Like almost everyone in the world right now, I’ve been dealing with isolation, social distancing, and fear of COVID-19. My emotions and risk of emotional eating are churned up!
Through it all, I know how important it is for me to remain conscious of my personal history of emotional eating.
I Was Doing a Good Job Managing Emotions
I felt I was doing a good job of managing my emotions on a day-to-day basis, my new normal, my fear about the virus and anticipated lack of ventilators. I was tolerating my sadness and helplessness about the sick, the dying, and those with financial hardships by saying something good HAS to come out of this in the end.
I kept reminding myself how lucky I was that as an Emotional Eating / Binge Eating Recovery Coach I get to work by phone from home.
AND, I knew it was important for my own recovery from Binge Eating Disorder that I stay mindful that it is my choice to eat mindfully vs going back to emotional overeating to cope with this unsettling time.
I made a “self-care” decision I felt was right for me; to not do take-out food right now, despite feeling guilty every time I heard a plea to please support local restaurants because they’re hurting.
When I couldn’t schedule grocery delivery times on InstaCart, due to high demand, I noticed I had some “food-insecurity” fears for the first time ever. Prior to this, I could always get food whenever I wanted it.
With time, I found ways to get groceries delivered, even if it was five days after placing the order. Then, I felt guilty that I was asking someone else to be out there risking their life delivering food to me! Tipping well did not eliminate that guilt.
Emotional Eating and COVID-19; Expected Transparency from Nursing Home
Still, I continued to eat healthfully.
Until last week, when I learned COVID-19 had come to my mother’s nursing home (a 13 hour drive away for me) and the staff has no intention of telling families about its spread. When challenged, they made it clear that transparency was not required by law. All they have to say to families is that there is “a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in our community”.
When I was told there was “one” confirmed case, I already knew there were three. So, I knew they were hiding the fact that the virus had already spread. I always thought of this small, non-profit nursing home as one of the best nursing homes in the city. So, it was hard for me to accept that they had decided to put concern over their reputation, and potential impact on their bottom line, ahead of open and honest communication with families. They must know misinformation and withholding information adds to our fears. Still, it is what they’re choosing to do.
I know there are more cases today, but no idea how many more. All family inquiries are now sent to the director who is the person who lied to me, initially. I guilted a nurse, whom I respect tremendously, into answering one question. “Due to the virus, have any people from my mom’s floor been moved into isolation?” She said, “Yes”.
We will be told if my mother has symptoms, needs to be tested, and/or is being moved into isolation… and we’ll get a call if her roommate gets sick. We can ask about containment protocols but no information about the spread, the numbers in her nursing home will be shared with families. That information must be shared with the local Dept. of Health which is also not required to share numbers with families.
To help with containment, no visitors are allowed inside the building. My mother is cognitively as sharp as I am but a stroke robbed her of her ability to speak and write 11 years ago. She is locked inside, has no voice, no say, can’t ask any questions and I can no longer be that voice for her because I can’t get the full truth. Imagine not being able to ask anyone anything right now. I feel her pain, acutely!
Soon after that conversation with the nurse, I grabbed an unopened bag of semi-sweet mini-chocolate chips I had in my pantry. In six days, I’ve polished off a whole bag …that’s about 3 tablespoons of chips a day. In my binge eating days I would have polished off that bag in one sitting! Still, it is emotional eating!
No More Emotional Eating. It’s a Decision I Get to Make!
There was another bag of chips in the pantry. I have moved it to a cabinet where I keep my grandmother’s good china. This is my way of setting a new intention. I will not “use” food because I feel out-of-control because my mother’s nursing home is choosing CYA over families’ concerns for truthful information. I know I’m pretty sure I’ll be among many other people seeking to change this law on behalf of loved ones living in residential care facilities.
Finding My Voice
I decided I will find my voice in my own way. Writing this post is helping. And, when this is all over, I will research and find a way to advocate for changes in the law about full transparency from nursing homes.
Please stay safe, stay well, and do whatever you need to do to take good care of yourself during these unsettling times!