Fully uncomfortable

I'm at the point in recovery where feeling full after a meal is pretty normal.  It doesn't usually evoke any sort of odd emotions in me.  I don't get anxious, obsessive thoughts about how long I need to go without eating to "make up for" my last indulgence, or needing to engage in compulsive behaviors (exercising, purging) to undo the "damage" caused by my eating.  I still have conflicted feelings about needing to eat, but they almost never get in the way of my actually eating.

Still, sometimes when I get really anxious, feeling full starts to feel rather uncomfortable.  Times like, you know, now.  I mentioned the other day that I have been really stressed and exhausted lately, and although today wasn't quite as bad, I think the effects are rather cumulative.

I've learned (from years of experience) that anxiety messes with my hunger/fullness cues.  What often happens is one and/or both of the following: either I don't get hungry or I get really full, really fast.  Tonight, after my evening snack, the latter happened.  I know it's my physiological reaction to anxiety and not the amount of food I ate, which is a big step forward for me.

What used to happen was that this increased feeling of fullness would make me even more anxious and paranoid about eating because all I could think about was how full I felt.  It's not as bad as when you're nauseous and all you can think about is how awful you feel, but it's along those lines.  So yes, I focused on food and usually planned on restricting so I wouldn't have to feel so full.

Thus the vicious cycle begins.

I'm probably never going to stop being an anxious person.  I did meet with a new psychiatrist this week and got a prescription for lorazepam (trade name Ativan) to help with those really pull-my-hair-out moments.  I've come close to taking one numerous times, but I haven't had to take one since I got the prescription yesterday.  But even with meds, the anxiety is here to stay.  The SSRI I take helps with the really bad anxiety-induced nausea (as well as the depression), but I still get queasy a lot when I get upset.

It's hard to become so self-aware and have to develop an entire inner dialogue (what- you don't have discussions with yourself?) around talking myself off a mental cliff.  It's exhausting.  I really wish I didn't have to do it, or devote so much energy to staying on the same psychological level that so many others seem to gravitate to so easily.  But the situation is what it is.  My old therapist would tell me that this is when radical acceptance comes in handy--accepting that this is what I have to do, and yes it is unfair, but what are you going to do about it?

So yes, I'm full.  And yes, I'm uncomfortable.  But I have to remember that what's making me uncomfortable really isn't the food, it's the anxiety.  That's what I need to work on and deal with, not how much I'm eating.

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Danielle said...

Yeah i know the feeling too. I used to hate fullness so much but now i'm used to it. It still gives me a lot of anxeity though.

Libby said...

Anxiety is such a bitch.

I'm happy for you, though, that you're able to recognize it for what it is. That seems like a huge step for me... it's certainly not something that I can always do.

I hope the lorazepam is good for you. For me, sometimes even just having the benzos in hand helps to calm me down... just knowing that I could take one is enough. And when I do need it? I'm always so glad I asked for the script.

Icedgem27 said...

Thank you for putting into words what the recovering millions face every day. Keep going edbites; youre an inspiration to me and many others.

Anonymous said...

I have this feeling too. As soon as I start feeling anxious I feel as though I've eaten too much even if I've only eaten like an apple or something.

And yes, I have discussions with myself. Only I don't have an inner dialogue, I have them out loud mostly!

flaweddesign said...

*gets up and takes her AM clonazepam and then returns to computer* yes, benzos have been very beneficial to me but also detrimental. the risk of dependency is rather high whether we like it or not, whether we're careful or not. physiologically it is a risk. before benzos, my anxiety was well controlled with BuSpar (buspirone) but once you go to benzos for major anxiety control the anti anxiety agents are far less effective, maybe something to talk to you psych about.

anyway, your post makes me so proud of you. they say feel the fear and do it anyway, well, you're feeling the full and doing it anyway! same diff. :P good on ya!

Anonymous said...


Just curious - has your psych ever tried Seroquel for your anxiety? Either the short acting or the XR version? It may be an alternative to the lorazepam.

Carrie Arnold said...


I resisted benzos for years because I was terrified of becoming hooked. I tried BuSpar and it helped but not all that much. What I need is something just for those moments when I want to crawl out of my skin.


I was on Seroquel for a year and a half, but even just taking 1/2 of the 12.5 mg pill to help me sleep turned me into a zombie.

Ari J. Brattkus said...

I have used Xanax and I have found that it has been a great help in learning how to work through my anxiety. I generally would take it when I knew I was going into a situation that would make me anxious and it really took the edge off, allowed me to relax and then say, "wow, so this is what it feels like to not be anxious." The down side was I would feel hung over the next day. I rarely need to take it any more, and now I ask myself if a situation really justifies the after effects -- can I get thru this anxiety, ride it out? Usually I can. The xanax is still there, if I need it. So don't be afraid to use it now, when needed.

Also, I know when I am about two days before my period my anxiety tends to skyrocket, and just reminding myself that it will go back down soon helps me.

hm said...

Carrie, I never, ever considered that feeling "full" could be a symptom of anxiety. You just rocked my world. I need to think about this. I thought the "full" PRODUCED the anxiety. Could it be that it works the other way around??? I will need to discuss this w/my therapist- thanks for the thoughts. Thanks for putting all this stuff out there. And I think your pizza picture rocks too.

Anonymous said...

Yeah - feeling full and anxiety go hand in hand and contribute to each other (I think that for me it may be a chicken and egg conundrum).

Stress does mess around with the worry even more and paranoia enters and so on as you say. Being aware of the thoughts is part of the battle won, then it's easier to ride out discomfort which is probably imagine anyway.

Thanks for sharing Carrie and take care of yourself! :)

Anonymous said...

Thankyou once again Carrie, . . . I say that every day x
After I have eaten at tea time I always get such dizziness, shortness of breath and feelings of panic. My senses go crazy, very exaggerated. My vision goes blurry, my hearing is like a bats and my co-ordination gets confusing. Sometimes I have restricted during the day and I have wondered if this is something to do with blood sugar levels or anxiety or a form of panic attack? Regrettfuly I have found that taking a diazepam 15 minutes before I eat seems to calm down this horrible experience.
Is this the anxiety of food or a physiological reaction? I just don't know? x x

Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul said...

Yay for radical acceptance! That's really what it's all about. We all experience fullness and sometimes it's uncomfortable. It's all about your tolerance, which it sounds like you're building beautifully. Sometimes it helps to remember it's all for a greater good.

Molly Koch said...

You make it all SO MUCH EASIER to understand! Hunger/fullness signals have always been my downfall when it comes to eating. Now I realize I should probably be focusing more on the affect of anxiety on these signals, rather than portion control. Why couldn't they teach me this in kindergarten?

Winsconsin certified pilots said...

Yeah i know the feeling too. I used to hate fullness so much but now i'm used to it. It still gives me a lot of anxeity though.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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