Friday, 30 August 2013

Binge Eating: Weighing The Facts, Part 1

Since I am trying very hard to get control of my binging and purging I thought I would dedicate 2 posts to dealing with it
This is Part 1 and I'll post Part 2 next week
Technically my ED is defined as anorexia with a binge purge sub type
I don't have binge eating disorder but that doesn't mean that I don't experience binges
Mary tells me that my binges are not true binges
I tend to eat a normal amount eg a sandwich, and purge afterwards
But I do this over and over again, sometimes up tp 10 times a day
I don't eat vast quantities of food on one sitting
But I do eat a lot of food over lots of little settings if that makes sense
So in my efforts to avoid binging I've had to stop and take a good hard look at my behaviour
I am writing this post for you as well as for myself

So lets start with some definitions

Binge: A period of unrestrained, immoderate self indulgence. A period of excessive or uncontrolled indulgence in food or drink
Binge eating: Uncontrolled ingestion of large quantities of food in a discrete interval, often with a lack of self control over the activity. A pattern of eating marked by episodes of rapid consumption of large amounts of food, usually food that is high is calories
Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Characterized by consuming large quantities of food in a very short period of time, until the individual is uncomfortably full. BED is much like bulimia except the individuals do not use any form of purging following a binge. Individuals usually feel out of control during a binge episode, followed by feelings of guilt and shame. Many individuals who suffer with BED use food as a way to cope with or block out feelings and emotions that they do not want to feel. Individuals can also use food as a way to numb themselves, to cope with daily life stresses, to provide comfort to themselves of fill a void they feel within. Like all EDs BED is a serious problem but can be overcome through proper treatment.

Signs and Symptoms:

 - Weigh gain
 - Feeling out of control over eating
 - Low self esteem
 - Depression
 - Anxiety
 - Fluctuations in weight
 - Loss of sexual desire
 - Hiding food
 - Feelings of guilt and shame
 - Disgusted with self
 - Trying many different diets.
 - Belief that life will get better if they lose weight
 - Secretive eating patterns
 - Avoidance of social situations where food is present
 - Suicidal thoughts

Causes of BED:
BED has many causes. It can have biological causes such as a malfunctioning hypothalmus that is not telling the brain when you are full. There is also a genetic mutation that causes food addiction, which plays a big role in binge eating. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that can trigger binge eating. People who are suffering from depression, low self esteem, body dissatisfaction and loneliness are more susceptible to becoming compulsive eaters. My binging started when I was addicted to drugs. When I was using I just didn't eat. Son on days that I had no drugs my hunger would hit me like a tonne of bricks and I ate a lot. However I don't fit the criteria for BED because I purge after my binge

Here are something's that could help you and me overcome binging

1. - Eat!
I can't stress how important this is. It might sound strange to think that eating helps prevent binging but it really does. Here's why. Sometimes I end up binging because I am ravenous with hunger. If I haven't eaten all day there is a pretty good chance that I will binge. The longer I go without food the more likely I am to binge. I try to pre-empt a binge by eating little and often. If I have food in my system then I am a lot less likely to binge. Eating regularly keeps my blood sugar stable so it doesn't spike and then drop. It makes perfect sense really.

2. - Question your hunger
If I feel a binge coming on I try to stop and ask myself 'Am I really hungry?' Sometimes I can mistake thirst for hunger so I try drinking some water and see how I feel then

3. - Recognize why you want to binge
If the binge is still heading my way I try to recognize if I am actually hungry or emotionally hungry. Why am I about to binge? Am I bored? Sad? Angry? Anxious? Happy? For me binge eating is a coping mechanism that I use to manage painful emotions. By binge eating I am 'stuffing down' the pain or 'eating my feelings'. More often than not I choose to binge because it makes me feel better in the short term.

4. - Acknowledge the feeling
Acknowledge the feeling that you have identified and allow yourself to feel it. I like to think of emotions as waves. Like waves they come in thick and fast and can be overwhelming and intense. But if we can just wait and ride it out, the wave will eventually break and retreat back in to the sea. I binge eat to avoid pain that I feel I can't deal with. By identifying the underlying cause of the binge eating I can diffuse the trigger that sets off the episodes.

