Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monster Munch

The Monster Muncher with her Monster Munch
There were only 3 of us who attended the information session at the Eating Disorders Programme.  I have to admit to feeling a bit uncomfortable participating in such a meeting as I certainly don't look like I've been restricting calories or purging...and the programme caters to people living with and/or affected by eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and/or eating disorder not otherwise specified.  The latter is the category in which I think I fall.

I have been a binge eater, with no purging, for the last...I don't know how long.  A shameful practice that I started training for when I returned from university one spring.  My friends and I would stay up late, rent movies and each of us would grab a large bag of chips to go with.  I don't know when 1 bag became a couple, for variety's sake, but I gradually stretched my stomach to fit the entire contents of both.  With this sort of training, it wasn't long before I could fit in some mac n' cheese or ramen noodles or fast food or Chinese.  And if I did indeed eat breakfast the next day, it would be leftover BBQ crisps or some sort of processed noodles or the remnants of the disgraceful feast of the previous afternoon, evening, or late night.  The heartburn I suffered was ridiculous.

Hot dog...it's what's for breakfast
This became my normal.  It would ebb and flow depending on my emotions.  I did most of my binging in private, away from scrutiny, gorging on fast food and drink, convenience store junk, and things I could order off of menus stuffed into my mailbox.  After a championship round of gluttony, I would hide the evidence lest someone close to me find out what I had been eating.  I would pack up all the proof of my pig-out and toss it in the building's communal bins or even in the trash outside on the street.  I was so embarrassed by my addiction.

Prajnaparadha - crimes against wisdom - binge eating is lawlessness against one's better judgment.  Why would I do this to myself?  The more I ate, the worse I felt, the bigger I got, and the more contempt I had for "me."

When I sprained my ankle in November of 2012, upon my return from New Orleans I saw an orthopaedic surgeon who gave me a huge reality check.  It didn't help that I had once seen him play the Lord High Executioner in Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado, what he had to say dropped my penny so to speak.  The reason the injury was so massive was, in short, due to my weight.  Joints are not meant to hold up such poundage.  And he told me so.  Then I cried.  He told me that I wouldn't be able to stand long days on my foot, so there went work.  Medical leave, injury, and insult...well, not insult, but I think I finally realised I was killing myself with food.  Drinkers drink, junkies do drugs, and I ate. 

The counsellor explained the programme, defined eating disorders, and voiced the philosophies of the clinic.  This facility and all that work there is such an amazing resource in our community...and even though I found out about it through my family doctor...it is available through self-referral.

I am currently in my 10th week of the Times Colonist Health Challenge2 weeks in, when
The beige meal - steak, frites, gravy, bread, and butter
Sandra McCollough - the reporter that is covering the story, asked me what I would change if I could do something differently in the past,  I said I wouldn't change a thing.  Actually, I think I said that I lived my life without regret because every single thing I do and have done is a learning experience...and right or wrong, good or bad, the culmination of all my experiences has made me the person that I am today.
  When I think about that statement and think back to how my food addiction started, the emotional and stress binge eating took over, and how I cultivated it for all those years...I really wish I had done something like this sooner.  But I didn't.  How many of us can be totally honest with ourselves, our doctors, our peers, our friends and family?  Experts, relatives, and confidants can tell us over and over until they are blue in the face what is best for us...but it isn't until we ourselves accept the reality of our own health that we are moved to change

Reaching out for a helping hand isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of self-acceptance and a catalyst for positive personal development.     

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