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“It’s not the end of the world”. I can’t even count the number of times my father has said that to me.  And it’s a phrase I’ve heard all my life from other people that I love.

I have a very long history of catastrophizing.  My old therapist used to get frustrated with me when I said something was “horrible.”  For example, bad traffic was “annoying” but not “horrible”.  Hurricane Katrina was “horrible” and “devastating”, but not me having a bad day.  I get that.  My logical brain gets that.  Of course, any reasonable person can understand that line of thinking.  And when I’m not wailing like I cut my foot off, I’ll be able to see that clearly.

I like routines. Routines help my life make sense.  I do things the same way everyday because otherwise I won’t remember where my keys are and whether or not I’ve taken my meds.  I always put my Oyster (transportation) card in my wallet when I get off the bus.  But today, I put it in my pocket with my phone.  When my phone rang on my walk home, I pulled it out of my pocket and my card must have fallen out onto the street.  I didn’t realize this until I got all the way home.  The realization that I lost my card with £20 worth of bus pass on it made me lose it.  I started crying as if I’d lost a limb or something.  In fact, I’m still crying.  I feel this complete sense of loss.  This horrible feeling.  And yes, to me, it feels like everything is falling apart.  I almost blacked out because I was crying so hard.

And again, I know that I shouldn’t be this upset over £20.  That a bus pass can be replaced.  That it’s “not the end of the world”.  But I feel like such an irresponsible idiot for not following a routine I know works for me.  For not doing what I always do.  When I deviate, bad things happen.  I’m trying to calm down before my husband gets home but I just feel so awful about it.  And I can’t stop crying enough to suck it up and walk down the street to get another one.  I just want it to magically appear again.  And what’s even dumber is that if I had registered the card last week, then I could just transfer it to a new card. But I didn’t.  So, again strike it up to being a complete dumbass.

Ok, so losing my Oyster card is really annoying.  But that doesn’t describe this overwhelming grief I feel.  There’s no other word to describe this absolute pain in my heart. I feel it all through my chest and my throat is tight and my head is spinning.  Everytime I think I’m ok, the tears start all over again.  I know that I shouldn’t feel like this because it’s not the end of the world.  I know that normal people are not like this.  I know that I don’t have many people I can tell about this who aren’t sick of hearing about it already.  As if they can’t understand why I shouldn’t be the happiest girl in the world.

I want to be the happiest girl in the world.  I don’t like being this way. I don’t like being gripped by sadness that I can’t even explain.  I hate having to try to explain that I suck up the sadness of other people like a sponge and sometimes own it as my own.  I’m terrified that I’m as crazy as I think I am.

I still can’t stop crying. I can’t get out of my own way.  I hate the voice inside my head who is making fun of me right now and taunting me and telling me “it’s not the end of the world.”  I just want it to shut up.

I got upset today, as is the norm lately.  There wasn’t anything in particular that set me off, and maybe it’s my time of the month or something, or the moon cycles, or whatever.  Wait a minute, why am I apologizing for being upset? I don’t need to come up with a justification for being upset. I was upset, and it sucked.

I just wanted to “feel better”.  I wanted some instant gratification, a quick fix until I could get myself together.  In the past, I would have lit a cigarette.  I can even hear the sound of the lighter flicking its beautiful flame towards a waiting cigarette. I can feel the filter between my lips, and smell the tobacco.  I can almost feel the light headed giddiness from the first drag, and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about it.  Smoking helped, sure, but then I’d want another, and another.  When I was upset, I was known to chain smoke into the night talking on the phone and cursing the world.

Life is different now.  I have no cigarettes, and more importantly, no one to talk to on the phone to curse out the world.  I still need that gratification.  My sister exercises when she stresses out.  Another sister cleans.  My parents drink.  Everyone has their ways of coping when a day just sucks ass.  But me, all I have left is chocolate.

I have been an emotional eater my entire life.  This started around the time I was starting to realize I had to be ashamed of what I looked like.  So I started stashing boxes of girl scout cookies in my nightgown drawer and stealing change from my dad’s desk to buy a candy bar at school.  I was really good at hiding the candy wrappers until I could hide them in the kitchen trash. I’d be extremely careful concealing the evidence under rotten leftovers or empty cans of Alpo. And the sad thing was, I ate the chocolate so fast, I barely tasted it most of the time. I just knew I wanted it, and it was bad to want it, which made it that much more important to have.

I don’t have a box of cookies stashed in my drawers anymore. I’m an adult, and don’t have to hide the fact that I feel like I must have chocolate at least twice a day.  But still I do.  I feel like I’m buying drugs as I stand at the counter, trying to make it look like I decided at the last minute to grab the candy bar to go with the diet coke I was about to buy.  Like the whole reason I went in there wasn’t actually to buy that candy bar, but it just looked so tempting that I had to have it.  I still feel the shame as I take my clandestine purchase out the door and hide it in my handbag so no one can see.  As if the world needs any other excuse to look at me and think I’m not worth living.  Why don’t I just feed the stereotype?  Look, that fat girl is crying while eating a candy bar!  I know no one is REALLY saying that, but that’s the scene I play out in my head.

Tonight, while upset, I wandered through the aisles of the supermarket trying to find something to make the pain go away.  At least I had left my tears in the street, but it took all of my willpower not to take all the chocolate santas off the shelves and run out the door with them. I had this vivid daydream of me ripping off their jolly little chocolate heads and eating them all before I got out the door.  I did none of those things, but I wanted to.  I ended up buying a chocolate bar to go with the chicken and vegetables I bought for dinner.  I ate it on the walk home.  It tasted like shame.

I sometimes wish I had a socially acceptable addiction.  Because then when I acted like an idiot, people could say “oh it’s a disease, she can’t help it”.  But my addiction to eating is just seen as “oh, she’s fat and lazy, and she can help it, what a fucking loser”.  And I believe that with all my heart.  I always have.  I have attributed these words to other people my entire life.  But the person who hurts me the most is me.

My husband said to me, “I will never understand how your brain works.”  And it occurred to me that even I don’t understand it either.  Since I quit going to therapy, I have not had to answer for my reactions to things that “normal people” would not react to.  I know there is really no such thing as normal, but that’s a topic for a much later day.

I decided that I needed to start keeping track of the times when I felt that I was being irrational illogical.  Using the word “irrational” included too much judgement on my part, and the whole point is to be kinder to myself.

If x, then y.  Else z.  Logic is beautiful.  Things move in one direction and things make sense.  Reality is not that simple, but maybe I can start to apply some of that logic to my own life so that it can be beautiful as well.