After a binge, I felt I needed a little help from the angels- so here is the meditation they gave me to share with you. Thank you angels!
After a binge, I felt I needed a little help from the angels- so here is the meditation they gave me to share with you. Thank you angels!
Whilst in one of my counselling sessions, I was trying to describe to my counsellor how I feel about my own identity. It dawned on me that I feel completely empty- as if everything outside of me is important and much more concrete, but inside me is completely unimportant and empty. I visualised it as an invisible human form, with the whole of life happening around them.
My counsellor said this is due to a lack of mirroring in childhood. Mirroring is when a parent reflects back to you the things you like, how you’re feeling, what your preferences are.
Sometimes parents project their own identity onto you, which means that we learn to be what others expect us to be. We learn to take our cue from the world around us, for other people to decide. We don’t learn of our innate power to create a life of our own- one that feels true and right to each of us individually.
Healthy mirroring might look something like this:
A child spends lots of time drawing and creating art work. Their mother makes enthusiastic comments: “how wonderful that you enjoy spending so much time making these beautiful pictures. You seem to like drawing butterflies very much”. This reflects back to the child what they are doing, what they are expressing as part of their identity and who they truly are.
A childhood full of healthy mirroring and guidance down the path the child chooses for themselves, gives the grown child a strong sense of who they are and the direction they wish to take in life.
Discussing this further with my counsellor we talked about how a childhood without mirroring can cause the grown child to feel very little sense of connection to who they really are.
In my case I had my parent’s tell me how I was feeling, what I preferred, etc. I wasn’t allowed my own opinion. If I made my own decision I would be criticised and warned about the consequences. If I was angry I was very bad indeed and on occasion was locked in my bedroom- anger was not an option. It was as if I didn’t exist when I was angry.
To survive in my childhood home I learnt to anticipate my parent’s reactions and to act in a way that kept them happy. I spent so much time and energy trying to avoid criticism and any anger on their part that I put little energy into finding out who I was- I was constantly scanning my environment.
Keeping my parent’s happy was so important to me as they both had traumatic pasts and suffered from depression. My paternal grandfather had ended his life due to mental health issues. I learnt this at the age of 11, and was terrified at the prospect of losing my parents, so I resolved to do everything I possibly could to prevent this from happening. So I became as “good” as I possibly could and tried my absolute hardest to make them happy.
Bring on the Food!
I’ve been putting this into the context of my binge eating and it makes so much sense! This strong sense of emptiness is filled with food. Food temporarily gives a feeling of fullness. It also gives a certain identity in that we have a relationship with food, the disorder itself becomes part of who we are!
So part of the recovery process from binge eating, for me, is going to involve getting to know myself and what my needs are.
So much has changed in the last 18 months it all seems a little surreal!
It was a scary move. I’d been in the relationship for 11 years and had become so comfortable having our own house, living in a lovely area, and with our beautiful dog- who I was heartbroken to leave. Despite the unhappiness between the two of us, we did try to make it work, and we still care about each other, but as friends. I regularly dog-sit, so I still get to see my gorgeous girl.
It was a really tough decision and I still can’t believe I was brave enough to do it. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do.
My happiness now has really made me realise how important it is to be true to ourselves, even if it means sacrificing other things.
Binge Eating & Counselling
My binge eating has definitely worsened since the move. I think this is because I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself when I don’t have someone else’s needs to consider, and a dog to look after. I’ve spent too much time in my life trying to look after other people’s emotions, and not enough time looking after my own. So, as I posted back in May, I took the step of getting counselling for my disordered eating and body image.
I feel I’ve struck the jackpot with my counselllor- she is fantastic, and it feels right.
She’s really helping me to work on identifying how I developed such low confidence and self-esteem, and how I can nurture and parent myself. This is most definitely going to be an ongoing process.
The most uncomfortable I have felt so far is dealing with other people’s reactions to increasing my assertiveness. Having grown up a people-pleaser, upsetting others is extremely scary! But she’s helping me to see I’m not responsible for their reactions when I’m creating a boundary- so I don’t allow myself to be walked all-over.
I’m beginning to realise that there is a healthy level of selfish-ness!
Binge triggers have been relatively easy to identify so far:
I think the main reason I binge eat is to stuff down the emotions of the past. I’m grieving for my inner child and the things I went through at that time. I’m a little scared of my inner child though, as she is very very angry and likes to have temper tantrums!
I’m learning to manage that anger in a healthy way.
It’s not about losing weight.
It’s not about losing weight- I can’t stress this enough.
I am not on a diet.
I am focusing on managing my emotions and my own needs. The healing comes through this, not through calorie-counting.
I am learning to love my body the way it is. I can still walk and be active and function pretty well! That is something to be profoundly grateful for.
I am really grateful also for the counselling that I am receiving at low cost. It is providing much-needed support. The universe is looking after me- and I am thankful!
I’ve done really well today so far! I’ve started my new sleep schedule over the last few days (bed by 11.30pm, wake up at 8am) which I’m keeping to and I went for a short walk this morning and did about 20mins yoga and some meditation.
So why am I down on myself all of a sudden?
I’m scared of the thoughts that are creeping in, and feel anxious about them. This is the sequence of thoughts once I got out my sketchbook and pencils:
1. “I can start to do this art work, but there’s not much point as everything I do is rubbish and it’s not like I have a career out of it.”
2. “I have nothing else planned for today. I must do something productive or the whole day will be wasted.”
3. “I could go and get some biscuits and chocolate and watch some movies/tv, then sleep off the sugar hangover. (Feel excited by the prospect).”
This is when I decide to blog first. Writing out a conversation with myself yesterday really seemed to help pick me up.
I’m going to respond to the first thought, as it seemed to trigger the others:
Why do you feel this way do you think?
I’ve never studied past GCSE level (high school). I’m behind everyone else my age. Nothing ever looks the way I want it to. I don’t enjoy it anymore.
If you don’t enjoy it, maybe you don’t have to do it?
This voice, could it be your inner child?
Yes, I’m certain it is.
Why don’t you want to let her speak?
Because she can be scary and out of control. That same part of me that wants to create, my inner child, she has had major tantrums before and can be completely out of control.
This is what young children are like! They know how to express themselves! But adults teach them to suppress these ‘difficult’ emotions, usually because they can’t handle them themselves. Sometimes children aren’t taught to deal these feelings in a healthy way.
What is a healthy way to deal with feelings of anger, disappointment, shame, etc?
Well, let’s look at how you feel now?
Ashamed that I can’t function like a normal person.
Ok., so how do you think you ‘should’ behave? What do you see as being ‘normal’ behaviour for an adult?
I should have a job and be earning my own money. Not scrounging off the government. I have heard so many working people express anger and resentment at having to pay taxes, so that others can have benefits.
Ok. So how much income tax actually goes towards benefits? It is 20%. (UK) Therefore the working population are taxed 80% for many more things. Why are you so worried?
People will hate me and ridicule me. I feel so ashamed at not being able to support myself. I know I have more potential.
It is highly unlikely anyone will bat an eyelid about you being on benefits. Other people are wrapped up in their own lives. Any ill-wishing you receive from them is their karma, not yours. It is time to start releasing the need for the approval of others, a little bit at a time. It is safe for you to be you! It is safe for you to express your feelings and to paint and dance and make a mess!! Please don’t expect for this healing to take place all at once. It is likely to happen gently over a long period of time, so that you are not overwhelmed.
What do I need to do?
Be aware. Be aware of when you are trying to please others or gain approval. Be aware of when you are putting their needs before your own. You are your world. You do not need to make others feel safer or be responsible for their fears and insecurities. People are generally living their own lives, and aren’t too concerned about what others are doing, as long as it doesn’t affect them.
Why do you feel you should have a job like everybody else? Why can’t you do the things you love and make money that way?
Because it’s standard and acceptable to society. It’s easy to go with the majority. It’s difficult to forge my own path. I don’t know how I would start! Having a mentor would be very helpful. I don’t believe I’m good enough. I don’t believe I’m worthy of earning money for doing something that makes me happy!!
But you are worthy and you are good enough! Other people are doing it so why shouldn’t you?! Why do you feel so unworthy?
I don’t know. It still feels too childish. I want to feel deserving of earning money by being my childlike self and drawing or painting, writing, or creating in some other way. Or helping people! I feel if I’m earning money then it should be by directly helping others. Being creative feels selfish.
You are worthy. You are good enough. You are talented and deserving of using this talent and nurturing it. By being creative you are shining your own light into the world and making it ok for others to do the same. You are forging a path through which others can follow. You are making it easier for them! Therefore you would be helping others by being creative! You would be helping others to shine their love and light into the world!
It still feels difficult to draw or paint. I still feel a resistance to it.
It will take time, patience and practice. Start slowly- maybe even 15 mins of doodling at a time. Opening up to your creativity, it will be very healing and open many new doors for you! Allow yourself to feel worthy! Allow yourself to receive from the universe- be it financial gifts, or spiritual ones!
Thank you for the guidance and for caring enough to sit and listen to me.
So I don’t feel loads better. But I am grateful for the guidance, whether this is from my higher self or a spirit guide. I am grateful to myself for writing, rather than running to the chocolate straight away. I am grateful to myself for at least trying to overcome unhealthy habits. I am doing my best in these circumstances with the tools that I have.
I love and approve of myself just as I am.
