If you’ve ever tried to overcome an addiction or a bad habit of any kind, you know that it can be a joyful experience in terms of progress, but it can also be very challenging and frustrating as you slip back into old ways and feel a sense of failure. I’ve been going through my own hard time recently. Below is what I wrote the day after one of these hard times.
It's 6:15 AM, my alarm goes off and I am instantly dreading the day. I try to think of the good things that are worth getting out of bed for, but I feel no motivation. I put on some peppy, happy music in hopes that it will help lift my spirits. It works, I crawl out of bed and wander to my closet/bathroom/vanity (it’s all the same area anyway). I look at myself in the mirror and try to smile, but all I see is pain in my eyes. It takes about 10 minutes for me to feel truly motivated to get ready for the day. By now I’ve started listening to the Book of Mormon and I’m feeling peace and love and all of a sudden feel that I might actually make it through this day. I notice that I haven’t made my bed and do that before I remember that I need to say my morning prayers (that is actually planned; I find that if my bed is made I leave my room without thinking about praying). I kneel to pray, give thanks for my blessings and for the opportunities I have, and ask for help to just be kind to others and to myself, to feel peace and for help to fight the internal struggles I’m facing.
I make it through a great day. I smile and feel good for most of the day, though if I’m not careful my internal feelings begin to surface and threaten to destroy my peace. I fight harder to continue smiling and not let anyone know what I’m feeling. I’m determined to keep my mood and attitude level, knowing that if I falter too far to one side or the other I will not only lose this peace I’ve fought to keep, but also feel that I’ll turn one more time to food for consolation.
Everyone sees the outside smile, hears the answer that “it’s a great day”, and sees the results from over a year of watching my weight and working out. Inside is a constant struggle to maintain that appearance. What people don’t know is that I fight what I call undiagnosed depression. I’m afraid to talk to a doctor because I’m afraid of being prescribed meds when I feel I should be able to handle this. I feel the darkness closing around me and I know I have to fight that much harder.
The other night I felt this coming on again. I was fighting and felt I had really won. But in a moment I found myself feeling frantic as I downed a large-ish bag of M&M’s. The whole time I told myself to put them down, to walk away, to go work out, to call mom, to do ANYTHING that would keep me from doing what I knew I would regret. But now it was too late. I stood in my kitchen holding an empty container, instantly hating myself for giving in when I know I can be (and have been) strong and resist these ridiculous temptations.
I’m supposed to walk 5 miles that night, but all I can bring myself to do is sit in my chair and cry. I cry because I’ve given in to my weakness, I’ve ignored my conscience, I’ve hurt my body and not done what I know I should have done. I cry because I want to be better but feel so lost. I cry because I’ve done better in the past and feel like I’m failing consistently now, that I’ve lost what I worked so hard to gain.
It’s in this moment that I feel like I need to read or listen to something. I open the addiction recovery plan found in the LDS Library. I’ve looked at the first chapter before when I felt that I food was becoming my addiction but I hadn’t done anything more with it. I begin reading the text, reading the scriptures it points to, and answering the questions posed. I begin to feel the light of hope, to feel the Spirit telling me that I’m okay, that I can begin again, and that this moment and these feelings don’t have to be permanent.
I watch the video entitled “Because of Him” and I cry again, this time because I KNOW that I’m not doomed, destined to feel a failure, or alone. I KNOW that because of Him I can repent and change, and apply the atonement of Christ to change my heart and help me overcome these things I struggle with.
Then I watch a Mormon Message entitled “The Savior Wants to Forgive” and then listen to a program called “Conversations” (both found on the Mormon Channel). I listened to two episodes, the first by Elder Rasband of the Seventy and his wife, and then with Brother and Sister Howell whose son Brady was killed in the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11. As I listen I feel further inspired to get up and be productive. I have guests coming the next day and my house is a disaster area. I start to clean and organize and the words “a house of order” come to mind (from a scripture found in Doctrine & Covenants 109:8) and I feel the Spirit surround me.
After previous times of binge eating I’ve emptied my cupboards and taken away all temptation, but this time is different. I begin to see that completely prohibiting myself only leads me to binge more later, so as I listen to the story of the Howell’s and how they coped with the loss of their son I package small portions of all the remaining snacks in my cupboard (even the raisins…turns out I love raisins!!). As I’m doing this I feel/think of the words from this same scripture verse in Doctrine & Covenants, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing”, and once again I feel the Spirit touch my heart.
It’s now almost 10 o’clock and I need to be getting ready for bed. I go to my room and start my night routine. As I stare into the mirror I see my red eyes and tear-stained face, I have a different feeling. I feel that I’m worth it. I feel like I have hope and a desire to begin anew tomorrow. I feel like it’s all going to be okay. A thought pops in my mind that I have window markers laying around someone and I begin the hunt. I need to do this. I find the markers and return to my mirror. I write “Because of Him…” on the glass and stand there and allow thoughts of what I can do and be because of Him to flow through my mind. I begin writing a few on the mirror. I smile, looking again at myself in the mirror and noting the light in my eyes that has seemed to be absent for some time. I know that tomorrow is going to be a great day. And it isn’t just something I’ll say, it’s something I truly feel.
Doctrine & Covenants 109:8: Organize yourselves; prepare every needful think, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.