Aftermath of a massive eating binge
First of all, my views on this are highly unconventional and probably controversial. Much of what I’m talking about has hardly been discussed or researched. You won’t find this in the DSM-5 or any DSM and most shrinks, even “eating disorders specialists” don’t know this stuff. Why? They have never experienced massive binge eating themselves.
Secondly, some of what I am saying won’t apply to certain populations. If you vomit afterward, none of this applies. I’m only talking about what happens if you don’t vomit. Also, if you are diabetic and are insulin-dependent or have other serious medical conditions and you experience a binge, then what I’m saying here about what happens following a binge may or may not be true for you PLUS you may also have further serious medical complications not listed here. Consumption of alcohol or drugs will also complicate matters.
If you are reading this and are in medical danger, don’t even read further. Get help. I do know a binge can be serious. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t, or trivialize it.
Now, that saying…I disagree with the DSM! Why? The DSM does us a great disservice by classifying all binge eating into one lump diagnosis category. So what happens is that there are all different kinds of binge eating, and it’s all lumped together as the same “diagnosis.”
I have been talking to so many people who suffer from this or have suffered from it. Some people binge primarily on sugary foods. Many of these folks discover that their binge eating is addiction-like and some of these folks benefit from eliminating concentrated sugars or certain types of dessert foods, even certain breads.
Others binge on anything, it doesn’t have to necessarily be sugar. I have heard that some binge on primarily protein foods or salty foods.
I do believe that binge eating is a physical disorder that is generally nutritionally based. It could be hormonally-influenced or even caused by seizures. And of course, any drug, whether prescribed or not, can cause binge eating, including marijuana. I have heard, also, that certain physical ailments, such as Lyme Disease, can cause binge eating or symptoms that mimic eating disorders of all types.
Back in the 1980’s, I read all the literature about what to do if you find yourself overeating when you are feeling blue. Or when mindlessly eating in front of the TV, or bored. Or if you went out and ate junk food when your boyfriend dumped you. I found that none of this literature applied to me, nor was it helpful. In fact, I found the “poor coping” theories insulting to say the least. These people who touted “better coping” had no clue what I was going through.
See, the DSM may talk about binge eating disorder but makes no distinction between the following: 1) There are those that eat a few candy bars, or a few pieces of pizza, and then call that a binge. They feel horribly guilty afterward and maybe have a tummy ache from the candy for an hour or two. Maybe they gain weight, cuz it is, in fact, too much to eat. Or maybe they don’t.
2) Others massively binge eat. I’m talking about huge quantities, like 10,000-15,000 calories. I have rarely actually counted the number of calories in any of my massive binges, but I know the quantity was around that much. I have heard that 15,000 was the most anyone can humanly stuff in, but I’m not sure that’s accurate…and over what period of time? Anyway, that number sticks in my head.
What I am saying is this: The medical profession is lumping us all together. So if someone complains of binge eating, and in fact, they’re doing mini-binges (sorry, but a few candy bars isn’t a binge in my eyes) what happens is that the medical profession and these specialists think the main problem is guilt. So they think, “Hey, they’re neurotics! These gals make a mountain out of a molehill.” That’s why those of us who massively binge get poo-pooed at the treatment centers and in doctor’s offices, and we end up wondering why.
I do think massive binge eating is indeed serious. Now, I’ll talk about what happens to a person AFTER eating those thousands and thousands of calories AND not throwing them up.
This is my own experience. I’m writing this out in second person, however, for whatever reason.
Something stops you from eating. Maybe you just can’t fit in anything else. Maybe you start to choke or the food won’t go down anymore or it seems to be filling up right up into your throat. Or you run out of food.
You are at risk for stomach rupture. This has indeed happened to people and personally, I’m positive it happens far more often than medical science is willing to admit. Rarely does a person survive if their stomach ruptures. I believe that it has occurred and not been documented because without an autopsy, the person’s death may be documented as a heart attack or other cause.
I have heard that you should never, ever take Alka Seltzer or bicarbonate of soda, also called baking soda, following a massive binge. These will increase your risk of stomach rupture. I don’t know if this is true but that’s what I’ve heard. I remember from childhood my mom used to tell us to take baking soda for a stomach ache, but I’m sure glad I never took it after a binge.
