I’m standing in a store, trying on clothes. The size I normally buy is too tight. I know I have to go up a size. I feel so defeated, so crushed. I’m a failure.
This triggers me. I want to go home and get a rush. That feeling I get. I’m buzzing because all I can think about is going home and getting that next fix. I’m also edgy and agitated because I have to wait until I get home to get what I want. So I can do it in peace.
It’s not a drug, at least not in the common sense of the word.
I want food.
Food is my drug. Food is my medicine. Nothing will calm my nerves like it.
This is me, about 14 years ago. Second year university.
I had just lost a pile of weight (my “freshman 15” was more like “Freshman lost-count-after-30”) and had done so in a way that I thought was healthy. I was doing Weight Watchers and that can’t be bad, right?
What I also had done was deprive myself of what I really wanted. I never used my weekly points or my exercise points. I got a a rush out of going to bed hungry and felt so proud that I hadn’t eaten those fries. I also ran 5KM a day AT MINIMUM. I WOULD COUNT GUM POINTS. Yea. I only had 1 piece of gum a day because it was only 0.5 points.
Yet, I was getting so much praise and reward from those around me. Telling me how great I looked and how amazing I was.
But here I was, 135lbs, a size 4 and absolutely miserable. I was hungry, I was unfulfilled. Wasn’t I supposed to feel amazing being so small? “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”
Well, turns out, that’s bullshit. There was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Now big reward for getting to a size 4.
So, here I was, back a school. Stressed, anxious and HUNGRY. (Have I mentioned I was hungry?)
I started to eat and drink all the booze. It started innocently enough. A poutine after the bar, a McDouble on the way home from class. Then peanut butter. Food became something I thought about constantly.
And to clarify, this was not in the cute way “Tee hee I just love food”
No, food consumed my every thought. Everything I did was driven by my desire to consume more. When can I eat next? When can I get my next fix? I would get anxiety before the end of a meal wondering when I was going to be able to eat again without it being gross.
Depending on the day, it didn’t really matter what the food was. Chips were my drug of choice, but if I was stressed out enough, anything would do. 8 bowls of cereal, an entire jar of peanut butter, a bag of fries from the freezer, a bag of M&Ms.
I ate to feel that rush. To get that satisfaction. That buzz.
But then, at the bottom of the bag of chips, that feeling wore off and I was consumed with guilt. How could I let that happen again? How could I be so stupid?
I would resolve to NEVER to that again. I was going to start counting points again, work out 5 times a week for AT LEAST an hour, walk to class, drink only water. All these empty promises I made to myself.
Then, the next day would come and the cycle would repeat. As the weight crept back on, I felt guiltier and shittier. I was worth nothing.
And this pattern has continued, on and off ever since.
I KNEW that what I was feeling wasn’t normal. I knew that I had a problem, but like any good addict, I wasn’t willing to face the facts. I wasn’t ready to do the work to fix whatever it was that was TRULY causing me pain.
Plus, binge eating was THAT big of a problem, right? I knew of anorexia, Bulimia, but I never threw up after a binge so I was probably just lazy.
Then I decided to look up “Binge Eating Disorder” online and felt like I had been punched in the gut. I was checking ever.single.box.
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a two-hour period
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone or in secret
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
Here’s the thing about an eating disorder like this one – no one thinks it’s a thing (unless you make yourself puke at the end) and they just assume you’re too fat and lazy to do something about it. “You should just stop, just stop eating. Go for a run.”
Here’s the thing about eating disorders in general…it’s not like drugs or alcohol. You can’t cut food out of your life. You HAVE to eat. But, like a drug, once you have a taste, you can’t stop.
As I’m writing this, I’m beginning to second guess myself. Shame myself a bit even. I feel guilty bringing something like this up when there are people literally starving in this world and here I am complaining that I eat TOO much.
But this is my battle and what I struggle with. I eat to deal with my emotional pain. I eat to celebrate. I eat because I’m bored and it’s something to do. Food is my crutch.
Now, I’ve come a LONG way since that period in my life. I DID get help, I’ve done a lot of healing and work. But I never came to terms with the fact that I was struggling with aneating disorder. It was too scary.
And while I no longer binge like I used to, I still do. I still can’t stop myself sometimes. Sometimes I still eat until I feel sick. Not often, but it happens.
So I’m finally calling it what it is and taking steps to heal. I’m done fighting and pretending that I have poor will power. That I’m a lazy person and somehow that means I’m a failure. My eating is disordered and it’s time for me to figure out why.
Plus, sometime just calling something what it is, takes away so much of its power.
If you’ve every experienced this or something similar, I would love to connect with you and chat. You can find me here (through the comments) or on Instagram @spitupandsippycups.