Category Archives: Emotional Eating

Boundaries and Recovery

I had a revelation this morning as I was waking up, that wonderful place between sleep and wake, I love it there, I seem to get a lot of insight when I am listening.

I had been dreaming about an old boyfriend, and saw his disrespect for me, something that for me at the time was perfectly normal. In the dream, we had arranged to meet up after a party where we both were and all of a sudden some friends of his had turned up and he said sorry I am going with them……..not would you like to come nothing, I was  just dropped.  Somehow I just accepted it, just like I had accepted it most of my life.  Even though I was so angry inside I did not have the words to say how I felt and this is not ok, and I realised in that moment, this is where my addictions come in.  It was a real moment for me.  I would stuff the anger with booze, food and then become passive aggressive and as a child this is when I would self harm, I had no words to say this is not ok for me, they were buried way deep inside and for some reason they still are to a large extent.

I am realising this behaviour is a huge part of my depression and my mental ill health, I had no way of really understanding how to deal with this. No words. My parents were pretty unreliable, my father was busy working and often away and anytime I challenged my mother on her lateness, which was most of the time, she would always put it back onto me, saying something like ‘I am here now, what is your problem’ and I would be left with it.  Now I see the problem is she never called to say she was late, she just turned up and that was supposed to be ok, now I am seeing it is not ok, but all this time I have thought it was me and I have chosen so many people to replicate the same thing.

I am begining to realise the extent of my co-dependency, it is definately at the root of my addictions.  I am only now getting to see my part in things, my part is not putting up with it, setting boundaries and if necessary walking away.  I realise that, as I said to a friend of mine, we teach people how to treat us, if we respect ourselves then they will, it has taken me years to really understand these words and for them to go from my head to my heart.

I am finally learning a language that I lost.  I would blame others for treating me like shit, I had no idea I let them.  And likewise, others would blame me for treating them like shit and I would take it on, they would blame me for treading over their boundaries, I did not know they were there, they never told me.  I feel I have had a great epiphany this morning and I want to share it with you, I think the world is going to become a much easier place for me as I am learning that maybe, just maybe all that shit was not mine, I could have said not thanks, please take it elsewhere, this public convenience is actually closed.

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder…what’s worse? Week 5

I hope you find this week’s entry informative and helpful. I have really been struggling this week, trying to put the pieces of what sometimes feels like my shattered mind together.

I found the group this week hectic. Digesting what is happening is still very difficult and I am wondering just how much theory one can actually process when things are so emotional, not a lot, it seems for me.  I need the middle bit, the bit that embraces my comments and not a theoretical answer. One thing I do know, I am learning what I need, and what I don’t need and having my thoughts about what I already know reinforced and actually speaking up.  But sadly, somehow I feel that the missing bit for me is not really happening.  The bit that addresses the part of me that was so left behind and not listened to and is still screaming out to be taken seriously and empathised with in a loving, soft and gentle way.

I am even wondering if I will share anything because it can feel too re-traumatising to open up and then not feel supported in the way that I need to be supported……….I am feeling very confused, and I am sure that that is not really the purpose of it all.

One of the things that is becoming more and more apparent to me is that this illness stems from childhood trauma, lack of support and something happening.  One of the facilitators said that one of her clients told her that when she was not with her she may as well be dead, as she could not hold her in her thoughts, it is exactly like that for me and it is excruciating.  That is why one of my therapists told me that being with me is like groundhog day, I can’t hold onto people being with me even if they are away.  I am realising more and more what I have already known, this is because when I was a baby, my mother did leave me, when I was a month old, for hours at a time and never came back. I had nannies, one after the other and I did not have a care taker who was attuned with me and therefore, nobody came when I actually needed them, therefore my needs were not met, therefore I cannot hold onto people.  It all happens in the first few years of life.

I thought it would be useful for some people to know what the charity, Mind, have said in their booklet about what can cause Borderline Personality Disorder, together with  putting the actual definition of Borderline Personality Disorder on this blog, together with a list of the requirements needed to join this very special group of us.

