Yes, I think too much

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Time to let it all go

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I have wanted to use this blog to build up an identity divorced from weight loss issues, and in part it has. Unfortunately, I think that having it at all encourages me to keep a toe in. I even have either talked myself into getting involved in weight loss forums again. I told myself that this involvement was a means of sharing what I have learned in helping “cure” me of my food relationship problems, and that there was value in putting it out there to see if it helps other people. That may or may not be true (I actually believe it is), but I think I need to make a cleaner break of it.

I think that I already write enough for outside blogs (again, completely different than this) to have an identity apart from this and this may have just a transitional aspect and I have to utterly abandon any association with weight-related issues, at least for awhile. I believe the time has come to let it all go and walk away for a long time. It’s not that I don’t have a separate identity (because I do), but just that I think I’m clinging to this in a way which really has no value for me anymore. There comes a point when you convince yourself that you mean to “help” people, and indeed you may really want to, when it’s as much or more about validating your view (by proving that it works) than about actually helping. I do want to help people with weight problems, but I think that the internet is neither the time nor the place for such help. I know that seems like an odd thing to say as many people do get/feel helped, but I’m dubious of the long-term outcome of such assistance. And, what is more, I’m also dubious of my motives and to what extent this is about me instead of about others. This is an answer that can only be had by cutting the cord between me and anything connected to weight loss.

Before I started losing weight, I never talked about it or read various resources. That is the person I must be again, and that is the person I will return to (sans the weight and bad relationship with food). That person’s interests on a daily basis were in no way connected to talking about bodies or food. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, I think it’s time for me to at least move entirely away from it for at least 6 months in order to┬á see where it takes me. If it brings me back, I may start posting here again. If it doesn’t, then I wish everyone who has so kindly followed me the best in their lives. I’ll be out there somewhere doing something else. Who knows, you may even stumble upon me. ­čÖé

Written by yesithinktoomuch

January 29, 2011 at 1:20 am

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Yesterday…

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…I climbed a mountain, and 1.5 years ago, I couldn’t walk five minutes. Things change for the better, but it’s not easy.

Written by yesithinktoomuch

December 29, 2010 at 11:41 am

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Blogging Neglect, and other things

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This blog is seriously neglected due to various issues in my life that are branches of difficulty which spring from the roots of weight loss. I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just go back to my old blog to explore the psychological ramifications of the things that continue to cause me difficulty. One thing I can say is that I still have the food thing beat. Despite the difficulties I face, I don’t turn to food and continue to lose weight. I hope to get back on track and start talking again when life settles down.

Written by yesithinktoomuch

December 17, 2010 at 5:47 am

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Subdivisions

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The French artist Magritte has a painting called “The Treachery of Images.” It’s a painting of a pipe which says under it, in French, “this is not a pipe”. Magritte was trying to point out that, even though if asked what it was when viewing the picture, we would say it was a pipe, though it is not actually a pipe. As he said, you can’t put tobacco in it and smoke it. It is an image of a pipe, a representation in two dimensions of a three dimensional object.

In terms of something even as concrete as a pipe, we can see that it is not only impossible to represent the real item in any way other than actually applying our sensory apparatuses to the actual object, but also that even the object itself is culturally or personally relative. What a European would have called a pipe in 18th┬ácentury┬ámay ┬ánot have matched what a native people would have called a “pipe” in their culture. What is more, what we consider a “pipe” based on our senses – touch, smell, sight – is not truly what the “pipe” is from a deeper, more scientific perspective. It’s actually a collection of molecules, or, even more deeply, atoms, arranging themselves in a particular fashion. Not only is the image of a pipe not a pipe, but what we perceive it to be from a certain perspective isn’t the true essential nature of a “pipe”.

The way in which we conceptualize and represent various thoughts and concepts is often hamstrung by our ability to properly represent the deeper reality in concepts that are not equivalent to that real thing. With the pipe, we can at least more easily reach a consensus on what may be considered the “real” thing. With more sophisticated and less tangible things, such as the human psyche or personality, it becomes that much more difficult to verbally represent the true thing. We can’t see a psyche, nor touch it, nor hear it. Talking about something so ethereal is an inestimable challenge.

Like the pipe, talking about psychology is culturally and personally relative. My pipe may not look like your pipe so I may disagree that what you are holding is indeed a “pipe” and not some distorted looking contraption that performs a similar function to a “real” pipe, but no person in his “right mind” would call it a “pipe” in my culture. Terms that exist in one culture’s psychological practices may not exist in another because the behavior is not a priority or even considered a problem in another culture. In Japan, the word “amae” is used to talk about a psychological situation in which a person tries to manipulate, coerce, or rely on others in order to look after his or her own needs or interests. This is an issue in Japan because social pressure and responsibility are dealt with differently. In Western cultures, such behavior would be unlikely to elicit the desired response, so it is rarely a problem. Therefore, a term for this condition or action does not exist. The way in which we conceptualize personality, dysfunction, and consciousness is framed by our perspective.

Since consciousness, the psyche, and personality are broad, complex, and individual in nature, each manner in which these concepts are divided in order to understand them is a little different. Freud divided the psyche into the id, ego and superego. The terms are esoteric and seem unnecessarily unapproachable. The explanations seem a little bizarre, and don’t suit what we feel is our real mental interaction with ourselves, but I’m sure that they made perfect sense from Freud’s perspective. The terms themselves tend to undermine our acceptance of them, but so does the fact that we may not feel that Freud’s particular division of the psyche “fits” our concept of self.