5. - Delay, Delay, Delay!
This can work really well and I also use this method if I get a craving for drugs. If  that dreaded binge is being persistent, I try to give myself a cooling off period. When I feel the urge I try and wait 15mins and keep delaying until the urge passes ( and it will pass!)

6.- Distract!
This is essential and a very powerful tool in the fight against binge eating. For me boredom can be a massive trigger and I try to do something that distracts me both mentally and physically. If I feel a binge coming on if I can I get out of the house as just being in the kitchen at that time can be a trigger. I go for a drive. Walk my dogs. Call to a friend. Anything that will take my mind off food. Writing. Phoning someone. Cleaning. Clearing out my wardrobe. It's a great way to pass the time until the urge has passed. I find that when I'm watching tv I can be triggered when the adverts come on. It's like a cue to go in to the kitchen and make a snack. I still struggle with this massively.

7. - Don't keep binge food in the house
Ok I also struggle with this one. I really have to work on not keeping binge food around because if it's there I will eat it.

8. - Don not diet or cut out whole food groups
This will on only lead you to crave the foods that you have forbidden and may lead to a binge. I like to live by the rule Everything in moderation, including moderation

9. - Educate yourself
Try reading about the science behind why the body wants to binge and purge. At least then you will understand and be aware of why you do the things you do. Knowledge is power!

10. - Don't say 'Fuck it!'
You know when you are eating and you eat more than you want to? I end up saying Fuck it! and eat everything in sight. My thinking being 'Well I've eaten this much I may as well keep going and start fresh tomorrow. It's never too late to start over. Even if you have binged 100 times that day, you can still put the brakes on and take control. This is very difficult but it can be done.

11. - Develop positive coping tools
Write a list of the things that you can turn to when you feel the binge monster is knocking on your door. Exercise, yoga. dancing, meditation, mindfulness. Whatever it is that allows you to deal with your emotions in a positive and constructive way. I am yet to master this one.

12. - Join a support group
AA and NA work for millions of people around the world who are trying to stay clean and EDs including BED are a form of addiction so this is something really worth doing. I remember a therapist told me once that we get well quicker in a group setting than we do in one to one therapy. Because people share their own experiences and we are comforted by the fact that we are not alone. Also we can trade ideas, tips and coping strategies about what works for us. I used to attend support groups including a food group and I found them invaluable. There is something so magical about a group of people getting together to help and support each other get well. I haven't been to a group in over a year since I relapsed but I hope to go back someday.

13. - Seek out therapy
If you are not comfortable sharing in a group session then maybe therapy is for you. Find a therapist that specializes in EDs if you can. The therapist will keep track of your moods and maybe ask you to keep a food diary. They will help you both develop habits that are healthy and rid those that contribute to you problem.

14. - Medication
There are many types of meds that can help to stop BED. For instance some anti depressants have been shown to limit binge eating but the relapse rate is very high. Anti depressants are often used in correlation with therapy to help halt the behaviour and reduce triggers. Many doctors will recommend a combination of both meds and therapy in order to promote healthy weight and life style choices. Personally I've never used meds to control binging and I do know of people who have and it did indeed help.

15 - Get out!
When all else fails, get out of the house, away from food and triggers and go for a brisk walk. Maybe listen to some uplifting music and literally walk away from the binge. Walking my dogs and listening to the radio is a great way to get out of my head and gives me a chance to snap out of a negative frame of mind

I hope this has been of some help to you if you are struggling with binge eating
I'll post Part 2 next week

Take care

Ruby x

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Summertime sadness

I saw my doctor on Monday
He is now back full time after having been off for a few months
He brings up the subject of reducing my methadone that day
Before he left he had been planning to start reducing it but obviously that never happened
I say that I need a bit more warning
That I wasn't prepared for a drop today
'One week' he says
'Two weeks' I say
I haggle with him for a few minutes but he won't budge
Next week it is
He asks me why I am so reluctant to reduce it
I'm honest and tell him that I am afraid of relapsing
I ask him how long it will take to come off it completely
'At the rate your going I have no idea' he says
I bite my tongue
He says that I worry over things that I needn't worry about
Again I bite my tongue
Call me crazy but worrying about my possible relapse back in to heroin addiction is not something I take lightly
It scares the shit out of me
I still have nightmares about relapsing