You feel sedation. This hits hard. Like you have taken a very strong sleeping pill that kicks in fast. (I’ve actually passed out, but not really fainted, simply collapsed to the floor. It hasn’t happened too often. Usually, I have the good sense to lie down before I’m out cold.)
If you sleep, you sleep deeply despite the fact that you’ve got all that food in you. How long? It varies.
Your stomach is huge. Probably it is larger than it would be if you were pregnant. Unlike pregnancy, there is expansion all around, not just in front, although I think this varies from person to person. It will stay that way for a long, long time. If you binge Sunday night, your stomach will be huge all day Monday and most likely into Tuesday as well.
You may notice swelling in other parts of your body, including your face, arms, hands, legs, ankles, anywhere.
I can see why many people are tempted to abuse laxatives, because these speed up the digestive process. It means the huge tummy won’t be around as long. However, if you have diarrhea, either induced or it just happens, here’s what to expect:
Your stomach gets extremely bloated and uncomfortable for a long time prior to the diarrhea. So it will actually be larger for a while. Your stomach will growl like mad. You may experience a lot of abdominal pain that lasts for hours, including cramping. The swelling in other parts of your body, such as your ankles or thighs may worsen. You will most likely have to defecate rather suddenly, and if there’s no bathroom around, you might leak. If you are stuck sharing a bathroom or using a public bathroom, you might go through a bit of embarrassment. I’m not going to go on and on about the warnings about laxative abuse cuz you’ve already heard them. I do know of people who have died or have permanent damage. It’s far from rare.
Another thing that happens is that your body gets revved at some point. Your heart pounds, you sweat, and you feel very hot. Some people have reported a raised blood pressure and pulse, and even raised body temperature. It sounds like what physically happens to the body when you are exercising, or when you feel afraid. However, these sensations are more a nuisance than anything else. You aren’t likely to be able to sleep while your body is revved like this.
An acupuncturist explained to me why this happens. It’s because your digestion is working on overtime. It’s working extra hard. It’s got a huge amount of food to process and it’s not designed for a “meal” that large. It’s going to take extra time, too, to process all of it.
You may or may not experience gassy emissions, such as burping or flatulence. The burps may contain stomach acid or even bits of the food you ate, or have a sour taste, or taste somewhat like what you binged on. This will affect your breath odor. Flatulence may be uncontrolled and may be in a large quantity.
Now what do these “experts” tell us? First of all, they assume we all go out jogging after a binge, or just feel guilty and otherwise go about our normal days. Given the above, clearly these “experts” have no clue what a person goes through physically following a binge.
Most “experts” will tell you to go right back on your meal plan, that is, if you binge Saturday afternoon, just eat dinner as usual. Oh, really?
As for those of you who do these mini-binges and call what you have binge eating disorder, maybe you need to realize that guilt won’t hurt you. It’s a feeling. Yes, it’s real, but you’re not in physical pain due to guilt. Guilty feelings don’t mean you will be punished, fined, jailed, or reprimanded. Guilty feelings don’t mean some St. Peter will choose Hell for you. It’s a feeling and it passes. Once you realize this, the “moral issue” of these mini-binges is wiped out. Do go right back on your meal plan, if you choose to use one, and you’re likely to be fine. You won’t even gain weight.
These “experts” have clearly never experienced massive binge eating themselves. If you try to eat again following a massive binge, YOU CAN’T! You might try, but you aren’t even capable of putting anything into your mouth for a long time after a binge. Your stomach turns when you try to eat. You may even have trouble getting liquids in for a long time, and as a result, suffer dehydration. You’re just too sick.
The experts assume some of us jog off the calories. For those who do those mini-binges, this is probably applicable. However, following a massive binge, you cannot even comfortably sit in a chair, you cannot walk, you cannot stand up. Absolutely no position is tolerable. Probably lying down is the only thing you can do, but it’s far from comfortable. If you try to concentrate on a task, you find that you cannot do so. You’re in too much pain. This can go on for a whole day following the binge. If you try to eat, you feel worse.
I’m going to address something else that’s concerning to me. People have reported to me binge eating over and over in succession, or having too many binges very close together in time. This has happened to me, too.
I’ve been going through this for over three decades. I can tell you one thing: I’ve been in the situation where I was binge eating over and over and my stomach never had a chance to return to a tolerable state of comfort before the next binge. I remember gaining weight very rapidly during those periods and I felt extremely sick.