Mind have said in their bookelt Understanding borderline personality disorder:

What causes borderline personality disorder?(in my own words)

Many people diagnosed with BPD have had traumatic experiences in childhood.  This could be the loss of a parent;  sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect. It is said that the problems associated with BPD can often become worse after a stressful experience, situations like loosing your job, your relationship or something else that you personally find stressful.

It is for this reason I really believe we need to take good care of our children, the fact that so many parents are under so much pressure does not help the whole situation when it comes to the nurturing of our children.  I really believe this illness is far more common than we know.  It is a natural response to the impact of child abuse and neglect and the pressures that so many children are under today.  I believe it really is time to change.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, this is what our illness is made up of.

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects (mood), and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more0 of the following:

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (Note: do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behaviour covered in criterion (5)

2.  A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation.

3. Identity disturbance: persistent and markedly disturbed, distorted, or unstable self-image or sense of self.

4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (eg: spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behaviours.

6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness

8. Inappropriate, intense anger or lack of control of anger (e.g.,frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

I hope you have found this helpful, I  know I did.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2012 – It’s Not All About The Food!

A reporter friend of mine, Sara-Jayne Kirk has done two great interviews this Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  One with ED Specialist Ann White and another with Gregory Szanto, the Founder of The Sussex Eating Disorders Clinic in Eastbourne.  Both of these interviews give such insight into the depth of the problems for those suffering from Eating Disorders. They also highlight very clearly, that Eating Disorders have very little to do with the actual food and much more to do with emotions.

As well as being helpful and empathetic with the sufferes, these interviews also highlight the gaping whole in the NHS provision for people with this problem, which I know personally only too well. I hope you will find them useful and please do pass this blog on to anyone who you think might benefit.

For some people this is their only addiction. For others, like me, it was found buried under the carnage of alcoholism, drug addiction, sex and love addiction, not to mention all the other ways I had  learnt to avoid my feellings.  Franetic activity, workaholism, never ever being able to be alone and all to try and fill a huge emptiness in my soul. It is also on the check list for those with Borderline Personality disorder, along with other addictions, such as alcoholism and sex.

A friend of mine told me recently that it is to do with ‘mother love’, lack of love, lack of connection, lack of attunement or rejection or abandonment.  For me, this has always made perfect sense, and this is not a blame game, it is fact for me…………and it is for many other people I know.

Fortunately, I eventually had treatment for my compulsive overeating, binging, bulimia and undereating, I have a food plan, do not eat white flour or sugar and have lost a lot of the weight I put on over a very short period of time. But it never ever goes away and I have to watch myself every single day.

If I feel upset, rejected or unloved, it is the very first place I can go………….and sometimes without even knowing it.  I diluded myself the other week when I brought a very small bar of dark chocolate from the ‘Free From’ range. I had barely got through the door, promised myself that I would have it with a cup of tea, but it was gone before the kettle had boiled.  I know why, and it scared me. I felt so rejected by someone and there it was! Thank God it was just that one bar.

In 2008, I hated what I had become, I felt utterly miserable and hated life.  Slowly I am recovering.  I ate on feelings, and still have to watch it, as I have already said, when it is really bad it can still catch me out.  I would always eat on feelings that I could not express, but now, what is different is I have people and places to go where I can express them and someone bothers to listen without telling me I am crazy or making it all up for attention.

For that I am truely grateful.

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder………….what’s worse? Introduction

This is another one of those moments when I feel like I am about to take a huge leap of faith, and am about to share yet another part of who I really am.  What will you do?

Will you laugh? Will you leave me? Will you understand? I have to be brave and not worry about what you think if you don’t get it, and hope that someone out there will really get it, and will understand.  My friend Matt called it ‘Finding Your Tribe’ and I guess that is what is so cool about being true to who I really am, I will continue to find my tribe.

At last, I have had my diagnosis!!! In one way it is such a relief and another it leaves me with great sadness that it has taken so long and caused me and others so much pain.