Recently, I mentioned that I was reading a book on Transactional Analysis, and it carries a variation on Freud’s concept of the psyche. It uses the words “parent”, “child”, and “adult”. Unfortunately, these terms are so simplified and so well-known for their more common meanings, that they come across as trite and make the entire underlying concept smack of pop psychology. Using approachable terms which are well understood is as fraught with difficulty and unwanted nuance as using exotic ones.

As I continue to read this book, the idea that dividing the psyche and labeling its elements is an impossible task became clearer than ever before. Such theoretical subdivisions are necessary as a means to help to understand our thought processes, but they will always fail because something as vast and complex as the processes which underly human consciousness cannot be accurately divided into pieces. In order to continue studying psychology, I have to accept the imperfections in the various theories and applications and find the value in what rings true and embrace the fact that these concepts are designed not as perfect representations of our psychological mechanisms, but as crude representations that are the best that we can do. Just as an image of a pipe is the best you can do to convey the idea of what that object is in the absence of the real thing, concepts like the id, ego, and superego or parent, child, and adult are possibly the best that their creators can do to convey their theories.

Written by yesithinktoomuch

November 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

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“Empty Larder Syndrome”

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Most people have heard of “empty nest syndrome”. That’s when a mother finds herself feeling at loose ends, blue, or depressed because a child has moved away. I imagine (since I’m not a parent) that building one’s daily routine, not to mention identity around a child and then having that child fly the coop leaves a big hole in one’s life. Lately, I’ve been experiencing what I call “empty larder syndrome”.

In this case, I’m talking about the effects of food having exited my life as a source of entertainment, comfort, and even preoccupation. While I no longer want food to serve those functions, I nonetheless suffer emotionally without them because having so much of my life wrapped around something and having it gone continues to have an impact on my psychologically. The profundity of this continues to hit me in waves. The loss of food as entertainment or comfort was the first wave, but it was hidden or mitigated by the preoccupation with food that came with restricting my eating and food planning for the better part of the first year. Over the last 5 months or so, as the rumination on food and dieting dissipated, rather mercifully in most ways, I’ve come to realize that there is a profound sense of depression coming upon me.

One of the things that I have realized is that the sources of joy in my life are dwindling, just as a mother’s source of pleasure and purpose may leave with a child. Not only did the consumption of food comfort and amuse me (yes, we do “entertain” ourselves with interesting food), but the pursuit and purchase of it did as well. When I used to be happy to find some rare or interesting foodstuff, I now feel rather flat about it. The loss of irresistible temptation has the flip-side of the loss of elation when it comes to food. There’s one less source of joy in my life.

This would probably be okay if there were other things in my life that I was excited about, but I already expunged the habit of acquiring things (i.e., shopping) for amusement. Beyond that, I’m stuck in a holding pattern in my life because I will leave this Asian country and go home in about a year and a half. I can’t really start anything deep and new, and my options are already limited anyway. It’s not like there are tons of volunteer opportunities to begin with and pursuing them generally means forfeiting income or time, neither of which I can afford to lose as my departure ┬áand all of the expenses that come with it move closer at hand. I have to keeping working now while I can. I have to push myself to keep losing weight. I have to do what I have to do, and it leaves little flexibility for discovering new joys.

I have, nonetheless, tried to find new sources of pleasure to cope with this “empty larder syndrome”. I’m reading more. I’m getting out more. I’m trying to explore available avenues, but the depression that comes along with this loss and others (which I will not discuss here, but suffice it to say, there are some other important issues at play which further gut the joyful times in my life) makes it harder to find the energy to leap with any enthusiasm into other pursuits. Frankly, as of late, I’ve felt the beginnings of near-clinical depression lurking in the shadows. For those who don’t know, one of the things that marks serious depression is the inability to take pleasure in anything. When you are in this state, you can’t pep talk yourself into new things, and even if you happen to manage, you likely will find them to be unfulfilling.

Because of this state of mind, I’ve found blogging here falling by the wayside. In fact, I’ve found writing of any kind (including the type I get paid for) to be a chore rather than a source of pleasure. It’s not just about the loss of food, though that is clearly a significant piece of this picture. It’s also about the added responsibilities that continue to pile on and a loss of more and more time and contact with my husband as time goes by (something he is working hard to do something about).

There’s also the inevitable “middle place” with someone who is trying to lose weight that is impacting my sense of happiness. I’ve lost immense amounts of weight (considering I started at about ┬á380), but I’m still fat. All that I have done has yielded improvements, but those improvements are currently “old hat”. I’ve grown accustomed to them so they are no longer a source of pleasure. Now, I’m just fat with no foreseeable significant quality of life improvements in the near future. Sure, the numbers on the scale keep going down, but that was never a big part of what I was about anyway. Today, I weighed in at 103-104 kg./226-229 lbs, down from 107 kg/235 lbs. last month. (My scale is terrible and weighs in metric numbers, so I can never be sure of what the true number is – it always starts high and ends low so I go for the most repeated number or a reasonable average. In this case, it his 105 once, 104 once, and 103 twice.) This means I continue to do the “right thing”, but it seems no big deal. The goal isn’t to be something “good” (as I don’t expect to be greatly happier with my overall condition or appearance at a lower weight than I am now), but to stop being something “bad”. This is hardly a source of joy.

What is more, the constant need to push myself ahead in terms of movement continues to ensure that I experience pain all of the time. While my back has gotten much better, my knees are suffering from even my modest amounts and types of exercise. It starts to feel a lot like there some scale out there which has to be balanced so that I am always in pain. If one things gets better, another will get worse to replace it.

So, I have been losing weight, but I haven’t been posting. I’m not happy, and find it currently difficult to do much about it. That’s pretty much the end of that.

Written by yesithinktoomuch

November 1, 2010 at 5:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized