4 major food groups : cake, biscuits, ice cream, chocolate
Set of scales
This was my recipe for my bulimia. And this was my life, food was all I thought about, after my son passed in 2011. I had lost a lot of weight and I wanted to stay that way. Everyone said how good I looked, I really didn't, I looked tired, far too skinny, but it was often an easier conversation (for them) than my grief, I knew what they really thought ‘thank goodness that wasn’t my child.’ Who could blame them. Watching helpless as my little boy went through pain, fear and suffering just to pass away, well I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
So here I was, 6 months after Mikey passed away at 6 stone 9lb.
It crept up on me, I'd become obsessed with exercise, I knew all the ‘numbers.’ How many calories I burnt, how many I'd eaten, my exact weight (3 times a day).
These numbers created an obsession, and I can clearly remember the exactly moment I realized I had a real issue. I was driving home from my parents house one day, after painting their front room a sunshine yellow and I thought I would buy a whole tub of brownies from the garage (petrol garages are one of my major ‘triggers’) I heard my self say ‘oh my all I think about is food’. And from that second it was. Id get anxious if I didn’t know when I could eat, Id get jealous over the food other people had, when I was alone I'd eat and eat, in secret hiding evidence, purging with either exercise laxatives or vomiting.
The saddest moments of my life where when I finished eating, and I didn’t know when I could eat again. I started getting headaches from the sugar, anxiety before any event, my teeth were becoming thin and I was tired all the time.
One particularly bad binge, I remember sitting on the edge of my bed surrounded by wrappers, My vision was blurred, my heart was pounding out of my chest and THE PAIN! I had read about sufferers dying from burst stomachs, but that wasn't my main thought process. All I cared about was my weight, this was the process I went through that day. 3 times.
Step ONE Weigh myself
Step TWO drive to the shop and buy one of each of my food groups
Step THREE eat
Step FOUR vomit into a bucket, weighing myself repeatedly until I had got rid of the weight I had gained, weighing the bucket of vomit to be sure.
Screw you mother nature I have a dastardly plan, I shall eat what I want and not gain a pound.
OK, so my head is bursting.
I cant feel my mouth,
I'm vomiting blood,
My ears are whistling,
My vision is blurry,
I HATE HATE HATE anyone who gets in the way of a planned binge.
My heart palpitations are VISIBLE
My knuckles are bleeding and grazed through shoving my fingers down my throat,
But HA!!! I win!!!
Its an addiction, when you are alone, around food, bored, sad, on the way to an event, in the car on my own, whilst shopping, smiling, laughing, just breathing there is a feeling like someone clawing at your skin unless your eating, about to eat, exercising or asleep. If I was a drug addict or alcoholic, well the answer is stop. But food, stop it and die, yet if you start it is impossible to stop.
I heard just stop soooooo many times, advice for you if you know someone with any eating disorder:
DO NOT TELL A BULIMIC TO JUST STOP, OR AN ANOREXIC TO JUST EAT, SORRY ITS JUST A DICK MOVE, HELPFUL AS YOU THINK IT IS. THE EATTING DISORDER WILL MUTATE THAT TO A FEELING OF GUILT, LEADING TO GUESS WHAT...…
In my case family size chocolate bar, tub of ice cream, a warm desert in custard, packet of biscuits and probably a can of coke, possibly a bowl of cereal...……. or all the cereal.
Judgement is the tool of any eating disorder. some part of me knew this behaviour had worked for me once. It had literally filled up in a place my child, in fact all 3 of my children (yes due to weeks months in hospitals I lost a huge part of all 3 of my childrens lives). Because it had worked, my disorder would find any excuse to protect it self, and judgement for my eating disorder from otherS ?..... Well that was fabulous and will do nicely.
I knew I needed help and was referred to counselling. For me it didn’t work. I knew the ‘why’ of my issue, it could not be changed, I knew why I was sad but counselling just gave me the label bulimic and I carried on living up to it. …..a lot.
I absolutely think that its different strokes for different folks, conventional therapy is incredible for some, and should 100% be the first port of call. But when I was asked 'why do you think your so sad' 7 months after my 8 year old had died. I was fuming. I also felt that my issue being food as it was, did I really need to talk about it more?
Then one day I picked up Brain over Binge.
Kathryn Hansens story mirrored mine and she cured herself after reading Rational Recovery a current theory about drug and alcohol recovery.
You see when I went to counsellng and also led my own research into bulimia recovery is said to be lengthy because I needed to do of the following
Deal with my grief
Lose my guilt
Deal with my problems from my childhood
Find my spirituality
Oh is that all? Fab, give a sec and I'll get on that.
And there was so much more, when this was highlighted in Kathryn Hansens 'road to life' (she refuses to use the word 'recovery' as it infers you can relapse) I felt the expectations of therapy were to high and I would be setting myself up to fail .
So if we look at the definition of bulimia, as suggested in Brain over Binge, it is caused by something mechanical … the urge to binge. So to deal with the symptoms of bulima I now knew I had to curb the urge to binge. Without the urge, no binge, no binge no problem.
The first step was being mindful….. yep that word again. being present as much as I could,take a breathe, offer myself another choice. Didn't always stop a binge but it showed me I had choice and power, and certainly lowered by binge per week quota.
Understanding that I had urges presented to me from a part of me that didn’t represent the human part, more the reactive emotional part of me, representative of some ‘neurological junk’ as Hansen calls it, junk, that at some point served a purpose and needed to be recognized but not acted on changed my outlook on food. And it took reading one book not years and years of soul searching. That’s not to say that one day I may need to revisit my issues I am saying that I didn’t need to in order to solve the symptoms of my eating disorder, and after all I just needed to deal with the symptoms.
I did work with my triggers with logical steps, not taking my cash card out with me, getting petrol once a week, taking someone shopping with me (understanding that for that moment I will resent the hell out of that person for standing in the way of that binge.) over time the bingeing became less which also means the purging became less.
Am I cured ?
I still think about food A LOT. Its my treat, its my vice, I don't drink, smoke and Ive never done drugs, I just love food, sadly its shite food.
Now I understand I have a choice, and more often that not I make the healthier one.
At this point Ive gone from purging every day after every meal to having purged just 10 times in 3 years. Bingeing has gone from every day to very rarely and I cannot consume anywhere near what I used to.
I have learnt that worrying about numbers, any numbers, scales, measurement, taking part in any kind of physical competition, putting pressure on myself of any kind , putting myself second, jealousy and not adhereing to boundaries I set myself and others, well that's a road to the edge of my bed, eatting, vomiting and weighing my vomit.
If I can talk about it and one person male, female, young, old feels this helps them, or reads this book and it stops one episode, well that’s better legacy to my lad than me purging.
I do know people that counselling has worked wonders for I can only reflect on what worked for me, my experience, an alternative view may just give someone else hope in what can be a very isolating disorder.