CN: eating disorder, dieting
I have had non-purging bulimia and binge eating disorder in the past. I had disordered eating for many years as a teenager but the overt eating disorder only emerged after a crash diet. This is a common story: strict restriction hugely increases your risk of binging simply due to the physiological response to starvation. I was in the psychiatric system for my bipolar disorder and the psychologist I was seeing did a detour and treated my eating disorder pretty successfully. The fact that strict dieting (i.e. restriction) causes binging which causes compensatory behaviour was drummed into me and while I didn’t really believe the link before, I do now.
I went on a diet for the last three months of last year and I lost 23lb. I told myself I would do it slowly and not trigger my eating disorder. I had norovirus twice in the last month and my weight dropped much faster than my planned 1lb a week. I started getting urges to binge which gradually got overwhelming. I thought I would ‘pause’ dieting and deal with the urges to binge. I did not. I binged and compulsively overate (discrete episodes of eating very large amounts very fast feeling very out of control over a background of generally eating much more than I wanted to). I put back on all the weight plus 15lb over the next six months. This coincided with other medication changes so perhaps there was more to it than simply the eating disorder. I read Fairburn’s Overcoming Binge Eating which is the gold standard in self-help. Eventually, I wasn’t binging anymore and my urges to binge pretty much disappeared so I felt the eating disorder had abated again.
When I weighed myself and found out how much weight I had put on, I was so shocked. I felt crushed. Yeah, it was an over-reaction as in the scheme of things it is not that massive a deal. It’s not a death in the family or a diagnosis of terminal illness. But still, I had this drive that I couldn’t be that weight. It was unacceptable.
So I went on a diet again and here I am. I have lost weight faster than I originally agreed with myself (red flag) and I feel triggered to cut my calorie intake right down (red flag). I log everything I eat in an app pretty obsessively (red flag) and feel reassured by how in control I am (hahahhaaa). The statistics say that when I stop this diet, there is a 65-90% chance that I am will put the weight back on and a 33% chance that if I do, I will end up heavier than I started. I feel a mixture of hopelessness and hope. There is so little chance that I will be at an acceptable weight (and for me, that is not ‘thin’ but simply a BMI below 30) permanently but there is that little thought that maybe I will manage it this time.
What am I doing? I am kidding myself.