Monday, June 9, 2014

Exercising Restraint

It's hard to say what exactly went wrong in the time leading up to my October 20 suicide attempt, but I think it's safe to conclude that the causes feeding in to that awful eventuality went back many years. Take your pick: homosexuality, brain disease, childhood abuse, financial desperation, and then an embarrassing and pervasive failure to launch in the face of the worst economy since the Great Depression. It was a perfect storm. A time bomb.

But one of the things for which I bore responsibility was an intemperance that grew more pronounced as I drew closer to death. In college I was an infrequent if enthusiastic drinker, but after graduation a couple of drinks every few months became a couple almost every night. In the despair that followed my suicide attempt, my lack of restraint only grew: I drank to numb the pain, and when drinking wasn't enough I turned to boatloads of bad food to warm my heart. The results were predictable but stinging: an abysmal performance at a friend's party that effectively ended our acquaintance and a weight gain of forty pounds that, in the space of a few months, destroyed my once-admirable physique.

I've always been the pretty one, the skinny one who from early adolescence attracted male attention. To suddenly not have that was disorienting and disheartening. But I brought it on myself.

As I found my professional bearings, embarking on a stable career path, I decided to reevaluate some other parts of my life as well. That is why, shortly after my twenty-sixth birthday in April, I decided to give up drinking for a full calendar year. I'm not tee-totaling for life, but it seemed to me a good idea to put the brakes on a habit that was causing me to act in a way I found unsatisfactory.

Two months in, the most surprising thing about this endeavor has been how easy it is. I occasionally find I'd like to have a drink when out with friends, but there's been no real temptation to break my vow. I haven't had to fight myself. The lack of struggle has been a refreshing reminder that maybe I didn't have as much of a problem as I imagined.

Much less sanguine has been my relationship with food. I love to eat, and I eat to feel better. It's an unhealthy relationship that has had a major detrimental effect on my appearance and self-esteem, but today, after six months of attempting and failing, I made the same kind of solemn commitment to stop overeating that I made to stop drinking. For a full year (with a select few cheat days built in), BB is on a diet. And it's awful. Today is Day #1 and I'm so hungry that I could eat my right hand, but I've lost two pounds since this morning. By June 9, 2015, I'll be back to my college weight. That's an amazing thought.

So here's to restraint, direction, temperance, and discipline. They've been absent from my life for far too long, and I'm so happy to welcome them back again.

10 comments:

Jay M. said...

It seems we have much in common. While I haven't attempted suicide, I will admit I have considered it, on the way to acquiring a drinking habit and about 125 pounds that I don't need.

Please don't eat either hand, they're essential to tying your shoes, and you don't seem like a loafer kinda guy.

You'll get back to where you want to be. I hope I can, too! Mutual support, BB!

Peace <3
Jay

Kristi Campbell said...

Please please be careful about the not eating thing. You're young, and will lose weight quickly but I promise you that it will end up being more depressing and horrible later if you're losing 2 pounds in a day. I've been there. And now it sucks for me to lose weight. Please email me (there's a contact form on my blog) if I can help. And please just know that you are worthy and kind and amazing exactly as you are regardless of what you think today. You are lovable and amazing and I do NOT need to know you to be able to say that. We are all so much more alike than different but I know at your age I did not believe that. Sending hugs and peace and acceptance. Because you DO deserve them, no matter how you feel. I swear this.

naturgesetz said...

Obviously, you can't lose two pounds a day every day for a year. I'm sure you'll figure out what's the right amount of food for the gradual weight loss that will get you to your goal. And you're wise to build in some days when you won't follow your diet (holidays, mainly, I suppose.)

Giving up alcohol isn't difficult if you're not an alcoholic. I drink a fair amount in conjunction with lunch and dinner, but when I go on retreat, with no alcohol available, I don't miss it. So being able to go without, and without strong cravings, is definitely a good sign.

I've also been happy to read of your academic and career plans. They seem well thought out and realistic. I'm looking forward to reading how it's going.

Dana @ Kiss my List said...

I will echo what Kristi said; I know her well and her advice is spot on. Instead of not eating, eat healthier. You don't have to be hungry, but it will take awhile for your body to get used to real, healthy food. This is my first time visiting; I respect and admire your candidness and honesty in writing about your struggles.

rjjs8878 said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I wish you luck with your journey.

Nedra said...

BB! What the what?! I know that I have been off in my own world, reproducing and being generally self-absorbed but I've come back to check in and you've come out, tried to kill yourself, and Pie is Irish?! I can't leave you alone for a minute(/four years)! I kid of course, but I'm honestly kicking myself for growing so out of touch. The next time you feel like doing something that F-ing crazy, kindly do something a little crazier and reach out to the stranger who gives a shit. I would have had words for you. In fact I may still have words for you. Just let me read through what I've missed a bit more...

Joy Christi said...

Glad you're better, those were all tough things to deal with. I have an unhealthy passion for food, and if I may give you a warning, don't lose too quickly. Eat plenty of things like fruit, and even though it seems weird, if you're not allergic to almonds and other nuts, they're a good source of protein. Don't look at the calories, they'll keep you full longer, they're full of fiber. I also do smoothies with fruit, milk and protein powder when I want to lose weight, your body needs fuel. I need to do that, too, and I keep making excuses. Good luck!

BrightenedBoy said...

Nedra! Where did your blog go?

jo(e) said...

Hey, I'm just catching up on your blog now. As I think I've probably already told you, I stopped drinking in my twenties -- and never started up again. It turned out to be a very smart decision for me.

Nedra said...

It's still there BB, set to private and much neglected. The reason being I'm considering a more public "professional" online presence. I'm still debating the idea and it's usefulness. But I think I'd like to go through my old personal blog and maybe have it printed into a single book. It's such a huge transitional chunk of my life, I'd hate for it to become lost and forgotten floating around the internet.