They say that while you are in recovery, your addiction is doing push ups
They say that when you relapse, you pick up where you left off
And I left off in a horrific place
I don't want to go back there
Not for all the tea in China
And now that I think about it, we didn't agree on how much he's going to drop the methadone
Another thing to haggle about

I've been on methadone for almost 10 years
Although I haven't been clean that long
I am only clean a couple of years
And I've only just started to take my meds properly so really I am only a couple of months clean
I started off on 70 mls of methadone
And over the years have worked my way down to 30mls
Going from 30mls to 0mls is going to be a lot harder than going from 70mls to 30mls
If I had my way I would never come off it
But I don't so I can't

Remember I said that I thought I had gained about 7lbs while on holiday?
Well I came home and I was shitting bricks at the thought of weighing myself
I put it off
Kept putting it off
Then finally bit the bullet on Monday
I had a specific number in mind
Anything higher than that I just didn't know how I would deal with it
Stand on scale
Deep breath
Watch the little red numbers flicker then settle
I gained
The grand total of 1lb
My greatest fear was not realised
I can not tell you how relieved I am
I was so sure that I had gained a significant amount
This is the third time that this is happened to me this summer
Will I ever learn?

So the summer is coming to an end
I remember back in May I was absolutely dreading the coming summer
I just wanted to fast forward time and get it over and done with
But as it turns out I had a great summer
It was challenging to say the least but somehow I got through it
I went to Dublin for a few days
I went for afternoon tea with my mother and auntie B
I went to Galway for a week where I managed to eat 2 meals without purging
I organized our trip to Achill
I spent time with my nephew
I laughed a lot
Had so much fun
I tried to not let my ED spoil things for me
I pushed myself socially
My mood was good
My weight was stable
All in all it was a jolly good time

Now everyone is going back to work and college and I have to find something to do
A purpose
A reason to get up in the morning
The day is very long when you have nothing to do and no where to go
I have signed up for a creative writing course but that doesn't start until October
I'm also thinking of starting Zumba
I need a hobby
Something to keep my mind off my ED
I'm feeling quite positive and motivated so I want to keep it that way
It s' funny, I only realise how miserable I was when I start to feel better
And it can be a dangerous place to be as I realise how sick I actually am
But I don't have to stay that way
I can help myself
And for the first time in a long time I actually want to

What about you?
Did you have a good summer?
Are you glad or sad that it's over?

Friday, 23 August 2013

Oisin and Ruby

It's out last day here in Achill
My sister and nephew left last night and we return home tomorrow morning
I can't tell you how excited I am to see my dogs
I've missed them so much

This week has gone a lot better than I thought it would
We all got on well
No family arguments
No tension
Just lots of laughter and fun
Of course food has been a problem as it always is
I've purged multiple times every day
I've also used enemas every day
I fear that I have gained between 5 and 7 pounds
The thought of weighing in on Sunday is both terrifying and thrilling
I am preparing myself for the worst

Something amazing happened this week
And that is my relationship with my nephew
For most of his life I have either been in active addiction or in the throes of my ED
I had little or no interest in his life and I made practically no effort to forge a relationship with him
I've been on holiday with him before but I spent most of the time in the pub and no time with him
As mean as it sounds he got in the way of my using
Any one who has been addicted to drugs will know what I mean
One thing we have always had in common is our love of animals
He loves my dogs just as much as I do
But beyond that we weren't close at all
So he turned 13 recently and suddenly over night he went from being a little boy and turned in to a teenager
He's growing up so fast
I am so happy to report that we got on fantastically this week
We hung out together loads
I think I spent more time with him this week than I have in the last year
I loved it
We goofed around
Laughed lots
Slagged the 'adults'
I think the fact that I have never really grown up helped
I am still a big kid
I think my mental age is about 15 or 16
Now at then end of the week I really feel like we have made great strides in getting closer
He is such a lovely kid
So cheeky
So mischevious
We spent a whole day telling jokes about poo
Now it is up to me to keep this going
When I'm at home I rarely call down to their house
Never did anything with him
We went horse riding here yesterday and I suggested to Oisin that we go once a month when we get home
He seems keen and I am too

