“What we do know is that, as the chemical window closed, another awakening took place; that the human spirit is more powerful than any drug – and THAT is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. THESE are the things that matter. This is what we’d forgotten – the simplest things.” (Awakenings)

Have you ever seen the movie “Awakenings”, starring Robin Williams & Robert DeNiro?

It’s a favorite of mine. The premise of the move is about a neurologist who fights for a group of patients with encephalitis lethargica to receive an experimental drug at the time, known as L-Dopa. The patients awake after forty years of being in a cartharctic state. They have to adjust to living in a whole new world, and mourn the decades they lost. One patient, on the first day of his Awakening, is scared to go to bed, that he’ll return to catatonia. The awakening indeed, does not last. But a new awakening occurs, for the patients & their families- learning to appreciate and live life. (adapted from Wikipedia)

When I was stuck in diet mentality, I would awaken to feelings of extreme guilt about the food I had eaten for the day, even though I hadn’t eaten anything yet! Tremendous feelings of shame covered me as I rose to start each day. You say, that was back in the days where I carried my yellow notebook around and recorded my food/calories/WW points for the day, including weight, & exercise. It’s when I would be furious when I could not determine the calories of the food I had eaten. One time Culvers did not have the calorie count for a soup I had eaten, so I screamed at the manager, who gave me the number for the district manage, which I used to call & left a message promising violence and death if they could not get back to me regarding the nutritional information.

Now, it’s different. I don’t use calories to determine my worth. I try to listen to my body, and feed it accordingly, in an imperfect way.

I have other issues now.

Now I awaken, scared that the mindful eating experiences I’ve had the past few months will all but disappear, and I will be stuck in either a numbing coma of bingeing or a mentality of fear, self-hatred & fascist counting.

Those patients did return to a catatonic state. I don’t have to. I have the choice to really tune in, get grounded, and make decisions on how I will treat my body. I can pull from my positive past experiences, and use them to anchor me into the present.

The patients awakened, and anytime I fall back to my old patterns, I too can awaken. I can live fully. Out loud.

How do you get grounded? Any advice on drawing from past experiences to move forward?


About eatingasapathtoyoga

Learning to savor food, yoga, & life.
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10 Responses to Awakenings

  1. Megan says:

    Fear becomes a default when you spend enough time living in it. You experienced awakening with anxiety for so long that even when the habits that prompted it were gone, that feeling remained.

    I think the only balm for the anxiety is time. Well, time and continued positive eating experiences.
    I know for me personally, when I stopped dieting/disordered eating, I had to essentially rebuild my trust with my body and it with me – I had to trust it wasn’t going to spiral out of control and it had to trust I wasn’t going to harm it any longer. And that takes days and weeks and months and lots and lots of loving food experiences.

    Sidenote: have you read Asleep by Molly Caldwell Crosby? It’s about the encephalitis lethargica pandemic and your mentioning of Awakenings reminded me of it. It’s a pretty great book if you enjoyed that movie!

    • I’m going to Amazon that book. Thanks for the title! I really need to address my anxiety issues. I’ve tried medication, yoga, & talk therapy, to no avail. I consider it my companion. Sometimes it just needs to be acknowledged & listened to. Maybe I need to do more of that.

      • Megan says:

        I carry a lot of anxiety, too, and it’s hard to find something that can ease it. The thing that works best for me (when I remember to check myself and actually do it!) is a suggestion I read in Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God. It recommended actually checking in with your body to see where the feeling is coming from (at least that’s how I have chosen to remember it!). I find I’m often caught in what I *think* about how I’m feeling, versus how I’m actually feeling. I often think I’m on the verge of a panic attack, but when I check in I realize I’m holding my breath and have my body really tensed – if I notice and relax, the panic dissipates. If I didn’t check in with my body, I’d continue on just thinking I’m freaking out and not knowing why. 🙂
        Sorry this was so long!!

      • Oh, I love WOMEN FOOD AND GOD. I’ve read it at least three times, and seen Geneen in person twice. (She actually has kind of an attitude in person.) I do some body work with Internal Family Systems too, but I need to practice it on my own. I HATE progressive muscle relaxation. I actually feel more tense when I’m done. I’m working on breathing in calm.

  2. Kara says:

    I worry that my new mindset will disappear too. My therapist told me that your brain needs practise, just as our muscles need to practise a new skill or movement. So, with time and practise, I think you’ll discover (as I’ve discovered) it is becomes more natural and requires less effort to maintain.

  3. Lynn says:

    Someone sent me a link to your blog. I have absolutely no idea who the person is. But I have read every word of your blog today. I know I am not alone on this journey but it still helps to read other people’s thoughts and really get where they are coming from. I can aspire to reach the peace that some of these people have knowing that there will be days….. thank you so much for doing this blog. You are touching many lives.

    • Lynn, thanks so much for saying that. It feels really good to hear that. And it makes me believe MY story is so important. (I often feel that it isn’t.) I hope we can continue to connect.

  4. Michele @ Within Reach says:

    What a thought-provoking post. I love that movie too but never thought about how it could apply to food and eating. You have given me much to ponder.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Michele! It’s cool how there are so many applications to our relationships with food and our physical bodies. Looking forward to hearing from you soon again, on your own blog! 🙂

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