Bag of Marshmallows

I’ve always had a tendency of writing when I wasn’t in a happy place and turning to other sources of art when I felt good. My art tells an onlooker how I’m feeling, but only if you line it all up in order. That’s why I’ve never written a love song and many of my posts here are rather cynical – I’d rather unload my feelings into this empty space instead of letting them out somewhere or to something or someone tangible.

So I haven’t written anything lately. That should be good, right? That means that I’ve felt like I have it all together – friends, family, vet school, barn life. Honestly, I thought I did. This last Spring semester felt (in the loosest term that can be applied to vet school) relatively easy. My grades went up, I was social, I didn’t have a single panic attack. Had my anxiety finally gone? Well no, it doesn’t go away, but had I found a way to reign it in? I certainly felt much better. Until I realized I was mulling over these ideas while eating from a bag of marshmallows.

Let’s back up. I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I think it runs in my family. I’m the kind of girl who can demolish a row of Oreos, feel sick so I’ll drink some milk to settle the nausea, then dive into the second row. I’ve never been a skinny thing, though I have never felt the urge to call myself heavy, and I have always loved food, from making it to eating every last bite. However, I hate marshmallows. Unless they’re toasted over a piece of chocolate and a graham cracker or melting away to ooey gooey goodness over a cup of hot chocolate, I couldn’t care less for them. Yet here I was, eating them straight from the bag, their strange powdery outside soaking up my mouth and that unnatural dissolving sound as I chewed through them. Thinking about it makes my nose wrinkle.

So why was I eating this bag of marshmallows? Why had I eaten a bare piece of bread earlier? Why had I bought a biscotti with my coffee, chosen a bagel instead of yogurt, opted for chips instead of an apple? And when was the last time I went for a run? When I was at Delval, I would run every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, to avoid a panic attack and for any chance at sleep. When had I stopped needing that? And when had I gained 15 pounds? It wasn’t just yesterday.

So there it is. I had found a new habit. It could be worse – I could have taken up drugs or alcohol like some of my stressed-out friends. Some time in the last year I had started to feel my anxiety come on and reached for a doughnut instead of my running shoes, convincing myself it was a craving, and realizing that it felt pretty good and required a whole lot less sweating.  So each night if I had any hope at sleeping, I mindlessly dosed myself with a bolus of carbohydrates and simultaneously fell into a new routine. Subconsciously I realized that the butterflies in my stomach couldn’t flutter around if my stomach was full to the brim.

I’m making moves to change this, which is harder than I thought. Tonight I drove all the way to Ritas Water Ice just to turn around once I realized that I didn’t even want it, I just didn’t want to feel what I was feeling. And that made me panic even more. Isn’t that the punchline to every addict’s story? I can’t just quit food for good, it’s something we require, so how am I supposed to keep myself from eating until I’m numb? Planning helps, both mentally and physically. Choosing what I will eat and when helps keep me from snacking. And forcing myself back into an exercise routine helps, even though it’s hard after finding ways to cheat around it. Tonight I came home and pounded out a mile. I don’t need to exercise far to get the point across to my body, just hard. Drinking a lot of water helps because it gives me that full feeling without laying on the carbs. And writing helps, because apparently it’s a good idea to keep posting even when I think I’m feeling fine.

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