This is truly critical. There’s no way your body can process all the food you’re putting into it. You must do something to make it stop.
The times I was in this situation, I recall desperately trying to get help, and literally getting laughed at by doctors. I had no clue what to do. The hospitals didn’t take it seriously, either. Nowadays, many still don’t, but some do.
I saw the hospital as a way to stop it, but since “I can’t stop bingeing” would never get taken seriously, I had to lie my way into the hospital. I assumed the hospital was the answer. Get myself locked up so I won’t binge. I had to say I was suicidal so that they’d take me seriously and maybe admit me. This went on for years, sadly. I wish there had been some other way. I wonder what other things I could have done instead of subjecting myself to all that lockup.
I have tried to tell doctors about all this stuff, about the sedation, the sweating, the farts, everything. No one has ever taken the time to listen except that one acupuncturist I had quite a while back. That’s why I’m documenting it here.
Take care you guys.
Thoughts on binge eating, more
I am thinking along the lines of pairing binge eating and pica in one vein at this point, in terms of “substance.”
What I found was that there are incredibly few studies done on binge eating. I studied the studies. Why is a study done is 2011 on binge eating considered “pioneering”? Now? Thirty years too late, in my opinion. Science was talking about bulimia, I believe, or at least made it a diagnosis for “adolescent college girls” and I recall the small amount of publicity about it in the 1980’s and I don’t recall myself seeing anything at all earlier than that. So if they knew binge eating existed, I think they were doing all the studies on the dangers of throwing up, and no studies on the first half, the binge eating behavior.
So science thought, I guess, that it would be essential to stop these adolescent girls from this dangerous purging, and I wonder what they thought about the bingeing? It was not on the map. Just ignored. No treatment, nothing. In treatment, they don’t care, either. They have no clue. They will tell you binge eating is natural and normal? No, baby, it is not. Binge eating is disturbing and dangerous.
I repeat, binge eating is disturbing and dangerous for anyone that experiences it first-hand. I applaud the researchers that have painstakingly whacked away trying to find out the cause of this bizarre behavior.
You have to do some really strange distorted and extreme things to an animal to turn it into a binge eater. You really have to work at it. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Rats have been made into rats that did binge eating. They ate copious amounts of food. My heart broke for these tiny creatures. I wanted to tear my hair out. Their lives were now…I don’t know…they don’t think the same way we do but I imagine it was no picnic.
Maybe medical science’s little party of getting away with this gap in research and treatment, that is, treating purging behavior and not treating bingeing behavior, well, that’s just plain sinful, isn’t it? I mean, now what, you dudes in lab coats?
Binge eating, more clarification
I thought I’d clarify a few things I said in a previous post. As far as binge eating goes, I guess my argument there was that it makes no difference what weight the person is or what their background is I think the behavior should be treated as it is and for what it is, especially if it is severe it should be taken very, very seriously. By severe I mean on any spectrum, how it impacts the person’s life, quantity, frequency, time spent at it, how it has affected their family, whether it has caused them to shoplift or caused chronic binge eating while driving or even once caused an accident, and other things. And of course, if it causes severe overweight this is a consideration as well, but one of the many “axes,” which I guess is a term clinicians use. I wonder if I was clear enough about this.
And I think I totally left out the #1 thing that binge eating totally destroys.
I think that says a million. Because if you have rotten self esteem from binge eating and binge eating BEHAVIOR is not in the DSM-5…..
Now, yes, bulimia is in the DSM-5, but it’s up to the clinicians and treatment places to treat binge eating behavior. Are they indeed treating this behavior? Do they really truly know how to treat it?
My experience is gross negligence and ignorance, never mind the prejudices and put-downs and the clinicians telling you how you need to gain self-control, to shut up and quit having crises, maybe follow your meal plan better, maybe listen better to them, throw out the damn scale, quit caffeine, take meds, quit taking meds, on and on and on and on. Do they really know? I mean, with so little research at their fingertips?
Are they, on the other hand, trying to tell you, after you have made yourself miserable, to “accept” how miserable you feel after you have binged, how stretched your belly is, and go on with your life? Now I ask you: how many times have they told you this and how many times has this cycle gone on and on? Has this clinician ever eaten this much and does this clinician know how YOU feel right now? Probably not. This clinician isn’t going to go through the grief of your full belly for the next few hours. Or the next day of feeling yucky and guilty and horribly full.
