I’m pretty sure Dr.Phil is the first person I ever heard say this but I’m sure the saying was around long before that.
And while I do like this saying quite a lot it’s actually NOT the definition of insanity.
Interestingly enough, the DSM manual used to diagnose psychiatric disorders does not include any formal definition of “insanity”.
Insanity is a term used more by the legal community than anyone else.
So in a courtroom if you are found to be not guilty by reason of insanity that basically means you cannot be held responsible for your criminal conduct because some mental disorder caused you to lack the capacity to be aware of what you were doing.
On the flip side, you might also be found not guilty by reason of insanity because you were very aware of what you were doing but a mental disorder of some kind caused you to believe it was justified.
I find it ironic that the diagnostic tool which psychiatrists use to diagnose mental disorders does NOT recognize insanity as a valid term . And yet who determines if someone is legally insane? A psychiatrist!
So why am I babbling on today about insanity?
Well, I’ve learned a lot about myself over the course of my life.
I’m talking really about how I relate to food. I’m increasingly grateful for all that I’ve learned because there is nothing worse than knowing there is something wrong with you but not knowing what or how to control it.
All my life I’ve struggled with my own version of insanity regarding food.
A hunger within that wants to overtake me.
I won’t lie. I’ve often felt like I would go insane if I did not get to eat a pan of brownies or a Big Mac or whatever I was craving.
I’ve often felt like I would go insane if I waited any longer to just EAT.
Eat whatever I wanted no matter how it affected me. No matter if it meant diabetes and high blood pressure and the inability to walk more than a few steps because of being super obese.
Is being 5’3…ok 5’2″ probably….and weighing over 400 pounds not on some level….INSANE?
Is willingly signing up…no…PAYING ….a surgeon to cut out 80% of your stomach so you will stop eating so much…
Well doesn’t that sound kind of insane too?
I have grappled with my own insanity regarding food all of my life
And through this horrific mess, I’ve managed to fight my way out of 143 pounds.
And wouldn’t you think that someone who had been imprisoned in a body of fat for years
Who could barely breathe, walk or function
And who was inundated on a daily basis with thoughts and cravings of food
Who once released from that would not ever want to go back
Would never EVER do a single thing that they were consciously aware could put them back into prison?
Would a prisoner upon escaping from death row willingly turn around and start walking BACK to prison??
Then why is it that on several occasions I have found myself doing exactly that?
Taking “just a bite” of my daughter’s hot dog at the baseball game knowing full well that hot dogs are a trigger food for me.
I used to eat an entire pack of hot dogs in one sitting
SO how is taking “just a bite” of my trigger food sane?
Would an alcoholic take “just a sip” of vodka?
Would a drug addict take just one hit?
Would you be willing to get shot if it was “just one” bullet??
When we think about it like this, we know it’s insane.
But yet there I am taking one bite out of the hot dog or one sip of a Pepsi.
I used to drink a case of Pepsi every 2 days. And with my surgery, carbonated beverages are NOT to be consumed.
Oh I won’t drink the whole Pepsi. I’ll just have ” a sip”
And with just one bite and just one sip, I find myself suddenly having cravings again. Thoughts again. Daydreams again about my trigger foods
And even though I only had a little bit, it’s in me now.
Permeating my soul.
Multiplying like wildfire and growing quicker by the second
And now I’m taking my kids to school and all I can think about his how I want to drop them off and go through the drive-thru.
This is what I hated about myself. It literally drove me crazy. I was motivated by food. My every action and decision based upon when I could eat next.
“Oh you guys need new shoes for school? Sure let’s go!!” because in my mind I’m really thinking about the food court and how it’s right across from the shoe store.
“Oh you want me to take you to the movies? Let’s do it!” but not because I want to take my children to do something special. No it’s because I want another excuse to EAT. Because everyone eats at the movies right?
It’s sick. It’s insane. It’s putting food in the forefront of your mind and making it the reason to live.
And yet here I am finding myself still doing things that might lead me right back to where I started
The DSM-IV diagnostic manual of psychiatric disorders might not recognize insanity but the courts do.
And if I was hauled into court and put on trial for food insanity, would I be convicted?
Well let’s try the definitions.
Do I lack the capacity to understand what I’m doing when I’m overeating?
Well–No. I know exactly what I’m doing. I know it’s wrong. I know it’s destructive.
So according to that definition, I’m not insane.
Let’s try again.
Am I aware of what I am doing but a mental disorder is causing me to justify it?
Hmmm…..yes and no.
I’m not going to lie.
I’m really good at justifying overeating. My mind plays tricks with my heart.
I might just be a little insane to that degree
But I think my issue would be closer to an obsessive compulsive disorder than full blown insanity.
Obessing over food. Feeling a compulsion to eat it. Feeling anxiety if you don’t give in.
Yeah that’s me.
So maybe I’m not psychotic or legally insane.
And maybe I’m a lot closer to being OCD about food
But this much I know to be true
I AM SELF AWARE
I know what my triggers are. I know how to manage them.
I cannot claim to be “NOT GUILTY” for lack of knowledge or self awareness
If I put sugar in my body, I crave things
If I eat bread or bagels or donuts, I crave more.
If I take just one bite it leads to ten.
This is the definition of CLARITY not INSANITY
I clearly see what leads me into destruction and I clearly know what brings me out
This will always be a fight. Call it what you will.
Food insanity. OCD. Crazy for Candy. Desperate for Donuts.
But whatever it is that I have…..I’m aware of how it starts
And I know where it ends up
So every day of my life I have to be on my guard and remember that feeling sane about food is a gift to be treasured
Not something to be taken for granted
Because if I were to gain every pound back and this case went to trial
I know there would be enough evidence to convict me of knowing exactly what I did to gain all the weight back.
And I don’t want to go back to prison
So I’m going to do whatever it takes to stay free
Because Freedom Reigns in this place
And I’m not giving that up without a fight