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Anxiety and food

I’m an anxious addict. According to Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction, there are six kinds of addictive brains, six variations on the illness that is addiction, and I’m the anxious type. That makes sense to me. Childhood trauma switched on my flight or fight mechanism in such a huge way that it’s often running the show, whether I’m in any discernible danger or not. I started self-medicating my anxiety when I was 9 and that became a deep groove in my brain and my habits.

Lately I’ve been way more anxious than usual. I suspect some of it is triggered by the increasingly fractious state of the world: the hatred, violence, fear that we are all swimming in. I know that some of it is triggered by the severe heat waves that have been visited on us here as a result of global warming. The claustrophobia of closed curtains and loud fans all day and all night are taking their toll.

But even though self-medicating with food is my first impulse, adding guilt and shame into the mix is not going to make things better. I know that only too well. So I’m doing other things to soothe myself: more painting, comedies on TV, naps on the porch swing, talking with friends, 12-Step meetings. Each time I do one of these things, I’m better for a while. I’ll take that.

How do you soothe yourself now that food isn’t an option?

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