Accept this? I say this is unacceptable and I say YOU don’t deserve this grief and misery. YOU didn’t ask for it. No, YOU didn’t pick this binge eating behavior out of a vending machine and say to yourself, “I’m going to have this habit for the next 20 years or so” and then have to live with it.
You go to the treatment centers and guess what? They don’t have any clue how to treat it and guess what? Now, binge eating disorder is in the DSM-5. Folks, this is huge, because the ONLY BEHAVIOR in binge eating disorder, in fact, is binge eating! So guess what? They are now forced to treat binge eating! They are forced to research the damned evasive miserable thing they don’t even want to face.
Cuz it’s ugly. Binge eating is an ugly truth. We shove stuff into our mouths and it’s not pretty, is it. Think of everything ugly you’ve done, and know what I’m saying is true. Hope lies ahead.
It’ll be a bit, maybe a bit of waiting, but there will be research. Studies you’ll be able to get into for no money at all. Places you can go that are covered by many insurances or even possibly if you are uninsured I’ll bet.
But we, us folk, we gotta do our part too. We gotta keep speaking up. Each of us do our part. Keep writing and doing everything we can and I will too. Just don’t shut up about it folks.
Another article about Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM-5
Here’s the link:
Whereas I am aware that the antipsychiatry movement is adamantly against the DSM-5, and I can see why, I also have my position on the necessity for change in psychiatry’s view on eating disorders. The DSM-5 provides that necessary change.
Of course, the DSM exists for insurance purposes, and so the docs can justify drugging us, institutionalizing us, incarcerating us, possibly taking our jobs away from us or our families away from us, and so on and so forth. However, the DSM can do good things, too.
Imagine: Now, men don’t have to prove that their periods have stopped to get treatment for anorexia. Gee, that’s nice. And folks, I’m 55 and if my periods stop, um, I think it’s kinda weird that I’m 55 and still getting them like I’m a kid anyway, don’t you? There isn’t a dumb BMI requirement. Let’s face it, the new ED writeup makes more sense.
The DSM-5 might be fucked in some ways, but I think the whole antipsychiatry movement and the “recovery” groups totally overlook ED. It’s sad. These groups are wonderful if you have depression or bipolar or you cut or you are an alcoholic, but if you have restrictive eating and resulting severe medical issues, it just doesn’t apply.
Walk onto any ED unit. It’s a whole different ballgame. New world, folks. Human rights is a different story. Yes, human rights are the same, but we need a whole new subset of human rights laws as applied to ED treatment. Do you hear me?
Now listen carefully: You sign a lease. There is the lease, and there is the pet rider specifically for those tenants that have pets. This is only an analogy. So there is the main part of the lease and there is the subset of the lease. Parallel, there are the main human rights laws, the overall human rights laws for psych units, and there is the subset that I am proposing, for eating disorders units.
Is this clear? Am I such an idiot that I can’t think straight?
So much for antipsychiatry. I feel that these psychiatric drugs should never be given to people with ED, or be given in exceptional situations and there should be FULL INFORMED CONSENT. This means the patient would be made aware of all side effects, long term and short term, and consequences should the patient decide someday to get off the drug.
It is one of my life’s missions to have a black box warning put on antipsychotic drugs, saying they should be given with extreme caution to patients with ED, and that the patients should be monitored for extreme weight gain, and taken off the drug if side effects are problematic. I believe currently some of these drugs have warnings for adolescents (suicide warnings) and for elderly people (if they have dementia) and some have warnings for diabetics, etc. I know far too many people who have relapsed or experienced extremes in low self esteem due to weight gain from these drugs. I fear that administration of these drugs could even cause suicide, indirectly.
In many ways, the advances with the new DSM-5 as far as ED are concerned are a step in the right direction. Many other changes in the DSM-5 are putting us in the grave. It’s all about insurance, money, drugs, and control of people who are powerless. Let’s see how it goes and how long the DSM-5 stays the way it is.
A post I wrote last night, written by a person desperate for care for her eating disorder
Apparently I wrote a post last night but forgot to post it. It’s a good thing I did not post it, and I’m going to post it here tonight, but I am going to edit out some parts of it. I am not going to correct the typos.
