I haven’t posted for a while, basically because it’s just been the same old struggles. There’s been a few short runs of what feels like ‘normality’, but mostly it just feels like I’m making the same mistakes over and over again. I get depressed, and I binge. I tell myself I need to just eat normally and get into a routine for a while and not worry about weight loss. Then one of two things happens – I get depressed and I binge again, or I get cocky and start trying to do stupid shit and restrict food because I feel fat, and ultimately I end up giving up and binging anyway. As an example – I decided to do a bit of an aggressive diet leading up to Christmas, and for about 3 weeks I restricted calories heavily and lost a few kilos. The intention was always to eat at maintenance through Christmas, what with family meals and stuff it is not really practical to diet then and besides, those are times for enjoying ourselves, right? And even with the obligatory work BBQ and family lunch on Christmas Day, I seemed to be tracking pretty well until just after Christmas I absolutely lost the plot and had some fairly severe episodes of uncontrolled binging. I think that was about as low as I have ever felt since this whole thing started, and at times I was seriously considering my future in this world – not good.
The other day I went through my training log to try and figure out exactly when these episodes started. It looks like it was as early as July 2018. That means I’ve been going through this crap for 18 months now. When I’m in the middle of an episode that timeframe makes me feel absolutely despondent and hopeless, like there’s no end in sight. Right now, I am on my 5th day binge free and while I’m able to look at the situation objectively I feel pretty positive about the progress I’ve made and the fact that there is a future for me that doesn’t involve obsessions with food. So that’s something.
So anyway, much has happened, but I’d like to talk about my latest episode. I was scheduled to go into hospital for some minor surgery last Friday. This meant fasting from the night before – unambiguously not my choice, but medically necessary before going under general anaesthesia. I was originally supposed to be in hospital at 7am, but they pushed it back to 11 so by the time I got there I’d already been fasting for 14 hours and wasn’t even allowed to drink water from 10am.
Well, they admitted me and (an hour or so later) put me in a hospital bed with a drip in my arm, and kept me there for the rest of the day, constantly telling me my turn for surgery would be coming soon, until at 4pm they pulled the rug out from under me and said sorry – we’ve run out of time to perform your procedure today, you’ll have to go home and wait to be rescheduled for another date.
Although I had always known this was a possibility, I didn’t think it would happen at this late stage and it threw all our plans into disarray. My wife had another commitment so couldn’t take me home, I ended up walking a couple of kilometres to meet her and pickup house keys before I could Uber home and find something to eat. Of course, I felt like I deserved a decent meal after that, so I made some burgers and chips, and that kicked off an epic weekend of eating everything in sight that didn’t end til Sunday night. Sure – I let this happen. This was a lapse in willpower on my part. But that willpower wouldn’t have been required if I hadn’t been forced to go without food for so long, I don’t think – and then the added disappointment of losing the 2 weeks off work to recuperate, which I’d been really, really looking forward to just compounded things. But that’s life.
Anyway – I came back to work this week and have had a reasonable week. I’ve aimed for three meals and three snacks a day, haven’t skipped any meals, have partaken in two work morning teas when they were unexpectedly offered, and been moderate without restricting – I think. So once again, we try to keep the ‘sensible’ eating going and learn how ‘normal’ people eat and think about food.
Some random thoughts and things that have happened in the past few days that seem to me like more progress:
- I am getting better at recognising thoughts and moods that trigger these destructive behaviours – and remembering the mantra that MegsyRecovery often cites – ‘opposite actions’! Yesterday, there was cake at work for morning tea but I was tempted to just ignore it – I decided that it was there and I wanted some, but only had a couple of small pieces with my coffee and left some for everyone else!
- Despite that, I was really feeling quite delicate by lunchtime – absolutely jonesing for food, wanting to eat everything in sight, and very stressed – for no good reason, really. I had only packed quite a small lunch (a salad and a wrap with some meat, and some strawberries) and didn’t think it had enough protein. But instead of going ballistic at the bakery or the takeaway, I bought a tub of cottage cheese and added that, plus a couple of leftover sausage rolls from the fridge. That was a decent lunch, and I felt pretty full afterwards but my brain was still going haywire for something else to eat. So I went for a walk, sat in the park and read a book on my phone for 10 minutes. That was pretty effective in terms of self-soothing.
- Last night was chicken schnitzel night at home. I usually turn my wife’s into a parmagiana but sometimes don’t do mine, and if they’re unequal sizes I’ll often give myself the smaller one even if I’m ravenous. Well last night one was significantly bigger than the other, and my brain was screaming at me to take the small one and eat it plain, especially after cake and sausage rolls during the day! But no… ‘opposite actions’! I parma’d them both and ate the big one. Heck I even ate one of my daughter’s chicken nuggets to try and encourage her to eat her dinner without fuss. No guilt.
- We’re having pizza for tea tonight. That would have filled me with fear once, and even as recently as a few months ago I would have just made my own low calorie substitute, on a wrap, with limited cheese. But screw that. The women of the house are having frozen pizza singles but honestly, and it’s not just my fear of processed foods talking, they are just not that nice. I’m either going to buy a decent fresh pizza, or make my own (on a proper pizza base, with proper toppings) and make sure I enjoy the freaking thing. No low calorie substitutes – just food that tastes good but hopefully is also somewhat nutritious. I’m worth it.
- This last thought brings me to something that I battle with every.damn.day – planning my next item of food before even finishing the one I’m eating. Like I’ll be in the middle of a meal, and I’ll be thinking ‘after this I’m gonna have x… and after that maybe even x….’ and just continuing to think about food like that all day. So not only am I thinking about meals in the times I’m not eating, I’m thinking about food in the middle of my meal! It’s just insane. But I am definitely getting better at recognising when this happens, and using CBT (well actually, ACT therapy is where I read about it) techniques to defuse them and move on. Typically my go-to thought here is the ‘thanks, mind’ technique. So during meals I’ll say to myself ‘thanks, mind, for trying to make sure that I’m not going to starve, but there is plenty of food and I can see how I feel after this and decide if I actually do want something else’. Between meals, it’ll be more like ‘thanks, mind, for trying to make sure I don’t go hungry, but there is plenty of food and I can eat whatever I feel like having when the time comes, so there is no need to worry about that right now’. It does seem to be working in terms of letting those thoughts dissipate and not become totally all consuming to the point where they’re distracting me from stuff that does actually require my attention.
So that’s the story of my week. I hope anyone reading this is having a good one and being kind to themselves. You too, are worth it.