As hard as it is to admit this, I think one of the reasons I struggled to get close to my nephew was that I was jealous of him
Up until he came along, I was the baby of the family
I got all the attention and I was used to that
Everyone doted on me and I was a  bit spoilt really
Then along comes this little boy and he steals my thunder
All of a sudden I'm not the baby anymore
The focus is off me
So I had built up a resentment against him
I hated myself for feeling that way but that was the truth
I think wanting attention is a very human thing
We want to be noticed
We want people to give us their time and attention
In the past I have done some pretty outrageous things to get attention
Somewhere along the way I got the idea from somewhere that if people felt sorry for me, then they would like me
So when I was a young teenager I told some lies to friends because I wanted them to like me
I wasn't enough
I felt that I had to make stuff up in order to keep my friends
I also liked to shock people
I'd get a great buzz out of people's reactions to my stories
To this day I still feel guilty for telling those lies
But I have to let it go

I remember the first time I went to drug treatment
I told one of the lads there that I had an ED
He asked me was I doing it to get attention
I was highly insulted
My ED wasn't about trying to get attention
It was about not liking or accepting myself
It was about being depressed and anxious and confused
But yes, my ED has gotten me a lot of attention over the years
People don't seem to have the same empathy for drug users the way they have empathy for people with an ED
I'm not quite sure
I have to admit that I have liked the attention that I have got
I guess it makes me feel special
And that's another reason why I hang on to my ED
To retain that special feeling
But I think most people, even if they didn't admit it, like to get some attention
It's a nice feeling for someone to show an interest in you
But like a lot of things, it is addictive
Hence why some people go on to become attention seekers
I'd like to think that I am not an attention seeker
At least I hope that I'm not

What about you?
Do you enjoy attention?
Or do you shy away from it?

Last of the Achill photos...........

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Ana in Achill

Day 6 here on Achill Island
Day 6 without a scale
It has been both a blessing and a curse
A blessing because when I don't know the number, it can't effect my mood and can't either make or break my whole day
And a curse because not knowing is driving me bananas
There was a scale in the pharmacy that I was in yesterday but it was just too public a place to do something that I consider to be quite intimate
I feel bigger
I feel like I am taking up more space
I don't like it
I will really have to prepare myself for the worst when I weigh myself at home on Sunday

I've taken a lot of photos here and I put some of myself up on my last post
The minute I had it posted I regretted it
In my eyes I don't look like someone with an ED
I'm not particularly thin
I'm normal
Healthy looking
I feel like a fraud
An anorexic imposter
A wannabe
It makes me want to lose more weight
Almost to prove that I have an illness
You know the way some people look really skinny but weigh quite a lot?
Well I think that I'm the opposite
My weight is on the low side but I actually look a lot bigger

I swear I am so sick of talking, writing, thinking about my weight
I am starting to bore myself
And I'm sure my poor mother is sick to death of me asking her if I've gained weight
I hate being so self obsessed
So bloody self absorbed
I should really get a hobby and start obsessing over something that is at least interesting
I am over this ED
I've been there
Done that
Bought the extra small t-shirt
Why can't I just let it go
This love affair I've had with anorexia/bulimia is way past it's sell by date
It went sour a long long time ago
I'm trying to let her go but she is clinging on for dear life (or death)
Being away this week has reminded me that there is a whole world out there
That the world does not revolve around me and my ED
I am not that important
I am not that special
I am but a tiny speck in this vast universe

I have laughed a lot this week and that felt good
I've gone for years at a time without laughing and it's easy to forget how good it feels
I think once you start to feel a little better, you realise how miserable you really were
I don't really have a life to speak of
I have cocooned myself and cut myself off
Living like a virtual recluse
It's time to take a leap of faith
To smash the glass box that I am living in
Break free of anorexia and bulimia
I don't have the luxury of time any more
I'm not 19 any more
Technically I am a woman but even saying that feels completely foreign to me
I cringe at the thought
I am still a little girl that never grew up
Never blossomed
It 's time
Time to take a chance on life
What have I got to lose?
There is nothing more this illness can take from me apart from my life
But I would rather die young than live the rest of my days like this
The thought is unbearable