Here it is:
will I live or die, and does any9he really care? In case you are wondering about the tyoes, I have been having trouble with my keyboard that I have had for a milion years. It’s a terible waste of time going back and correcting every single one, so I am lettting them stand and I apologize for tthis in adavance.
I ran into someone from church at at al places, the sleeziest liquour store in town.
Now, I am not buying liquor to get drunk or get high. I am buying liquor so it will clash with the meds I presntly take and defelop a very baad reaction. I am hoing that thsis bad reaction is that I an totally unconsious. If I am unconcious, I will nt binge eat.
This, folks, is the level of desperation I have reached.
I have no care if I live or die because so few humans actually give a shit about me anymore.
I’m sure my blood levels, eveyry signgle one of them,is way off.
I’m gonna die without real treatment soon. treamtne dont dicted by insurnce but but by dictaed by real medcal kowleddge. apparently, htese commeunitactions have not tken place.
I have a shrink appintment schedule for next wendesday atfternoon. I see no point in showing up uness there is sme ocmmuincation between person x and my practioner.
If you are rich and have never knwn what it is lie to scrape then trust me, you ar clueless.
I happenignng to be logged ito hy facegok facge at teh omemet,, more info is goven ther, but it is cagey,
Folks, I am not the oly one who is dying. Man y other s are. Spmeting has to do be done.
Beweare of practitioners who charge an arm and a l let forservodes; the are bogus.
God help me, don’t ko whow i nyone heasrs hw =at aoam saigng, or ebn blieves me.
Please note: I wrote this post last night. I saved the draft, then copied it onto this post. I am okay today and rested all day. What happened afterward was this:
I guess I got really delirious. I did not drink very much alcohol, but whatever I took was enough to put me into a very bad physical state. I was unable to stand up. Every time I tried to stand up, I fell. I broke a bunch of things in the apartment, including a shelf of one of my bookshelves, and furniture got knocked over. I ended up with a bloody nose. Books were all over the place.
I was stupid enough to post to Facebook. For whatever reason, I posted to Facebook on a private page for people at my graduate school. I suppose folks were concerned. Eventually I made it to bed and went to sleep.
As it turned out, someone saw what I had written and deciphered all the typos, figured out that I had fallen a number of times, and phoned the police.
I got to the door and I suppose the police decided I was coherent and okay and they didn’t even come inside. Little Puzzle scared them off. I signed a paper saying I refused an ambulance. No way did I want to go to an ER.
I have more info for you. In another post, I will tell you.
Well….a-hole, you are out of my life
Last night I got into this horrible argument with my brother Ned. And then I did this profoundly liberating thing that has jump-started me like you would not believe: I cut him out of my life.
Now I didn’t expect that I’d do that. No way. I didn’t have it planned out that way. I didn’t do it in a fit of anger or anything like that. It was the logical thing to do, that’s all, following this horrible argument.
It was a matter of a click of the mouse, you see. I have Google Voice, so it was easy. Or not so easy due to a glitch in GV. But I went over to the forums figured out how to get it done. Now, when Ned calls, he is automatically sent to voicemail. No, not spammed, just sent to voicemail.
I suppose if he keeps calling and continues to get voicemail, he’ll conclude that I’m hospitalized. I guess at that point I’ll e-mail him and tell him I’m not. And a few other things.
I am tired of being told I am not real writer because I do not submit my writings to The New Yorker. I am tired of being told I am wrong no matter what I say. I am tired of being told that no matter what I do, it’s not good enough. He’s an asshole. I’m glad I’m not his kid and I’m glad I’m not his student and I’m glad I’m not his wife and I’m glad I’m not his friend.
I liked it that he called now and then. That was nice of him. But only to put me down again and again. He never once read This Hunger Is Secret. He only looked at the cover and commented on it. He never bought a copy or the e-book or paperback and when he came here and looked at a copy of the paperback he did not open it and read anything inside. Isn’t that weird? Like he only cared about the cosmetics of the book. Then he shoved it back at me, uninterested.
Well, asshole, you are out of my life.
I didn’t feel really terrific until this morning. I woke up and then suddenly it felt like my body was breathing a gigantic sigh of relief. Like suddenly, there was this letting go, a release of something that had been pent-up. It felt incredible.
(As we speak, there is huge shouting and arguing in my hallway. Typical day here.)
