A Day in the Life of Someone with Binge Eating Disorder…
Warning – The content of this post may be triggering for some people
My alarm goes off and I dread silencing it because I know my mind will instantly jump in to fill the space…
<<What did I eat yesterday?... How good/bad was I?... Eurgh I remember now… It’s ok, today’s a new day… I’ll just make sure I don’t eat X and only eat Y until dinner… >>
This is how I start most of my days; my brain is full of food rules and promises of how I’ll be “better” today. I get ready and head to work for the day with a plan for what I’ll eat etched viciously into my brain.
It isn’t too much of a challenge to stick to my plan at work because I’m busy and distracted. But I can feel the food rules lurking around in the back of my mind, they never fully go, always ready to pounce when they get the chance. Every time someone offers me something, they attack…
<<Don’t do it… You haven’t earnt it… There’s far too much sugar/fat/carbs/calories in that…>>
I white-knuckle my way through the working day to prove to myself I can stick to some arbitrary plan my mind created as a way of determining my worth. Part of me sees the irrationality of it, but still, it feels like life or death.
Walking home from work I find myself going to the shop to pick up a snack. I eat it quickly hoping no one I know will see me. It feels SO good, like an exhale from constantly holding my breath all day. But it isn’t enough. I find myself in the next shop buying another snack. I hide somewhere to eat it and again… RELIEF… like the tension from being on guard all day is being released. That’s when it takes over and I don’t feel like I’m in my own body. I feel like it’s walking for me, pulling me into shop after shop, snack after snack. The rest of the world is hazy as I buy, eat, and walk in a trance-like state. Until I get home...
That’s when I realise that I’ve binged, again.
<<How can I have done that? I was doing so well…. I hope no one saw me…. What if someone did see me?... I bet they think I’m such a greedy pig… They’d be right to think that…>>
I have plans to see friends later for dinner. I go back and forth between thinking of excuses to get out of it and arguing that I’m not going to let this get the better of me. I decide I have a couple of hours until we’re supposed to meet, so I decide to squeeze in a quick run, shower and go out anyway. I deserve to enjoy myself with friends.
I arrive at the restaurant and start catching up with my friends. I don’t tell them about earlier. I don’t want to think about it anymore. They wouldn’t understand anyway. They’d tell me I’m overexaggerating because “we all indulge sometimes” or “we all have hungry days”. I’m too ashamed to explain how it’s different. Plus, we’re here to have food together, if I told them I’d ruin it.
The conversation naturally moves on to ordering food. Before I even think about it, I hear myself saying “I can’t wait to eat, I’m starving, I've barely eaten today.” I go ahead and order like that’s the truth.
<< What?... Why did I say that?... What a liar!... What happened to only ordering something small?... Why am I so obsessed with food?... What is wrong with me?... >>
We eat and chat together. It distracts me from the feelings of guilt and the inner critic quietens for a while. My mood starts to lift and it feels like I’m getting a momentary break from my own mind.
I get home. I feel my mood come down from the buzz of being with friends. I hate this feeling and I’m not sure what to do with myself. I’m not good at spending time on my own. It doesn’t feel safe to be on my own. I don’t trust myself to be alone with food. The memory of bingeing earlier comes back to me and I just want to shake it away. But I also want to binge again. I want to binge away the guilt from bingeing and the confusion from that is unbearable.
I try to distract myself by reading… scrolling social media… texting friends… watching TV… But nothing scratches the itch in quite the same way….
I wake up on the sofa feeling groggy, like I’m hungover. I look around me at all the empty food wrappers. Reality comes crashing down and that all too familiar sinking feeling hits me…
<< How could I have done it again?... I’m so disgusting... I’m pathetic… I hate myself… The one thing I promised myself I wouldn’t do again today, I did… Why am I so greedy?... Why can’t I stop myself?... What is wrong with me?... >>
I turn off the TV, tidy up the wrappers and head to bed. I want to sleep it all off. Forget about today. But it’s not that easy.
I lie in bed visualising everything I’ve eaten that day. Tallying it up in my mind to decide if today has been a “good” or a “bad” day. Clearly, it was a “bad” day because I’d binged again. I promise myself that tomorrow will be different. Clean slate. I fall asleep planning what I will/won’t eat tomorrow to make it a “better” day, to make me a “better” person. The cycle continues…
If you can relate, please know you are not alone. I hear you.
Follow @bingefreeandbeautiful for guidance on recovery and how to get support for binge eating.