As is customary when I succumb to binge eating once more, I was in a black mood on the way home this evening.
The overeating started yesterday at work. Having completed my 10-day sugar and grain detox, I had transitioned to a low-sugar diet. I had intended to stay largely grain-free for a while but, a few days earlier, had made a batch of plain oatcakes to use up some leftover rolled oats I had kicking around. (I can’t stand waste.) In a rush to get to work, I had grabbed the whole pack of oatcakes, intending to eat one or two for breakfast. But later in the morning, I found myself polishing them off — about seven in total. Still, not a disaster. I ate normally for the rest of the day, and wasn’t even terribly hungry for dinner.
After choir practice, I walked to the train station alone. Some choir sessions are better than others. Sometimes I chat and laugh with people; sometimes I feel awkward and lonely. I’ve also developed a thing for one of the guys there, even though we’ve not spoken much. I had thought of saying hello but he was talking with someone else when practice finished. I walked by quickly, into the cold night.
At home, I felt the rushing-rushing-rushing “foody” feeling. It had been more than a month since I had binged, and I could tell I was going to succumb. Blow it. I had no junk food in the house, but I had nuts, and prunes, and a block of expensive Belgian chocolate I was intending to send to a friend. It had been wrapped up in my cupboard for months as I dilly-dallied with getting to the post office. It was calling me. “Yes,” I decided; I would eat it. And I did. The whole forbidden, overpriced, delicately flavoured, single-origin designer-chocolatier-forged block. And the prunes. And all the nuts. And some pumpkin seeds. And then I went to sleep.
This morning, I figured I’d have a day off from eating well, before I got back on the wagon. After an interminable visit at the hairdressers’ (I took a gamble on a trainee cut and it took six hours), I was ravenous, and made a beeline for the nearest Italian restaurant, where I inhaled a plate of pasta and garlic bread. I topped it off with a Bounty ice-cream and a small bar of white chocolate. But I didn’t buy more binge food on the way home, even though I could have. This was overeating, but I knew it wasn’t a binge. There’s definitely a difference.
The fact is, I knew I wasn’t cured, so I am not surprised this has happened. I have an eating disorder. These things don’t tend to just go away, especially when one is not receiving treatment, which I am not. So I forgive myself for everything. All of it. I will try to let go of my anger with myself. I’ll keep trying to eat well and exercise even though I just made myself gain about three kilos in two days.
What it all comes down to is that I have a mental illness. In fact, I have a couple. That’s scary to write but I know it’s true. I have pathological low self-esteem and the fundamental belief that I am inferior and unworthy. Many of my behaviours act to confirm these beliefs. I do not know how to disrupt this vicious cycle. This is why I have developed BED. It’s a perfect and terrible trap. I am consistently 5-10 kilos heavier than I would like to be, but weight loss has become an impossible task in my head. It is enormous; insurmountable. I lost weight during my detox. I noticed, and felt happy. I then, I suspect, binged to gain it back. In the unhappy-weight zone at least I am comfortable in my despair. It is familiar. In this weight range, I do not have to try to succeed. I am free to wallow; free to fail.
And this isn’t because I compare myself to other people, or celebrities. I’m not trying to become overly thin. When I’m eating well, I naturally lose weight. I know where my body wants to be but my mind will not let it get there.
I guess this is where proper, regimented therapy comes in. I need to separate myself from my mental illness. I need to define where I end and the disorder begins. I need to start to believe that I am not unworthy, whatever my brain tells me. I must treat the cause and, when I have use of my right hand again, I will self-treat my BED — the symptom — with the book Overcoming Binge Eating. I am on the therapy waiting list right now. I hope I do not have to wait much longer. In the meantime, I shall persevere.