Twenty four days since my last binge. The big 2-4. I’ve started and stopped writing this post and kept all the fragments of paragraphs in little tabs on my browser.
There’s just no perfect way to say it, I have binge eating disorder. I could say I’m a sneaky eater, a comfort eater, an emotional eater. It’s all true.
Binge eating isn’t entirely new to me. I’ve been through the restrict –> binge cycle before, I know it well. Except since my pregnancy the restricting stopped, came completely to a halt. YOU MUST FEED THE BABY. So I fed her, and I fed me. And I didn’t stop.
After giving up the nicotine patch that I’d been clinging onto 7 months past quitting cigarettes and going cold turkey from an appetite suppressing mood stabiliser, I was hungry. I was hungry and pregnant. Starchy carbs were my best friend for curbing nausea and for the first time in my life I found myself embracing food, embracing my new, healthy BMI and my new body that was growing a HUMAN BABY OH MY GOSH.
My weight increased by almost 15 kilos in 4 months and didn’t seem to be slowing down. Overall in pregnancy, I gained 30 kilos. That’s about 75 pounds. I thought it’d go away quite quickly after Ellie’s birth, that’s what breastfeeding’s for, right?
My mum came over from the East to help us that first week Ellie was in the NICU. She kept us well fed and drove us to and from the hospital. I found comfort in scotch finger biscuits and cups of decaf Tetley. The smell reminded me of Ellie, her warm little scalp, her soft although jaundiced skin. Mum left and Dad arrived. The biscuits continued.
Adam and I stayed in the Mother and Baby Unit for 3 weeks, eating the first-floor hospital canteen takeaways. Patterns began to form. All was well in the world if I had the same foods every day, eating (in hindsight) enough for 2 women, I coped by eating.
Once home, Ellie was colicky and about as easy to manage as you’d expect a newborn to be. I didn’t notice that I’d gained 4 kilos since having her, I didn’t notice it yet.
The moment I realised I had a problem was after Adam had returned to work and it was that time in the afternoon too late to go out but too early to start making dinner. Ellie was sleeping (or so I thought) and I was about to sit down and watch some mindless Youtube when she began a 30-minute episode of inconsolable crying. Before running to be by her side I found myself in the fridge.
I’m coming baby I’ll be there in one sec
I sang out to Ellie with my face in the fridge, basically inhaling chocolates.
What the fuck was I doing? I remember asking myself. I knew it wasn’t normal, my first reaction when responding to a stressful situation to shove food in my face.
I didn’t dare mention it to anyone. From there it just got worse. Daily when Adam was at work, I’d fix myself plates full of calorific snacks. My obsessive-compulsive tendencies the driving force behind the “even” portions and servings I would put on my plate.
I can’t just have 1, 2 is even. But I’m wanting more than 2 so it’ll have to be 4 because 3 is a bad number…
^An actual thought I had trying to justify my bingeing
I tried to explain away my weight gain to myself.
It’s because I’m breastfeeding
It’s because I’m storing extra fat for Ellie
The sizes have just changed at stores, I’m not really an XL
It’s not my fault
It’s not my fault
And then it happened. That cliched, tv moment where I saw a photo of myself and audibly gasped. Who was that fat chick? Oh shit. It was me.
I can’t remember my exact words but after work one day, I fell into Adam’s arms sobbing. Months worth of secrets spilled from my mouth, I told him my fears, my patterns, the all-consuming, controlling nature of the binge.
Poetic as though it may be to say, I felt a little lighter after our chat. Just knowing that I wasn’t completely alone was enough of a motivator to start changing. I wouldn’t want to *fail* and have someone know I’d failed.
Losing weight and monitoring eating patterns is dangerous territory after an eating disorder. I have to be on my toes, watching for obsessive tendencies, that competitive, heart-rate raising thump I feel in the pit of my stomach that tells me to restrict, RESTRICT. I started monitoring my calories again, this time with the intention of making sure I had enough during a day to not trigger that hunger-induced binge.
I sat down with myself and asked why I felt the need to eat so much. Why was the idea of a packet of biscuits more appealing than cuddling with my husband while watching Netflix? Why did I eat a family block of chocolate during the day, only to rush to the supermarket to buy another to cover up the evidence? What was I running from?
I’ve already mentioned that my identity felt very much related to how much I weighed. Eating until I was uncomfortable was just another way of self-harming, of placing myself right in the middle of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In my mind, I was worthless because of my weight, which caused me to eat, resulting in even more weight gain.
A few weeks later and some water weight shed, I plucked up the courage to let my mum in on “Project No Binge”. She didn’t scrunch her face up at the knowledge I was eating my feelings, she didn’t laugh like I imagined people would.
She just said she was proud of me, and that I could do it.
This post is the beginning of I imagine a series of posts about binge eating and weight loss after an eating disorder. Talking about the big bad B took away its power.
I hope I can encourage and support you to do the same should you relate in any way.
We can do this.