It started in March. I was doing fine until I was gripped by inexplicable excrutiating chest pain. It was so bad, I believed I was having a heart attack and asked my wife to take me to hospital.
The good news is that it was no heart attack: it was an anxiety attack. I did some research. Yes, an anxiety attack can really feel like a cardiac emergency.
I've had several anxiety attacks since. Some quite bad, others were more manageable. How manageable? Manageable with a return to binge eating.
Food has always been my go-to coping mechanism. I choose the cupcake over the apple every time. Why? How can food soothe someone? For most people it won't make sense. For someone like me, it makes perfect sense. The sugary stuff gives an energy boost and triggers a more positive mood. Carbs slow things down, particularly carbs with cheese. It's like taking a tranquiliser. A nice, liquid, quiet space.
For the last four months, this is how I have made it through my days.
With people like me, who engage in compulsive eating behaviour, there is no "just stick to your diet". Diets are not what will set me free. Dealing with the emotions I run away from, that I quite literally swallow, that is the key.
Everyone has an opinion. Ask a psychologist and they will speak from their experience: psychology. A dietician: nutrition. A spiritual healer: the soul. As many people as you approach for help, that's how many different theories, suggestions and healthy lifestyle plans you'll get. It can get confusing.
The reality is that the answer lies with me. I know my history, my triggers, my emotional state, my spiritual state. Only I have control over that.
This week I ate a chocolate a day. Why? Because on Tuesday I spoke about a difficult period in my life, one that triggers my desire to overeat and create a protective layer of fat on my body so that nothing and no one can get in.
I picked up the following advice, which I am going to implement, as I personally believe it will be useful:
1. Protect my own energy and maintain my own personal space.
2. When the urge to binge arises, meditate instead.
3. Notice, without judgment, what happens when I am around people with negative energy or in negative situations. Do I want to eat? If so, what? Am I overeating?
I have recently been practicing a few soul retrieval exercises. I re-integrated my ten year old self. Since her return, the urge to binge has not been as great as it was. It still needs work, however, it's definitely more positive.
Awareness is power. Healing and recovery is a process that takes place deep down, internally. It's not something that a diet or a gym contract will fix. But compassion and understanding might.