Bingeing as a reaction to feeling Overwhelmed

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luminary's picture
Bingeing as a reaction to feeling Overwhelmed

I have been fumbling with bulimia for over 10 years, and though my B/P track record this past year (not very pretty) wouldn't show it, I've been feeling way more conscious of the underlying patterns connected to this horrible illness in my life. The ability to take a step back and consider the causes and effects of my bulimia gives me hope that I may one day live without it.

Today was not so good. I'm sitting with an uncomfortably full stomach now and I can't help but notice the correlation between my rampant (and expensive) binge and the stressful, dramatic workday that it followed.
I currently work as an Instructional Assistant in a Special Education middle school classroom in a high-crime neighborhood in Oakland, California. In the afternoons, I also teach art at an after-school elementary program in a wealthy neighborhood in the Oakland hills. I'm 24, fresh outta undergrad, learning a ton about teaching/classroom management, and most days I find myself totally flabbergasted by the incredible disconnect between my two work environments: poverty/wealth, security/danger, segregation/diversity, resources/lack of access, etc..

I react to feeling mentally/emotionally overwhelmed by overwhelming my body with the experience of eating.
Though my bulimia is surely connected to a concern for body image, it has always been a very backwards and damaging form of therapy for me. Bingeing on pleasure foods is an easy distraction from the hopelessness that I feel about my workload or the expectations that I have about my own level of productivity or heroism. I'm scared of my bulimia because I keep finding myself in positions of power/influence and my sickness seems to have the upper hand.. I've allowed it the power to control me, the way I spend my thoughts and energy, the way I feel and operate in my body, the way I relate to food. I feel guilty for taking on the responsibilities I have because I cannot even take care of myself.

In peeking around this great community, I've noticed patterns that inspire me. I've heard words that resonate with me so much that I am finally ready to contribute. So many of you seem to be juggling amazing potential and responsibility, all the while learning to be truly mindful of your body and climb out of seemingly impossible hole.

The disease is winning me right now. Every day I'm worrying about how I'll feel when I finally lie down for bed. Will I be happy about myself? Will I be proud of the choices I made? Will I feel hydrated and nourished? It's a tremendous challenge, somehow, because I can't get away from the comfort I find in calorie-dense, processed foods and I am amazed at how much of it I can eat before feeling absolutely stuffed.

I'm wondering: How do you react to feeling overwhelmed? What successes/challenges have you had with grand world-size stresses and your bulimia?



Lotah's picture
You write beautifully! I

You write beautifully!
I realised (many, many months into recovery...) that often, when things were overwhelming (which they often are!), what the b/p cycle provided me with was a fifteen-minute respite from actually feeling it all. It was that auto-pilot feeling of shoving food into my mouth and then the numbness of hanging over the toilet. That was it. the sum total of the reward I got, followed by self-loathing, guilt, shame and the return of the same level of feeling overwhelmed (with 15 minutes less to deal with it).
So, sometimes it is a matter of making myself a cup of herbal tea and sitting down to write out an OTT detailed list of everything I need to get done - by getting it out of my head, I can stop worrying about forgetting something and I can choose shorter things to do from the list and start crossing things off. Sometimes I need to do a Bible study to calm myself. Sometimes it is a matter of just getting the essentials done and then going for a bath and an early night.
It is a matter of not letting the "overwhelmedness" take over and render me incapable of acting in any way other than a b/p reaction (which was my coping mechanism of choice for nearly 75% of my life, so a hard habit to break).
I think awareness of what is happening is a major first step towards breaking the cycle and you sound as if you are making progress.
Thinking of you and sending lots of strength xxx

luminary's picture
Lotah- thanks for all the

Lotah- thanks for all the great advice. I really do appreciate it.
And you're right- so much of this is just about reprogramming reactions/habits.
Tomorrow will about drinking tea and writing lists.


beachykeen's picture
If it's the weight of the

If it's the weight of the world (or chaos in my head) and I'm home I've recently started taking showers when I feel the urge to order delivery. Something about the water running over me to soothe me and the act of doing some action opposite of the urge seems to help. I read the "opposite action" thing in a book on emotional eating. Granted I live in Los Angeles where we are ALWAYS in a water shortage...but I conserve in other ways.
If I'm overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to be done, I just start doing something on the list. I literally just start moving, like washing the dishes or empty the litter box. Then I move to the next thing I see. I set an alarm, usually an hour at a time, to keep me on track. That way I only have to stay focused on however many tasks I can do in one hour. Then reevaluate what needs to be done in the next hour. None of this is perfect but I figure as long as I keep acting like I know how to handle life, eventually I'll be able to.
And kudos to you for the work you do!!! Special needs AND an underserved community is a TOUGH combination. If you make one kid smile than your job is NOT hopeless because you have been a light in a world of dark, if only for a moment. You are going through "baptism by fire" as the saying goes.

i-hope's picture
OMG- Lotah- that has to be

OMG- Lotah- that has to be one of THE BEST things I have ever read in a really LONG while! So factual and honest!

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