Friday, July 17, 2009

a personal post.

I confess...I haven't reread the below but it is something I've wanted to write for a long time. And I hope people read it. And I'm also scared to have people read it.

I am 5’4”. In recent years, my weight has ranged from 115 to 125. My highest weight was 150…not healthy on my frame but I was never truly obese. So no one passing on the street would peg me for what I am. A binge eater. At times, a pretty severe one.

It truly is amazing what people will say when you don’t fit their stereotypes. I’ve checked out of the market with a dozen big bakery cookies (and other stuff too…) and had the clerk joke she couldn’t buy them because she’d eat half the first night. I planned to eat them all. A colleague on the elevator saw me with a large thing of jelly beans and chocolate and made a joke about how I must throw it all up if I eat that stuff and look like I do. I’ve never purged.

There were roots to my binge eating that I can see it retrospect. Times when I’d order way too much delivery in college and try and hide any evidence before my roommate returned. But there is one moment when I really truly knew that something was wrong. I was in graduate school and living in a suite of rooms…my own bedroom and bath but a shared living area and kitchen. I wanted food but my roommates were in the common area and I didn’t want to be seen. I found a packet of hot chocolate in my bag. I ate it “raw” sitting with my back against the bed. And I got this massive head rush.

When it was at its peak, I binged (severely) every three days. We’re not talking an extra piece of pizza. We’re talking a package of cookies, a pint of ice cream, a bagel with extra cream cheese, and half a jar of peanut butter…in thirty minutes. I’d eat until I was almost physically incapable of eating more. I’d try to keep it secret…even stopping at multiple places to avoid buying my full feast at once. I probably would have done it more often if my body hadn’t rebelled with pain.

I don’t tend to binge when I’m hungry. Or at least not physically hungry. It is not about that. And I’ve thought a lot about what it IS about. I think it is about feeling. Consciously or unconsciously, I am feeling something I don’t want. So I eat. And there’s this total rush with all the sugar that pushes away other feelings. Even the bloated and ill aftereffects are part of it…I can’t feel much else when I feel so ill. I hate how I feel after, and it lasts for days sometimes, but that may be part of the addiction. Because I can point to that feeling and because it pushes away everything else.

And it is also about control. I am borderline OCD…never diagnosed but I need order and consistency. On my “good” days, I know exactly how much I eat. I run….a lot. I like my hair to be straight and neat. I like piles on my desk instead of chaos. I like to board the train in the exact same spot every day. But a binge is the total opposite of control. It is out of control to the highest degree. It is a rebellion against myself.

If you passed me on the street, I wouldn’t stand out. If I bought a burger and fries, you wouldn’t give me a “she shouldn’t eat that” look. If you thought anything about my body, it would probably be that I’m in pretty darn good shape (and I’m pretty modest so I can only say that because it is objectively unavoidable). I’m usually a size 2 these days (though vanity sizing helps). And if you heard I had food issues, you’d probably think I battled anorexia in college or something like that. You wouldn’t guess. So you might comment on the package of cookies I’m buying and joke about them.

Please don’t.


Jodesly said...

Thank you, Cheryl. So very, very brave of you to share. My food issues tend more toward general lack of control (especially when I'm pregnant and the "clothes getting tight" bells no longer ring!) but I can one hundred percent relate to what you've written here.

Lesley said...

I am so very honoured to call you my friend.
I am learning now just how many food issues I have and the emotions connected to that are overwhelming

You are a strong person

Tasty Health Food said...

This is a really true, honest post. I love it. I think it's so sad how society has come view food as something to ridicule someone about. Why do people think they have any right to comment when it could destroy a person inside? Don't listen! Stay strong. :)