I wanted to share this because I don’t think people take the addiction I had/have very seriously although it’s responsible for more deaths than smoking, alcohol and illegal drugs.
My addiction was food. Not just the occasional chocolate bar binge session. This was a £300 a week addiction. This was an addiction that controlled my life. This was an addiction that controlled how I felt. This was an addiction that controlled me. This was an addiction that at it’s worse consumed me.
Food, unlike drugs, alcohol and cigarettes isn’t something you can give up and never have again. Food keeps us alive. We have to eat. How had my relationship with food turned so nasty? How had food become my best friend and worst enemy all at once? And how the hell was I no longer in control?
How I ended up at the point of spending around £300 a week on food is a story that i suspect shares many elements of other food addicts. My mum died. Food became my best friend. I had no one to talk to or to turn to. I could rely on food. It made me feel whole. It made me forget i was alone. When I was eating food the pain stopped and I escaped. As I ate more I got fatter. By the age of 13 I weighed around 13 stone. This made me a prime target for bullies. Which of course added to my pain which I was relieving by eating food and thus a vicious circle began.
When I was 14 we moved house and I was changing school. I was determined to not be bullied at my new school. I wanted people to like me. During the summer holidays leading up to my new start I just stopped eating as much. Most days I’d try limiting it to an apple and a piece of toast. The control felt so good. It worked I lost weight. I started my new school and no one bullied me. It was great. However the pain of losing my mum had never been addressed, my home life was a roller coaster of insecurity and constant upset so I was quickly back to my reliable friend food, I was eating more. I found I just couldn’t stop myself. If I felt low or sad then food was there. I’d been at the school about 6 months when one of the other girls, who I’d become quite friendly with, told me that the previous night her and another friend had stuffed their faces and then made themselves sick afterwards. She told me the other girl hadn’t liked it but she thought it was ok.
I was quite a sensible child but for some reason I just couldn’t stop thinking about what she said. Here i was desperate not to put on any weight but not able to stop myself from eating food. I wanted to be skinny, i needed to be skinny so people would like me. This seem like the perfect solution and so my bulimia journey started. At 1st I thought it was great. I didn’t eat anymore than normal. I just had my dinner, without worrying and then threw it up. I started to lose weight. I loved the feeling of getting smaller. I was in control. This went on for quite sometime. I got really skinny but I was losing control. Before long I started purposefully eating more before I threw up. It was the eating part that made me feel better, that numbed my pain. The throwing up part helped me feel in control. Soon it became a cycle of eating as much as i could, as quickly as I could and then throwing up.
Soon the binging became larger amounts, it took longer from start to finish. I was no longer just eating and vomiting. I was eating for hours. I was consuming more and more. I couldn’t stop myself. This meant I was digesting and absorbing the food. Meaning I was taking on the calories. This meant my fool proof stay skinny plan stopped working and started back firing. By now I was so far into it that I couldn’ t stop binging. I had no control. If i was out with my family or friends and i ate something i considered ‘bad’ the trigger had been pulled. All I wanted to do was eat more and more and more. Would eat until I struggled to stand up I was so full. I was like an insatiable urge. I would become impatient and irritable. I would lie to get out of commitments so I could binge instead. I would eat everything and anything. I would eat and eat and eat. I couldn’t stop myself even though i wanted to. Each day would start with a pact to myself that i wouldn’t do it. Not today. Never again. The niggle would be there. Like someone poking you, jabbing you ‘now, now, now, now’ most days I would give in. What a sad, lonely and unforgiving place to be. I had concept of how damaging what I was doing was. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I was ashamed of myself. I felt messy inside and out. I had so much sadness and i was so confused i could no longer tell if the eating was helping or making it worse. I felt stuck. Years past. Years went by.
What changed it? What stopped it? What was the cure? Me. I was. I’m not saying that therapy and programmes can’t help because they can but ultimately, even with talking therapies the only one capable of making the changes was me. I. I had to stop fighting and imaginary beast and start looking within. I had to be kind to myself. Love myself. I had to help myself. By being open, which took time and a lot of guts, I was able to begin to understand myself and my predicament. I was able to start processing the pain and sense of loss from losing my mum. By saying things out loud to therapists and friends i was able to hear what I was saying which allowed to me admit and address what i was thinking, believing and feeling. I was able to comprehend that there was another way to live my life and that I was perfectly capable of achieving it.
It was a trip to the Caribbean in 2008 that really spun things for me. I was on a tiny Island called Bequia. Nature was everywhere. The air was floral. There was no noise or light pollution. Just nature. At the time I’m not sure I realised the healing affect this place had on my but I was there for 2 weeks and i wasn’t sick. Not once. I may have binged but I didn’t make myself sick. I forgave myself and rode out the urge. Day after day. Even if i had the thoughts and fears of getting fat i just said ‘no’ to making myself sick. I think my willingness to know i could do it if i wanted to, my taking it one meal at a time and my understanding that by always thinking ‘i will never do this again’ i was setting myself up for failure all helped.
When i came back to the UK it never went back to how it had been. I was never completely out of control again. I was sick again and i binged again but i was never in a place where i couldn’t stop and where it completely took over and controlled my life. Where it consumed my life and where it was all that was
in my life.
Now? Well now i’m a work in progress. Binging is still an issue for me. Not in the way it was years ago. When it happens I eat too much but nowhere near as much as i used to. It happens on the rear occasions i feel something is missing and i can’t stop thinking. I eat because it makes me feel full, whole, complete and because when i do i stop thinking. It’s far less frequent now but it is still my comfort blanket. I’m now Vegan so what i binge on may have changed but the need to use food to make myself feel full and whole still arises from time to time. It’s as if i trick myself into it. I just eat and don’t think. It’s like i grab loads of food i know i’m not allowed and hide it from my parents. If they saw me they’d question it but if they don’t i’m free to just eat. That’s how it is. If i don’t think about what i’m doing (be the parent) i don’t question it but if i do think about it i would have to question it, be come aware and stop.
I have learnt to become grateful for the binging. Why? Because it tells be that there are still things i need to work on. It says ‘hey you missed a bit over here, i need some help please’. Then i am able to help. I am able to workout what is going wrong and why i am doing this. If you have a reliability on food first you have to admit it. Then you have to forgive yourself and love yourself. Then you make a decision to get better and be better. Why? Because you want to feel good, you want your body to feel good, you don’t want to keep using food to hide whats really going on. You want to address these things and live your life freely without the need for or reliance on something outside of yourself.
I hope that my story helps you realise there is a cure. That cure is you. I hope it helps you realise that you can stop binging by investigating the cause. Do whatever it takes. We are all different. Don’t be ashamed. Ask for help. Talk to other people. I find by talking to other i often answer my own questions and solve my own problems. You are not alone. Remember that.
It’s up to you whether you chose to use this as an experience that makes you happier by understanding and resolving what caused it in the 1st place or whether you chose to continue as you are. Just remember happiness is a choice and you are all you ever need to reach it.
Love and positivity,
Byron Katie – Loving what it
Dr Wayne Dyer – Stop the excuses