Bipolar Disorder: Eating Distress.

Song of the Day: Shake It Out by Florence & the Machine (Brilliant new song).

(Photo Credit: Mark Bridge available under a Creative Commons Licence.)

In today’s Daily Mail, Gary Barlow (UK popstar/songwriter) revealed how unhappy he was with his weight at its peak of BMI 34.7:

“I felt horrible. I felt shit. For someone so big, I felt incredibly small.”

He believes his eating habits were developed during a depression, following the Take That split and being dropped by his record label.

My eating is also out of control, I’m extremely unhappy at this weight and so uncomfortable. It feels very unnatural. I long to be light and energetic again. I hate my out of control bingeing; I feel so ashamed for giving into the cravings, so weak-willed and undisciplined. But the relief I feel when I bite into cake, biscuits or chocolate can be immense- like drinking water when you’re extremely thirsty: you just can’t get enough. My body immediately relaxes, my muscles release, the tension subsides rapidly. I feel comforted and loved for some weird reason. I don’t understand such a strong reaction to eating. Where does this feeling of being loved through eating come from?

When I was a baby and crying in distress, was my mother’s immediate reaction to give me food? I guess that would be the quickest way to keep a screaming baby quiet! Did I associate her care and attention with food as a result? When having successfully gained her attention and love so that my needs were taken care of- would I then relax and feel relieved, only then to have food put into my mouth, that I didn’t necessarily need? Could have needed a nappy change, could have been uncomfortable, but maybe the first port of call was to give me food? Certainly this would account for such a strong sense of release when I binge eat- a strong, primal association of comfort with eating. Think this must happen to a lot of people.

I don’t think I blame Mum anymore. I can’t stand the sound of a baby screaming, hate the thought of it being in distress, and I would probably find the quickest way to keep it quiet and happy too! It is now my responsibility to look after my own health though. Mum never intentionally wanted to give me an eating problem, I didn’t intentionally give myself an eating problem. But I’m the only one who can fix it.

Understanding the psychological and physiological reaction behind binge eating in this way helps me to feel a bit more compassion towards myself. The question is- how do I nurture myself in a healthy way when I feel distressed? I think this a case going back to basic mothering and taking care of my needs, rather than ignoring them and letting them all build up:

Possible needs I ignore for convenience:

-aching shoulders/headache (from computer work)

-thirsty/hungry (proper hunger, not emotional)

-not enough alone time

-trying too hard to help others with their problems

-taking on other’s negative energy

Being aware of my needs before they build up to the point of distress seems to be the answer, so I can deal with them before they all build up. I will try and remember that my needs are important, not an inconvenience. They need to come first for a change to occur.

4 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder: Eating Distress.

    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Hi Hannah- thanks for your message. I’ve been OK thanks, just been having some work issues that have been draining all my energy. Seem to have encountered writer’s block too! Hope you are well xx

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