TW: This post contains discussion of unhealthy eating/coping habits.
I was exhausted after traveling this week, getting home yesterday afternoon. The trip was good stimulation, but albeit still a lot of stimulation for me to process. It’s understandable that I was physically and emotionally tired, but I also felt more off than I expected. Last night, I felt like I was on the verge of tears, and my stress was through the roof. And then it hit me: only several hours later did I realize that I barely ate all day. Oops.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, and this isn’t the first time I’ve done this while traveling. It’s kind of my signature travel move. When I have so many other things to focus on and keep track of, I sometimes forget to eat. Plus, I woke up early and took a nap on the train, so my sleep schedule was also off. My natural hunger cues kind of totally forgot to go off. And my cognizant reminding myself to eat at least three meals, plus snacks, kind of totally forgot to go off. Oops
Last winter, I wrote a blog post about what I call stress not eating. It’s means just about what it sounds like: the opposite of eating more as a way to cope with stress. When I was in the depths of borderline-personality disorder (BPD) and using ineffective coping skills, I would frequently miss meals for a variety of reasons. In my blog post, I listed several reasons why I might do this:
- I lack energy to make food when I’m struggling.
- I am indecisive and have a hard time choosing.
- I enjoy feeling hungry in a weird way of having control.
- I use it to numb my thoughts. It’s hard to think straight when you’re hungry.
- I do it to self-sabotage. Classic BPD.
- I want others to notice my pain.
- And according to this article maybe I hijack ghrelin production to boost mood.
In writing this though, I forgot one very common reason, or at least it’s the most common reason I miss meals now that I’m doing better with my mental health: sometimes I just plain forget.
Yesterday, the missing meals wasn’t as intentional or cognizant as the previous BPD times, though it feels weird to call any of the skipping meals intentional. Back then, I was using what coping skills, albeit unhealthy, I had in my arsenal. Regardless, even though I simply forgot to eat yesterday, it still had an effect on my mental health. I was stressed, tearful, and drained, until of course, I had the light bulb moment that I barely ate all day. Then, I ate some quick digesting carbs to raise my blood sugar, and then I moved on to some slower digesting foods for stable blood sugar.
I’m glad I figured out why I felt so emotionally off, not that there always has to be a reason for emotions. Still, eating regularly over the last twelve hours and getting a good night’s rest helped. I was able to use my Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills to get emotionally regulated again. Using my skills is pretty automatic at this point after years of practice, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes make mistakes and forget to eat (the very important PLEASE skill). The point is that sometimes we need reminders to go back to our roots and use the most basic of skills.
Reminder to self: eat regularly the next time you are traveling.