Binge

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 errant foot

A few years ago I twisted awkwardly on my ankle and made the tendon excruciatingly unhappy. It healed up within a few weeks, but how my body got used to doing certain things I found really interesting.

As I still needed to eat during this time of abject agony I had to go to the supermarket. To allay the pain, I would lean my arms heavy onto the supermarket trolley, to take some of the weight from my foot, making it a good deal easier to walk. This worked really well, and I was able to feed myself (which I always consider a win!). But then my foot got better, and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks after it had, that I noticed that i was still leaning heavy on trollies when I used them. Occasionally, even a couple of years later, I still find myself doing this. For the most part, this feels quite funny.

My body has clearly accepted the familiarity of a particular movement and without me really noticing, it continues to do it. Maybe my body has the memory of that pain so firmly entrenched within my systems, that it accepts this as a default mode. Muscle memory is usually talked about in sports or in playing of musical instruments, but it would make sense that anything that I am doing on a regular basis this could work for.

My friend Kate works for the NHS with their chronic pain team. She speaks to many people who no longer have any reason to be in pain, but they still require high-level pain medication to combat the pain that they are experiencing. After their bodies have gone through high levels of pain, their minds still imagine that it is there, even after the trauma is over, and it continues to manifest.

Maybe the mind works like this too for emotional pain. If something very sad has happened, then sometimes we can get stuck, get looped on a particular set of feelings. Even though an experience has long been over, we still carry the weight, just because we are familiar with always carrying it. Unless I consciously observe my emotional health, it is really easy to hold onto things that no longer serve me. Choosing to put these things down is important. I am allowed to walk unhindered.

Map Point. How am I preventing my happiness?

 

 

Actual Mirrors

There have been times in my life when I have looked into the mirror and irrespective of how fat or thin I was, I saw nothing but negativity, judgement and humiliation looking back at me. This was a hard place to start my day from and didn’t exactly boost my self-esteem.

The absolute worst time in my life for doing this was when I was in my twenties. There were a round six months of my life where I found that I was actively choosing not to eat. I was a student at the time; my mum lived close by, so some evenings I would go and have a proper dinner with her, and that felt nice. But for the rest of the time, I drank black coffee and ate a couple of biscuits here and there. My weight tumbled off. A healthy weight for me is around eleven to eleven and a half stone. I was around thirteen when I began this endeavour and when I began eating normally again, I was down to ten stone. I am a tall person with a large frame, all of my bones were visible. I was incredibly unhappy with a variety of issues in my life, a relationship had ended, a new one had begun that was problematic in some ways, my uncle was slowly fading with dementia, my grandad had died. I don’t think that it was any one of these things that made me take the actions that I did, but likely a combination, I regained control of my life by limiting my food intake.

Any addiction or denial gives us back the control that we feel is missing, and for me, lack of food was empowering. I found that feeling hungry made me feel alive, made me feel good. I would stand in front of the mirror naked, pinching bits of skin, deciding that I could go another half stone. I didn’t see beauty or anything positive, just something that I could control. I was also getting many compliments about how skinny I was becoming. I guess this must have been nice, as it further endorsed the choices that I was making. It was truly one of the most unhappy periods of my life.

As I began to deal with my sad experiences, I became a healthy weight again, and I found myself naked in front of the mirror, telling myself and utterly seeing myself as beautiful. Maybe this was to self-endorse, maybe I needed the reassurance, but it occurred to me a few day ago that I don’t do that anymore. I am now around a stone above my ideal weight, so maybe my level of self-love has dropped, but although this is a possibility, I don’t think that it is true. I think that I have reached a stage in my life where it no longer matters. I eat really well, I exercise, meditate, socialise with exceptional people. Viewing myself in terms of how my body looks is no longer relevant. I still like to look nice, but I no longer tie my emotional state to my physical one. If I receive a compliment, I have immense gratitude to the person giving it, but it doesn’t further endorse me. I have self-endorsed, thus I have left the emotional weight of the shape of my body behind.

Map Point. How do I feel about my physical state?