First of all, an update: I’m binge-free since–I think– 10/16/17. It’s not whether I’ve binged I’m unsure of: I have not binged at all. It’s the date. It was the 16th or the 18th. I’ll hit a month later this week. On that day in October–when ever it was!– I met with Dr. Malladi and the Weight Loss Institute person at the hospital where I’ll be having the gastric sleeve procedure. My insurance allows no weight gain, and that day was the most important, as far as they are concerned.
I made the decision to pursue gastric sleeve the week before, while walking through D-FW airport, my hips screaming with every step, and awareness that I was rocking side to side as I’d seen people walk who were much heavier than I–at least I thought they were much heavier. I have a hard time seeing myself as I really am and that’s no matter what size I am, but I was definitely out of touch with how large I’d gotten again. It was not until I saw pictures from the very event I was flying out of town to attend that it really hit me.
That day in the airport, though, I remember having this thought as I rocked my way down the corridor, being passed by others: “Oh, so that’s why really heavy people walk like that. They are in PAIN.”
I’d been toying with having the procedure ever since my oldest daughter had the sleeve done, and I’d witnessed her success, which continues now.
But it–this multi-year-slip and fall from being able to “manage” my illness back into full-on relapse, was about more than the weight. It was never about the weight: the loss of it, when I lost 100 pounds once upon a time, or the re-gain. Sure, it was thrilling to wear anything I wanted and I was ashamed when I once more was too large for my entire wardrobe, but it still wasn’t about the weight.
It was about behavior.
I slid into relapse gradually, then it spiraled out of control until I was reaching into the depths of where I was so long ago, pre-recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse. But even though I fell so far, I never forgot this: it’s never really about the weight–that is, the number on the scale. Until I re-accessed the same steely determination that enabled me to endure the Hell that was CSA recovery, though, I felt lost and helpless in my ED again.
That day in the airport, I was there super early, as is my preference when it comes to air travel. I exited security, rock-walked toward my assigned gate, but stopped short of it when I noticed an essentially deserted gate before the one I’d board my flight from. I setttled in at one of those counters where they provide little stools and electrical outlets to charge devices. I slid onto a stool, pulled out my laptop, and searched for bariatric surgeons who are on staff at my nurse daughter’s hospital in Dallas.
There was a referral number; I called it, and I was given Dr. Malladi’s number. I immediately dialed it, gave my insurance info, and was told I’d get a call back in a couple of days. I received the call back while I was at a teen book fest event, but I went to the side and called the office back immediately. I even filled out the paperwork that night while I was in my hotel room.
So, where am I in the process now? From the date I met with the nutritionist–Nov. 1, I have a 4 month period of proving that I can handle following rules and conducting my life without using food to cushion what hurts. Evidence that I can’t do that would be gaining weight.
So far, I have completed the psych eval, lifestyles class, pre-op class, & nutritionist appointment # 1 out of 4. Last week, I had a consult with the gatroenterologist, and I have an endoscopy set up for an Upper GI series on Nov. 21.
I meet with the sleep specialist on the 20th to set up the overnight study to diagnose sleep apnea. My husband is, on a scale of 1-10, giving it a “9” that they’ll diagnose me with it. I had it before when I was heavy, and, after all, he is the one who made me aware I had it again when he was shoving me awake because I stop(ped) breathing in my sleep. He says I gurgle sometimes and kick my legs a lot too.
(Side note: What a lucky, lucky man he is to be sleeping next to his snoring, snorting, gurgling, kicking bride. I’m sure some nights he lays awake, stares at the ceiling, and contemplates pressing down tightly upon the pillow that he freely admits to occasionally placing over my face. (“I just put it there when you won’t stop snoring,” he says. “I don’t try to smother you.” Methinks he needs to pay closer attention to the episodes of Snapped where the wife smothers the husband with a pillow…might be some valuable tips in it for him to avoid getting caught…)
(Side note to note how awesome and supportive he’s being about this whole journey. When I thanked him for being so supportive, he said, “Why wouldn’t I be?”–and I know he means it, and he doesn’t even mutter the rest of the sentence, which I imagine would be, “…if it’ll get you to sleep quietly and stop scaring the shit out of me when you stop breathing…” )
I committed myself at the outset to being accountable, and this blog and site are my way of doing that. Part of this journey is reading books about Binge Eating Disorder Recovery and working my way through them by reflecting on what happened to get to this point and where I’m going from here. An equally important part is to make time for myself to do things like write like this, and read recovery literature, and make sure that I don’t “lose me” again in being busy. Even if it means not getting all the stuff done on my (OCD-fueled-) To-Do list, first. For too long, self-care had become an “if I have time after X, Y, Z…”–and I know it made me resentful and that I ate junk as a way to reward myself. (Makes no sense, I know, since that behavior led to physical problems like rocking side to side through the airport feeling like my hip joints are grinding with every step.)
