Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Food glorious food…?

This post follows on from My big fat problem.

I have had issues with food for almost as long as I can remember. When I was a young child my mum kept a large tupperware box of chocolate biscuits (Club, Viscount, that kind of thing) on top of one of the kitchen cupboards. I used to wait until I was the only person downstairs then drag a chair into the kitchen, clamber up and get down the box. I would rummage through to find my favourites; sometimes one or two, sometimes half a dozen. It was a fairly big box so I knew I was unlikely to be discovered. At the first opportunity I would sneak my pilfered biscuits upstairs and hide them under my bed. Then after bedtime, when I should have been sleeping, I would sneak them out again and scoff them; I can vividly recall the glee, delight and guilty pleasure I felt. Then I would hide the wrappers in my shoes, and bury them at the bottom of the kitchen bin at the first opportunity.

I don’t know how old I was when I began doing this. I suspect it began around the same time as my self-harming so I would have been about 7. It makes sense to me that these behaviours probably began together as I have long suspected that my binge-eating is merely another manifestation of my urge to self-harm. Certainly the urge to binge and the urge to cut are both triggered by strongly negative emotions such as anger, despair, grief, unhappiness, frustration etc. Since I finally managed to stop cutting in early 2011 my binging has become more and more of a problem.

I’ve mentioned before that the psychiatrist I saw a while ago told me I was a compulsive binge-eater. After talking with some very kind and knowledgeable Twitter friends recently I found myself googling binge-eating today and was directed to this page on the NHS Choices website. It’s extremely informative and eerily familiar – every aspect of binge-eating that it describes applies to me. Eating excessively quickly, eating large amounts when not hungry, eating alone or secretly, feeling out of control, experiencing feelings of shame, guilt and disgust after a binge… This is what I do. This is me.

Despite having been given a good (and kind and helpful) talking-to by my knowledgeable friends on Twitter (you know who you are!) I still don’t feel that I have an eating disorder. Eating disorders are serious illnesses, while I just have no willpower. No self-control. I am greedy. I don’t have an eating disorder. Except… These experienced, knowledgeable, lovely people say that I do. The NHS website says that I do. The psychiatrist said that I do.

So. I may not be ready to admit that I have an eating disorder but I know that my eating is disordered. The difference just be semantics but for now that’s as much as I’m comfortable with. I’m waiting for a referral to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist for my anxiety and I will definitely be mentioning my problems with food.

In the meantime I am not going to follow any faddy diets, no Atkins or Slimming World or 5:2 or anything like that. Partly because I can’t afford to but mostly because I know that they will not help me stop binging. I need to focus on my binging, not my diet as a whole. I need to arrest the impulse to binge before I act on it and I need to get into the habit of examining why I want to binge each time.

I’m not going to set myself any big scary weight-loss targets, even though that is a major part of why I need to get my eating under control – I am 5 stone overweight and that’s affecting my health as well as my happiness. For now though my only goal involving scales is to weigh less each week than I did before, even if it’s just a few ounces less.

I expect I shall blog about this again in the future but for now this is it. I know what I need to do. I know why I need to do it. I think I know how to begin doing it. So here I go…

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Comments on: "Food glorious food…?" (10)

  1. You are a very brave woman talking out about these things, so impressed. You’ll help so many other too, wish you the best with this plan x

  2. Agree with the above – it takes a lot of courage to admit binge eating/eating disorders/disordered eating. It’s a very fine line between clinical ED and DE, but as far as I’m concerned, numbers or statistics do not matter – it’s the psychological behaviour behind the actions. I had what I consider an ED in my teens – statistically I didn’t weight light enough so was never helped. I hope with all my heart that the CBT can help with both the anxiety and binge eating. My advice on weight loss? Try not to think about it. Make the choices you want – if you force yourself into doing something you don’t want to do (fad diets, expensive slimming clubs) you won’t stick at it because you won’t enjoy it – look at a tonne of recipes – some can be done on a budget.

    I’m right behind you :) xxx

    • Thank you. Yes, you’re right about sticking to diets – I tend not to do so well with prescriptive eating plans! And budget recipes are definitely a must. Unfortunately when I’ve googled for recipes it seems that my idea of a tight budget is rather smaller than everyone else’s! :-)

  3. Been there. :-( Well done for being so honest. It’s important to write about this topic to help other people too. Sending hugs.

    • Thank you. I hope it does help someone – I’ve had so much support from people online it only seems fair to try to help others!

  4. I’ve started to reply to this post several times but deleted them all as everything I wrote seemed trite as a response to your honest words.

    As a teenager I had a close friend who had anorexia. I didn’t really understand it at the time and no one made an effort to help us understand. I see now that it was probably one of the few things in her life she could control. She had a chaotic homelife with way too much responsibility, including for her Mum at times. I wish I’d known this at the time. Your post has made me think about her a lot as we’re no longer in touch, I wish we were.

  5. Good luck with your cbt:)I am currently in therapy and it is the best thing i have ever done.I realise now,after years of anorexia,i may be physically well but the psychological(mental)part of it will never leave me but i now manage itrather than attempt to cure or “rid” myself of it.Basically,i control it now not other way round!!!Take care!:)xx

    .

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