The Self-Saboteur (long post alert!)

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.

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2 thoughts on “The Self-Saboteur (long post alert!)

  1. Your story and honesty are so compelling. I so understand how you feel, with the only difference being that my body seems to want to cling on to every pound I’ve gained and only gain more. My mind wants to fight this but often fails.

    I still think you’re doing a great job – being able to talk about your struggles and understand some of the underlying issues is very difficult for a lot of people. I hope you get into therapy soon, and keep your head held high until then. 🙂

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