My mum was not great today, which happens regularly now especially as she enters the final stages of the progression of her illness. It’s upsetting to see her so damaged, and so vulnerable, and I realise that one of the ways I cope with the emotional effect of seeing my mum this way is to eat sugary food. Closely followed by a punishing exercise activity in order to ensure I don’t put on too much wait. I reckon in a normal day I may be eating as much as 3500 calories. It takes a ridiculous amount of work to keep so much sugar from turning into fat, but luckily I enjoy exercise. I love running, I love cycling, I love going to the gym. If it wasn’t for this, I would have been huge a long time ago, but it doesn’t change the fact, I eat for comfort when I am upset or stressed and I have done for a long time. I am damaging my health, and I am not enjoying it any more.
As I am about to leave mum’s care home I find it hard to say goodbye. She tells me that she gets scared at night and she has no idea why she is scared. This feels like a punch in the gut and I glance around the room at all the chocolate, cakes and biscuits and the thought crosses my mind, “fuck it, just pile into the sweets and sack going for a run tonight”. I tried to focus on the run, I have already changed into my running gear, I am 5 minutes from the loch were I go for a run, I tell myself I am only around an hour away from eating dinner with my wife, so I make a break for it, go to the car and drive 5 minutes to Hogganfield loch and go for a run.
I feel like I have learned so much today using the urge log, and in all honesty I never thought I would get anything from it. It’s something I am reticent to use with clients or service users because I think it’s a pain in the arse to complete, but I realise this is all just my stuff. I don’t use this tool because of my ideas about using the tool, and after using it I have nothing but good things to say about it.
How did the urge log help me?
- It acted as a distraction
- It bought me time to think
- It taught me about times when I am more likely to feel the urge to eat
- It taught me that I am way more affected by my mum’s illness than I previously thought, and my method of coping with the effects are not as healthy as I want them to be
- It taught me to drop my predisposed notions about what tools work and what tools don’t (I mean, who am I to judge what doesn’t work for another person? Ego??)
- It taught me that by changing my thoughts and understanding them better, I can change my behaviour
- It taught me I can do something I sometimes tell myself that I can’t do (eat shite food)
- It taught me I definitely know less about myself than I think I doWhen I look at some of the thoughts I had throughout the day in relation to food, I can see how these thoughts are linked to unhealthy behaviours and how I can use tools to work on these thoughts; “fuck it, pile into the sweets and sack the run” (DIBS/ABC), and I can draw a line from these thoughts through to my behaviour and moods (five factor model). The surprising and invigorating thing about completing the exercise today is that it can open up more avenues for exploration, and more opportunity for change.