There, I said it. Now the whole world knows, yep, I have an eating disorder. Specifically, Binge-Eating Disorder. I struggled with this “label” as it were, for a really long time because let’s face it, Binge-Eating Disorder…it doesn’t really sound like a thing does it? But oh yes it is. It’s like the dirty cousin of Bulimia, it shares many of the same defining points, only there’s no compensatory action at the end – no vomiting, laxatives, working out at the gym like an idiot. Just eating food, and lots of it, without being able to stop yourself from doing it.
Why did I decide to blog about this? Well, there’s a few other blogs I’ve seen of women in particular who are struggling with various issues, OCD, depression and anxiety, and the strength that these women have is just amazing and inspiring. So I thought, just maybe if I could blog about my own experiences as well, perhaps it will help someone else to know that they are not alone, someone else out there knows exactly how they feel, and most importantly, that help is available.
I am only at the beginning of seeking help. A couple of years ago is around the time I think when I first starting trying to drown my emotions in food, and it helped. Like any addiction, it all seems to help at first. But then I started getting negative, self-loathing thoughts, especially as my body started changing because I was putting on weight. Part of me must have known that what I was doing wasn’t right, because I found myself starting to hide evidence of all my binges by burying rubbish underneath other rubbish already in the bin, or even hiding wrappers in my desk where my partner wouldn’t see them…and then still eating a full dinner just in case he asked why I wasn’t hungry. It was not long after I started hiding what I was doing that I thought about vomiting everything up, it just seemed like an easy solution. I thought about it, and I thought about it, and then something in my mind just clicked and I thought “I need help”.
I started with seeing my family doctor and just broke down in tears, and she prescribed me with moclobemide which is an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication and also put me in touch with a psychiatrist who is the best in the state. The medication has helped take the edge off all of my negative thinking but it is still there, I just don’t care about it as much, which is good in the sense that at least I’m not an inconsolable wreck and can still function properly at work. But at the same time makes it equally important to work with a psychiatrist to work through all those issues I have sitting in my head that are causing me to binge.
I had the first appointment with the psychiatrist a few weeks ago now. The only problem with seeing someone who is the best in the state is that it’s very hard to get an appointment with them, which I actually think has the potential to cause more harm to recovery than good. But anyway, I’m doing ok at the moment. This session, being the first one, it was mostly like an information session where I told him about my background and history and he helped me understand how it is that people may come to have eating disorders. That in itself was really interesting from a scientific perspective. Even rationally and logically you can look at it and say yep, I understand all of that, and even how to change it to get better… But actually implementing those changes…I am afraid..terrified even. What if it’s too hard and I can’t find the control within myself to do that? Well I suppose that’s one of the things I’m seeing him about, to help me establish that control over what I’m eating. It still terrifies me though.
I was actually really pleased that from the session I have tangible things to take away and work on, homework I guess you’d call it, and that makes me feel good about the session and hopeful about getting well. But it also makes me feel a bit stressed and anxious because there was quite a list of things to do, and it got me wondering how the hell I cope with that as well as things like uni and work and everything else in life!
So in case you’re interested, these are the tasks I was given from the first session:
- Start keeping a food journal detailing time, what you’re eating, where you’re eating and what you’re thinking and feeling. This is so hard oh my gosh, whenever I binge I just want to pretend like this journal doesn’t exist so I can not write in it and therefore forget the binge happened. It’s only really been the last week or so that I have actually been detailing every single little thing accurately, so I feel like I’m making progress.
- Read a book called Overcoming Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-Eating by Peter Cooper. I have read through near most of this book. It contains a manual for helping recovery, though it is recommended that you do this in conjunction with seeing someone like a dietician who specialises in eating disorders. So far I have worked through Step 1 and this week will be starting Step 2.
- Write a letter to my eating disorder as a friend. You know like, hey friend you make me feel amazing. Felt a little weird but did help to put things into a weird sort of perspective.
- Write a letter to my eating disorder as an enemy. Same sort of thing, only this one made me cry, but was also kind of cathartic.
- A life chart detailing good and bad key events in my life and how they made me feel. This is a hard one, and one that took me a long time to complete because I kept going back to it to add more. I think this is one of the things that the psychiatrist will want to work through, like a list of issues that you keep locked away and don’t properly deal with.
Share with me in the comments below; are you recovering from an eating disorder, or have you recovered from one? Tell me a bit more about your journey.
And above all, make sure that you take care of yourself.