I get super blogger bonus points for having the strangest titled blog post ever; especially given what the subject of this post is about.
I wanted to write something about my history of binge eating. It's something which is now (thankfully) behind me and therefore I feel like I'm able to write about it. I know people who have suffered with it, people who still suffer with it and I wanted to share my experiences of being a binge eater and how I learned to cope with it, deal with it and finally, walk away from it. I recognise this can be a very sensitive subject for some people, so if you want to read no further then that is perfectly acceptable; such honesty is not for everyone at all times, but I feel like I'm ready to be open about this topic.
I think I'd always been a bit of a big eater, I have clear memories of being able to destroy an entire packet of Chocolate Digestives in one sitting, or a 2 litre tub of ice cream - and this was when I was a teenager! It started as an occasional thing (a treat, I guess, I loved rewarding myself with food despite not being a dog) which evolved into a weekly thing. I didn't think anything of it at the time but looking back now I can see that these were my jumping off points into the sea of binging.
I didn't notice it again until I was in my early to mid twenties, when I discovered I could kill a boring Sunday afternoon by baking a cake. Guess what? I'd eat the entire thing afterwards all by myself. At the points I remember this clearly I was at my lowest weight and yet every Sunday I would have an almighty cake binge. So despite losing 5+ stones I was still psychologically struggling with my old eating habits.
I binged infrequently, but I binged to the max. Even when I first moved to London it continued. I'd got it down to about once every few weeks by that point (which I was really pleased with), always when I was alone in the house and usually early in the evening. I could put away SO MUCH FOOD in a short space of time that it's alarming. I once wrote it all down afterwards, well, as much of it as I could remember.
The scariest thing? I couldn't remember what I'd eaten. Even if it was 20 minutes ago. My binges would last around 15 -20 minutes and I would just mentally shut down. By the time I was done I would come back into reality and just see the massacre of empty wrappers and be feeling very, very sick. I never purged, I just binged myself into a haze. Sometimes when I came to I'd have wandered from the kitchen into a different room in the house. This is seriously scary stuff.
I decided to do something that I'd never done - I told someone. I told my boyfriend (as he was at the time) about the binges as I wanted to come clean and make myself accountable for my behaviour. Obviously, if you've never dealt with such things and have a different relationship with food to my all-loving-earth-shattering-mind-consuming-lust for the stuff, then it's difficult to understand why it happens. So I tried to explain - and this is where the cat in the Christmas tree comes from, it's the only metaphor I could explain myself with.
|Oh. You're home. Early. Hiiiiiiiii.|
I used to have a lovely, fluffy black and white cat called Tabbitha (or Tabby, if you want to be her buddy) when I was growing up. She was the most well behaved cat ever. EVER. We lasted about 6 years with her not attacking the Christmas tree (as cats seem to love to do) until one year she just went batshit crazy, knocked it over, fused the lights and broke the baubles. Naughty cat. She never did it again, it was like one day the sparkly bits on the tree all just got a little too much for her and she had to have it. All of it. ATTACK. RAAAAARRRGH! This is how I chose to explain binging. I don't do it for ages (at the point of explanation I could go a couple of months without incident) and then one day SNAP! I must have ALL THE FOOD. Then I don't ever want to do it again. Until the next time ...
The strangest thing is, since I've given this disorder a bit of a comedy persona it helped me cope with it better. It made me look at it from an outsiders perspective (which made a nice change from being all up inside my brain all the time), try to understand it better, watch for my trigger signs as well as having someone there who could go 'oh, is the cat eyeing up the shiny stuff again?' which would stop me pacing around the house and make me laugh a little bit. It's not trivialising the problem as such, but in a way it is, and that's exactly what I needed in order to help me realise how ridiculous my own behaviour was - I needed to point and laugh at it. I accept that this is not for everyone but to me laughter has always been great medicine.
It didn't fix me, not even close. eating better also went a long way to curbing my habit. I make sure I eat enough, right and frequently so that I'm not starving the moment I get home from work (when the majority of my binges happened in recent years) that way I can't be tempted. Getting my blood sugar in tip top form has been a key, so I've learned when my body responds best to certain foods (carbs are better for me first thing in the morning and later on an evening but best avoided at lunch and so forth).
Whilst I've been writing this post I've been trying to think back to when I last binged. I honestly cannot remember; my best guess would be well over 2 years ago, which is pretty incredible.
I'm not writing about a cure. Hell, I don't even know if I've seen the back of binging entirely (I hope I have), but I feel like I've developed a coping mechanism and network to help me deal with it if it does reappear one day.
I suppose the best thing I can advise to anyone struggling with this is to tell someone, try to be honest, don't be afraid or ashamed; just voice it. My triggers are always there; I just seen them for what they are now ...
... naughty little kittens.