Monday, April 1, 2013

The Lifecycle of a Binge

Penguin is gone.

I binged.  This time I paid careful attention to every detail.  Maybe if I lay out the horror that is a binge, I can stave off the next one. 

Step one: The Urge.  Sometimes it hits me like a punch to the solar plexus.  This time it is a slow crawl.  I am enjoying a pleasant Easter afternoon with my parents, dying eggs, enjoying my annual slice of fresh strawberry pie (an old family recipe - the only desert in existence worth every calorie), when my skin starts to crawl.  I crave solitude, the need to hide.  Lights in my head pop on, swirling with the craving to eat fat and cheese and salt and everythingbadforme.

Step two: It Builds.  I sit, fidgeting on the couch.  A token resistance is made, willpower straining.  My dad turns on the tv, puts on a show I don't usually watch.  It doesn't hold my attention.  The dramatic scenes are lost on me - they look like children playing at being adult.  I think, "If I can make it to the end of the episode, I can excuse myself politely.  I can go to the store down the street.  I can buy melty-cheese pizzas and creamy-sweet ice cream and..."  I stop the line of thinking.  My skin is pins and needles, it wants to rip off my body and fly away. 

Step three: The Bargaining.  I cannot buy binge food.  I am more than broke.  Vet bills have drained my bank account.  I will not binge.  I will go home, prepare a small bowl of quinoa stuffed bell pepper (crockpot meal - made with wholesome, whole-food ingredients).  Maybe just a little cheese.  I will be sick from eating dairy, but it will taste so good. I will eat this small bowl of food and be satisfied.

I will not binge.  

I will not binge.  

I will not binge.

The spiders under my skin, burrowing into my brain say different.  I salivate.  My tongue is too big for my mouth.  I feel helpless.

Step four: It Begins.  I arrive home.  My roommate is gone.  I am alone.  The ED in me squeals with delight.  My heart sinks.  Sometimes Na can stave off a binge with her presence.  I cannot eat in front of my fit little friend.  The kitchen beckons.  I feed the pups first.  Every movement is careful.  I want to rush.  I want to scatter the kibble on the floor and be done.  Instead I divide up their supplements.  Carefully measure their food.  Sprinkle the Cosquin on top.  Place the bowls on the floor.  Pup looks at me with soulful eyes.  He asks for permission, I tell him, "Okay."  He eats like me during a binge, with wild abandon, barely chewing, barely breathing.  I wish I had someone to portion out my meals.  Tell me when and what to eat.  Control this aspect of my life.

I open the cupboards.  Even in the chaos of a binge, my food choices are carefully planned.  First, a snack.  A handful of something carb-ie and bad for me: sugar-filled cereal.  I prepare my first meal: a heaping bowl of quinoa.  I start with just a little, then add more.  And more.  And more, until the food peeks above the rim.  I add cheese, a handful then two more handfuls.  It goes into the microwave.  While the plate is spinning - electromagnetic waves melting cheese and heating grains - I reach for more food.  A bite here and a bit there.  My hands are in perpetual motion, moving food to mouth.  Grab.  Bite.  Chew.  Swallow.

I am full before my meal has finished cooking.  That doesn't stop me.  I spoon in mouthful after mouthful.  My stomach hurts.  I hurt.  The food doesn't taste good.  That doesn't matter.  I keep eating.  My ED is giggling and dancing, free at last.

Step five: It Ends.  Somehow I stop eating.  I don't know what triggers the end of a binge.  The urge to eat doesn't go away.  It just becomes manageable.  I curl up on the couch.  I feel sick.  Everything hurts.  My stomach is going to split open, spilling out my secrets and shame.  I feel so gross.  I want the food out of me.  It sits in me like a burning weight.  I wish I could purge.  A voice whispers that I deserve to hurt.  I deserve to be miserable.  This is justifiable punishment.

Step six: The Aftermath.  I lie in bed with a sour stomach.  My insides feel like they will burst.  Bile rises.  I hate this.  I hate myself.  I am so weak.

Somehow I sleep.  When I wake, I am still full.  Some of the weight has moved from my stomach to my intestines. They feel inflamed, too big to fit inside me.  I wish I could pull them out, cool them off in an ice bath, put them back when they are normal again.

I am lethargic during my workout.  I'm not able to lift my normal amount of weight.  I have to drop the number of reps.  The nausea is overwhelming.  The back of my throat burns with bile.  I feel weak and gross. 

I don't understand why I do this to myself.  There is nothing enjoyable about a binge.  Nothing.  I can't do this anymore.

The next 30 days will be binge free.  No excuses.


  1. Reading this was like reliving every binge I've ever experienced to the last detail. Remembering those painful details is pretty much the only way I've managed to avoid bingeing in a while... but it's strange how it does happen as a means to punish myself for having eaten at all. EDs and their contradictory nature...

    I hope you are able to find ways to feel less anxiety over them though, as I find the binge spells get worse if I continue to worry. Deep breaths.

    1. You're right, stress and anxiety makes them worse.

      Deep breath, eh?

      Thank you for the comment and support. It means a lot to me :)

  2. This was really powerful to read. I hope you can find some way to get through the next month. Binging can be such a self-destructive coping mechanism, and it's really hard to find healthier ways to cope when we're used to hurting ourselves. Good luck sweetie, you'll be in my thoughts.

    1. Two days and going strong!

      I re-read this post and it almost feels like it was written by someone else. How can anyone put them through this time and time again?

      Thank you, Bella. Your support means a lot to me :)

  3. I really appreciate your honesty and openness. I know your pain, I have lived your pain. I still struggle with it but at least it's not as bad as it used to be...

    I think you're very right- being aware of the behaviour is a wonderful way to re-train the undesired behaviour. The other thing I've found that works quite well is positively reinforcing the desired behaviour- every good decision, every good meal try to be aware of it too and acknowledge or reward it. I know it sounds a little funny at first but it helps keep a positive mindset and good decisions get easier to make.

    I hope it gets easier asap! if you ever need to vent you can always email me xxx

    1. Claire! Hi!

      Thinking positive, being positive, is a great tool. I've been trying some positive affirmations. We'll see if they work.

      Thank you for the comment and advice. I missed you!

  4. Yep - this sounds so familiar.

    Have you ever read "Brain over binge" by Kathryn Hansen. I can't tell you how much I love her book. She was an exercise bulimic for years but recovered completely and not from traditional methods. I can't say that I never binge anymore after reading her book (I never fully used her technique) but it's nowhere the near the same level it used to be in frequency or quantities. I have new understanding of binging, why I binge, and know that if I want to I can stop it.

    I also really like He has a podcast, talks about his own BED recovery (which he is still working on), he interviews alot of different people including Kathryn, but alot of typical counselors and ED professionals.

    Good luck with your month of no binging! I am sure you can do it.

    1. Thank you! I just bought Brain Over Binge. I've been looking for something like this.

      I'll have to check out as well.

      Thank you, thank you!

  5. This weekend I had one of the worst binges. I haven't binged so bad in such a long time but it felt so good. It started with healthy food, and something over came my mind and forced me to eat everything I could place my eyes on!

    Reading your blog brought a little smile to my face because I think the binge happens to everyone. We all have a desire to gorge ourselves because the food tastes so good. Our bodies haven't been used to eating foods so awful and then we get sick, and in the end I always ask myself why? Was it really that worth it? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. There is always tomorrow for another chance at success and happiness.


Thank you for the comment! Your input is always appreciated :)