Thirteen weeks since I last grappled with a binge. There’s been many subsequent days of battling the compulsion and feeling ‘frantic’ about food. But it’s been a solid three months since I actively binged.
I am now working to face emotions instead of feeding them.
Turns out that’s a 24/7 project.
Bottom line? It’s messy and not linear and kinda scary and yet it’s going well. Honest.
Now that I know what I’m facing, it’s easier to fight back.
I will openly admit that there have been days of ‘white knuckling it’. Days of constant annoying/low-level struggle around food and more intense binge-compulsion feeling from sun-up/sun-down. Moments of laughter, realization, grief, melt-downs and giddy successes.
And *whew* an increasing number of recent days that I really do feel sane and balanced.
Some really wonderful people have reached out offering support, encouragement and telling me their stories as a result of my blog about Binge Eating Disorder (BED).
I quickly figured out I was not alone, not a whole lot of people talk openly about BED and not everyone knows how to help someone in their life struggling with BED.
I wanted to figure out what caused or triggered this episode, so that I can avoid a repeat.
I reached the conclusion that it was no single thing; it was the perfect storm of a whole bunch of stuff that unleashed this specific binge. I had BED hidden, pretending fervently that it did NOT exist anymore and tightly controlled with rules/habits/’should’s’.
And then it was loose. And running wild.
It was there all along, no matter what I thought. I just hit the right set of conditions and it roared to life.
I’d had an off year running (4 races, 3 DNF’s), was burned out on running/routine/journaling food/watching the scale, work stresses and successes. I have some big, exciting life changes I’m working to make happen. Lots of good and some not so good. Not all of it in my immediate control.
Stuff I’d been dealing with for a long time and convinced I was balancing quite well. Suddenly ‘it’ was the straw that simply broke this camel’s back…
After a four day binge on trail mix, I found myself sad and panicked and needing help to battle this really big, pissed-off demon.
So I have been working on getting the help I need. This is roughly what my recovery plan looks like at this point…
- Found a new therapist. We meet weekly.
- Reached out to friends in recovery from eating disorders and asked for their support and accountability.
- Took things out of my eating/living environment that were just not helping.
- Changed some of my shopping/eating/snacking habits.
- Avoided high risk situations until I’m feeling more ‘in control’.
- Food journaling before I choose to eat anything (MyFitnessPal) and food/emotion journaling if I stumble or struggle (Moodnotes).
- Meditation in the mornings.
- Mindful running.
- ‘Feeling my feelings’ and not hiding my tears or joy or fears.
All to keep from cramming fistfuls of trail mix in my face.
Learning to identify and face my emotions, appropriately. Learning to feed my body, lifestyle and running, appropriately.
I mistake or mask pretty much any emotion a human can possibly experience as ‘hunger’ and then eat my emotions.
Have for as far back as I can remember. Decades of experience acknowledging/denying/ignoring an emotion. Happy or sad — doesn’t seem to matter. Then deciding eating is the best possible solution to dealing with fear, happiness, anger, sadness, joy, lack of belonging…
Food is comfort, problem and ‘answer’ all in one.
I’m rudely breaking them the hell up.
Figuring out what emotions are, how they feel, how to feel them, how not to feed them. That’s what I’m learning.
I was standing in front of the frig the other day. Opening, closing, opening, closing, opening the doors…. Trying really hard to figure out if I was TRULY hungry. I looked like I was fanning myself with the door.
“Am I hungry (open), or am I feeling sad (close)? Am I hungry or am I feeling anxious? Am I hungry or did I get my feelings hurt?” I couldn’t figure out the answer. I grabbed some water and walked away from the frig. Sat myself in a time out. Did a really quick scan from head to toe to see if I was feeling the emotions ANYWHERE else besides my belly… I’d had a pretty big run and was increasing mileage for the week. Thought carefully about the stresses of the day/week. Scanning my food journal… Decided that I really was truly, belly-hungry. HAHAHA! ALL of that thinking and pondering and wondering — I really, truly was hungry for some calories.
So I ate. One portion of something healthy and filling. 🙂
While this is funny and I highlighted it in detail, on purpose — this decision making about hunger/feelings is something I’m suddenly very aware of. And I’m going through the exercise of thinking about hunger a WHOLE lot these days. A whole lot in a single day.
A study by Cornell University estimates that ‘normal’ humans (most of you!) make over 200 food related decisions a day.
200 decision. A DAY.
Go to bed, wake up, start making another 200 decisions…
No wonder fighting an eating disorder is EXHAUSTING work.
To those who have BED… Don’t suffer alone and don’t hide. BED loves it/thrives/GROWS when we hide and suffer. Do NOT give it that edge, do not give it that power over your life… Do NOT feed it. (Get the pun?!)