In this post I want to talk about over-eating.
In my reading of OCD and Anxiety/to some extent depression (and I have to say it isn’t massively vast, though a little substantial), I often find that having no appetite, losing weight and eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia are talked about freely.
It seems, in all honesty, as though it’s more understandable to lose weight than it is to put weight on when you’re having mental health issues.
Maybe because it’s not that common? Though I’m not really sure I believe that.
For one, there’s my own experience;
In times of great stress, unease, or when I’m feeling deeply out of control and at times desperately numb – I will eat. I will eat and eat and eat until I feel sick. I will eat things I know will upset my stomach, I eat so much that I feel sick. I will go into a supermarket and buy everything that is bad for me, things sometimes I don’t even like that much and I will eat them all.
I’ve gone through whole easter eggs, tubes of pringles, sharing bags of crisps, pizzas, packets or things like buttons. Savoury snacks tend to be more my undoing than sweet. I’ve gone through half a loaf of bread in one evening, I’ve gone through whole packets of muffins before. I’ve gone through crackers and chips and everything in between. I’ve gone through whole cartons of ice cream and eaten four cupcakes in quick succession.
I can’t tell you when it started. I can tell you when I started to recognise it might be linked to my anxiety and that was after speaking to the psychiatric nurse.
My OCD has a tendency to infest my thoughts with various health issues and it has done since I was a child. (It’s only after reading Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon that I’ve come to realise that these thoughts are exactly the intrusive thoughts that symptoms talk about.) In a search to understand what’s wrong with me mentally I’ve attributed my symptoms to everything under the sun. A tonne of mental health conditions. When I went to see the nurse, it was after a terrible time where I was starting to worry about myself. I thought I might have Borderline Personality Disorder, I read all about it. I had the mood swings and the abstract thoughts and the excessive indulgences.
At times I have spent a ridiculous amount on shopping only to get home and open every packet to take a bite of everything at once. There are times I’ve gotten shopping home and gone fuck it and I have eaten and eaten and eaten. Even when full, even though I know it’s bad for me. Even though I know it’s going to upset my stomach, even when I don’t even really like what I’ve been eating I’d just keep going until I felt sick. Note felt. I’m rarely sick unfortunately.
I likened the indulgence of eating and spending money on food to the way people with BPD might max out credit cards on shoes, or over indulge in alcohol, or spend all their wages in one go. I can’t remember then if the nurse told me it was to do with my anxiety.
My weight therefore doesn’t come from constantly overeating. I don’t actually eat as much as my size 18 body might suggest to some people. Sure I don’t eat the right things, but I certainly don’t over indulge on a regular basis. My weight actually comes from periods of time, from weeks where something has sparked that thing in me that makes me overeat. That makes me indulge to a point of feeling sick. It’s usually a week and I usually eat so much in this week or these few days that I put a kg or two on that won’t go.
I think the clearest moment in my mind, for linking the two together, was the day Alan Rickman died. When Alan Rickman died I was devastated and I mean devastated. I loved him since I was 9/10. Everyone knew I adored him, people used to shout his name down the corridor at me in highschool as though it were just a nickname. He was a great source of inspiration to me. When Alan Rickman died I went home to my mum’s, (where I was living at the time with my boyfriend), and I’d been in sainsbury’s at the train station. I’d bought two boxes of baked goods, chocolate, crisps, bread. Everything to- to what? I don’t know? To fill a hole? To help me control my feelings?
The only thing that stopped me eating everything when I got home was the fact I got there and I said to my mum that I was planning to eat myself into a coma. I don’t remember her reaction, other than it made me stop and think that I couldn’t just take the food upstairs to my room and disappear like I would have when I was living there as a teenager. I had to share, I had to share it with her and my sister.
Looking back over the years though I’ve always been overeating or undereating (I’ve been through phases of not eating, I’ve been through phases of no appetite and phases of ‘trying’ Bulimia and Anorexia in an attempt to get thin. Hint; I wasn’t successful) in an attempt to control something, I’m just not sure what.
Now don’t get me wrong. I know you might be thinking I hate my body and I should just jump on a bike but I actually don’t. I’m body positive, I’m fat and I love it. I wouldn’t mind going back down to a 16 and I don’t want to go any bigger than an 18 but I would never ever want to be an 8, 10 or 12 (There’s nothing wrong if you are those sizes by the way!). I don’t just like my curves I LOVE them.
I love my bouncy castle bum, my budda belly, my wide hips, thick thighs and there’s a small waist there somewhere. I love my big knockers and the fact my face isn’t all angular. I love it.
I think I need to make that clear because being annoyed or unhappy with my overeating and the guilt that comes with it, does not mean I’m not happy with my body.
I am happy with my body.
Recognising that this is something I do doesn’t help the situation like you’d think it would. I can be halfway down a tube of pringles on a Saturday afternoon after already pigging out on sandwiches, chicken and ice cream before I realise what I’m doing and even then it can be hard to stop when it’s taken hold.
It’s almost like the voice in my head is telling me one more bite in the same way it nags at me to check the door thirty times or that the oven is off. The same voice that makes me walk all the way back from the tram stop in a morning.
Does that sound weird? I imagine a few people might be thinking I’m just excusing my weight and size and greed as some sort of condition. I’m not by the way.
What about everyone else though? Do you guys have this problem? Anyone?