I have been into two re-habs, assessed by a Psychiatrist, and still, no-one knew what was really wrong with me.  I was told in the last re-hab that I did not have any signs of Borderline………….and thank God one of the support workers suggested I did not leave without connecting to my local Community Mental Health Team…………….although it has to be said, they have taken almost two years to get their act together due to lack of funds, staff cuts and all the other chaos that is around the mental health support at the moment.

I was offered this label as a possible reason for my problems way back in around 2000, when I had researched and saw that I was possibly bi-polar as my mood swings were so up and down and no matter how sober I was, my head was playing havoc and I was really mentally unwell.  That was one of the worst things about getting sober, the lack of booze to sooth my mind was leaving an even bigger issue, my mind was not right, only I had no idea until I put all the substances down.

So, in April 2010, I come out of re-hab, no money for follow up and on a waiting list so long that it took months to see a psychologist.  In the meantime, I was seen by a psychiatrist who did not understand addiction and offered me Lituium, just in case I had bi-polar or borderline, while I wait to see someone…………….no thanks.  Then, I finally see someone, the failed attempt at a form which I found ardeous and far too painful to complete and not enough time to go over the questions it all seemed horrendous and unsupported, then, she left as her job had been cut, and I was left high and dry, in the midst of an emotional turmoil which I found so hard to manage. It is because of this that I have such gratitude to my friend who pays for me to see a therapist, because without her, I actually do not know where I would be.

Now, months and months later, I am finally called in, told they would like to assess me, I get 9 out of 9 of the questions right and I am now on a course called STEPS, designed in America to help people who have Borderline Personality Disorder, or as they like to call it now Emotional Intensity Disorder.  I will be blogging as I go through this, it feels like my world as I knew it is not going to be the same.  What I thought was normal I am being told is part of my illness, that to me is very odd indeed, because it is who I am I thought!

One of the symptoms is the use of at least two of the following potentially self-damaging behaviours, eg: sex, spending, substance misuse, including alcohol, binge eating and reckless driving………….It makes me wonder just how many people have this and don’t even know it.

It stems from childhood, and whilst this is not to blame my parents, hard as that is cos I really feel like it and somedays I actually really do blame them, I am not there yet with that.  It stems from the level of abandonment trauma in childhood and this sets up a pattern of real or imagined experiences as we get older.  I know it has with me.  For example, I think everyone is going to leave me and never ever come back, it is agony and I find the world a very painful place to be.  It also stops me expressing myself sometimes fully because of fear of abandonment and rejection, all this has a devastating effect on my life and those around me and I am going to do my best to learn all I can.

I hope to hear from anyone who has anything to add to this and look forward to learning all about myself.  I have always found the world a very difficult place to exist, I battle on a daily basis and I hope that I will learn some tools to help me. I am a bit worried that it might be a bit of a plaster job but lets hope that emotions are encouraged to be expressed!!

Dame Helen Mirren and Twiggy prove you are never too old to look your best

Three cheers for Helen Mirren and Twiggy being trail blazers for women, particularly in the UK, to take better care of themselves and not just give up once they are over a certain age.

I for one, believe I have a duty to myself to look the best I can and am certainly in the process of taking better care of myself after a few years of battling with an eating disorder, which creeps up and before I know it I am struggling again. I want to be the woman who people say, wow, you don’t look your age, rather than the one who they say, ‘Is that your mother?’ Particularly when I have such a handsome son, I think I also have a responsibility to him to look my best. Yes, I am vain, but actually, I think a little vanity is a good thing, it keeps me wanting to look the best I can.  I have to consciously take care of myself and feel better for it, both mentally and physically.

I wrote in a recent article after watching Loose Women last week, following a discussion around women becoming invisible after 47, because it felt rather sad that the general public opinion was if you are not the ‘perfect look’ as portrayed by the mass media, then you are invisible. Thank goodness this is not so for Carol McGiffin, Twiggy or Helen Mirren, who in my opinion look amazing and keep looking better.  Janet Street-Porter is also getting better with age, and actually, I for one find this inspiring.