I have not binged since Saturday. I don’t know why or how I have managed to stop but I am grateful for it. Well, I do have ideas. There are things I have done. I will talk about some of the things in another entry. But one of the things is letting him go.
Getting rid of people, activities, and substances that are no good for you is essential.
I started writing a blog entry about this but I had a huge technical problem in my apartment and got interrupted with my entry, lost track of what I was saying, and so I aborted the entry. What happened was that my toilet got a leak in the back of it and I had to call the maintenance guy over here. My bathroom floor is all soggy.
What I was saying was this:
If a person, activity, or substance causes you to binge, cut it out of your life if possible.
I don’t really have an overeating problem. I go on full binges. There is a marked difference, and I have a hard time relating to people who overeat and do not have a binge eating problem.
Do you want to know what this means? Binge eating, for me, is not anything like casual eating or “nibbling.” It is never done with a partner (I saw a You-Tube where someone who was bulimic talked about binge eating with a friend). Sometimes, depending on how soft or crunchy the food is, I shove it into me and and barely chew it. Huge chunks get swallowed whole. It’s extremely disgusting. I’ve seen my own dog do this.
Anyway, I have not done any of that since Saturday. I am grateful. Today I feel wicked decent.
Guess what? I am even wearing jeans, not those pajama bottoms I wore for days on end. It’s a good thing I didn’t feel too self-conscious about my weight and dared to have that maintenance guy in here, because if the toilet had leaked last week, I would have been scared to have anyone in here. The tank was leaking, not the toilet bowl itself, so no, not that gross, but the floor would have been like a wicked bad swamp.
My cell phone broke Monday night, my good one, but it’s one I was using less often than the free “Welfare” one. I decided that compared to all the other shit in my life, it’s not that big a deal. The warranty expired ages ago. It’s not one of those contract phones. I’m a cheap-o. I got another off of ebay for $30 last night. I did this fun Internet shopping to distract myself from my pissed-off thoughts about my brother.
It was a really healthy way to cope with the issue. Now I’m going to have a new phone. I mean, I could have thrown the broken phone across the room. That would have been just plain dumb, and would have accomplished nothing. Ripping up a phone book would have done nothing but make a mess and destroy a phone book, and holding onto a frozen orange would have done nothing but waste an orange and make my hands extremely uncomfortable, and oranges are expensive. I did some intelligent comparison shopping, read the reviews carefully, and made a decision.
Well, asshole, you are out of my life.
Why therapy does not work for binge eating, and in fact may be harmful to some people
Okay, I’m going to go way off on a limb here, and say some wild stuff.
First of all, I am a person who has dealt with anorexia nervosa and binge eating since 1980, that is, before Karen Carpenter died, and when I first got this disease, I had certainly never, ever in my life heard of eating disorders. Why did I go on a diet? I did it because I thought losing weight (yes, losing is spelled with one “O,” all you folks out there in WeightWatchers land, I do get very tired of the typos, in fact, you will never lose weight if you spell it wrong) would make me closer to God. Yes, 22-year old me, quite secretly went on a diet and really never told anyone. It’s only in my journal. And in my memory of being very, very cold and alone with my dog, Hoofy, on this very secret mission. I got what I wanted, covered myself in winter clothes, my periods stopped, and no one even knew.
I was terribly malnutritioned. And yes, I do recall the day the binge eating started. Some binge eaters do not recall their first binge. I do. Afterward, I said to myself, “Hey, what was this?” It was like something animal had come over me, something Other. It was not my head that had done this, but my body’s desperation. No, not hunger, but specific nutrients that my body was craving, right at that moment.
Most binge eaters do not start binge eating just off the bat. There is a prelude to it. There is some diet first. Their bodies are initially lacking in nutrients. This, my friends, is key. You binge because your body is telling you something. Binge eating is a body thing, not a mind thing.
Have you heard of the disease pica? Binge eating is just like it. I’d like to propose, in fact, that it is very, very much like pica. Only binge eaters eat real food, and folks with pica eat stuff that I guess doesn’t fall into the food category, such as pieces of the wall, or stones, or chalk. I guess there are the classic stories of pregnant women who are starved for calcium and doctors wonder why they are eating non-food items like animals. Is it a good idea to therapize these unfortunate pregnant women? Or rather, perhaps they are better off with maybe some financial and practical assistance if they need it, some help managing their other children if they need that, and most importantly, some immediate help getting calcium to themselves and so they can bear healthy children when the time comes.
