Monday, March 8, 2010

#93 The Magic Pill

During a discussion about habits and addiction, my friend Shelly mentioned that although alcohol is addictive and difficult to stop, people dealing with food issues have it harder because they have to "face the devil at least three times a day". Ain't that the truth! I'm not belittling the difficulty in kicking any habit, but I think she has a point. One doesn't have to have cigarettes, heroin or alcohol in the home... at least I don't think so. Wouldn't it be wonderful if breaking a habit could be as easy, painless and enjoyable as learning one? If there was a magic pill that could help you lose weight and be done with it once and for all, would you take it? Well, I thought I had found the magic pill.

I have shared with my doctor how hard the struggle is for me on a daily basis; that I have food "issues" and they sometimes get in the way of living. I told him about this blog and sharing in a public forum. He said that he's heard this woeful tail many, many times over the years in private from friends, in his office from patients, and in public from strangers.

Here's a good example of "issues" getting in the way. An acquaintance of mine, "Esmarelda", thought it would be fun to join a book club. She asked around, curious to see if all book clubs are the same. What Ezzie found out was that they may differ in how they are run, but food and/or alcohol are a big part of the gathering. She decided it would be safer and saner not to join one because she would either be desiring the food, or she would be eating the food and wishing she wasn't. I knew exactly how she felt.

I know. You're thinking it's just some nosh, and you're right. However, when my head is not in the game, when I'm emotionally fragile and a little out of control with my food choices, number of servings, etc., that's when food soothes what ails me [well not really, but I think it will].

Anyway, after years of hearing about my food issues, my doctor thought that maybe I was a little OCD. He compared me to those people who have to wash their hands 20x a day or who have to touch every doorknob until they reach their destination. He thought that maybe I had a little bit of this because on a REALLY BAD day, my thoughts sound pretty repetitious -- don't eat that, why are you eating that?, stop eating that, don't go in that store, you shouldn't have had that, and so on. He said he couldn't believe that I have this babble [my word] running in my head.

Well, I'll tell you right here and now, the pill he gave me to "help" my OCD [and that I had to take for 8 weeks to see if it worked] didn't work. It wasn't the magic pill.

When I returned after the 8 weeks, we talked some more. I told him that food was an emotional crutch, and that I ate beyond "normal" to push down feelings. However, over the years [and we're talking 3 decades-ish], I've learned to use food for lots of reasons, and that at this point in my life, I'm just tired "dealing". And when something tastes really good, like a piece of chocolate devil's food cake, I want more... even after eating 2 pieces... even if I'm full. I know a lot of people who feel this way, and yet, don't give into their desire to have another bite. I know how to teach my kids healthy eating habits, but I don't always listen to my own wisdom. Well, after getting an ear-full, my doctor thought that perhaps what I really needed was something to help me suppress the desire to eat.

He prescribed Phentermine. On the first day of this drug, I thought I had found THE magic pill. It did just what the doctor ordered. I described this new feeling to my friends and husband as one of "turning off the switch". I didn't think about food, period. When I got hungry I ate. Sometimes when I got hungry and didn't eat right then and there, I forgot that I was hungry. In the past, I have tried to use activity to "quench" my hunger, but this was different. Ten days later I was down six pounds, without even trying - I Swear! I had found the magic pill.


About 2 1/2 weeks later, a despondent me called the doctor because the pill's magic was waning. My switch was no longer turned "off" all the time. When I explained how I felt, my doctor said that he had given me the lowest dose and that he could give me the next level up. YES - I almost screamed over the phone. Alas, about 3 weeks on the new dose, I started to experience the same results as I did with the lower dose. In the end, I had lost 8 pounds, which is 2 more than I wanted to lose, but I was sad. I had experienced what it felt to be normal, and now that I had had normal for the first time since I was 13, I wanted to keep it; Not possible. This drug didn't come in a higher dose, and to take it off label would be very dangerous and stupid.

This is what the doctor recommended - that when I felt that my eating [and eating thoughts] were beyond my control, I should take the Phentermine for 3-5 days so that I could remember what "normal" feels like, and try to ride that wave for as long as I could. Although this is not what I wanted to hear, it was better than nothing. I find myself using my un-wonder drug 2 or 3 times a year. It's not the perfect solution, but it reminds me of how good normal felt.....

Quote of the Day: "When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change." Dr. Wayne W. Dyer


Alix said...

So true, so true.

Oh Bobbie... we all suffer from the demon! I was taught at a young age to clean my plate "or else!" I hated the way my parents forced food down my throat... until I didn't. I learned to LOVE the feeling of filling up on things that tasted good. And soon enough I was filling up for reasons in addition to hunger. When it becomes psychological (and for overeaters it is always psychological, whether they admit it or not), it's not just a bad habit to overcome. It becomes a process of complete and total reinvention of self. And that is and always will be a moment to moment conversation we have with ourselves.

