OPINION: Binge eating, disorders and bulimia: my story

“Sat surrounded by empty food wrappers, my stomach is swollen to the point I feel like I am going to explode.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 6:00 am

If only someone could pop me like a balloon in these distressing moments, but I can’t stop.

This is my time, this is my secret. I have anxiously waited all day until I can be alone in my room so that I can escape into the false cuddle of sweet treats, to fulfil my cravings and get that quick fix.

I am now a pro at this cycle, I have already prepared myself for tonight by going grocery shopping, lying to the shop assistant that “I’ve just done another family shop”. Yesterday I went to a different shop so I wouldn’t be recognised, tomorrow I’ll shop online.

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I am doing nothing illegal, but it may as well be due to the shame I feel. I have been deceitful - I have cancelled on friends because the urge is too great to be on my own and eat, I have told my personal trainer just what I eat during the day alone and I have told my family I am ‘tired’ when I retreat to my room.

This system is thorough, controlled almost, but its finale, the binge, is so far out of control, it is painful. I feel grotesque within moments of finishing off the first family size bag of sweets. With this sharp high comes an almighty crash, the dark depth of despair that I now find myself in.”

This was just one episode, one element of my battle with eating disorders, but the binge element was the most destructive part of all. Not merely because of the pain it caused me physically and financially but also because of the stigma associated around overeating, consuming bad foods and the analysis over my changing body.

I was diagnosed with bulimia nervosa, which means that you also purge following a binge whether it be through vomiting, restricting calories and fasting or over exercising. You judge yourself for not fitting the eating disorder patient stereotype, you feel greedy, dirty and unable to stop until you have more control back in your life again.

Binge eating is destructive and an eating disorder in its own right - one in fifty of us will experience binge eating disorder in our lifetime. It is the most common but least understood eating disorder, with one in three considering suicide at some point.

Eating disorders don’t discriminate, they’re insidious diseases which are much more than just about food and give the user a sense of control.

I was eventually hospitalised at Leeds’ Seacroft hospital and later received intensive outpatient treatment to help untangle the grip of my disorder. I have an addictive personality so I now need to put my all into positive activities that are good for my holistic health rather than plastering over my issues with negative crutches as food.

I may never be fully recovered from my eating disorder traits but I am now much more mindful of when I am slipping back into the self-harming clutches of the ‘bully inside me.’ My eating disorder used to be my best friend and worst enemy, now it is about me taking true control to use that fire within for loving rather than harming myself.

Sophie writes candidly about her journey from self-harm to a life of self-love in her book Eat.Sleep.Control.Repeat. which is available from www.hallgoodbooks.com/product-page/eat-sleep-control-repeat or Waterstones and Amazon.

To read more from Sophie, go to mamamei.co.uk or find her on social media @mamameiblog