Tag Archives: shame

on binging

I haven’t felt well the past few days. I’ve experience several ups and downs, including one period of depression where I thought I’d have to binge in order to bring myself back up again. Fortunately, I kept control and didn’t binge, and eventually my mood brightened and I began to function again.

It’s really strange that something so destructive (my binges) can make me feel whole again. I like to call it a release while my therapist calls it avoidance or suppression … regardless, I feel so much better after I binge. Actually, I want to step back: I want look a little closer at what happens before, during, and after a binge (because I just love breaking things down into tiny, manageable pieces). Without going into too much detail, before a binge I’m low–really low, obviously. My body, my mind, everything aches. There’s tension, there’s stress, there’s negative thoughts. Usually, I’ve stirred up some feelings or memories that I haven’t touched in a while. My brain feels mushy; there’s no other way to describe it.

When the actual decision is made (most of the time I feel like it’s already made for me beforehand) to go out to get food or alcohol–whatever I’m feeling like at the time, depending on the time of day (I never drink during the day, except maybe on the weekends or some holidays … ), etc–shame and guilt hit me. Before I even go to get the food, there’s guilt for what I’m about to do. But not enough guilt to stop me from doing it in the first place. At the store, when I’m picking up the ice cream or burrito or beer, the shame only increases. I feel like the cashiers know me by now. When they’re all together at some bar after work, they talk about me, referring to me as the “binger” or “loser”, that sort of thing. They know exactly how sad and depressed I am, because I wear my feelings on the outside. Everybody knows, for that matter.

After the food is obtained, my heart starts racing and my mood begins to lift. I have to get home as soon as possible. I race back, running up the stairs two at a time, and then consume … and consume … and consume. In all, it probably takes me less than thirty minutes to eat a burrito and a pint or quart of ice cream (my staples). If I’m drinking, though, I like to spread out six beers over a period of three or four hours. I hate getting drunk. My only goal is to get rid of the feelings.

The actual consuming is all done unconsciously. I usually plop myself in front of my computer, watching an episode of Star Trek or Seinfeld while shoving the food down my throat. There are no thoughts, the feelings disperse. Sometimes I’ll catch my reflection in the computer screen which causes me to pull back a little and assess the situation. I begin to feel shame, regret, remorse, anxiety … but before the feelings can take a hold of me I return to the food, unconscious once again.

When I’m done, the feelings begin to return little by little, but they’re different. Less tangible, and more abstract. They’re probably deeper in my body, too. Then, they start to grow again and I feel worse and worse, but, again, they’re still different. I’m not depressed or hopeless, but I just feel so much shame and regret. Eventually, those feelings disperse and I’m left with just a sense of contention. What’s done is done, my mind says. Pull yourself together. You have a future, you have worth. It’s like I have to hit some sort of rock bottom to see things clearly. When you’re down, the only place to go is up.

On Thursday I really felt giving into the temptation. The triggers were there, the environment was just right. But rather than giving in, I pushed through using a combination of awareness and cognitive techniques. I caught the thoughts before they could take control of me. I then distracted myself, and, finally, I replaced my negative thoughts with positive one’s.

It was a minor victory, but I learned something extremely valuable–I learned how to take back control. In the end, though, it’s not about controlling my thoughts or feelings or urges, because they may always be there; instead, it’s about not letting them control me.

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tuesday’s binge

On Monday I was super productive during the day. I spent over seven hours in the library getting caught up on school work, free reading, and working on my blog. On Monday night I started crashing. I felt it first while watching a Star Trek movie. I felt lethargic. And sad. Very sad. After the movie, my girlfriend and I decided to go for a walk. I put on my shoes and grabbed my cell phone and noticed that my mom had called. That’s when it hit me hard. That’s when I knew. It only took a few seconds, but I imagined my entire conversation with my mom: what I’ll say, how she’ll respond, how I’ll respond to her response etc. I imagined telling her how I really feel. How depressed I really am.

I felt very tired on our walk, and later, while we were reading in bed, I leaned over, rested my head on girlfriend, and cried a bit.

Yesterday, in the library, my feelings increased: I feel weak. I feel flat. I feel depressed. I have no energy. I have no desire to do anything. I have nothing. Thoughts kept coming, and when I finally pushed them aside, I pressed my eyes into my hands. Tears came. Pushing harder, more tears came out. I felt like I was squeezing a lemon for its juice.

I wondered what I’d done to deserve this.

I watched people in the library. Going from person to person, finally settling on one. Male. Tall. Muscular. He was reading a thick novel. I could see him smiling so he must have been happy. I wanted to follow him the rest of the day, watching his life unfold. Maybe if I follow him long enough I’ll become him?

I pushed my thoughts aside again and spent another few hours in the library. Then I went home, grabbed my bike, and rode to the store.

This is what I picked up–

That’s 28 oz of ice cream, plus a large vegetarian sandwich with everything on Dutch crunch. ~2000 calories

I didn’t feel much at all afterward. I know I should have felt something. Like sadness or regret or shame. But I didn’t, and I actually felt bad that I wasn’t feeling anything. I think I was just content. I didn’t really feel anything until my girlfriend called like twenty minutes later, and even then, the feelings weren’t about myself: I felt like I had let her down.

After we talked, I went right back up to the library and started working again, as if the binge had never happened.