I am worthy of living as my true self.
I am worthy of expressing my true self creatively!
I’ve only been up two hours on this gloomy day, but I felt my mood dip within 30 minutes of wakening.
My Lumie lamp is a blessing on such a day and really helps to keep my mood up. It’s basically a lamp emitting natural light, and is designed as therapy for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I’m attempting to curb the comfort eating that I automatically resort to every day at the moment.
I feel bloated and very out of shape at the moment.
I feel all these negative thoughts building up. So I want to have a conversation with myself to see what’s up. I know I try to avoid looking at any problems I’m having.
How are you feeling today Rachel?
Blue and bored and a bit lonely. I don’t like myself very much for all the comfort eating and lack of exercise. I have little will-power or self-discipline.
What is it about eating sugary foods that helps you?
It distracts me from negative thoughts and feelings.
They feel bad and uncomfortable. I don’t feel able to deal with them. They feel too much to cope with. I feel like a bad person if I have negative feelings and thoughts.
You are not a bad person for having low vibration thoughts and feelings. It is all part of the human experience of growth and learning. It is safe to look at these feelings and really experience them. They might not be as scary as you think.
I feel really ashamed that I can’t control my eating. I worry so much about what other people think of my body shape. I worry about my physical health. I’m so disappointed in myself.
How can you see this in a loving, compassionate way towards yourself?
I developed my eating patterns as a coping mechanism. The depressions I have experienced could have claimed my life on a few occasions. It was natural that I should find any means possible of surviving those dark times. The fact that these patterns have continued is natural if unhealthy. It is my inner child who needs the soothing. She still calls out for love and attention, but I deny her.
Why do you do this do you think?
I don’t feel worthy of expressing my creative side, that my inner child longs to experience.
Wow! I can’t believe you feel like that! Maybe you could see what it feels like to allow yourself to create?
It feels unsafe. I feel like I’ll be found out and punished.
That’s so strong!!! That’s such a strong belief!! I do feel scared to create! I’m quite shocked that I feel that way- or some part of me deep inside does. I was teased as a child, at school, because of my magical stories I wrote about unicorns and pegasus, which would get read aloud in the classroom. But it got to a point where the teacher asked me to try writing about something else next time. But it is these magical worlds that I love to express.
I feel bad when I draw now, or paint.
Why is that do you think?
It makes a mess. I need to have things cleared up or my parents get annoyed.
But it’s normal for a child to make a mess!
It was safer to keep my parent’s happy. I hated being told off. It felt so scary. It felt like they disapproved creativity and steered me towards sciences. Art wasn’t a suitable career choice.
But it is safe for you to create now! You don’t need to tell yourself off just because your parent’s didn’t allow you to be childlike!
I think this will take some working through. But I will try and do some artwork or write some stories. Starting off a little bit at a time.
Is there anything you feel thankful for today?
My Lumie light- it’s bringing some sunshine to my day.
My boyfriend, and the fact I get to spend lots of time with him at Christmas.
My new crystals.
The mind body spirit fair I went to at the weekend- I really enjoyed it.
The fact I can have a whole day to myself and not have to be anywhere or do anything (just for 1 day is nice).
All the books I have to read!
The fact I have the opportunity to improve my body condition. Some people don’t have this privilege.
I love and approve of myself just as I am.
It is safe for me to be childlike and creative.
It is safe for me to look at and experience my darker feelings.
I am worthy of improving my health.
I enjoy preparing and eating nutritious food.
I am a beautiful person, even if I don’t feel like it!
I am talented, even if I don’t always believe it.
I am worthy of using and developing my talent.
Dysfunctional Eating & Body Image
Today in The Sun Lucy Davis– known in the UK for her role in hit comedy The Office- spoke up about her eating disorder and how she has been in its grip for years.
I could really relate to the obsessive thoughts about food and body image she spoke about.
Since a teenager I’ve been absolutely fixated on how much I weigh and how I look. This has stayed with me through periods of mild restrictive eating, to where I am now, in over-eating-ville. Medications like Depakote and Olanzapine haven’t helped as I was totally ravenous on them.
Binge-Eating and Impulsiveness
Binge-eating is a common problem in people with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and is an addictive pattern I myself have developed over the years.
With Bipolar I always think it’s the impulsiveness that is the problem. Binge-Eating Disorder (click here for a detailed profile of the disorder) is characterised by eating large quantities of food in a short period of time, often impulsively. There is an out-of-control quality to the eating which can feel desperate.
It differs from Bulimia in that no purging or reversal behaviours are present. The impulsiveness of Bipolar and BPD make us particularly susceptible to addictions of all kinds. Some of us just choose food!
