Up to this point, I feel like I have managed my reaction and approach to triggering situations pretty well.
For example, I avoid the gym, buffets, diet talk, certain websites, and even a few different foods that don't sit well with me. Shopping is always a sticky situation, but I have developed a few strategies that help me survive the process. Pushing back meal times, allowing myself to get too hungry, even eating too fast can send my trigger red flags up in the air. But, like I said, over the past few months I have learned to think about triggers in a healthier manner and was feeling confident for a change.
In my biology class we just started a chapter that breaks down carbohydrates, lipids (fats) and proteins and talks about how they are used in the body. A discussion about calories and metabolism was started. I began squirming in my seat a little, but kept my cool. There was something about being in a room full of people talking about calories that made me want to take a bathroom break or something.
The high fructose corn syrup and childhood obesity debate was somehow brought up next. A girl in the front row was giving her two cents and made a statement saying, "The obesity epidemic is just as bad as eating disorders in this country. If people could learn to listen to their bodies and feed them appropriately, we wouldn't be having this discussion."
For those of you who know me well, you can picture me sitting there biting my tongue and scratching my head furiously.
After that statement was made, a boy, also sitting in the front row said, "I agree. Eating disorders of any form are confusing. Nutrition is basic stuff." Followed by our teacher, "I could never be anorexic, I love my food too much (laughing). I don't get it either. The obesity problem makes more sense, but I am a chocoholic. That's my eating disorder (still laughing)." At this point the class is roaring with laughter.
Really? Did that just happen? Wake me up.
At this point my hair was a complete mess from feverishly scratching my head and I was ready to start pulling it out if this conversation continued. I wonder if anyone could tell how that I was crawling out of my skin. Surely the girl sitting next to me could hear my heart pounding. After I felt my eyes begin to well up with tears I had to leave the room and collect myself in the ladies room.
Unexpected triggers. Surely I'm not the only one who has dealt with type of thing. Honestly, I can see where my reaction was a little extreme, but I have never been in a room full of people laughing at eating disorders before. How does one deal with triggers that seem to come out of the blue like this? If you think about it, this type of conversation happens all the time; the general public really doesn't understand.
Being the optimist that I am, finding the progress in this situation has been a challenge. I spent the afternoon beating myself up for not being able to handle it. Triggering things happen every single day and I have been able to move on with my day, so what made this any worse?
But, after a good night's rest, I have found a little more self compassion. Granted, the normal person wouldn't react the way I did, my normality is not the same right now. Just like I know I can't go to the gym like normal people, certain situations will arise that I have to handle differently.
Unexpected triggers will always be there, but that's life. There's no avoiding it. How I choose to deal with those triggers is the only thing I can control.