TV Psychotherapy

My mind has experienced a lot of shifts recently. I have changed the way I communicate thanks to some insights of the teenager, some stress at work, and a variety of great support from friends and family.

In the midst of all this, there is the Coronavirus pandemic which allows a lot of introspection for those of us who try to be self-aware.

I’m not a big television watcher. I grew up in a rural setting in a valley by the river where we had poor television reception. We didn’t receive access to cable until I was a teenager.

When I left home, my husband and I chose not to pay for cable (and this was Netflix first started and they mailed you discs and prepaid envelopes— streaming was not a thing).

So, Hulu and Netflix on my iPad have allowed me to explore decades of pop culture. And I realize that many of these reality television programs can offer a window as to how we all face our struggles and build our relationships.

While I originally started watching Gordon Ramsay, it was because I love food and he had a reputation that I wanted to understand. I also like big, athletic guys with bad attitudes and exotic accents.

But the more I watched— whether it was Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell or other Ramsay programs— I saw people of all backgrounds reaching toward goals of increased knowledge and skills, wanting a better life, and working to impress not only a mentor but a larger-than-life icon, a modern God.

And Ramsay pulls talent out of people and sees something in people. It’s amazing to watch.

Inspiring.

Shows like 90-Day Fiancé show how desperately people want to be loved and the lengths they will go to— whether in hope of love or acceptance or, again, that desire for a better life or a Green card.

Now, I’m watching Hoarders. I watched the first episode because I’ve been in a hoarded house and it is mind-blowing. I wanted to understand.

I have learned how our upbringings and traumas intersect and influence how we communicate and relate. That stuff, shopping, accumulating, giving up and other verbs… it’s a manifestation of our emotional walls. I would classify My Secret Addiction (or is it My Unusual Addiction?) in the same realm—how to cope.

And then you take a show like Transitions, where people explore their gender identity, and I suddenly see how much of a struggle they have to live as the person they really are versus the person they feel forced to be by family and society. That’s strength.

And why you really want a good outlook, and to see hope, enthusiasm and change, you watch Queer Eye.

The Art of Self-Soothing

I haven’t made it a secret that I’ve been struggling. Fitness, stress and work have been heavy on my mind.

And I don’t know about you—but when I’m stressed the habits I need most seem to be the ones that fall first.

First to go is cooking. I love to cook. I love to enjoy a meal. But as soon as I am stressed, I start eating processed foods and pizza, because I like those foods and they are easy. But they take a toll. Even though my weight is healthy, I can still feel the impact of those foods on my body, my stamina, my energy, and my moods.

I’ve worked really hard lately to balance stress eating with healthy eating. I actually brought a frozen dinner to work to eat for lunch earlier this week. I actually crept into my office to eat it in secret because I was embarrassed. I didn’t even enjoy it. I was just lazy.

So I went home and made this casserole:

Now this was a delight: spaghetti squash roasted by the teenager, then I mixed it with tomato sauce, kale, chick peas, feta and Italian cheese blend. I sprinkled in some nutritional yeast for extra vitamins.

Speaking of vitamins, when I’m stressed I stop taking mine. I don’t eat as much at meals when stressed so I don’t have a full enough stomach to take my vitamins. On top of that, then I end up snacking and binge eating chips or Doritos.

Another bad habit when I’m stressed is over-cleaning. In a desperate attempt to control something in my environment, I clean until I exhaust and/or hurt myself.

And if you see me skip a blog entry, that could also signify I’m tapped out.

So how can I self-soothe?

  • Text friends and make arrangements to go out. Today I texted my husband and asked if he could visit me at lunch time. I cried and told him my fears and my struggles. Despite the fact that I asked him to move out in June, and we’ve lived apart with minimal contact for eight months, he hugged me and held me and that made my cry more. I think that was the best hug he ever gave me. He made me feel protected. So I thank him for that.
  • Play with the kittens, cuddle with Nala (my Goffins cockatoo), manhandle one of my older cats or listen to the budgies sing.
  • Watch stand-up comedy. I love stand-up.
  • Shave and moisturize. Something about soft, smooth skin is reassuring.
  • If I’m not going to the gym, I at least need to do physical therapy exercises for my S1 joint in my back and my balance.
  • Write more.
  • Does budgeting count? I hope to do a blog entry on budgeting. I don’t mean paying bills, I mean planning the future use of anticipated income. It also makes me feel in control.
  • Occasionally splurge on a fancy coffee or a treat. But not often enough to qualify as stress eating.

Okay, I’ve shared what I had to share. I’m going to watch some Gordon Ramsay now. Another relaxation technique. Eventually I want to blog about his different shows. He is very prolific.