So say you are a binge eater. I would like to propose that you are just like this starved, pregnant woman. Yes, you are starved. I don’t care if you weigh 90 pounds like I weighed in my teensy apartment back in August of 1980, or maybe if you now weigh 300 pounds and you have been on a binge for the past three days. You are starved.
Your body, not your mind, is talking to you, crying out to you. The pregnant woman has no clue why she turns into an animal and goes after the wall and grabs it and shoves pieces of it into her mouth. It is knee-jerk behavior. It is her body crying out to her. Of course, we binge eaters know this behavior very, very well. We ourselves turn into animals. We try so hard to stop it, but we can’t. It simply happens to us, often late at night. We have the best of intentions. We aren’t even hungry. We have followed our meal plans or been on our best behavior, but we snap all the sudden and bam! We’re off.
Yes, we’re off. Maybe it’s that extra bite of something, or we’re in a store and we see something. Or, “Okay, I’ll put on my other coat now,” and off we go. Or we eat what we have at home, we eat the house out. There’s the whole ordeal with the cashiers, and if you drive, there’s the driving nightmare. Yes, you hide the trash, I’ve been through that, too. You hide the food, you hide the evidence, you hide the fact that you are eating, you hide all the evidence.
See, I know. I’ve been through it, and I myself know how it goes. And yes, I’ve had all sorts of therapists try to “help” me with it and therapy has been the least helpful solution of anything I’ve tried.
If your insurance will pay for it, I would suggest trying a nutritional approach. Problem is, just about every nutritionist on the planet has no clue about binge eating. They only know the very, very basics about the food pyramid or diabetes or something. Find one that does not put you on the exact same stock meal plan as they put everyone else on, the one they learned in school or copied off the Internet or ripped a page out of their textbooks. You might even find one who was inspired to go into the field because they themselves used to have an eating disorder and got better. Be very careful because some of these folks charge gigantic fees and ask first how much the charge is and make sure they are totally upfront about future charges and how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket. Really lay it on the line with these people. I went to one person and had to cancel the initial appointment at the last minute because suddenly I found out the fee…$300! For one session? And yes, it would be charged to my credit card. I was so stupid, I had given them the credit card number, and had to make sure that it was perfectly clear over and over that I was not coming I had given plenty of notice, I am a low-income person, this is totally ridiculous and there would be absolutely no charge on my card. I guess you live and learn. I was not charged, and breathed a sigh of relief. Anyway, if you can find someone like this, go to them, but not for an arm and a leg.
I told you that binge eating is, in fact, a form of pica. So your body is talking to you, forcing you to do something you don’t ordinarily do and don’t want to do in a million years because it desperately needs a nutrient or group of nutrients. This nutrient might be anything. Who knows what you have, over the years, deprived yourself of. It might be a longstanding nutritional issue. You might be dehydrated. Dehydration means your body is deprived of a nutrient: water. There are so many things it could be and the body is immensely complicated. You might have a food allergy. As a matter of fact, you may be binge eating on a food that you are allergic to and making yourself miserable.
I’ll tell you a very, very funny story. It happened a long time ago and it only goes to show how silly folks can be. My dad was an only child, and for a while, he kept getting sick. His mom kept him home from school and gave him chocolate milk, thinking this would make him well. She wondered why he got sicker and sicker. So she took him to the doctor. The doctor made scratch marks on my dad’s arm, and a few days later, said to my dad’s mom, “Your son is allergic to chocolate and peas. If you keep giving him chocolate milk, he will get sicker, not well. Stop giving him chocolate milk, and he will get well.” Sure enough, this was the case, and my dad was back in school within days.
Of course, this happens all over the world. We do stuff that doesn’t work, and in fact does the opposite, and we keep doing it, and we get sicker, and wonder why. Not that it was my grandmother’s fault. Of course it wasn’t, and it wasn’t a moral issue. She didn’t know. She thought she was doing the right thing. But of course looking from the outside in, we can see that what she was doing, giving my dad chocolate milk was not going to work and once her eyes were opened, it was a non-issue once again and everyone was happy.