Using Herbalife Helps Manage My Eating Disorder

I had been talking with a friend of mine about how I am struggling with my weight and want to loose some. She mentioned Herbalife to me in passing as her friends were running the business locally, but I didn’t really take much notice to be honest. However,  it wasn’t long before a chance meeting introduced me her friends Maria and Oskar who are also my local Herbalife distributors.  I was sceptical at first about trying it again because I had tried it in the 80′s and thought it was frankly disgusting, but I decided to have another go and I am very happy that I did.

When I was a child I was always questioning why I could not just take a tablet and not really worry about the whole eating thing, and I wanted to know that I have all that I need to keep me healthy.  It seemed logical to me that if I need xyz to keep going, then why can’t I have it in tablet form, random thoughts? Maybe not!!

I have suffered with an eating disorder for many years now, my weight fluctuates on a regular basis and as I have got older it has got far harder to shed it. I am an emotional eater, or not eater and I have recently seen my portion sizes creeping up and my clothes feeling tighter. I have another 30lbs to loose and I need help to shift it.  I have now turned 51 and really want to look my best and make the most of my life, and for me, that includes feeling and looking good.

So, I have embarked on the Herbalife eating plan and it is working for me.  It has taken a while to get to grips with as some of the products are quite sweet, for me that is not good, it triggers binging so I have had to be really careful and honest, it would have been so easy to say ‘yum, they are delicious’ and continue with them, but who am I kidding!  So, I now have a programme that works for me and the support of Maria and Oskar, who I have to say are amazing in working with me to get the best programme I can get.  Their willingness to listen and want the best for me also helps me to be honest and it works.

I have the vanilla shake, which I mix with soya milk and a banana or strawberries for example; the protein bar; the soup; fibre and herb tablets and multivitamins, and the tea, I have the original one which I prefer. I have the shake twice a day and a snack inbetween each one and then a healthy meal in the evening. I have already lost 5lbs and am looking forward to the rest coming off and feeling good as I do it, not starving myself or worrying about what to eat etc, it takes the pressure off for me. It is also balancing my sugar and I am working towards my optimum nutrition.  Being in recovery is a challenge and anything I can do to easy the stress is great for me.

I am going to be writing about his regularly so you can keep an eye on how it is working for me and then maybe have a go yourself.

If you want to learn more click the link above and see what you think, I am very glad that I did.

New Helpline for Binge Eaters Discussed on Loose Women

It was a brilliant show today, the topics covered were varied as usual and today there was the announcement of a new helpline for Binge Eaters called ‘Buzz About Binge’ set up by Pam Ojalae who believes that there needs to be more help for people who are going for fatty treats. I could not agree more.  I have tried to find the details for you but cannot find them anywhere, but I thought I would let you know that there is such a thing out there now and maybe the number will come up on google in the very near future, please let me know if you find it before I do.

kate Thornton was very courageous and disclosed that she herself has had an eating disorder and went on to explain the shame around not being able to share this horrendous illness for the feelings of disgust and how it is still not really talked about, good on her for being so open.  If you click on the link above you can see more of this discussion.

Thanks as always to the women on the panel for making it such an informative and fun programme and for being so willing to reveal themselves.

4 Years Sober – One Day At A Time

It has been a huge milestone for me to reach this goal, the first time I achieved four years sobriety was in 2002, it wasn’t long before it all went horribly wrong and I decided that just one drink would be ok, it took me almost four years to get myself together enough to stop again.

During that time, my life fell into free fall and it was literally a living hell.  I look back on that time as the time when I almost lost my mental health and was on the brink of emotional death. I looked at myself in the mirror and I no longer recognised the person looking back at me, I was almost gone.  We were in a living nightmare with family issues and I just could not cope, my support system had been wiped from under my feet and I fell into the abyss.

One thing I had not really been aware of until this time were the underlying addictions that were waiting to raise their ugly heads, food, love and destructive relationsips, co-dependency and a childhood trauma buried so deep it took this time to really bring it to it’s head, I had not known just how bad it was until now.  I had talked about it and talked about it, but I had not really felt it or seen it in it’s full flow until now.  Having a relationship with someone who was so unavailable, so unwell showed me that there was something very very wrong with me.  Most people would have walked away and not put up with it, I did not know what they were talking about, to me it felt like home.  I also had to face myself and my behaviours from my youth which took me to a place I could not understand.

