I have no idea where I'm going to go with this, I just feel the need to get it out there, offload and tell someone - anyone - everything. For that reason I must apologise that I have no idea what I'm going to say and whether it will contain details you'd rather not read.

I'm sitting in a busy food court, in a shopping mall, in the middle of Chatswood, NSW, having just binged then purged in the restrooms. How the feck did I get here?

The day started clean, I had toast and coffee for breakfast and was taken out for lunch. Lunch was disgusting taste-wise, but it wasn't too much of an issue health and fat-wise (next time anyone asks me if I like Yum Cha, please remind it's an emphatic "NO"). I was hanging out for my afternoon coffee to take away the taste. I had slight concerns that the lack of satisfaction I felt about lunch might present a potential danger for me, but it didn't prove to be a problem. I ordered a skinny cap, didn't give a second glance to the cakes and cookies and happily went back up to my desk.

So what happened?

A bloke came around the office with leftover cakes from a training course is what happened.

The tray was mostly lamingtons with a few friands sliced in half. Now I hate dessicated coconut, so if only that whole tray had been lamingtons I may have gotten through just fine, not even tempted. But no. I took a piece of friand and that's the very moment where I gave in. The first of many moments in fact, there were numerous turning points presented to me and I chose not to take the right path at each and every one.

At the taste of the almondy muffin, my brain just clicked into binge mode, "oh goody, we're bingeing, fantastic! what's next on the menu?"

I'm just so damn fragile at the moment. The slightest thing triggers the slightest thought, and then that slightest thought assumes enormous power and control.

Just two weeks ago my brain was quite happy to cope with the taste of a cake and would know to leave it there, enjoy it, but don't let it spoil all my good work. But not now.

So where was I? "what's next on the menu? I happen to know there are cookies in a jar right next to the kettle"

Off I trot to the kettle. Logically I know this is not something I want to do. Logically I know this does not meet a single need or fix a single problem. Where's the logic?

I ate 2 cookies.

I'm still reasoning with myself, telling myself just to leave it there, "it's OK, so you ate half a friand and a couple of cookies, that's OK, stop now. It's simply not a problem".

But I couldn't leave it there. It was a problem (where's the fecking logic????).

I took the lift downstairs and went back to the cafe whose cakes I'd previously ignored, ordered a toasted banana bread (indeed, bingeing on things I let myself eat when I'm being clean - now there's a personal rule broken and a line crossed) and a strawberry cup cake on the side - for while I'm waiting for banana loaf to cook of course.

At this point, I realise I'm bingeing (how passive "I realise", really? ) and there's no return so I'd best try and do something about it to make sure these calories aren't going to ruin a perfect 2 day run. This is broken perfection, this needs to be righted. I go into a second cafe so I can buy a drink "to help the medicine go down". Oh and while I'm there I might as well pick up a giant chocolate cookie.

Now I'm committed to the binge, I might as well make it a good one: eat a few of the things I've been missing and "enjoy" them (as if you actually can enjoy a binge). So I pack up my laptop and finish for the day. As I'm walking out of the building, I'm feeling pretty bloody pathetic. I was telling myself what a disappointment I am and how I'm letting myself and my husband down. Did you see how fantastic he is? That's not going to last, why would I do this to myself, why would I do it him? But telling myself how weak I am being is only serving to reinforce the weakness, it's not giving me the strength to overcome it.

Even despite the gaps in the process where I'm arguing with myself I'd decided I'm in this for the whole hog now. I go into a bakery and buy a piece of cheesecake and a caramel tart. Once consumed I scout the streets for more cafes and shops and in the next bakery I buy a second piece of cheesecake and a second caramel tart (nothing if not original). While I'm still eating, I continue to walk and find a shopping mall. I zone in on the food court. Here I order a banana crepe with banana and chocolate. I'm starting to feel pretty full and disgusting now, but still not sure if I'm quite full enough that the purge is going to be as easy as it could be. A giant caramel muffin seals the deal so that I'm fit to burst and can make my way to the restrooms to get rid of it all again.

Here's another danger point. This can end in one of two ways. Either I feel the joy of an empty stomach and the high of being back in control again after having had my cake and eaten it, or it could end with me feeling a little full and a bit of a failure, like I didn't achieve a thing and the whole process starts again. This wasn't a particularly big binge to begin with.

Like I said - how the feck?!

So what's different this week than a couple of weeks ago? Why am I stuck in this way of thinking again? What happened? How do I get back out?

I've been wracking my brain trying to work out what's going on. OK, so I'm on a stressful project (again!), I'm away from home (again!) and I've just moved house (again!) but is that really what's at the heart of this? Problem is, whatever the cause is, it's something I'm not dealing with, I'm not emotionally connecting and processing the issue, so when I question myself whether I've hit on the root cause, I'm so emotionally detached, it doesn't feel real.

