Sat surrounded by empty food wrappers, my stomach swollen to the point I feel like I am going to explode, if only someone could pop me like a balloon in these distressing moments, but I can’t stop. This is my time, this is my secret, I have anxiously waited all day until I can be alone in my room so that I can escape into the false cuddle of sweet treats, I can fulfil my cravings and get that quick fix.
Except I am now a pro at this cycle, I have already prepared myself for tonight by going grocery shopping, lying to the shop assistant that “I’ve just done another family shop”… luckily yesterday I went to a different shop so I wouldn’t be recognised, tomorrow I’ll shop online, vary my tracks. I am doing nothing illegal. My bank account is being dented heavily, but it may as well be due to the shame I feel, actually if it was illegal maybe it would feel a bit more exhilarating, I think? Rather than the reality of this process, shop, work, agitatedly wait until I am hidden from the world including loved ones and then ‘relax’ into my binge.
I have been deceitful – I have cancelled on friends because the urge is too great to be on my own and eat, I have told my personal trainer just what I eat during the day alone and I have told my family I am ‘tired’ when I retreat to my room.
This system is thorough, controlled almost, but it’s finale, the ‘binge’ whilst it gives me a sense of control… is so far out of control. It is painful, I feel grotesque within moments of finishing off the first ‘family size’ bag of sweets and with this sharp high is an almighty crash, it is that dark depth of despair that I now find myself in.
This was just one episode, one element of my battle with eating disorders, but the ‘binge element was the most destructive part of all. Not merely because of the pain it caused me physically and financially but also the stigma associated around ‘overeating,’ consuming ‘bad foods’ and the analysis over my changing body.
For me personally, I was diagnosed with bulimia nervosa which means that you also purge following a binge whether it be through vomiting, restricting calories and fasting or over exercising.
Not only do you judge yourself for not fitting the eating disorder patient ‘stereotype’ image we see projected but you feel greedy, dirty and unable to just ‘stop’ until you have more control back in your life again.
Binge eating is destructive in itself and an eating disorder in its own right with more people suffering from binge eating disorder than anorexia or bulimia.
One in fifty of us will experience binge eating disorder in our lifetime. It is the most common but least understood eating disorder, with one in three considering suicide at some point.
Eating disorders don’t discriminate, they’re insidious diseases which are much more than just about food and give the user a sense of control.
For me, I was eventually hospitalised as an in-patient at Leeds’ Seacroft hospital and later received intensive outpatient treatment to help untangle the grip of my disorder by replacing it gradually with positive coping mechanisms such as writing, dancing, vlogging and now fitness too but I do have to be mindful that I have an addictive personality so I need to put my high-achiever ‘all’ into positive activities that are good for my holistic health rather than plastering over my issues with negative crutches as food, drink and over-working.
There are many brilliant traits which many ‘patients’ such as myself can use in our ambitions but I have learned how to use that energy wisely.
I may never be fully recovered from my eating disorder traits but I am now much more mindful of when I am slipping back into the self-harming clutches of the ‘bully inside me.’ My eating disorder used to be my best friend and worst enemy, now it is about me taking true control to use that fire within for loving rather than harming myself.
Sophie writes candidly about her journey from self-harm and eating disorders to a life of self-love in her book ‘Eat.Sleep.Control.Repeat,’ go to: https://www.hallgoodbooks.com/product-page/eat-sleep-control-repeat or available to buy from Waterstones and Amazon.