Interestingly I found a clinical study on Medscape that discovered the behavioural disturbances involving impulsivity in Bipolar patients were present both in manic/hypomanic and depressed periods.So we’re pretty much screwed all the time then!
I really do think it’s about time our government and the NHS would look into treating Binge-Eating and Compulsive Eating seriously. I’ve never been given adequate help, even when I’ve spilled my guts out about how I’ve felt to my GP. The usual line is “eat more fish and vegetables”. Thanks, like I didn’t already know that! Those of us with this kind of problem usually have full awareness of what is healthy and what isn’t. Control is the issue, as well as managing our emotions effectively. Please government- help us with these things!! We have a massive obesity problem in this country and it wont go away until someone important takes eating disorders and their treatment seriously.
Things That Have Helped Me In The Past….
I can’t really impart any words of wisdom on how to overcome such behaviours, as I still grapple with them myself. But these are some things that have been useful to me in reducing binge eating and improving body-confidence in the past:
– massage. Someone else accepting your body for the way it is really helps you accept it.
– Hatha Yoga. The physical relaxation gained can be very therapeutic and helps you feel comfortable in your body. Also the principle of working at your own level, and acceptance of what your body can/can’t do is very helpful. You can get to know your body with Hatha yoga and become friends with it, rather than enemies.
– exercise. I hate to say it, but exercise did help me with feeling good about myself.
– journalling and writing down things we’re feeling can help us become more self-aware and manage our emotions effectively. Seeing as bingeing most often occurs when our emotions are all-over-the-place, this helps to reduce the need to binge.
OK, just need the motivation to get exercising and yoga-ing again!
In the UK help for eating disorders can be acquired from B-EAT, who help all ages and also have specialised help for young people.
Lucy Davis on Bulimia- The Sun (UK)– really worth a read if you have eating issues too.
Pharmacotherapy of Personality Disorders With Impulsivity– Bipolar is included in this.
Song of the Day: No Light, No Light by Florence & the Machine
Really struggling with the binge eating at the moment. I feel so ashamed of my behaviour. I’m greedy and out of control. I hate the way I feel after I’ve binged- bloated and sick and guilty and full of shame. So why the hell do I do it?!!! Aaarghhhh!!
I hate that I can’t stop. I have no ability to delay gratification and my impulse control is virtually non-existent. I’m so worried for my health now. I was hoping going back to the gym would automatically help me to focus on health and nutrition, but it doesn’t seem to be working that way!! Guess it’s early days.
I don’t remember a time now when I wasn’t extremely preoccupied by how I looked. At school losing weight was more about avoiding any teasing. I guess a lot of it is STILL worrying about what other people think of me. Are they judging me as much as I judge myself? It’s quite narcissistic really to think that other people are focusing on how you look. I’m convinced that when I walk out of the house I stick out like a sore thumb, I feel so self-conscious and am only comfortable walking around Spixworth really early on in the morning when no one else is about. It’s not that I don’t go out, I do, but I just love knowing that nobody is there to judge me- it’s freeing. I am extremely harsh on myself. I don’t mean to be. Controlling the thoughts your mind comes up with is bloody hard: you’re a fat heifer, why would anybody ever find you attractive? You look like a kid, I hate the way you look- just a small sample of the pleasant things I say to myself. Don’t realize that I’m doing it half the time, which makes it harder to stop. But because I do this to myself, I assume other people are also thinking the same things about me.
As a slim teenager I actually thought I would rather be dead than fat! I was very self-controlled, maybe too controlled, and I guess I was guilty of judging larger people harshly. Now I am fat I don’t want to live this way. I don’t want to die, just not to live life like this: waking up everyday hoping I’ve lost a few stone (!), feeling my stomach, how big is it today? Worrying about what I’m going to eat. Thinking about how I look every second of every day. It’s weird because even though I take very little care of my appearance in general these days, I’m still worrying about it, maybe more than I ever did! I honestly think my anxiety has never really improved, I seem to have a chronic level that always exists in the background. Suppose that’s Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which I understand is a common co-existing condition with Bipolar Disorder.
Why is it so important to me for other people to approve of everything about me? And it really is you know! It’s almost the main point of my life, to make everyone like every little thing about me. Guess it all stems back to the whole keeping your parents happy thing. They were very depressed when I was growing up and I felt it was my job to keep them as happy as possible. If I came on the end of their wrath I felt so worthless. You don’t exist as a child without your parents- you’d be abandoned if they disapproved of you so badly, and my Mum & Dad’s reactions could be pretty devastating. I need to be gentler on myself. It is not my fault that I have learned these thought and behaviour patterns. But I am the only one who can change things. That’s a huge responsibility- taking care of myself. I want someone else to do it for me! It’s so scary to take responsibility, well, to me anyway. But I’ve got to remember I’m worth it (cue L’Oreal hair tossing).