To coincide with my return to work, I decided that now was the time to muster up the will power I used to have in abundance, and shift some unwanted pounds. After weighing up my options, I decided to stick with what I knew and rejoined Weight Watchers.
Twice in the past I have managed to slim down to a respectable size 12 with Weight Watchers. It’s the only diet that has ever really worked for me and kept the weight off. I find the points system comforting and it allows me to control what I eat just enough, without becoming obsessive.
You see, obsession with food intake has been a problem for me in the past, and dieting is often a danger zone where my mental health is concerned.
During my late teens and early twenties I suffered with bulimia.
The details aren’t pretty.
I was a slave to a starve, binge and purge cycle. I’d starve for days on end then binge eat until I had to make myself physically sick. Often eating in private as I didn’t want to be seen eating. Then came the release of the purge. The false feeling of control and power it gave me kept me locked in the perpetual cycle.
I was once almost shamed into stopping by my brother. I’ve never quite gotten over the embarrassment of him coming to stay and finding an un-emptied bucket of sick in my bedroom. You’d think a wake up call like that would stop me. But sadly no. Yes I felt ashamed but to give up would be to lose control.
Back in the mid 90′s when my illness was at it’s most ferocious, I couldn’t get through a day without making myself sick. It was like a control mechanism, the one aspect of my life that I had power over. I even had friends who wanted me to teach them how to vomit on demand. Bulimia was almost considered fashionable, which was possibly why so many people just let me get on with it, like I was following some sort of twisted trend.
I was prescribed antidepressants for depression, and in spite of having told the doctor about my eating habits, I was not offered any other help.
To look at me you would never have known I had an eating disorder. I suspect genetics played a hand in making sure I never dropped below a UK size 10. When I was going through rough patched I’d go through weeks where I’d eat nothing more than a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps each day. If I got hungry, I’d cook myself a huge meal, then I’d feel that sense of shame and self loathing welling up inside, telling me that I’d lost control and to regain it I’d have to purge myself.
It was a vicious and dangerous cycle. I made myself sick so often I’d often bring up blood from rips in my oesophagus caused by the constant retching. I also had episodes of self harming.
There was no medical intervention for me. No rehab or counselling. It was an illness that I had to conquer alone. It’s subsidence coincided with meeting my husband and the control it ‘gave’ me gradually became less and less significant.
I’d like to tell you that I’m completely cured, but I think that once you have suffered with an eating disorder, there are always triggers that can begin to occasionally let those negative controlling habits creep back in. My triggers are certain foods and stress. These days I probably have one single relapse a year, but I try not to dwell on it if I do.
So, it is with much trepidation that I have begun dieting again. I’m careful to lose weight slowly and sensibly. The second it becomes the number one obsession in my life, is the second I stop and take stock.
My one hope, in all of this, is that I do not pass these neuroses about food onto my children.
That is one thing I pray is not beyond my control.