So, you, too, want and need your eyes to be opened, so just like my grandmother, this binge eating problem can be put behind you once and for all, and it can be a non-issue in your life and you can, yes, move on. Just like my dad and his chocolate allergy, you won’t be sick anymore and you can go back to school and actually have a life. My dad graduated top of his high school class and I’m damned proud of my dad.
I have been in therapy and had, get this: a total of 20 therapists. Of these, I’d say three, or maybe four have been decent, but two of the four were temporary ones. None of these were “eating disorders specialists.” My very best therapist told me one day that she felt she wished she knew more about eating disorders and felt that someone else might be a better person for me. At that point, I told her that she was the best therapist I’d ever had, and in no way had she ever been inadequate. This was so long ago. Unfortunately, this excellent therapist was being laid off. She then handed me over to an “eating disorders specialist” who I swear knew not a thing about eating disorders, and the next five years were a complete joke. I’ve had one good one briefly, but a lot of horrible ones too, and I’m happy to be therapy-free right now.
Okay, here’s where I go off on a limb. They tried to therapize gay people to make them not gay anymore. Or do this moral thing, throw (pardon me) Jesus at them. Tell them Jesus will turn them into straight people and convince them to be straight and make them stop “sinning.” Now we all know that this in fact is an absolutely horrible thing. Therapizing a gay person will not make them not be gay anymore. This is 2013 and fact is, therapists and preachers are still doing this all over the world. This, to me…I don’t know, it’s genocide. It kills people. It kills their spirit. And it leads to massive suicides. We don’t even know the numbers over the many years that these practices have been done. I am bisexual I am quite surprised that I have escaped it all, but then again, I live in Massachusetts, not the Bible Belt.
So where is my parallel? Can you therapize a binge eater out of binge eating when the cause is physical and not mental, not, in fact, “poor coping,” but the binge eater’s body’s desperate nutritional need, a form of pica? Of course not. So the binge eater continues to be told, over and over, “You need to learn better ways to cope. Hold onto a frozen orange!” and the binge eater, of course, binges on the frozen orange instead one late, late night, and then goes on to buy a tub or two of ice cream. Do frozen oranges work? Do they solve your body’s need for, say, calcium? No. Do they solve your body’s need for water? No. You will feel rotten and no coping skill will work, and that therapist will tell you how poorly you are coping, and how badly you followed their advice. Maybe they will tell you you have a personality disorder, or that you are binge eating to manipulate others. Wow, that will really make you feel great. If you lose a friend, they will tell you you have terrible social skills, that you need to go to day treatment, and now you are stuck in some “program.” Oh lordy, you will get more addicted.
So the therapist will tell you, and now, of course, it’s therapists plural, a whole group of them hammering it into you, that you need to sit around talking about your problems day in day out. But you don’t. I am telling you, you are starving. Go get off the merry-go-round. Go feed yourself.
Meds do help, and I’m telling you why they help. Binge eating is a body thing, but the brain tells the body to do the pica behavior. There is a necessary link. Something has to be there so that the body will do this necessary knee-jerk behavior, so that the pregnant woman will get the wall or chalk material into herself and the necessary calcium she desperately seeks. Of course, science hasn’t caught up with all this yet, and they don’t really know which meds to use on people yet. Honestly, the research is so new. They were doing stuff in the 1980’s and everyone poo-pooed it and knocked it down. I honestly can’t remember her name who said using meds was anti-feminist. That exercise yoga lady who supposedly “recovered.” Anyway, be careful, ask questions, and know what you are getting yourself into. Meds can be a lifesaver.
Yes, I am going to go out on a limb again and suggest that not only you get tested for allergies but look into brain allergies. Yes, brain allergies. This wacko, crazy research done at the Brain Bio Center and other places like it. Folks think these guys are nuts but I am telling you, they are not. They are dead-on. A simple dietary change can radically fix a behavioral problem or “mental illness” better than “meds” if the cause is a brain allergy. All you have to do is go to their site and read what they have to say. Do just this, and that enlightenment alone may help you radically. It did for me.
So anyway, you are not “not listening to your therapist well enough” or “not following Jesus well enough” or “not being a good enough wife” or any of that. You are plenty good enough. You have tried and tried and tried and trust me, you are doing those things just fine but they won’t help binge eating. They will tell you how awful you are and you will only feel guilty and horrible about yourself. It’s time to get free. Find the key, and open the door.