“I have just been out to dinner. Arriving home I head straight for the kitchen – in particular the pantry. Now, where are those biscuits? Here they are …10 biscuits later, I head for the fridge. I remember there is some leftover chocolate mousse there …well, not now! And to finish off … some vanilla ice cream…
Falling asleep, I awake the following morning feeling absolutely awful. I promise myself I will never do this again – but, of course, I do!”
Why Why Why…this scenario followed me for 9 years. I would restrict my food intake with methodical precision. No one ever knew I did this…only me! Then, about once every week, I would feel that push from within. The kind of push that is determined to pull you to the nearest food source to indulge like there is no tomorrow.
But there was always a tomorrow. A tomorrow filled with nausea, the desire to be sick, and longing for the day to end …quickly! These days were horrific, endless.
As I healed the eating side of anorexia nervosa, where binges were no longer, understanding this behaviour eluded me, and would not be understood for many years. Without identifying the cause, I replaced it with OCD – Checking Checking Checking!
Even though I had normalised my weight, I clearly had not healed the purpose for this bizarre behaviour which was replaced with an even more bizarre behaviour.
Embedded within our eating disorder behaviours are the clues that will guide us toward recovery. Each of the behaviours displayed has a purpose. They actually tell us a lot about who we have become. They provide many answers which, in turn, assist us in understanding the Why Why Why and the Checking Checking Checking.
Looking to these clues to identify opportunities for healing, we may each have varying contributors. Not all eating disorders experienced have the exact same underlying reasons. However, the emotions attached and beliefs held, do carry similarities.
The following outlines why I did the behaviours I adopted …
I discovered there were two reasons I developed the behaviours of overindulging and needing to overly check many tasks or activities:
1. I was consistently placing my poor body into a state of starvation
2. I was living a life where absolute fear reigned.
Where we starve ourselves in an attempt to control our weight, we are continuously experiencing the state of starvation. Our body is given a ‘taste’ of food with the small amounts we provide it with daily. Believing this is all that is available, it makes the most of it – extracting as much nutrition out of the morsels as it can! Then, one day, we decide to give it a little bit more – like I did when I went out to dinner. This shocks the body into realising there actually may be more available – it has been duped! In kicks the hunger response. Growing in its intensity, the body screams out for more. Out of our depth, and unable to resist, we give our body what it has been searching for. We overeat, we binge. The next day, feeling sick and awful, we declare we will not repeat this – but the cycle begins again and of course, we do!
My body was soooo hungry that when the opportunity to consume more appeared to be on offer, my body did the only thing it could – use its inbuilt hunger response, ensuring this chance did not disappear. This is exactly what a body does. It’s job is to work for us via the foods we fuel it with. It searches every day for this important fuel. When it does not arrive, it goes into hibernation if you like.
It begins to shut down. The lack of nourishment sees the body fail in its job. Not happy about this development, it still tries hard to support us. Not able to, sadness sets in … we call this depression. So when the oversupply finds its way to us, in the form of bingeing, our beautiful body sparks up! At last it can be there for us! However, this is momentary as the bingeing is short-lived, soon to be replaced by starvation, again.
I fooled my body too many times over the 9 years. Swinging from one end of the starvation scale to the other, the confusion left it in the state I created – sad, barely there, and crying to heal.
Food restricting also holds fear – let’s look at this. The explanation I gave above is applicable and very real where eating disorders exist. But, this behaviour also carries fear. Again, it will depend upon your situation as to the identified fear. For me, I carried so much fear around not being liked, of being blamed, of ‘something’ being all my fault. Somewhere deep inside at the age of 15 I made the decision to lose weight for acceptance and to try and rid myself of blame and fault. The dropping of my healthy athletic weight saw this practise get way out of hand.
Anorexia Nervosa took over, acceptance did not result, but I held out in hope! The blame feelings continued and the fault for ‘something’ maintained its presence. I needed to change a lot about my thinking and how I related to life. I also needed to discover where I had learned this type of approach to life. As I undertook the changes, the blame and fault left, along with the overriding need to be liked. Anorexia Nervosa lost its hold and exited … !
The checking checking checking was a little more difficult to understand. The process of healing found me discovering so many fears which ruled my days. I lived within the bounds of the fears which ran my inner dialogue. The scripts devised to determine my choices and lifestyle were steeped in debilitating fear. Each fear produced a resulting behaviour. The checking checking checking was the result of being sooo afraid of making a mistake. My childhood had been characterised by the need to achieve highly. Mistakes were disciplined heavily. So when I stopped restricting food intake – which had its own fear – I replaced it with OCD. ( OCD = Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour = repeating a behaviour over and over and over ). This behaviour was sub-consciously created to ensure I did not make a mistake and hence avoided punishment. I had to design a new idea around mistakes and their wonderful purpose in our lives. They simply show us where we may like to work harder at developing a skill, OR, decide this is a skill a little out of our league!! Walking away from not being able to achieve something demonstrates maturity. Allow this skill to be undertaken by others … admire what they are doing … and allow them to admire the skill set you have!
Where you, the reader, may be adopting any of the behaviours I have shared in this blog, please know there is purpose to each, AND, in identifying this, the opportunity to heal is hiding within the dialogue you use to describe the behaviour. Examine the dialogue, the excuses. Examine how this dialogue creates your daily script. Design new, healed perspectives, ones that support you and your life.
Nourish your body – it wants to support you through providing tons of energy so you can live and thrive. Where nourishment is not on offer, it will kick back in an attempt to waken you up!
Identify your controlling fears. Examine their validity. Design a whole new repertoire that is filled with trust and peace for your authentic life.
Finally, as cliche as it may sound, love is that fabulous emotion given to each of us to have and to hold.
Self-love is the foundation upon which your healing will find its place. Where the adjoining framework is glued together with this very same love, the desire to heal, recover, will have its greatest chance.
Self-love – its place in healing, and exactly what I mean by this, is the subject for a future blog…