Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Posts tagged ‘bed’

I am, therefore I eat

Fat. Greedy. Obese. Disgusting. Pathetic. Ugly. Stupid. Weak. These harsh, hurtful words are all hurled at me on a daily basis. Not by family, friends or even strangers in the street but by me. My self-loathing spilleth over. Two of these words are incontrovertible – I am fat and I am obese. There is no proof for the accuracy of the others but I know that they’re true. Well… I have always been convinced that they’re true but lately chinks have begun to appear in the armour of my certainty.

I wrote here about the discovery that I apparently have an eating disorder, specifically binge-eating disorder or BED. At the time I was reluctant to apply the label of having an eating disorder to myself but I was able to admit that my eating is definitely disordered. I think about food all the time, from the moment I wake to the moment I go to sleep. I eat 2-3 meals a day and I graze in between whether I am hungry or not. Sometimes I will invent an excuse to go to the shops just so that I can buy chocolate or biscuits, either to eat in the car before I get home or to hide away and eat in secret where no-one can see. If there isn’t anything sugary or fatty for me to graze on I begin to panic and until I find something acceptable to eat I am unable to focus on anything else. If there is food around I’ll be picking at it.

So why haven’t I admitted that I have an eating disorder? Because I honestly believe that I am just greedy. I’m deeply ashamed of myself for this and for my lack of self-control but to label it an eating disorder seems an overreaction. Even considering the possibility makes me feel like a fraud, as though by comparing myself to people who really do have eating disorders I’m belittling their struggles. It feels like attention-seeking.

And yet… Friends who are far more knowledgeable and experienced in this area than I am are adamant that I have an eating disorder. A psychiatrist said that it was BED. The NHS website has a section on binge-eating which says:

In diagnosing binge eating, your GP will ask you about your eating habits and look for three or more of the following signs:
1) you eat much faster than normal during a binge
2) you eat until you feel uncomfortably full
3) you eat a large amount of food when you are not hungry
4) you eat alone or secretly due to being embarrassed about the amount of food you are consuming
5) you have feelings of guilt, shame or disgust after binge eating

Three or more? Well I tick all five boxes. So why am I still so reluctant to acknowledge this?

I’d like to say that it’s due to a lifetime of internalising society’s disdain for the supposed weakness and greed of the overweight and obese. I’d like to say that years of seeing people mocked and targeted purely because of their size and presumed inability to eat healthily has had a profound effect on me and left me able to only blame myself for my problems with food. And there may be some truth in that. But in reality I had issues with food long before I became aware of these things.

I wasn’t an overweight child but I was convinced that I was. I remember crying in the playground because I didn’t want to be fat any more. I remember binging from the age of 7 or so and guiltily hiding the evidence. I remember almost flooding a childminder’s bathroom once when I panicked and tried to flush a handful of chocolate bar wrappers down the toilet. I remember my first year at secondary school, when I would barely eat Monday to Thursday but on Friday spend my entire week’s lunch money on a mountain of food. After one of the staff told my mum about that I began taking packed lunches and supplementing them with food from the canteen when I wanted to binge – a much more subtle approach, I felt.

I have no idea what caused my problems with food (I had a happy childhood, I was well-fed, looked after and loved) but I doubt that the emergence of these issues at around the same time that I began to self-harm is a coincidence. Whatever the reason, I have been doing this for about 25 years and it is time to face up to this, to allow myself to admit that this problem may be greater than I have believed for the last quarter of a century. I need to be kinder to myself and recognise that perhaps I am not as weak as I think, that maybe the root of my obsession with food is related to my mental health rather than a character flaw.

My name is Sam and I have an eating disorder.

Decluttering: for the mind as well as the home

It’s been a busy week – DH and I seem to have been possessed by Kim and Aggie. We’ve sorted. We’ve rearranged. We’ve decluttered. We’ve tidied. And although there are still some jobs that need doing and I’ve fallen a little behind with the washing, the flat is looking much better.

The initial prompt for all this uncharacteristic activity was the offer of a new bed. A friend’s parents were replacing theirs and asked if we were interested. As our bed is broken (no it’s not what you think!) and poor DH has had to sleep on the sofa since January we accepted the offer with enthusiasm. Then looked around the bombsite bedroom and thought Oh. Oh dear.

Fast forward a week or so and although we got a bit carried away we have a much more habitable home. Our main problem is still the lack of storage space; we live in a 2 bedroom flat with a 3 year old, a 1 year old and the inevitable mountain of toys (and books – we recently sorted out DD’s bookshelves and discovered that she has over 450 books!). There is no built-in storage so most of the toys live in crates stacked up in the living room and DD’s bedroom. But the layers of clutter have gone.

It’s made a huge difference to both DH and I – it’s almost been like a mental spring-clean as well as a physical one. I no longer dread going home because of the enormous amount of work that needs to be done. I can now sit in the living room in the evening and not cringe at the mess. I wake up in the morning and the tidiness of the bedroom is a welcome surprise. I’m actually looking forward to having friends over for the first time in – actually I don’t know how long. Too long. That’s a huge step for me as I’m struggling with making the effort to socialise at the moment. Solution – people can now come here! 🙂

And best of all, tonight I get to go to sleep in a decent bed with a proper mattress and cuddle up to my husband instead of just my son. To me that will make the biggest difference of all.

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