A day in 2008 – (the date is irrelevant…. most of this happens every day).
I wake up. There it is again. The same feeling that I get most mornings. It’s a ‘binge-hangover’. I feel ill. I have a sickish feeling inside. I am starving, but unable to face food. I walk into the bathroom, silently having the same conversation with myself that I do each morning. Today is going to be different. Today is the start of a ‘new me’. In six months, I’ll be at my target weight. I can do this – all I have to do is to be disciplined about what I eat.
I look in the mirror. My face is bloated and I look tired. I am tired. After all, I have spent most of the night unable to sleep because the night before I had simply eaten to the point of being sick – again. It’s a good thing that I have a phobia of being sick, otherwise I’d be bulimic by now. I reassure myself that everything is fine; if I can just stick to a diet I’ll be fine. This has to work…
I don’t understand why these episodes are so frequent. I mean I’ve binged ever since I can remember, but over the last five years it’s got progressively worse. I want to stop more than anything else in the whole world, but it’s like a demon awakens inside me each day. I go into a trance. I lose control. I don’t care. I eat. And eat. And eat. And eat.
Everyday it’s the same pattern. I am brushing my teeth and feel that same anxious feeling. How long will it be before my husband leaves me? Why don’t people understand what I am going through? I can’t go out because I don’t have any nice clothes that fit. I can’t go out being this size. What will people think? My whole family thinks I am anti-social. How can I make them understand that I love going out, but I just can’t? How many more social gatherings can I put off? My worst fear is that someone really close to me will die, and I’ll have to attend their funeral looking like this. How selfish can I be?
I have been good all morning. Then it starts. This uncontrollable urge for food takes over. I have to eat. Oh my gosh Sunita, you just did it again. You’re disgusting. Why can’t you stop this and get a grip? Look at you. You’re huge, and getting bigger each day.
Evening comes and the eating continues. Bedtime comes and the eating continues. I can’t eat another mouthful or I’ll throw-up everywhere. I get ready for bed. My husband asks me how my day has been today with food. I tell him it’s been fine. I tell him he won’t have to wait long; I’ll be in shape soon. We’ll start socializing. Good. I smile. I just lied again.
This was me 8 years ago. Prior to 2006 I had been relatively thin for most of my life. My life looked great from the outside – I was thin, fit, intelligent and was doing well in my then-career. But I was hiding a deep, dark secret. I had suffered with an unhealthy relationship with food for most of my life. My weeks would gravitate between starving and bingeing. I had had the odd binge ever since I could remember, and by the time I got to university I was probably bingeing around once a week. And even-though I was not overweight, I would still engage in a lot of food restriction and slimming pills…ones that made me feel like my heart was going to pop out.
I remember the night well. It around 1am on 31st August 2006. I had just received the news that a family member had passed away. Whilst the passing acted as a trigger, it wasn’t the sole reason that my disordered eating spiraled out of control that night. It was a long-time coming and a build-up of of things over the years. And that night something switched. I was no longer able to keep control. I was no longer able to starve myself….And I was witnessing myself falling into a deep dark abyss, desperately trying to clutch on the edges for control.
Only there were no edges….six months later there were daily uncontrollable binges, 60lbs of extra weight, and a recluse-in-the-making. I was suffering with Binge Eating Disorder…and I didn’t have a clue.
Back then Binge Eating Disorder was was not a classification in the DSM. It didn’t even occur to me that I had an eating disorder. All I could relate to was the intense self-berating and shame…the fact that I was was getting fatter and had no will-power. And of course…all the well-meaning people around me who felt that it was their responsibility to point out my short-comings and weight gain. As if this wasn’t what I thought about daily….
Somewhere along the journey I tried EFT. It didn’t work. Not because the method was flawed, but because the practitioner didn’t recognize my condition. Instead, (with the best intention I am sure), she wanted me to tap on my cravings. She tried to ascertain why I had gained the weight in the first place and wrongly assumed that the bereavement was the root cause. She attempted to mildly educate me about food and asked me to give-up and restrict certain things. (I should mention at this point that I was in fact a walking, talking nutritional encyclopedia). But I didn’t know any better. I put my faith in her, and I really do believe that she was trying to help.
But what I needed wasn’t another diet, or tapping for food cravings….but instead I needed someone to explain to me why my eating was so out of control. I needed someone to tell me that I wasn’t broken and that there was a method to this madness. I needed someone to recognise and question why such an intelligent girl felt like she couldn’t control her eating. Because it wasn’t about the food or the weight. For me, it wasn’t even about emotional eating. It was about self-hated and isolation on a very deep level. I did need EFT, but I also needed more. I needed someone who understood binge eating disorder. I didn’t need to restrict my eating or eliminate food groups. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, I needed to eat – not in secret or not as a binge, but I needed to allow myself permission to eat, to nourish myself, to work work through the feelings of self-hatred. And most of all…I needed to come off the scales…because it was huge trigger – it is partially what got me there in the first place!
Today I am a psychotherapist and EFT/Matrix practitioner. I would be the first to advocate the effectiveness of EFT. The tools itself is excellent, but I believe that practitioners that specialize in weight-loss need to have some understanding binge eating disorder. Obviously not everyone that walks into your practice with fall into this category, but still it helps to ‘be in the know’.
I’ll be releasing a brief educational binge eating disorder video soon…Hope you look out for it:)