I re-discovered a half finished post in my drafts box. I wrote it, a month or so ago, in response to an email asking how I dealt with the sense of deprivation from giving up bingeing. I decided to reply with a post because it was a fear that I remembered particularly well.
* * *
This is a secret. It is a secret that I also keep from myself. I like food. I particularly like food that I don’t feel comfortable eating. One of the reasons why I found it so hard to challenge my bulimia was that it seemed the only way I could imagine allowing myself to eat. I thought I’d miss the pleasure that I got (albeit on a decreasing basis) from the bingeing, and that, after gorging myself so regularly, it would be impossible for ‘normal’ to feel like enough.
The body is a miraculous thing. I found that, as my body got used to eating regularly and as I slowly gained the weight back, the cravings started to lessen and I was able to feel satisfied eating the things that would have been a starter for my binge.
It is impossible to realise this when your body is starving – sated – starving – sated and your mind is craving food, and emotion, and relief. It is impossible to disprove the fear when you give up bulimia without making sure that you are eating enough. It is impossible to maintain the stability if you don’t deal with whatever’s going on underneath.
* * *
Shortly after writing this, I slipped, and I am now experiencing the same fear that I was trying to placate. I am back in “just one more time” territory, and had forgotten how difficult it is to face this challenge when the trust has gone and food has become divided into safe – and unsafe – again. It is hard to disentangle yourself when the physical effects of bingeing, the chemical highs and lows, really take hold –
Because there is nothing to hang onto. Nothing to suggest that the experience of food might be anything else.
A few weeks ago, I read an article that relates to this chicken and egg situation. The interplay between the physical and the emotional that I sometimes lose when I am busy being analytical or trying to think myself out of the situation.
The article was about the need to gain weight in order to recover fully from anorexia, and it reminds me of the leap of faith that you have to take around stopping bingeing. The knowledge that it is impossible to see the wood from the trees when you are submerged and trapped in the behaviour, and your mind is so consumed by the physical effects of the food.
This passage, particularly, struck me –
“for the anorexic, gaining weight is the prerequisite for mental recovery, rather than vice versa. Put another way: you can’t make an anorexic want to put on weight until he or she has begun to do so. Put yet another way: the mind may make the body sick, but only the body can help the mind be well again”.
- and, whilst there are differences in the processes of weight restoration and stopping bingeing, the initial step into the dark is not dissimilar.
And so, I am reminding myself now of the words that I was writing to someone else. That even though I can not imagine it being okay, it’s hard for me to see clearly at the moment. And even though I am hoping for the lightbulb moment, it is unlikely to come.
But if I give myself a chance, it will.