There were a few times during my recovery from binge eating disorder when I thought, “Hey, maybe I’m all better!”…and then found myself a week or a month later driven to binge. At first, I felt like I was failing, and had guilt about the little bumps in the road. But eventually, I came to believe that those little relapses were all a natural part of getting better for me. It was three steps forward, one step back sometimes, and that was OK. So, when I got a note from long-time HealthyGirl reader/contributor Trish saying she had relapsed, I totally understood where she was coming from. I invited her to share what happened with you all today. Thanks Trish! xo…Sunny
As most of you HealthyGirls know, the “path” to recovery is not a straight and short one. In fact, it shouldn’t even be called a “path”…it should be called a 6-lane freeway—and I’m on a bicycle. And just when you feel like you’re ready to exit, life throws you another curveball and you end up on an unpaved mountain road without a map.
I’ve been on this journey for a while now. I started my recovery with HealthyGirl about a year and a half ago. I was prepared for the occasional setback and I got through the first few with minor scratches…and just as I thought I was really reaching the point where I could accept myself and really move on from binge eating, I hit a wall. Hard. It totally came out of nowhere—it felt like I woke up one morning, and my mindset was set back a whole year.
I was looking at myself in the mirror and all I could see were my flaws. My hips were too wide, I was growing a double chin, and where the hell did this flab on my arms come from?! My mind started racing. What had I eaten in the last three weeks? I went over every takeout meal and every restaurant dinner date, berating myself for the awful choices I made all those nights. I literally added up the minutes I had spent on the treadmill with a calculator all the while telling myself, “You’re not working hard enough” and “You’re failing yet again.” I felt guilty, ashamed and most of all, depressed.
It was the depression that killed me. It spread its tentacles out into every aspect of my life—my relationship, my schoolwork, exercising, friendships, and any and everything that takes a little motivation. My grades slipped—I had the worst semester in law school thus far. So, on top of convincing myself that I was failing eater, I convinced myself I was a failure as a lawyer. And girlfriend. And daughter. And the list goes on and on…
You all know what depression can do to a binge eater. In my head I was screaming for help while shoving mini-marshmallows down my throat so fast I could barely breath. I gained more weight. Then finally, one night, I snapped—I craved food so bad I started to shake, and I knew if I didn’t reach out to someone for help immediately I could do irreversible damage to myself. I called my doctor and spilled the beans about how I’d been feeling that last month. He told me he was going to do everything he can to help—and I believed him. I also shot Sunny an email after I got off the phone…she was a lifesaver. I went to bed that night and slept a full eight hours for the first time in weeks.
Once I moved past this huge, insane, wild bump in the road, I looked back and tried to figure out why I took it so hard…and I still haven’t figured it out. But what I learned was that there may not always be a clear trigger, and that’s okay. Now that I’ve gotten through this, I’ll at least be able to recognize it the next time (I’m not crazy enough to think it won’t happen again) and hopefully stop it before it takes a toll on everything else in my life.
The number one thing I learned, though, was not to be afraid to reach out for help—or you will only doing yourself harm. Have a network of people that you trust and can reach out for easily, sometimes you need someone else to give you a clear perspective, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Do what needs to be done to help yourself—this is one of those times when being selfish is perfectly okay. And when you really feel like there’s no end in sight and you don’t have an ounce of hope left in your body, bookmark this post and read this sentence: there is ALWAYS hope. Keep your heads up! —Trish
Hey, it’s Sunny again. You can read more about how I and others rebounded from “slips” and temporary setbacks here and here. I just want to add one more thing: The key to getting through the ups and downs, I think, is always moving forward. I started my recovery by reading books (there weren’t blogs back then!), then I did therapy, and finally, a support group. If I hadn’t continued to move forward and try new recovery tools, I may have gotten stuck in a cycle of relapse.
Now, have any of you had lots of ups and downs while getting sane about food? How did you get through them?