This has been an extremely difficult post to write as I feel that I am exposing myself. At the same time I know that only by facing my past and owning my issues will I continue on a healing path.
I think that most women at some point in their lives have come face to face with an eating dilemma. I have never been able to escape mine. It has stared me in the face every single day for 34 years. It still haunts me, especially the after effects.
My therapist feels that it’s a control issue and he is right. Looking back on my life, it began when I felt that I had lost control of a part of my life. A very important person in my life got really angry and hurt me physically. It devastated me. I felt humiliated, unsafe and extremely betrayed. I began questioning myself, was this my fault, had I caused this? I stopped eating.
Not eating felt good. It felt as if I was rebelling and standing up for myself. I carried on doing this. It was exhilarating. When people around me noticed that I was getting thinner my confidence soared. I had been a chubby’ish child and my newfound svelte appearance made me feel beautiful.
Shortly after this my family moved from a small town to the big city. I had to fit in to a new school. Having come from a smallish school where everyone knew everyone, I was now just a number, an outsider with no friends. The only thing I had going for me was that I was thin, thinner than everyone else. They noticed me. I made friends. I belonged, but I had to keep up my part of the deal. I believed that I had to get thinner and thinner. I was hungry but I daren’t eat.
I am ashamed about all the lies I told just so that I wouldn’t have to eat.
It was also during this time that my emotional issues started to surface. Psychological problems were frowned upon and not spoken about. Consequently I didn’t get help; I was just a drama queen and an over-reactor.
A few times during this period, when I felt insanely hungry I would eat. I would eat too much, feel fat, so I’d purge myself and punish myself. This destructive pattern continued throughout my teenage years.
It was also during this time that I fell extremely ill; I contracted bacterial meningitis. Looking back I do feel that this could be attributed to self-induced stress, psychological problems and a full-blown eating disorder.
It was just before my final year at school that I had my first melt-down. My parents were concerned about me, but as I mentioned earlier no one even considered any kind of mental illness. I was a high achiever and a typical type A personality. The best solution at that time seemed that I should change schools; but as you can imagine, this just made things worse.
It was while I was at my new school that I fell ill and missed much of my final year. I had to complete this through correspondence and educate myself. I did it and did well but my fragile psych couldn’t withstand the pressure, and so began my highs and lows. I’d dreaded the lows, loved the highs and wished for some middle ground. I still do.
My erratic eating patterns continued but the binges became more frequent. Self loathing accompanied these binges and I resorted to bulimia. What was really difficult was hiding this from everyone around me and then daily dealing with the guilt and shame. However, from a weight management perspective this worked for me. Sadly I had little concern for my health. The after effects of neglecting myself have stayed with me ever since.
When I fell pregnant with my daughter I made a concerted effort to eat healthily. It was hard work but I did it. I was also so relieved that I didn’t have to feel hungry anymore. Actually, I enjoyed food, too much. There was no capacity in me for moderation. I am an ‘all or nothing’ person. I began eating too much. I ate and ate and ate. I grew larger and larger. I hated myself, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I also couldn’t stop eating.
My marriage ended in a very traumatic manner, so I ate even more to comfort myself. I threw myself into being the best mother I could be, then I threw myself into forging the best career I could. I still ate. I ate to deal with stress. During this time I did make a few valiant attempts at dieting. I would lose weight but I couldn’t do moderation. I could starve myself or I could over-feed myself. So began the yo-yo eating. This combined with my mood swings and the stresses of being a single mother eventually got the better of me.
A total meltdown led me to the doorstep of my current medical team. With their expert, compassionate help and also the correct medication I have now been able to embrace moderation. I am slowly but surely losing weight the healthy way. I am also really enjoying my new-found stability and healthier self. I am beginning to like myself again.