Reflections – Food as a Weapon

I’ve been working with Ginger Vieira for about four months now, and I feel like I’m making some very important internal progress.  It is slow going, but many of these things can’t be forced or rushed.

With Ginger’s background on exercise training, combined with her incredible accomplishments, it’s easy to think that her “Living In Progress” coaching is all about exercise and fitness.  But Ginger is gifted in many more areas.  In fact, two-thirds of the goals we are working on are not exercise related at all.

Scott’s Goals:
1) Make exercise something I can stick with
– I’ll be taking my magical medicine.
2) Create a balanced diet that works for me
– Eat healthy = feel healthy!
3) I want to be more accurate with my insulin dosing
– I will be more balanced

Sweeping Away The Fluff
Goals 2 & 3 are more closely linked than I thought, which makes sense.  A lot of my inaccurate and sloppy insulin dosing comes from decisions I’m making (or not making) around food.

Ginger and I came up with a handful of very logical homework assignments for me to work on between our weekly calls, but I kept coming up with excuses and not finishing them.  The assignments were very simple, such as logging my food for two days (only TWO DAYS, anyone can do that!), or writing down and testing my insulin to carb ratio for one meal.  All very logical tasks, and not difficult.  But I kept not doing them.  So we looked at that.  I give myself a lot of credit for digging, and not just doing my homework for Ginger’s benefit.

It came down to those tasks feeling very meaningless.  There was something deeper underneath all of that “fluff”.   I felt like I needed to sweep all of that crap out of the way and dig deeper.

But I was scared.  I was intimidated by the thought of how much work it would take to get through it all, and I was intimidated by the changes I might need to make.  But I felt so comfortable with Ginger, and we have uncovered many things about myself, that to keep going felt right.  I wanted to shine the light into those dark corners of my mind and scrape away at the layers and layers of defense mechanisms I have built up over the years.

Anger Around Food
So we looked a little deeper.  I found anger.  Anger around food, and all of the work that I have to do around food.  It is an incredible amount of work to accurately count everything that goes into my mouth, and I’m mad about that.  But who am I to think I shouldn’t have to do that?  Who do I think I am to feel I shouldn’t need to take responsibility for what I eat and what it does to me?  Diabetes requires that work.  It is not optional.

We worked with that anger for a couple of weeks.  It felt like a real issue, at first anyway.  I felt like we hit on something that really carried some weight.  Weight that would be equaled and outweighed by benefit once worked through.  But as we looked at it, it started to crumble apart, like layers before it have.

jbI have a mental picture of these defense layers the mind builds.  The irony of my mental image is awesome, considering this is all about diabetes.  My mental image is “The Jawbreaker”, or “Everlasting Gobstopper” candy.  Layer and layer of candy.  If you were to lick one spot for a thousand years, you’d see all of the different colored layers as the candy is worn away.  Much like the different defensive mechanisms in my brain.

As that layer of anger crumbled away I found self-destructive behavior.  I found food as a sharp edged weapon that I use to hurt myself and escape the pain I feel around diabetes.  I don’t know exactly what it looks like yet, and maybe it’s just another layer of candy surrounding the real issue, but I know I need to look at it.  I need to shine the light into that dark corner and clean it out.  It is scary work, I’m terrified and intimidated, and afraid of what I might find.  But I’m nearing the point where I’m more afraid to let the behavior continue.

Why do I care?  I’m not in a good place, and I’m not doing everything I can to manage my diabetes, yet I am quick to point at out of control blood sugars and blame diabetes.  Under the surface I am not happy with myself about it.  I feel that I need to get this sorted in order to really be at peace with myself and accept diabetes as part of my life.

It is scary for me to share all of this.  I’m opening some of my deepest thoughts and fears to the world.  One of the reasons I started blogging is because the exercise of putting words onto these vague thoughts and feelings helps me.  It’s so damn selfish.  I need it.

This work is slow and hard.  When I’m ready I will post more about this and whatever new discoveries come from it.  In the meantime, thank you for giving me a safe place to explore my thoughts and feelings.

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, and advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer.

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…