A Little Help

Hypothesis: Self-medication through stress eating, shopping therapy, and the like are seriously underrated.

You may have guessed that I have undertaken some such behaviors recently. Specifically, I don’t want to know how many grams of sugar I consumed yesterday—please no illustrations about the size of a sugar cube and the distance between the earth and the moon.

The cause of said consumption is The Visit, which is two weeks away and breeds details at the rate of particularly fervent bunnies. I’m beginning to suspect that my to-do list contains some sort of feedback loop that adds two items to the bottom when I cross one off. Though meditation might be more effective, eating sugar allows me to treat my officemates with some modicum of kindness.

The wisdom of this choice perhaps depends, as do so many things, on the degree and duration of the practice. A couple glasses of wine to unwind after a stressful day—fine; a couple bottles—not so good. A couple of extra cookies for a few weeks—OK. Excess sugar for the foreseeable future—diabetes.

It’s almost more annoying for things to be sometimes OK. It requires us to exercise real judgment, to recognize when a behavior has crossed the line from helpful to harmful, and to muster the self-discipline to stop. It’s much easier to designate something as right or wrong, no self-regulation or decision making required. The rigidity we impose on our lives if we go that route, though, can be just as harmful as whatever we’re trying to avoid.

Or maybe I choose to believe this because I am really bad at sticking to any self-prescribed course of action. The proof will be in the post-visit pudding, or lack thereof.

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