I must say that all of this talk about mental illness in a positive light seems to be as good for me as anybody. Yesterday something just short of amazing happened.
I have talked before that I have a bingeing disorder – not bulimia as I don’t purge after eating. However, it is an eating problem just the same. It started when I was growing up. I was on the heavy side and very self-conscious about it. But not only did I feel bad about my appearance, I was bullied and teased by what seemed like everyone I came in contact with whether I knew them or not.
Kids at school would tease me and call me names. They even went so far in my last year of elementary school to nominate AND elect me as the intramural team leader. I was so happy! I wasn’t all that popular or athletic but I felt like there was an athlete somewhere inside. Intramural games were not all that hard, and it was mostly about the year-end track meet. I worked hard at figuring out team strategy and was so excited. It wasn’t until the day before the meet that I learned the truth. They made me the captain to mock me. A friend on another team found out and let me know. I was so crushed I resigned and didn’t even want to go to the track meet, which I loved. My mother and teacher convinced me to go and in a little bit of payback, I beat the ring-leader in the hoax in not one but TWO races!
But that was the start of the binge eating. I would go to the corner store and buy a bunch of candy and hide it. Then when I was in my room by myself I would pull it out and stuff my face.
Then came the teenage years of wanting to look good because of boys. I was still teased and bullied a lot. Now it would be kids I didn’t even know yelling things like “look at that dog on a bike”. So I would tell my Mom I wanted to go on a diet. I would make myself huge bowls of salad veggies which I would have before the meal and then only eat a small amount of the meat and potatoes that made up our daily dinners. But my parents felt that bringing any attention to whether I was losing weight or not would jinx it. And of course, I wasn’t getting any support at school (except my closest friends but they were in similar circumstances). So, when no one was looking I would go in the fridge and eat cheese slices, grab cookies from the cupboard or freezer, and continue to buy junk at the store right beside our school.
Okay, that was when I was a teenager. This habit has followed me into my 50’s. I have been known to eat a family-sized bag of chips or a whole bowl of popcorn in one sitting. I have polished off tubs of ice cream in a couple of days. When I get the taste of something I can’t stop. And I really do want to now that I am getting a handle on my other health problems.
I have learned that I am prediabetic and that in general, refined sugar is not my friend. On top of that chocolate gives me migraines. I have done my best to take these items out of my diet both in front of and behind closed doors.
And, it has been working, even though the cravings have remained. I just don’t keep any of it around the house and do my best not to buy any if I am shopping alone.
That brings us to present day and the turn-around.
I had another tooth removed last Thursday and have had to chew on the other side of my mouth. Unfortunately, I only have two molars that match up there and this makes chewing difficult. Added to that I am having a real hard time swallowing – an issue I am waiting on tests for. So, I can only eat soft and creamy foods. I am not an egg fan so it has been soup, yogurt and…the dreaded ice cream! The first buckets were chocolate and vanilla frozen yogurt which are ever so slightly better than the real thing. But we finished that and got another two buckets (same flavours) of Breyers. Not only that, but over the Christmas holidays we were getting bulk dark chocolate covered almonds and I was able to eat just a couple a day without too much trouble. Then anxiety started setting in and I was taking handfuls.
Yesterday I had a pile of ice cream because my mouth was really hurting and despite that fact I was eating the almonds. By bed time I was going into my usual symptom of too much sugar – anxiety attacks. But not just any anxiety – it can almost be rage. While I may think of another person while I am in this mood, it is always taken out on myself. In the past my husband would have to wake me up because I would be beating myself. Last night I started hitting my forehead and I knew right away it was the sugar/chocolate combo. I tried to stop it and ended up missing my forehead and hit myself very hard on my eye. I then laid in bed and sobbed quietly, praying to God to help make it stop. Then I started talking to myself saying, “please no more, please stop this now”.
Shortly after, the anxiety started to fade and I still remembered what I had said. I told Hubby this morning as he hadn’t woken up (for which I was glad). His first reaction was, “I am impressed”. When I said I believed it really was a turning point, he smiled lovingly at me.
This is not the first time I have said I will stop with the bingeing. However, I hope that it will be my last. The ice cream, especially the chocolate, was making me feel nauseous and I really did not like those negative mood swings. And really, who wants to punch themselves in the eye?
I have had no ice cream at all today and don’t even feel any desire to in secret or in front of my Hubby. I did have a few chocolate almonds but started to get a bad headache so stopped those as well. I am planning to make some gluten & processed sugar-free snacks such as a pumpkin cake and blueberry muffins. They are sweetened with maple syrup and coconut sugar respectively and only taste sweet enough to satisfy that need.
As for the losing weight aspect, I still need to do that as part of my pain-reduction though I am not going to put pressure on it. Other aspects of my health are more important including my mental health, my physical health (swallowing) and my self esteem.
Yes, I think I have made a breakthrough, but I am not going to put extra pressure on myself to say that I am cured. I will say I am stronger and that is a huge step.