I've been through eating disorder counselling of various types as well as general counselling (a fantastic counsellor I left in Perth but have reconnected with via email and the phone from time to time). I'm very self aware but yet there's a giant white elephant standing in my way that I simply can't see. I'm hoping that someone else out there can help me put form to it.

I know I'm testing everyone's patience, I'm not helping myself, I'm letting my husband down in ways that break both his and my heart. I know you'll get sick of the wolf-crier who keeps tripping up over the same damn mistakes and falling in a heap. But what do I do?

Now I'm going to stop writing and hit publish. I expect I'm going to feel very fragile and exposed after blurting out all this nonsensical rubbish - AGAIN - but I feel the need to bring my problems into the light and get a bloody good look at them.

What the fuck?!!!!!


Hanlie said...

This could not have been an easy post to write... It wasn't an easy post to read either.

There is so much self-loathing in every sentence! I think that is what's at the bottom of this behavior. And any treatment that you consider should start with that aspect. You're not hating yourself because of the binge, you're binging because you hate yourself and think you are fundamentally unacceptable.

I feel so helpless! I want to help, but I can't think of a single thing to say or do... So just know that I'm thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ani,

It's Chub from http://chubrubb.wordpress.com
I can't connect since I'm at work.
I understand completely what you're going through, as I've felt this so many times before.
Not every overweight person is a binger, and I feel like we have a very specific issue to deal with.
You can follow what my ED doctor has avised me on my blog, or if you want we can even email about this.
I have reduced my number of binges tremendoulsy, even during business trips and stressful projects by really, really stopping trying to "diet".
I don't consider any food good or bad anymore. Written down quickly in a comment it doesn't make much sense, but again, please contact me!!
chubrubb at gmail dot com

Cinders said...

Hey Ani, I'm not so good with advice and it may come out wrong but I think you've got a major sugar issue. Everything you binged on was sugar based. Can you try having some high protein days and see if this helps with the sugar cravings. Try extra eggs, ham and some white cheeses and stay away from the bread. I'm only suggesting this because I can do exactly what you've done. It was a common occurence in my world but now I find that some high protein days gets rid of the emptiness and sugar cravings. Big hug and good luck, I'm really feeling for you x

ani pesto said...

@Hanlie - I there's a lot of truth in what you said and please don't feel helpless, you are totally helping just by letting me know you're there and for that I thank you.

@Chub - I will take you up on the offer of an email. I've had guidance in much the same direction but will admit that when I'm in this state I don't know how to see food in any other way than good food or binge food, I remember practically having a panic attack in a food store when I tried my hardest to work out what do I *want* to eat and I couldn't do it, all I could think of is what "should" I eat to be healthy, or what "can" I eat to binge, I had no concept of what I really actually might "want". Yet - on the other hand, when things are good I don't have a problem with it, I can eat chocolate, drink wine and pretty much anything so long as it's in moderation - nothing is "good" nothing is "bad". Ack... I'm writing a whole post in a comment :$

@Cinders - there may be greater sugar issues behind this but I'm ashamed to say the main reason it was all sugar is far grosser, it's because I find it more palatable to purge sweet foods than savoury and so whether I'm likely to purge or not, I've gotten in the habit of binging on sweet foods. Funny thing is tonight I also broke that trend, after I posted I went on to have a Macca's burger meal, 3 subway cookies, a bowl of Churros, a plate of potato wedges and an icecream dessert :-(

CouchPotatoAtHeart said...

I'm so sorry. I've been there, and it's horrible:( You feel bad, so you eat, which makes you hate yourself, so you eat some more, which makes you feel physically sick, so you eat some more, which makes you feel stupid, so you eat some more.....

There is probably some sort of emotional thing going on that you haven't worked out yet. BUT, in the meantime, can you find something non-food to make yourself feel better? Food is comforting and easy to find, and reliable, but maybe, you can find something else? Crappy magazines? Calling your mum? Buying presents? Sending postcards home? Buying stationary? Anything that gives you a similar high to the brilliance that is biting into a piece of cake? Because the cake, it's not making you happy.

Are you in Sydney for much longer? If you feel like catching up with a complete stranger from the internet, email me. I'd love to be able to help.

wildfluffysheep said...

The part where you talk about binging hits straight to the heart. I understand that mentality so bad it scares me. I am so sorry to hear that you're having such a hard time. And I truely feel bad knowing I am the worst advice giver ever and can't help you at all *hugs*

*sends positive vibes* chin up, m'lovely, it can only get better x

kathrynoh said...

Don't think that people are losing patience with you. I'm pretty sure most of us reading this have been in the same situation. While it's hard for you at the moment, don't think the support you have is conditional on you being "good" or "in control".

