students who were going through tough times in their lives. The most important thing I remember our teacher telling us was that we should NOT give the kids advice; no matter how much we wanted to. She explained that they needed to gain the confidence to make decisions on their own, at times when we weren’t there to counsel them. I’ve always held that with me….even though I’m incredibly indecisive and always ask for advice! πŸ™‚

    Not to be selfish, but I’m glad you will continue to blog. πŸ™‚ You always have such interesting topics, and I love to hear your thoughts as well as your readers’ thoughts!

  10. Hi Nikita — thank you, that means so much. And I hope over time your anxiety lessens, too!!

    What a great program, Holly! I used to blame it on being a Libra — being unable to make a decision and always seeing two sides of the same coin … but it was empowering being in my session last night.

    Aw thanks πŸ™‚ I love writing and I don’t want to bore my audience so if you have any topic ideas, I’m always here to listen πŸ™‚

  11. I also think she gave you great advice.

    And I do think blogging helps. Other people may think it is making you more obsessive, but really, all you are doing it writing out everything you were thinking before. They may not realize these thoughts have always been there.

    But what do I know. I am just a huge blogging supporter πŸ˜‰

  12. Thanks, Kilax! I hope that is the case … we’ll see what ’09 brings! And thank you! I love knowing the support I have cultivated here — for me, and for others. A “safe haven” of sorts.

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