Hello my friends and thank you for taking time to read this entry about my battle with overeating and bulimia. I originally posted it on Sept. 10th, 2012 as a follow up to my being-locked-in-your-own-prison/ post. I am updating this partly because of a guest on my former syndicated show, Life in the Groove, Dotsie Bausch. She’s a 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist in cycling and a successful coach but it took an almost life-ending battle with anorexia to get her there. Many of us with eating disorders live in a quiet yet humiliating house of shame and self-loathing. It breaks my heart if you are one of them or know someone else who is but hasn’t received the help he or she needs. Anytime we share our journeys to the “other side of the shore” I believe we encourage others to row their own boats through choppy waters. At the very least, one might not feel as isolated and alone in the struggle. Here it is with a few updates.
Last week I wrote about living within our own prisons when we can’t let go of detrimental or negative thoughts. I mentioned experiencing my own jail cell and how I broke free. It was a monumental battle – the battle to not escape to food in lieu of dealing with boredom, frustrations and feeling overwhelmed, etc. Sound familiar? I know some of you have shared a cell with me, so to speak. But, how many of you have spent time with the porcelain bowl after you ate too much? Yes, I’m talking about bulimia.
I was a junior in high school when my girlfriend told me that we could eat a bunch of food and then throw it up so we wouldn’t gain any weight. I was dealing with newly divorced parents and living with my father, an incredible man but a man that was barely keeping it together. I was hiding my pain and I had already started to turn to food for comfort. Not hard to see the writing on the wall. I started binging and purging and I did it off and on through my first year in college after gaining the typical “freshman fifteen.”
How did I stop? Are you ready? It’s not pleasant but if there is anything that I am, it’s transparent. I stopped before the internet and Google and before I knew there was a name for what I was doing. No one knew of my private hell. But, something very dramatic happened and it scared the bah-jezus out of me (please forgive me, fellow Christians) but it’s the best way to put it.
I threw up blood. That was it. I washed my face, looked in the mirror and decided that I would never stick my finger down my throat again.
I’m sure you’re wondering and the answer is, unfortunately, yes. I went back to it a few times several years later but that was way back when. All good, now. And, the good news continues. I am a recovering emotional eater and I have worked extremely hard to salvage a healthy relationship with food. It has been a seriously bad-ass, difficult struggle and to this day, I read and listen and pray and meditate and journal and do whatever I need to do to maintain and even grow in my thoughts and habits in regards to how I deal with being uncomfortable. Boredom and frustration are big issues for me. I like to have fun. I like new challenges. I like new things to try and see. I like new, exciting and fun anything. Life is not like that when you’re raising a family and dealing with homework, carpools, laundry and dinner, etc. I have an incredibly full and blessed and even fun life, but the everyday grind can cause frustrations and boredom.
Bottom line, I’ve read a ton of books, I’ve been in psychotherapy. I worked with a spiritual director. I’ve studied and researched all the facets of this issue and although understanding it doesn’t “cure” it, I’ve developed a giant toolbox of my own support systems and the more I use them the more they become positive new habits. One of my biggest and most profound breakthroughs occurred after reading Craving and understanding that all needs are met, in a healthy or unhealthy way. You WILL overeat or indulge if you have unmet needs. Period. You cannot prevent it from happening. Period. You can delay but you cannot stop the negative behavior. I finally got it. Unmet needs equal (for me) eating for the wrong reasons and until I remedied the needs, I would be overeating. I also learned from the author, Dr. Omar Manejwala, that recovery results from 95-percent of what you start doing and 5-percent of what you stop doing. Guess which way I had been trying to overcome my addiction?
The nights in my prison cell, sitting in disgust after overeating and wanting to crawl in a hole and start the day over are done, thank-you-God, all my angels and spirit warriors and all those who walked this path before me and were brave enough to share their experiences and solutions. And, I am here to say that it took years (that’s plural) and years (that’s plural again) to get this under control and I did it when I owned my thoughts and realized that I had an addiction to food and that I used it to escape from my current uncomfortable situation. Just like I did when I hid in my basement bedroom with a carton of ice cream and ate myself into a food trance and consequently, forgot about my problems for a short period of time. After the ice cream is gone, your problems aren’t and then you have more. Not a good way to exist. Truly a prison.
By the way, I have a message board with Team Beachbody (with 55,000+ views) in which I write and reply to others that have similar issues. It’s heartbreaking to hear some of the stories but it’s also a fantastic, loving and supportive place to visit. Here is the link if you want to stop by and many blessings on your journeys! By the way, can you add to this conversation with your story, your work, your recovery and anything related? Please share. Please share. Please share.