It's been 2 weeks since I last posted, and it's 2 weeks that have shown me that the battle will never be over. However, that's not a reason to give up. The only thing giving up will lead to is despair, desolation and physical problems that no one wants.
As I've said before, the physical manifestation of depression for me has been food addiction. It results in spells where I am totally out of control, totally unable to control what I put in my mouth. My desire for food overtakes any rationality. I don't stop to ask myself if I'm hungry, I don't stop to ask myself whether I need what I'm about to eat. Sometimes I'm not even aware that I've eaten until I wash the dishes or put stuff away and wonder where they came from.
I am hyper sensitive to sugar. It's getting more widely recognised as a hugely addictive substance, with the usual addiction habits that go with alcohol, nicotine, heroine, cannabis or whatever your weapon of choice may be.
Without belittling the battles addicts face in any way, you can manage your way around alcohol, nicotine etc. You can just not buy them, you can say no, you can focus on this very real enemy, you can fight it and channel your energy in one direction. The devil IS the cigarette, or the bottle of vodka, or the bag of white powder. You can see the devil, you can take up arms when the devil appears and fight it.
Now try that battle when the thing you have an issue with is food, the very fuel we physically need to survive. And imagine if that fuel was broadly contaminated with your particular vice. What if sausages had alcohol in them? What if biscuits were laced with nicotine? What if carrots or apples or bread contained whatever your drug may be? How would you avoid it then? How do you deal with an addiction that you cannot go cold turkey from and is an ingredient in almost everything we eat?
With me, it's sugar. Even typing the word is torture. I am sat here craving it. My teeth clench, my jaw tightens, I physically salivate and feel the urge for it with every bone in my body and every fibre of my being. I'm fighting it right now by writing this blog, but I fell last night, and have failed a few times in the last week.
I know there is a Jacobs Orange Club biscuit in the house….and I know where it is! Right now, I am like Father Dougal trying not to press the big red button!!!!! And even if I didn’t have it, or couldn’t find it, there’s sugar in the house, there’s butter…and the mixture of fat and sugar is within easy reach (see http://the-tangent-wordsmith.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/battling-demonsthe-real-never-ending.html for details)
The major problem is the downward spiral, and the twin pronged attack of failure and despair. You fail, you cave in, you feed the demon and allow them in, you see that in itself as a failure because you couldn’t keep up with the battle. Then you think “what’s the point”, you reach for the weapon and cut yourself with it, the demon sees its chance, it sees the chink in your armour and it dives right in. Before you know it, the demon is in charge again and your physical and conscious being is out of control and joining in with the damaging behaviour.
There are times when I feel like the little boy in the picture. The monster towers over me, it’s attached to me, it’s part of me. I can’t escape it and I am massively ill-equipped to deal with it. No matter how fast or far you run, you never escape your shadow.
When you get like this, you do shut down, and hide away.
You don't want those who care about you to worry about you.....yeah that's part of it, but there's more to it. You also don't want them to stop you. That's the problem with self-destructive behaviour, you are so used to it, you crave it, you believe it's exactly what you deserve. It's like a comfort blanket, it's a way of life and your mind finds solace on being in familiar surroundings, however unhealthy those surroundings are.
If those you love you intervene, they will stop you from doing exactly what the demons are telling you to do. It's not Graham that's keeping it a secret, it's the demon keeping everything quiet.....Isolation, remember? How a bully keeps control over their victim.
Over the last 10 days or so, things have been slowly slipping, and then I had an incident...a hypo....my blood sugars went really low, just over 3 for those who know what that means. I needed to get them up and fast. Luckily we had just bought some Orange Clubs for me to have one a night if I had enough calories left. Well, I ate 3 in about 5 minutes, that and about 7 boiled sweets.
I know it was necessary, I had to get those glucose levels up in a hurry, but it was still me consuming sugar.....well it drove a juggernaut through my defences, it did a whole load of damage to my state of mind...the demon was right there...."Well, well, well....looks like I have found a way to get inside again huh? Diet is better, diabetes control is improving....but hypos!!! Who'd have thought they would be my ally in fucking you over! You need sugar to stop from being ill, but it's sugar that's made you ill.....WHAT A HEADJOB!!! I've got you now......you are my puppet and I'll do what the fuck I want with you"
The demon was loving it, laughing at me, he was totally relaxed, he was in again and he had me.....how do I battle that?
Well I'm ashamed to say I gave in. Later that night, I had a ramekin full of margarine and sugar mix....better than the cereal bowlful I used to have but still.....a smaller bullet is still a bullet.
I did the same thing the night after when my bloods got to 5.5....I didn't want them getting any lower...."Don't worry, Graham, you're in control, just give in, have another little taster...." Like I said in the title, they're sneaky little bastards. They were working their way back into control, giving me the perception that I was in control, because I wasn't as bad as before.
The psychological landslide continued....I was surrounded by dark thoughts -
There are times I really fucking hate myself
I hate me
Order me a pizza and a big bag of chocolates
I'm just waiting for everyone to go to bed then I'll start
Bit worried about how dark I've got and the imagery I've looked for is....maybe time to learn to live with them and stop battling
I went surfing, looking for images and art work of inner demons, and these are the ones that jumped off the screen, that meant something to me....I won't say anything about each one, they speak for themselves.
This particular piece of writing really struck a chord with me. It's all part of the mental battle.
When you're in the rut where the demons live, there is nothing positive, you can see nothing good about yourself and you are totally convinced that anyone who says anything nice to you is keeping the truth from you.
I convinced myself once that my friends were only my friends because they didn't have the heart to tell me to piss off.
How messed up is that?
Even when I try and take control, and plan for the hypos, I mess up. I was in town on Saturday and bought two packets of glucose tablets. They are something I'm supposed to carry around all the time. Good planning, right?
"Sugar on tap? Good idea, mate, I'm gonna love torturing you with those! You're going to want them, it's going to eat away at you, knowing they're there and you WILL eat them all" ....he was right, less than an hour later and they'd all gone, both packets, and I didn't even hide it, I ate them sat right there on the sofa. You can hide in plain sight quite easily.
"Got any more bright ideas? Go on, think of something else you can fail at"
There was another ramekin of sugar and marg that night. And I congratulated myself on the fact it was only a little bit.
So, the result? I've not lost any weight this week, and had a setback in Battling the Demons. They've seen a gap, a flaw in my plan of action and they're working hard to exploit it. Every hour and every meal time and every trip to the shop and all the parts in between....every breath is a battle at the moment, there's a war going on and I'm not coming out of it unscathed.
However, to finish on a positive, I'm not doing anything like the things I was doing before. But make no mistake, this is bloody hard work and I guess it always will be.
These words from Stephen King are something I'm trying to remember.
"Monsters are real, ghosts are real. They live inside is, and sometimes, they win"
Nobody wins every time, but if you don't fight you will lose every battle. I have to at least begin to accept that I cannot win all the time, and a defeat is not a failure, it's just not a step forward.
I'll leave you with this quote that I've found. I may just have this made into a poster, or put on a t-shirt, or both. If I can recite this, and live by this, then I can give myself hope and light up the darkest hours.
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Thanks for reading.