Every night I go to bed feeling frustrated that I didn’t manage to eat well today, and determined to eat better tomorrow, no matter how hard it is, because I’m fed up with the weight piling on, and feeling like a slave to food. But then I wake up, and within minutes, it’s all out the window. Again.
It’s not that I don’t want to. I mean a lot of the time I simply don’t feel mentally or emotionally strong enough to even contemplate eating sensibly and healthily, but for the most part I truly want to make changes. I try to make attainable goals like:
– Eat just one piece of fruit/veg with each meal
– Drink a pint of water with each meal
– Avoid excess amounts of white bread and junk food
They’re not even crazy goals. Just small changes that will start making a difference. Taking the something’s better than nothing approach. Yet still, I can’t do it. Well, the water one I do usually manage as water is all I drink anyway, so drinking a few litres every day is my average. But even on that, I am trying to increase my intake, and not doing so well there. Suddenly all I want to drink are flavoured drinks and sugary, fizzy drinks. Seems to have been since becoming a mum. Being a mum with an eating disorder is a whole other blog post, and one I hope to write soon. Anyway, I digress…
You see, the minute I wake up, I feel vulnerable. I’m just not meant for this world in that everything about existing is scary and hard for me. The best way to describe it is by using the woolly jumper analogy. Woolly jumpers irritate most people’s skin, and if you have sensitive skin, they are all but unbearable. Well, for me, all of me is sensitive, and life is one, giant, woolly jumper. So every moment of consciousness (and when I’m really unlucky, unconscious moments too) causes severe discomfort, unease, and eventual unhappiness. Therefore I instantly want comfort. I’ll often roll over and cuddle up to my loves, and that helps a lot, but there’s still free-floating need feeling unmet that I know only food will satisfy. And not just any food. Junk food. Preferably cake or chocolate. Or both.
If I have the physical energy (mostly lacking due to chronic illness) I will make something relatively healthy like toast or porridge, and try to stop there. But the niggling need grows stronger and stronger, until it is literally eating me up from the inside. (No pun intended). If there’s ‘the good stuff’ available, I cave and gorge. If we don’t have any in the house – another tactic I try to implement to avoid temptation – I become panicky and even more vulnerable. My mind instantly starts whirring with 1001 thoughts…
You don’t need it, you don’t need it, you don’t need it. I do, I really do, I’m desperate. Wait an hour and see how you feel then. I could ask N to go the shop for me. No, that’s bad and selfish. No, I can make do with stuff we have here. Oh but if N went to the shop I could get (insert several food items). But you’ll be annoyed with yourself if you cave. Yes but I’d feel so much better if I just had some cake. Or a baguette even. Mmm, a sausage baguette. That would be a compromise, wouldn’t it? But it’s so selfish of me to ask N to go all the way the shop, just to satisfy my stupid emotions. Ok, I won’t do it. Have toast now and you can find something tasty in the house for lunch. You’ll be fine. You can do this. You can. Okay.
Nine times out of ten, if I can’t/won’t give into the cravings, then I choose not to eat at all. Again, I try to eat right, but nothing sensible appeals. See another factor that I have to contend with is texture. I’m very fussy about textures and consistencies with food. Most sensible and healthy stuff is hard and crunchy, which I really can’t tolerate a lot of. I need soft and stodgy textures. Why? I’m not entirely sure. I just know that I fast become averse to the texture of salad and the like; even toast. And then I end up becoming averse to all food. I don’t want to eat ever again. But I’m stupid hungry, so I know I will have to stupid eat again, eventually.
I try to get on with my day, but I’m subdued and unsettled. The inevitability of another upcoming meal is consuming and crushing me. I feel miserable knowing I have to eat again. I wish I didn’t have an appetite, so I never had to eat. Food three times a day is just too much, yet physically I need the sustenance. I hate it. I hate it all. I feel a pressure coming from the kitchen, it feels like the fridge and cupboards are looming over me, getting closer and closer, forcing me to have to look inside them and find something to eat. I wish the kitchen would stop existing. I wish all connections to food would disappear. And I desperately wish I didn’t have to eat, so then all this hell and torture surrounding food would be gone for good.
By dinner time, I’m in bits. I’m literally crawling the walls in desperation and despair. I can’t think straight, I don’t know how to function, I’m an emotional wreck and not feeling able to cope with existing right now. The thought of trying to think of something sensible to eat, let alone making it and eating it tips me over the edge. The tears start, and don’t stop.
