Food Addiction or Social Anxiety or Depression? I am a wreck
First, let me say Thank you for your kindness to help all of these people. We could use more people like you in the world.
My problem is complicated because I do not know where to begin...I will try to make this as simple as possible.
I believe i am addicted to food. First, I have always enjoyed eating as a hobby, it has never been a happy vs sad issue. In the last few years a lot of changes have taken place and i am confused as to what is going on. Second, I am a single woman that has never been married and no children, so it is difficult to have friends, and be social. There are not many people my age in the same situation as me. My social life has diminished to non existent. therefore, i believe I have made food my "friend", I think about food and my next meal, I think about food whenever something happy or sad, even stressful has happened. I believe it is more relevant now because I am older, i am suffering the physical ramifications of overeating. My lifestyle has also changed; I became a Christian, chose to no longer drink and frequent bars, so my "circle of friends" has disappeared. I was once outgoing, and became a social butterfly with a little liquid courage. Now, I find I am shy, and I cant believe it! I used to own a room when I walked in it, now I have a debilitating fear of walking in a room alone. For example, I have been attending a new church, but cant go to the Sunday school class because of my fear of walking in there alone. My self esteem stinks because I have put on weight from eating so much.
I say all of that to say this: Am I addicted to food, or am I using food to replace the missing relationships with people becuase I am lonely?
Even though I hate that I was once gorgeous-which I have realized in hindsight, and now am overweight from eating I cant stop eating. I started working out with a trainer, and still cant stop overeating. Help! What is wrong with me!
This is an issue of fear and social anxiety, as I see it. Food and alcohol were your buffers against that fear in the past, and allowed you to be socially comfortable - but I'm sure there was a cost. You asked if you are using food to replace the missing relationships in your life. The answer is Yes. You are also using food to replace the alcohol that kept your fear away. Now you've stripped away those crutches and are left feeling vulnerable and exposed - so you eat for comfort - and also put on weight - a sort of physical shield.
I suggest that you focus mainly on overcoming your fear of people and on your self esteem. I know it's a vicious circle with weight gain and lowered self-esteem. The more you gain, the worse you feel about yourself, the harder it is to allow yourself to connect with people - so you isolate more, eat more... etc.
I've had several of my clients have extraordinary success going to "Food Addicts Anonymous." They feel it's better than Over-Eaters Anonymous, for reasons I'm not clear about. But this may be a good thing to do - as you will get great support in modifying your food intake, while also building confidence, self-esteem, and being around people.
I also suggest the use of EFT/Meridian Tapping to address the underlying fear and anxiety and shame that leads to your avoidance of people and use of food.
Anything is possible. You can change all of this!
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist
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