Its been a while since we took a look at this topic. That’s right, as I promised in my review of Brain Over Binge, it is time for a recovery update. And a lot has been going on.
From April through May I did not want to update you ladies and gents at all, because quite honestly it wasn’t going so well. And by not going well I mean that I didn’t manage to go more than 7 days without binging for a whole month. And a typical binge was becoming larger and larger, despite my eating normally during the day. And I had no idea what to do. There were no warning signs before I binged, they just happened in a matter of minutes. And other than the counsellor I was seeing, no-one knew. Because if you’re in a similar situation you will know it is god-damn embarrassing, even though if the situation was reversed I would want my friends/family to tell me what was going on so that I could help. But an eating disorder can feel like you have a logical and an illogical head sometimes, can’t it? Sometimes I wanted someone to ask, because starting that conversation myself always felt much too awkward, though I did try several times. My friends are amazing though, and even if we weren’t directly talking about it, it was nice to be around people I knew had my back, whatever was going on. They didn’t have to know for me to feel better when I was with them, and I know I am incredibly lucky with that.
After the last binge I had, I woke up the next day feeling my body wasn’t even mine anymore. I felt sluggish, puffy, three sizes too big for me, and incredibly down. I found it hard to leave the house that day, and I think that day was the hardest to pick myself up from out of all of the binges I have had, since the start of my teens. If we’re being honest here, I contemplated not getting up and carrying on, and instead just stopping fighting the binging- I could just binge all day and lay in bed. I could just accept I was going to be miserable forever, and give up. I’d been trying for so long I just didn’t have the energy. But if you learn anything through recovery from an eating disorder, its resilience (you learn some other stuff too, perhaps I should write a post on this?). Since that last binge – touch wood- I am on Day 35 of no binges. How come? Well, I became determined to try and go one month without binging- to begin with. I decided I could either give up, or try again and try harder. And so I’ve gone at it hell for leather. The biggest things I did though were these: I decided to genuinely only look at one day at a time, and I would count down 30 days, not up. Counting up the days I hadn’t binged made it feel like the days were going so slowly, and as if I was barely making any progress. I am generally not a patient person when it comes to myself, so it never went that well. Counting down, personally, made me feel better. I just took each day as it came, and made small improvements each day. It went slowly at first, and then suddenly I was at seven days again…and no binge. Then I was two times seven days, and on and on.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes in the past month I have overeaten. I have gone out with friends and munched on a few too many canapés. But that is normal. When I have heard people say “Oh, I binged on biscuits tonight, I’m so bad!”, then reveal they ate six biscuits…Although what constitutes a binge for some is different for others, I wish that was my definition of a binge. To me, that is not a binge. But my “normal” and their “normal” are different I suppose, and finding my “normal” is something I’ve realised I have to do. Its hard to look back and think that I began counselling to get rid of what I thought was my final hurdle, that being fear foods, and that suddenly opened a can of worms. I was never treated for BED, it just coincided with a different disorder I was being treated for. When my doctors noticed my weight had dropped dramatically they simply tried to treat the restriction side of the cycle, because it was most visible. Counsellors I saw for help were aware of my past with binge eating, but until a matter of months ago it wasn’t the most pressing issue. Though I thought binging had “gone away”, I’ve realised that all I did was stop binging, but continue the restriction half of the cycle until I became ill. For me, recovered from BED means being able to eat binge foods without fear, but also without binging. I can now eating a whole host of foods without fear, which I couldn’t have even 6 months ago. I’m “simply” working on the not binging part.
At times I miss my black-and-white eating where some foods were off limits. When I considered giving in and stopping recovery, my other option with packing it in by simply to swing back to black and white eating. But again, I didn’t. Right now I don’t plan to. When you’ve been at every extreme going, though you remember some of them as appealing, they aren’t in reality. About a week ago I went for a meal and a catch up with an old friend, and was told that what I had ordered wasn’t available. My second and third options weren’t either. But in less than 30 seconds I had chosen something else. I wasn’t fazed, though a short while ago I would’ve panicked all day about how I hadn’t eaten what I had planned to. For my birthday we went out for Thai food, and for the first time since I was about 12 years old I had tempura squid and prawns. What’s more, I shared this and some fishcakes with my mum- I had a three course dinner and didn’t worry about it. I’m not much of a drinker other than very special occasions (e.g. my 21st, as it was), but I actually had a couple of drinks, and didn’t worry about calories. For me, these were steps I wouldn’t have made if I had decided, lying on my bed feeling sick and disgusting in mid-May, to pack in my efforts to recover. I need to address this in a separate post (perhaps another update later on) but I’ve really come to realise that everyone’s recovery is different, because everyone has different goals and ideas of what is normal for them. At some points I’ve taken in too much of what other people’s recovery meant, and strayed from my own goals, which has caused me problems.
So at the end of this post I just want anyone going through the same thing to know one thing. However long a bad spell lasts, and however impossible it seems to pick yourself up and carry on, tell yourself this: one more time. And keep telling yourself that, because however many times you have to pick yourself up, it will always be worth it.