To the outside world I may come across a functioning, cognisant adult who has, in the last year, turned her life around. It may appear to anyone who doesn’t really know me that the battle has been won. Victory (goal weight) has been achieved and I can hoist my old size 24 knickers up the nearest flagpole and salute them, in celebration of all that I have achieved.
Well yes, I have done pretty well, I’m not going to deny that; but I think I said to anyone who would listen at the time, that the true battle would begin the moment the food came back in. I know myself and I know what’s going on in my head. Food and I have got previous and this isn’t a battle, oh no… This is war.
This isn’t a woe-is-me tale because I don’t want anyone’s pity, this isn’t your problem. You don’t even have to read this post, I’m sure there’s a Simon’s Cat video you’d much rather be watching.
But perhaps, me being honest about the difficulties I still have with food may help someone else,who’s thinking that they are the only other person on the planet whose stomach appears to be directly connected to every other major organ in their body.
You’re hungry, you eat food.
You’re angry, you eat food.
You’re cold, you eat food.
You’re lonely, you eat food.
You’re upset, you eat food.
You’re celebrating, you eat food.
You’re tired, you eat food.
You’re anxious, you eat food.
In short, there is no situation where your emotional, physical or spiritual situation does not require food. Sometimes, when those feelings get really intense, the food stops being the comfort and becomes the stick to beat yourself with. That’s where I find myself on an all-too-frequent basis.
I am unhappy in one area of my life and I have been since the summer. I can’t see a way of resolving the issues and the unhappier I get and the more I feel trapped by them, the deeper I fall into abusing food. I binge. There, I’ve said it. I’m not bulimic, it doesn’t come back up, it just sits there like some bowling ball I swallowed. I have good days and I have bad days. On bad days, like today, I pitch up at a supermarket, buy food, get home, eat it as fast as I can and destroy the evidence. If I wasn’t able to tell my husband, he would never know. He knows what I do and he’s powerless to stop it, because when it happens I am on my own and he’s in London.
I don’t do it when people are around. I can conduct myself quite properly in society, eat a normal portion of anything and make out everything is fine and dandy. I’ve had a lot of practice at making out that everything’s fine and dandy. But let me get anywhere near a supermarket on a bad day and a binge is inevitable.
I don’t like doing it, I don’t glory in it, I hate myself all the more when I’ve done it and trust me, I can hate myself for England. I know, that if I can work through what’s upsetting me then this will go. However, like the Terminator, it will be back. My food issues are an endless game of Pop-Up Pirate, smack one down and another one will pop up somewhere else.
Everybody recognises that anorexia and bulimia are very serious eating disorders and there is a genuine case for those people to have the care and support they need. But below that, there are a raft of people who suffer in secret with milder variants, that are a problem, but can be adequately hidden from the world so as not to interfere with daily life. You can be as emotionally screwed up as a piece of paper; but if you look marvellous, turn up to work, do your job, take care of your kids and show up to everything and anything, who’s to know that you have a 120-a-day Cheddars habit and you hate yourself for having it.
I appreciate that some people have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. For them food is just that, food. They eat it, forget about it and it never occurs to them to eat from any other motivation than hunger. You are truly blessed and I hope you will excuse me if I smash the black forest gateau into your face before I lick it off.
I have nobody to blame for this, nobody made me start using food as a weapon of mass destruction, it’s the way I am, it’s the way I’m wired up. In me, all wires lead straight to my stomach.
Each person’s battles with food are going to be slightly different to mine and I don’t have a handy checklist of ten easy steps to reel off, where I can say ‘do this and you’ll be fine’. Some days are easier than others and some situations are easier than others to get through. The important thing is to acknowledge to yourself that you have a problem. You don’t need to tell anyone else. If you’d like to tell me, then by all means do. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps you’d like to take my hand and we’ll work through this together. We can keep in touch and encourage each other to slowly start fighting the battles that insidiously blight our lives.
So that’s it really. There are no tears, there are no tantrums, there is just the acknowledgement that my food issues are back in their full measure and I do not want to go down without a fight. As a better man than me once said…
“Been down one time,
Been down two times,
Never going back again… “
and someone else said:
“Once more I tell the shadows of my soul to stay back,
everything has changed now,
and I don’t want to go back,
and nothing you can say can change my mind.”
My name’s Rachel and I…
…am a compulsive overeater
…have an eating disorder
…am a mess.
…But I’m fighting