I’ve already committed, too, that if something unexpected happens and I am NOT diagnosed with Sleep Apnea again (the only co-morbidity I have with the weight), which would mean I do not qualify for my insurance to cover the sleeve procedure, I will still remain focused on regaining my health. I can’t be a runner again, and I’ve got some other stuff like chronic migraines triggered by exertion, but I’m determined to not fall into relapse again. I want to not only survive, but to thrive.
“The more often you allow yourself to sit with the discomfort of an urge without satisfying the urge, the stronger you become. This is how you begin to reclaim yourself from binge eating. You are in charge and you are in power, not the urge, not the binge. Anxiety and discomfort and desire and even feeling the intense need to binge are just feelings. Feelings cannot and will not kill you. You can sit with these” (28-29).
I read this and I think, “Dammit, I KNOW this! I KNOW it and I KNEW it so how did I fall back into it?” And then I wonder how much longer I’m going to beat myself up. This did not happen overnight. I just refused to acknowledge it until my body began to buckle under the strain of carrying around the equivalent of two 35-40 pound sacks of dog food, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Also, it’s true. Even when I’m white-knuckling it through an evening, I can still sit with those feelings, and tummy rumblings, too. I had gotten to the point that I was actually DELIGHTED if I had what I thought was a hunger pang: “Oh, YES! Cinnamon Toast Crunch and/or Cookies & Cream ice cream, here I come!”
I was like: .
And I DID. When my husband was out of town with our daughter, I ate an ENTIRE 1/2- gallon of Cookies and Cream ice cream BY MYSELF, then bought another before he got back home so he wouldn’t know I’d done that. That wasn’t years ago, y’all. That was in AUGUST.
I also bought a cake at a bake sale at my school at the end of last year, and when I got it home and couldn’t stay out of it (I started eating it IN THE CAR ON THE WAY HOME FROM SCHOOL), I put it out in the tall grass beside our house so the raccoons would eat it instead of me.
Jesus H. Christ. I haven’t told ANYBODY that until now.
“Your wise mind is the part of you that knows. Not the part of you that fights your needs, not the part of you that beats yourself up, but the survivor in you, the part of you that loves you and wants you to live a full, healthy life, and knows what you need in order to achieve that goal” (32).
My wise mind is the one that reminds, at every meal, “P & P, Beth! Protein & Produce!”
“Children who are emotionally, physically, or sexually abused are taught that there is something wrong with them, that they must keep secrets, that they must be small and quiet. These children might try to make themselves as small as possible to hide, or as large as possible to be protected…The sexually abused child grows up feeling contaminated or infected. They believe that their worth is tied up in being a sexual object rather than a human being.
“Healing from shame is about relearning your value…The antidote to shame is acceptance. This means sharing your secret, finding safe people who love you unconditionally, and beginning to uncover your own worth” (37-38).
This is another “Kicking Myself Because I Learned All This Between 2004-2010”-type entry but I’m going to stop it. Really, I am.
I KNOW these things. I PREACH these things, like, “The only cure for shame is sunlight. Drag those secrets out of the dark and shine the light on them.”
This is the reason I’m here, friends, sharing this stuff with anyone or no one but still being boldly honest about relapsing into Binge Eating Disorder as well as the journey I’m on to heal from it, learn from it, and reclaim myself not only from Binge Eating but also from the physical effects roughly 75 pounds of extra weight are having on my 5’3″ small frame.
Binge Eating Disorder is a shame-based illness. I don’t blame myself for coping with overwhelmingly traumatic events in my life the only way I knew how at that time, but it is up to me to face this head on and make sure that I do not allow myself to get lost like I was, again.
I have the tools to be healthy, and I am using them again. I’m coming out of the dark, embracing the light, and holding tightly to Hope.