From Bulimia to Binge Eating to Coping
Food was always a source of comfort for me, and whenever I was upset I'd be trying to fill a literal and metaphorical hole by using food. I'd keep eating and eating, sometimes barely chewing, just getting as much into my mouth as possible, disgusting myself as I went along. Sometimes whatever I had at home was enough, but when I was older, I'd venture down the street even in the middle of the night to a 24hr store just to get more food, purely for bingeing purposes. I stopped making myself physically sick around the age of 15 when I was informed by a doctor (who I went to because my family wanted me to go to bereavement counselling when my mum passed away) that it was bad for me and that it would affect my skin, my teeth and if I wanted a baby in the future. This scared me into stopping the purging but I needed a way to make sure that the bingeing wouldn't catch up with me and so I turned to over-exercising instead. I was a member of a gym and sometimes I'd go in the morning before school, or walk to school, which took hours longer than the two buses, and on occasion I’d go to the gym on the way back, too.
I’d also make myself a meal, followed by more meals straight after because I felt lonely and turned to food as a comfort. The 'comfort' I thought I'd found this way included the preparation of the food, the eating and then repeating the process. Sadly, it would be followed by guilt and shame and so it just became a vicious cycle that would go around and around. This stopped around the age of 20, but it came back in my mid-20s and my behaviours and thoughts always lingered around food when I was struggling with my mental health.
I had my most recent bout of eating problems at 26 when my binging became uncontrollable. I didn't want to 'self-harm' by over-exercising or restricting food/purging, but I couldn't stop the eating. I felt ashamed and guilty and began to loathe my body, which I knew deep down I loved and had been there for me even when I was destroying it with vices such as food and alcohol. I find it harder to talk about eating problems than depression and anxiety that I've had for fear of stigma, or that people will start to observe what and how I eat and my actions. However, when I became desperate, I first blogged about it and confided in family, which was a huge relief. I chose carefully who to speak to, those who I knew wouldn't pass immediate judgement and who supported me to seek help.
I'm now in the process of finding therapy and have looked into attending a Beat support group when I feel that I need that extra help and I'm also trying to find a balance.
My advice would be to speak out and seek help if you are struggling. Eating and mental health problems can affect anyone and you are not alone. We all have different ways of coping, so please don't be ashamed.
Abbie writes her own blog, sunflowerandme.
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