This relationship with my ED is one of love and hate
I can't live with it and I can't live without it
It's like being in an abusive relationship
Like an abuser anorexia/bulimia grooms us and lures us in with false promises of happiness
We believe her and willingly follow her
She sounds so kind and sincere
Like she she really wants to help us
At first she is sweet as can be
She promises us that if we follow her rules we will be thin and pretty and popular
Who can pass up an offer like that?
But once we begin to trust her and once we are captive, she shows her true colours and how evil she really is
A sweet whispering voice now gives way to a mean and nasty one
She doesn't ask anymore, she demands
She shouts insults at us all say long
We are never good enough
And also like in a abusive relationship, it is next to impossible to get out
Even though we are miserable we go back to her time and time again
Because we believe that the next time will be different
Because it is familiar
Because we know no other way
I am trying to break free of this thing but it is harder than I ever thought
But every time I do the right thing and disobey anorexia, she gets a little bit weaker
I believe that I will never be completely free from her
Much like drugs you can manage the problem but there is no cure

Anyway, I digress
Here's some more snaps of Achill

Anyone for tennis?

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Happy Birthday Oisin!

Traffic jam in Achill

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Welcome to Achill!

This week away with my family is confirming what I've always believed
That we are stone mad
Individually we are quite mad but when we all get together the madness is magnified
And all without a drop of alcohol
But you know what?
I love it
I love that we all talk over each other
No one listening to any one else
I love that we get each others sense of humour when no one else would
I love that we are probably the worlds clumsiest family
That we regularly fall down, trip up, walk in to doors and panes of glass
I love that we slag each other mercilessly
That no one takes themselves too seriously
I love that my Dad seems to live in a world of his own and is always two steps behind the rest of us
I love that my nephew keeps us young and on our toes
I love that deep down we are all a bunch of dorks
No room for cool in this family
I love that we only have to look at each other to know what the other is thinking
That we can't stay mad at each other of long
I love that I can just be myself without fear of judgement
That I can be disordered without anyone passing comment or getting angry
Of course there are times when my family gets on my last nerve
When I literally want to kill them
When they molly coddle me and are over protective
When they treat me like a child
But I know it comes from a place of love
Yes, we are strange
Yes we are a bit mad
Yes, we make no sense a lot of the time
But I wouldn't have it any other way

My nephew Oisin

Mum and me

We are family

Oisin pretending to be dead

Little women

Don't know what my mother is doing in the right of this photo

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Achill Island

My family and I are in Achill Island for the week
Achill is an island off the west coast of Ireland
We are renting a holiday home and I thought I'd be allowed bring the dogs but it turns out that we can't
So my first job this morning was dropping the dogs off at the kennels
I hate leaving them but the kennels are amazing and the owners are so nice to them so that eases my mind a bit
After that we piled all our things in to my father's car and we set off for the wild west

3 hours later and we arrive in Achill Sound, the village where we are staying
We find our house and got settled in
Fast forward 2 hours and the parental unit are already driving me nuts
Note to self: Going in holiday with parents that are separated might not be such a good idea
Thank God my sister and nephew are coming tomorrow
We got off to a great start when my father inadvertently stole the neighbours deck chairs and set them up outside our house
In fairness though, he thought they were ours (that's his story and he's sticking to it)
Next task, figure out how the tv works
Question: How many people does it take to tune in a tv?
Answer: 2. One to try her best and the other to tell her how she should be doing it

We then went food shopping which is a minefield in itself
As ever food is a problem
The first thing I did when I came in to house was check the bathroom situation
My room has it's own bathroom so that is going to be tricky
Good for bulimia
Bad for Ruby
So far today has been purge free and I'm going to try and keep it that way
I had a 1kg gain the other day and I'm trying hard not to let it completely mess me up
I'll have no scales for a full week here (and yes I did consider bringing them but decided against it)
Unfortunately my going on holiday does not mean that my ED takes her own holiday
Oh no
Even though I told her she was not welcome here, she decided to tag along anyway
An unwelcome guest
And I know that she will do her best to ruin this week for me
She will be there, whispering in my ear
Telling me I'm fat and ugly and worthless
There is nothing I can do about that
It is what it is
I just have to be strong and do the right thing

Anyway it's the end of the day
We made it here in one piece and without killing each other
The tv is fixed
The deck chairs are back in their rightful place
Everyone is fed and watered
All is well

For now......

Our little house for the week

The parental unit

My room

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I was wondering about you?
If you went on holiday this summer how did you manage?
Have you any tips or advice for me for the coming week?