I babble constantly too. My little schizophrenic brain waves constantly bossing me and scolding me. Sucks.




But I know I am stronger than my desire to upend the progress I've made and I will find a way to use that voice in a productive manner.

Hang in there chica. We can do this together!

Michael Rivers said...

One of my closest friends has lived the last 4 years in and out of rehab for alcoholism. At 35, it's killing him. He's trying so hard--massive therapy, intense treatments, etc. But he can't get past 8 months. He's back in rehab again--this time the binge almost killed him. I hope this time he's reached his bottom and can rebuild his life. He's an amazing person, trying to live with a horrible addiction.

If only there was a pill for addictions. There are pills to help, but it would be wonderful to find one that cured.

Chris H said...

Well that pill sounds wonderful... wonder if we can get it here? Hmmmmm..........

Kim said...

I wish I could feel "normal" like that all of the time. To finally live life without the constant battle raging in my head over eating.

If they could only find a way for that pill NOT to lose effectiveness over amazing would that be???

Darren said...

Pills aren't the answer! We have been taught that pills are the answer for everything and this is not always true. Pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe it so their pockets can continue to get fatter. If you have an emotional issue(s) with food the best way to get rid of those emotions is understand why they are their in the first place and then get rid of the writing on your walls. The best way to do this is with the Emotional Freedom Technique aka as EFT! Look it up and enjoy!!!

Bobbie's Babbles said...

via email:

I think you're normal ... but your pain really comes across in your blog. The read was very moving. I don't like the fact that you need to or got to a point where you have to take a pill, but I'm not in your shoes. However, I've often wondered when I've gobbled something down, even though I'm full and because it's there in front of me, if this is your everyday experience. And if so, it's awful. I understand the "fuck you" eating momentum. Surrender to the fact it exists. Don't fight it, but do what you have to do to live a healthy existence in conjunction with it. In general, I think you're doing this. It's an acceptance ... and I've experienced that feeling too. This is a feeling of "normal" we all should be experiencing. Some also call this feeling "grace".

Bobbie's Babbles said...

via email:

We should ban all desserts at meeting lunches! Or one cookie per person!

Kim said...

Hey Bobbie,

Thank you for the book recommendation. I will definitely check it out.

I've been in a pretty serious funk for a while now, but I am working really hard to pull myself out. Your willingness to help ease me along made my day. :)

Thank you for caring. It's amazing how something so simple can make a difference. :)

Bernie said...

Hello Bobbie,
Thank you for sharing your Babbles.
I would like to share my Magic pill experience with you & what made me decide to start taking them.
About 3 years ago a patient made a comment in our office. Something to the effect of (Here comes the BIG girl), I pretended as if I didn’t hear him and I just smiled till I reached my car at the end of the day. I cried to my husband who has NEVER made an issue of my weight.
Being overweight was never really a major issue for me. I think of myself as a very happy go lucky type of person but that feeling was just crushing. And did all of our patients see me as THE FAT, HEAVY, CHUNCKY or BIG GIRL. After that crushing blow to my self-esteem I made the decision to talk with my Primary care doctor about having the Gastric bypass. I was at my highest weight ever & realized that I needed help. My Primary said that I meet the criteria for the surgery but I would have to start a weight loss program first.
(Most Insurance companies will NOT approve any weight loss surgery unless you have tried other weight loss programs first). At this point I was willing to do anything.
I started Dexedrine and a water pill. He explained that I would have to see him on a weekly basis to monitor my weight loss and that I would have to have monthly blood work to monitor my Liver and Kidney functions. My Primary increased my dosage the first 3 months till I was at 30mg a day. I experienced some side effects Headaches, insomnia, Etc… Till I noticed I was craving Cigarettes. I was already a closet smoker but the medication really increased my craving for them.
After losing 50lbs and 60 packs of cigarettes later, I was given cancer news about a family member. I had to stop smoking and being on the medication was making my smoking addiction impossible to quit. I felt I didn’t need the medication anymore I lost the majority of the weight. BUT!!! I forgot about my food issues/self control problems.
My Primary NEVER said anything about stopping the medication and again I really didn’t think the medication was doing anything for me but increasing my cancer risks. I experienced what I would like to refer as THE CRASH. Lol Withdraw was horrible Sweats, Nausea and I was exhausted and unable to function for days. I also gained every pound and then some back in 3months because I had nothing controlling or giving me the full feeling.
I’m not saying not to take the medication I’m just sharing my results with you. And yes there are times I think about asking the doctor to start me on it again, But I have fears of picking up that cigarette again.