New HealthyGirl.org reader Veronica, 29 (welcome!) left a comment for me the other day about a topic I haven’t touched on yet: How bingeing and extra food effects the way your mind works. A brief snippet of her note:
“I know that the foods that I eat affect my emotions, and I know that I am much more emotional at times when my bingeing is at its worst. I am pretty sure that this is affecting my relationship with my husband and my family (and probably it affects my friendships too, because I distance myself from friends when I feel down).
“What I am concerned about is that the bingeing/restricting also affects my emotions and interpretation of events at times when I feel relatively normal, too. I suspect that, because much of my energy is focused on food and weight, there is less for the people around me, and this makes me more impatient and more likely to overreact. Do you feel that you are better balanced, in general, in your responses to people and stressful situations now that you no longer battle so much with food?”
Oh Veronica, yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! I really hardly recognize myself from the days when my bingeing was at its worst. Many of us use food to try to control our emotions, but it doesn’t work. Those feelings keep getting stuffed down and packed away somewhere—and until we deal with them, those unprocessed feelings color everything we look at.
For me, this miasma often showed up as a general oversensitivity. I would read into things my boyfriends or family would say: “Why did you say it like that?! What do you really mean?” I also yelled a lot more than I do now. The emotions built up so much and I got so hot that I would explode—kind of like a pressure cooker.
Because of the shame and disappointment I had around what I was doing with food, I was a lot more envious and jealous of friends and acquaintances. And I was also much more easily overwhelmed. As you said, I spent so much of my energy thinking about food and my body—and feeling bad about what I was doing—that I didn’t have anything left over for anyone else.
I remember a few year ago, after I started going to support group meetings and really focusing on recovery, my boss complimented me on juggling a newly increased and complicated workload. She said to me, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it.” The changes were that obvious.
I know it’s hard to imagine how things can be when you’re in the middle of a difficult situation, but know that things can change—and they will change for you if you pursue getting better.
Now I want to open your question out to the rest of the community: How does bingeing affect how you cope with life and your relationships with other people? If you’ve moved forward in recovery, have you noticed a big difference?