Trigger warning: descriptions of anorexia
My curtains are closed and the blinds are down. I'm home alone and sat on the sofa surrounded by bowls, plates, wrappers and crumbs. My stomach stretched and swollen, my cheeks covered in bite marks and I'm in a state of acute distress. I have just binged.
We are starting to talk about eating disorders more but the part that causes huge distress and isolation is still kept secret. A lot of eating disorder suffers struggle with binge eating, including those with anorexia nervosa. It is time that we opened those curtains, switched on the light and told people the truth about binge eating.
Binge eating is an incredibly terrifying and distressing experience to go through. It is not greed, it is not gluttony. I do not enjoy the food I binge on, I don't even taste it. I bite my cheeks and it scratches my throat as I shove it into my mouth and swallow it. I choke. I cry. I cannot regain control. I can't stop it. It's like falling down the rabbit hole and not being able to get back up. It doesn't end there, next comes the guilt, the shame and the self-hatred. Intense emotions. Desperation. The overwhelming urge to purge, the need to harm myself. The 'I want to die' thought plays in my head on repeat. Secrecy kicks in as I hide wrappers at the bottom of the bin, wash up dishes and make sure that my family never know. My Instagram goes quiet, my Facebook statuses stop and my twitter goes silent. Isolation. I shut myself away from the world when I'm feeling my worst.
I'd do anything for a hug but I couldn't bare anyone to touch my body. I cannot get dressed in the mornings as the binge eating escalates the issues I already have with body image. I see a disgusting, ugly monster staring back at me in the mirror. I cannot stand myself. I cannot live in the body that my soul inhabits. I must stress here that medically I am underweight. If the stereotypical eye saw me in the street it would assume that I do not have a problem with binge eating.
A few years back I had a particularly bad time of binge eating. In all my years of anorexia I can honestly tell you that this was the worst time of my eating disorder. I would wake up in the morning and try to have a normal breakfast. I'd pour a bowl of cereal and eat it but then it would trigger the binge and I'd have another bowl and another bowl and then I'd go to the cupboard and eat biscuits, cereal bars, chocolate and whatever else was in there. I'd have toast and whilst I was waiting for it to toast I'd eat bread and crisps. Fries and cheesy nachos would be in the oven. I'd eat peanut butter by the spoonful and when all the food had gone then I'd eat icing and drink vinegar. I would compensate in such damaging and painful ways. I became addicted to laxatives and every night I would be on the toilet biting a towel in agony. I was self-harming daily. I was so unhappy and nobody knew what was going on. My painful secret. Even now it is incredibly difficult to type these words and admit that I struggle with binge eating.
I sat with my psychologist this week and instead of arguing about getting on the scales or lying that I had forgotten my diary sheets, I sat there with my legs crossed, looked him in the eye and I told him that I struggle with binge eating. That was the first time I had ever told a professional and I am so glad that I did. I wish I would've told him sooner. I felt so ashamed of what was happening that I hid away but this is my illness and there is nothing to be ashamed of and I am writing this now in the hope that someone who is struggling and afraid and alone will feel brave enough to seek help because now I have told my psychologist I am no longer alone in this and he can help me to be free of this nightmare.
Useful websites and helplines:
Beat, call 0845 634 7650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 08457 90 90 90
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393