I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t and and everytime I made an excuse, began to think that all the people in recovery were boring and on the dilusion went, until one day, New Year’s Eve, 5 Years ago, I set myself up, asked some friends to bring champagne over and they only brought one bottle, I was the only one who had 3 glasses and their faces were horrified as I had tried to stop drinking for a good six months before then, it was that moment, when I could not stop, I would have necked a whole crate if there was one, I realised I had a real problem and I had to stop.  Thank God, one day at a time, I have.

The last four years have been full of distress, anguish and realisations that I am not just an Alcohlolic, I am an Addict, I can be addicted to anything to help me escape my feelings.  I am now learning to challenge them, to speak my truth and what is brilliant is that I am now getting people around me who are willing to be available for me, and that has made all the difference.

There are still plenty of things to sort through but instead of stuffing my feelings and building one resentment on top of the other, I speak it out and I am heard and mostly understood, which is very very new for me.

I have to deal with the underlying trauma of my childhood which still rears it’s ugly head, I still think that everyone is going to leave me, no matter what which is a very lonely place to be, but it is getting better.  When I share my pain, with safe people, I can often see the insanity of it, and eventually it becomes healing.  For some people in recovery, they do not have this extra burden, but for those of us that do, there is hope, with the right support and love we have a chance.  It feels to me like I am waking from a dream, and my feelings are coming to life, there is an untold amount of grief to face and with that will come a new life, I have amends to make, and I will.  I am finally able to face my pain because I am not being judged for it, not being shamed for it, not rejected for it.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me over the last few years.     

Happy New Year, Love Penny

Vanessa Feltz and her Gastric Band on Loose Women

Thank you Vanessa for your honesty about how you feel about being over-weight, you have helped hundreds of women by being you.  On Loose Women today Vanessa Feltz openly admitted she had to resort to having a gastric band fitted because she just could not loose the weight. That awful feeling of feeling so unattractive she described beautifully and the feeling of not being able to wear what you liked to wear because your choices were now limited, all the above I understand, I have been there, I blew up from a size 10 to a size 20 in a matter of a year, I felt like someone else.  I was under so much stress and I ate to give me energy and I became so obese some of my friends did not recognise me, it was one of the loneliest times in my life.

I have battled with my weight all my life and was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2008 officially.  I had tried everything and for me it has come down to no sugar, no white flour, no caffeine, and an eating plan which consists of 3 meals a day and ensure that I have equal portions of protein, carb and veg and fruit with every meal, plus exercise 3 times a week.  I found it excruciating at first and could not do it without support because I ate on my feelings.  So what happens when the eating stops, the feelings come up, and they have to be dealt with.

There are places to get help for people with eating disorders and fellowships that don’t cost money, but like everything there are waiting lists, therapists cost approx £50.00 and hour which is out of a lot of peoples price ranges.  Vanessa did touch on the fact that she could afford this when asked by Sherrie what about others who don’t have the funds for a gastric band.  This is becoming more and more of a problem, most things cost and not everyone has it.  I guess there is also a priority for those who do have money, how much do you spend on food and how much will you give up to get well.

Compulsive overeating is a disease, one that is not discussed enough and can even be described as an addiction, if you suffer from this problem and would like to discuss it further please do get in touch, send me a comment or a message to penny@pennysnowball.com and I will help in any way I can.

Thanks again Vanessa and I wish you well with your treatment.

Penny

Eating Disorders and Mental Health-Radio 1 Summer Surgery

A huge thank you to Aled at Radio 1 for his Summer Surgery he is covering subjects such as Eating Disorders, Alcohol and Drugs, Panic Attacks and his approach is really good.

It is so refreshing to hear Eating Disorders being discussed in such an informative way, rarely is the connection with Mental Health made .It is a problem not just about weight, far bigger than that.

Thank you Aled for raising the awareness, how good to hear a man talking with such empathy.-