I have written quite a bit about my relationship with food. The emotional weight sticks heavy. The one aspect that I have only vaguely touched on is binge eating. And until very recently, I have not really acknowledged it as a problem.

I know there have been many days where I have absorbed packets of biscuits, but they were treats, or because I didn’t have time to cook and needed to eat quickly. I was hungry and needed the energy, the sugar rush, I know that once I start eating a packet, it would be hard to stop eating, but this was just something that I sometimes too. A quirk, and certainly not a problem for me.

Last week, after having not really eaten any biscuits for a while, I bought a packet of coconut macaroon type things. I think that there were six in a packet. I ate one with a cup of tea, and although I didn’t really want anymore, they were suddenly all gone. I felt sort of horrified at my lack of control and that has been the first time I have fully acknowledged that this might be an issue. Rather than just one of my many amusing foibles.

So in the spirit of research (am dedicated to my craft!) this morning I purchased a packet of biscuits to actually try and analyse what the kick actually is for me. I think it starts even before the purchase. As soon as I have intended to eat something sugary in quantity, I do start to feel a little bit excited. Then there is the buying bit. This feels like some massive stab of independence, I can buy whatever I like (hear me roar!). Now I am actually eating the biscuits I am not feeling very much at all. The packet is almost empty (they are pink wafer biscuits, they disappear fast!). Slightly sick would be the closest thing I have going on to an emotion right now. It’s simply a process to get to the end.

Two things occur to me. Firstly this feels very similar to my smoking experience. I love the creation of a cigarette, the collection of filters, paper and tobacco. Then I ensure that the tobacco is laid out right before committing to the roll. The for me is definitely the best part, I enjoy the dextrous skill involved. The second thing that occurs to me is that a food binge for me is nothing to do with food. It is about allowing myself permission to do what I want. I don’t feel in a place of particular stress right now, but as with most things, although I know I feel good, I still have my old habits which did not come from being in a place of happy. Food binges are an old coping mechanism. Eating every last biscuit completes the task, and then the anxiety is over. Now I just feel sort of urg. It also occurs to me that the time process involved in this has been quite substantive too.

Am not really sure where to end with this one. Anxiety is harsh.

Map Point. Where am I placing my power?



My firey habit

Last night I had a chat with my daughter who is eleven. I recently told her that I sometimes smoked. Most people who know me do not know that I smoke, even close friends are generally somewhat surprised when they find out. I don’t smoke very much, and I was asking my daughter how she felt about it. Her opening line was ‘It’s okay that you smoke, but if you ever have to go to the hospital for it, then you have to stop’. I agreed this was a somewhat savvy plan. I also agreed with her that rather than smoking by myself, I would just smoke when I saw friends who also smoked. She then asked me if I felt that I had to smoke to fit in, which kind of made me smile.

The first time I ever smoked I was eleven, same age as my daughter is now. I had one puff of a cigarette that one of my mum’s friend’s daughter had. I felt mildly curious about the experience, I don’t recall feeling any pressure to participate. It made me feel sick to my stomach, it was utterly disgusting. For years afterwards, I was still the only person in my social circles that had, and I fielded a lot of questions. Smoking brought attention. Around the age of fifteen, I started smoking whole cigarettes, possibly as many as twenty in a whole year, so clearly I was hardening to the habit. I mostly smoked with people that were somewhat cooler than me, and I felt incredibly endorsed. By eighteen, I was one of the few people in my social circles that actually smoked semi-regularly.

When I think as to my reasons why they were largely socially orientated. It gave me something to do, something to keep occupied, and people engaged with me if they wanted a cigarette or a light. It gave me purpose. It also gave me a barrier. Smoke created me a bubble of personal space.

Over the years I have gone through phases of smoking lots (university exams) and not smoking at all, sometimes for years at a time. It always seems to start off social then ebb into solitary smoking. But now I have entered into an agreement with my young one, and this is something that I take very seriously. So despite knowing that I could easily smoke, I will remove this from my routine and find some less destructive things to do with my time instead. Or possibly just become very sociable with those that still do..

Map Point. Why do I choose to engage in things that are bad for my health?