That’s incredible to me. What blows my mind is that I didn’t even realize that I had an anniversary to celebrate because being purge free is my new normal.
9 years ago my son was born. 8 years ago we were leaving his cake smashing photo session to celebrate his first birthday and I was at one of the lowest points of my life. My binging had gotten out of control in the year after he was born. The lack of sleep, the financial concerns around being self-employed and having staff and other practitioners counting on me, this little person that relied entirely on me to survive…it was all too much.
My cravings were huge, my self-confidence was in the basement, and my shame was skyrocketing. I was a naturopathic doctor – I ‘should’ be able to lose the baby weight and get my body back, I ‘should’ be eating perfectly healthy because I was responsible for the health of this other person, I ‘should’ be a role-model for all of my patients and colleagues, I ‘should’ be loving every minute of being a Mom – it had taken me two years to get pregnant, how could I complain?
I was at war with myself every day. Desperately trying to stay above water – to put a smile on my face, look after my patients and love motherhood. Desperately trying to keep myself out of the food and yet every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I would eat HUGE amounts of food as fast as I could so that nobody would know. I would go to drive-thru’s and order enough food to feed a meeting and scarf it back in the car, by myself, and then get rid of the wrappers. Only eating ‘healthy’ food in front of others or small ‘reasonably healthy’ treats. It was physically painful to eat that much food. And when I couldn’t take it, I would throw it up. Sometimes I would end up back in the food even after that.
And who could I talk to? I was the health professional. I felt like I was trapped in my own personal hell. Knowing that I needed someone like me to help me out and having too much shame to reach for it.
After my son’s cake smashing we were driving to the cottage to celebrate with the family. I broke down. My husband knows my history. He saw me unravelling before him. He had outright asked me if I was throwing up and I had lied. That day in the truck I told him what I had done. He was so angry with me. Lying was going too far. So, I dug deep, put my shame aside and I reached out for help. I started seeing a counsellor that I had met. What was her solution? Just don’t eat the food. Really? Thanks. Hadn’t thought of that.
I learned an important lesson that day. It wasn’t the first time that I had asked for help. It also wasn’t the first time that a health professional had let me down. That they had not really understood the hell of binge eating and had ended up adding to my shame. They didn’t realize that they were only adding to my sense of shame and embarrassment. They were contributing to my isolation and withdrawal.
But this time I was NOT going down without a fight. I was NOT going to let her stop me from getting the help that I needed. The lesson I learned is that stepping out of shame and sharing the dark side is as much about picking the right audience as it is about the speech itself.
I found someone who had been where I was. I found someone who understood just how much food I could eat in one sitting and not cringe when I talked about it. I found someone who was compassionate and understanding. I found someone who understood that this had nothing to do with food or my body.
That was 8 years ago. As I write this it feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time. I am so grateful that purge free living is my normal. I am so grateful to not have to carry that heavy burden of shame and guilt. I am so grateful to be that person for others now.
You are not alone. You will get free of this. You can be trusted.
Live Life. Love Food. Be Free.