Monday, October 5, 2009

Static on the brain and sugar-free anxiety

Recently, the New York Times had an article on anxiety. So apparently some people are innately sensitive--both to fears and external stimuli--at birth. Although they may grow out of it and simply evolve into more conscientious adults--as observed, if you're worried about being late, you're more likely to be on time, or early.

However, this sunny outlook on anxiety doesn't square with my experiences. Truthfully, I grew up in an environment so anxious, I didn't even know it wasn't a normal emotional baseline. My mother obsessively rehearsed stories about abducted children with me at bedtime--sometimes we even read the First Aid book together about what to do in an emergency. My grandmother chain-smoked and feared letting me ride my bike in my very safe suburban 1970s neighborhood.

I unsurprisingly developed a whole host of fears, from the dark, to vampires, to escalators and heights. And like my mother, grandmother, and father (whose anxiety tended to manifest itself in anger more than worrying, true to gender) I developed very unhealthy habits to cope with the anxiety--not smoking or drinking (wouldn't that be interesting--not!) but overeating, over-indulging in sugar free crap, and pointless TV watching.

I really don't watch TV anymore (unless I'm on the treadmill in winter) and the overeating is coming. I've given up Splenda, but right now I'm stressed, so I find myself eating sugar-free things, giving myself license to indulge to the point that it is uncomfortable, as I can afford the calories.

This must end. I'm no longer the woman who would order a cup of coffee and a zillion packets of blue, later yellow envelopes and call it a meal. And when I look back at my life, do I want it to look like a succession of the same sugar-free muffins.

That's why you haven't seen much in the way of food being posted here. When stressed, it's comforting to just eat way too much of food that is made up of way too little that is real.