This isn’t worth it, I’ll just order a fucking takeaway. But then all this torture has been for nothing. And I’m never going to stop the cycle if I keep giving in. But feeling like this is too much. I just want to make it stop. This is hell. Maybe I should just end it all and then I can be free. No, come on, you’ve got a life worth living now. What’s worse right now; feeling like this, or just having a damn pizza? Feeling like this is worse than anything. Okay, I’ll do it, I’ll order something. Noooooo. I don’t want to give in. But I have to, I’m no good to anyone like this. Oh fuck it, I’ll have a fucking pizza. But the money. We’ve spent so much on food because of me. We can’t afford anymore junk runs or takeaways. But this is a need, I NEED this. Okay, well just once more then, but this is absolutely the last one. I mean it. Enjoy this one, but then no more. Okay? Okay.
And this becomes my choice every day – emotional turmoil and feeling suicidal, or getting yet another takeaway. Risk of financial ruin, or emotional peace. The latter almost always wins out.
Finance is an element that’s rarely talked about in relation to eating disorders. For almost my entire adult life I’ve been in debt and living above my means. Other than when I was a student, the sole reason for this debt has been my food. I have always set a budget for food, but I never stick to it. I can plan ahead on meals, get things I know I like, but I rarely feel like anything we have in the house. My emotions and tastebuds dictate what I have, and I can rarely predict what they’re going to want. So this either means daily trips to the shop to get something I do want, or getting a takeaway. I’d say that I probably spend upwards of £100 per week on food. Just for me. I’ve never told anyone that before. But it’s the truth. I try to block out how much I spend because money pales in comparison to emotional wellbeing, but I hate knowing how much I waste on feeding my eating habit.
Again, it’s not like I haven’t and don’t try to follow a budget and a healthy eating plan. I’ve done every diet under the sun, I’ve tried making simple goals, I’ve tried just doing what I can. And sometimes, if my willpower is strong and life doesn’t screw me over for a while, I’m able to stick to it and sometimes I have relative success. I do best when I’m on what I call The Caveman Diet, which basically means eating fresh meat/fish with fresh veg and fruit. Minimal rice, minimal potatoes, and nothing else. But because I am allergic to a lot of healthy foods (such as nuts and pulses), and too tired to cook/prepare meals, this means a chunk of cucumber becomes an entire meal, or a punnet of nectarines. And that’s not healthy either. Then I become dangerously weak and exhausted, and then something goes wrong in my life, and I crumble. Just like an alcoholic, I’ll tell myself ‘just one’ treat, and before I know it, I’m living off my staple diet of pizza, crisps, and chocolate again.
Another factor is The Fridge. I hate The Fridge. When it’s full I feel overwhelmed by the options, and under pressure to have to use things up by a certain date. And I can’t cope with the smells of fresh food, and hate breathing in fridge air. I try to hold my nose, but it wafts out so I always end up catching a whiff, and it makes me gag. So I end up just not going near The Fridge at all. Most of the food I do buy either goes off and gets thrown away, or gets chucked into the freezer, never to see the light of day again.
If I’m lucky I have someone who’s able to do all the kitchen stuff for me, and make me meals. But even then, after a few days of being presented with healthy, homecooked food, I end up just having a meltdown at the sight of yet another plate of meat and two veg, and crying my heart out. After a couple more days of that, I’m back to ordering takeaways.
Now the day I’ve been describing here, that’s a GOOD day. Usually I’m so exhausted and drained that I can’t even contemplate thinking about meals or making anything. Not even something quick like a sandwich. Plus, most days, something happens that really upsets me, or makes me feel vulnerable, or is stressful, and again, I feel that overwhelming NEED to stuff my face, to fill that emotional crater that’s been created.
When I do binge, I feel instantly better. As I cram the food down me, faster than my jaw can keep up with, I feel myself become calm and stable and okay again. And that’s a nice feeling. One I don’t want to stop. So I keep eating and eating and eating. I’m way past physical satiation, I can’t breathe properly, I’m in a fair amount of discomfort, but that feeling of completeness, contentment, and safety is stronger than anything.
For the rest of the day I’m usually fine. I feel happy inside, so everything is ok. But when I go to bed, and I’m lying there in agony, unable to breathe and with my stomach churning, I kick myself. I kick myself for being such a stupid, weak, useless excuse for a human being. I don’t feel guilty, because it was what I needed, but I feel incredibly frustrated that I gave in yet again. More money down the drain, more pounds piled on, more failure on my quest to be in control of my eating habits. I hate myself for a while. A long while.
Slowly, the hate fades and turns into determination.
That’s it. No more. Tomorrow I’m just going to say no to all voices and all temptations. I’m going to be one of those inspirational people you hear about who shed loads of weight. It will be a long and painful journey, but I can do this. Anything I lose is better than nothing. And it will feel good to break the cycle. Yes. I can do this. I can.
I go to bed determined and motivated. But then I wake up…