It's hard to cope with emotions while you are under so much stress. Maybe the best plan for the moment is just damage control - practical things like only taking enough cash to work to get you through the day.

I know what it's like to have that 'white elephant' feeling - knowing there's a problem but not knowing what it is. It's scarier than having obvious issues in some ways.

AlleyCat said...

Not losing patience either. I have no advice, but your fellow commenters have all offered what sounds like sensible advice to me. My heart too goes out to you. Biggest Hugs & Luck. XO

CouchPotatoAtHeart said...

I'm back and I have a suggestion for the elephant.


It sounds like you are currently sacrificing much and working hard, but you aren't seeing any immediate reward for it. If it was me, all this virtuousness with no treats would make me feel deprived, which often leads to a binge.

It's not a big elephant, but it could be enough to tip you over the edge. For me, when I get like this, I need to ease up on myself. Stop demanding perfection, and treat myself nicely. Try to do something nice for yourself, and focus on one habit - maybe eating nutritionally rich foods. Don't worry about calories for the moment, just fill your day with vegetables, whole grains, fruit, lean protein and dairy.

Good luck:)

Ashwee said...

Hey Ani,
I can totally identify with this experience. I am a mostly reformed binger and still have days when I struggle. I am often too tired and feeling vulnerable or out of control. It's like all I have control over is the food and no one can take that away.

I am finding the Gabriel method great as it is not a diet and focuses on self acceptance and feeding your body with good real foods. There is also a meditation audio to listen to which really helps. I know it has resonated with me and is so effortless. soulmumma.blogspot.com is another person following gm.

I'm also wondering if you have ever had a proper assessment from a psychiatrist to see if there is any medication to help you through as there are so many options out there which can help get you on an even keel and help with the ups and downs. Please don't take that the wrong way!

Big hugs. I do know how you feel and there is hope. Hang in there.


bekkles said...

Hey Ani,

Just wanted to say no-one is losing patience with you, Just here...reading, offering support where we can.

Just don't disappear. Keep us up to date. No matter how bad it gets if you front up and blog your holding onto the hope of getting back into the right frame of mind,
Just tread water while you work out how to start swimming again. You know yourself best. And you've had a lot of success in the past...

MEanwhile we're all here giving cyber hugs

Anonymous said...

I have read your post three times now. I'm overweight too, though I don't binge and purge, and it just breaks my heart to read what you are going through. I don't have any advice to offer you but know that there are more than a few of us out here who care.

Thank you btw for permitting anonymous posts. I realize that getting a gmail (or other such) account is no biggie, but I had one and I do not wish, for reasons of privacy, to continue with that service (or any other that reads my email). Anyways... regards from Canada, and take care of yourself.


Cammy said...

I sooo wish I understood the binge/purge cycle, so that I might offer something of wisdom.

One thing you wrote that resonated with me as something close to my own experience...The office treats seemed to be a trigger (or maybe it was the unsatisfying lunch?) and while it doesn't *solve* anything, I wonder if it would have helped to leave the office--without the handbag or cash--to go for a quick walk. That helped me a lot on treat days in the office, when I was a bit stricter with my calories. At first I told myself that I was "stuck" in the office with it, but then I realized that I didn't have any trouble leaving the office to go for a Diet Coke to wash down the treat. :)

Not a solution, by any means, but perhaps a way to handle that particular situation until the true solution becomes apparent.

Losing Waist! said...

Hmm... I actually had to put some thought into this before I posted a comment. I struggled with bulimia for about 2.5 years. I officially "stopped" purging in January of 2008... but that does not mean it didn't ever happen again. I think I had about one incident every six-ish weeks for the next year before I was able to really and truly quit. I don't feel guilty about the "relapses" because each time I did it, I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and that eventually I would kick the behavior.

I think you are on the cusp of kicking the behavior because you are fighting the urge to feel okay about it, and you are aware of the terrible spiral you might fall down if you ignore it. It is terrible addictive, but also terribly harmful to your body. I fucked my throat up so bad... Have faith in yourself- that you are fighting to NOT do it! Slipping up is not the end of the world because next time you are faced with the urge to purge you can make a different choice.

I sometimes still struggle with the desire to purge. I have to literally talk myself down and accept the food I have put into my body (the desire comes without bingeing sometimes)...

Be gentle with yourself.

JanetM97 said...

Take care of yourself, Ani! It was very brave of you to post so honestly.

I've never had a purging issue, but I totally know that feeling of "what the heck! I'm off program, might as well keep eating...and eating." Kind of like losing my mind- or at least, forgetting all my good intentions and goals. :P I wonder at friends of mine who never seem to have this drive to eat everything and quickly. Anyway, it's usually when I'm stressed or especially tired. ugh!

anyway, I know you'll turn it around! My thoughts are with you, too. :)