Fear and the wheel


Hi.  My name is Annie and I am a compulsive overeater.

Today, I am realizing a new depth to my addiction. 

I’ve been sick for the last two weeks with pneumonia.  Not a fun thing at all.  I’ve been able to stay out of the hospital only by promising not to work (and since hubby calls blogging a form of work, I’ve not been able to update here) and promise to only leave the house for doctor appointments.  I’ve been on outpatient IV therapy, which seems to be working.  Over the course of my illness, I have lost another 3 pounds.  Awesome, right?  So what did I do to celebrate?

I bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

Only a seriously ill person would celebrate weight loss by eating something that is known to cause weight gain.

I opened up my OA workbook to do some of the step one work that I sort of skimmed over.  (Yeah, skimming is not going to help me beat this thing.)  The first question to answer was “How have I used excess food to escape life’s problems?”  I didn’t want to deal with that one.  So I moved to the next question:  “Are there particular foods or eating habits that give me trouble?”  Yeah, that one was not any better!  I was too scared to look on to the next question.  So I stuffed a couple more spoonfuls from the demons known as Ben and Jerry into my mouth. 

I keep saying that I want to beat this addiction.  I want to be healthy.  I want to live long enough to hold my grandchildren and maybe even my great-grandchildren.  Yet when I have a chance to do something about it, to really address the issues that have led to my addiction and the things that have allowed it to get out of control, I balk.  Instead of facing the demons head on, I shovel more and more food into my mouth.  How does that help?  More food is not going to shut up the voices in my head.  Eating more is not going to make me feel any better.  If anything, it is going to make me feel much, much worse.  Yet I keep doing it!

It’s a vicious cycle.  I feel like a hamster on a wheel that is powered by Energizer batteries—I’m not getting anywhere, but I keep going and going.  I want to stop.  I want jump off this wheel and find some sort of sanity in life.  But I am so scared.

Maybe I beyond the point of ever being sane again?


About madfatlady

I've struggled with my weight for as long as I remember. It has now ballooned to over 400 pounds. I don't like that. At the same time, I don't know what to do about it. I am mad at myself about this weight gain. I am mad at the world for allowing the fod to be so readily available and relatively inexpensive, while diet and exercise programs are so costly.

One response »

  1. Hi Annie

    It’s hard to click ‘Like’ on a really good post when you don’t like what you’ve read! But I have ‘Like’d this post, because it is so honest and expresses so well what some of us experience.

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been sick, and hope you will be fully recovered soon. Losing weight while ill is common, and can trip slimmers up because we think we’ve lost weight, but it will go back on really easily.

    “I bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s”. Do you know, once when I was staying away from home I walked half a mile to where I knew I could buy some, fully intending to eat it all back at the guest house (not sure if you use this phrase over there – it’s a type of cheap hotel). I didn’t want to, but I also did not feel able to stop myself. ‘This is what you do’ the voices tell us. ‘This is who you are. Of course you’re going to stuff yourself. What else would you do?’. And we listen. We don’t have to listen, but we do because we often don’t realise or don’t believe that we don’t have to.

    Anyway, I felt so disgusted with myself for giving in that I walked out of the shop, across the forecourt and slammed the bag with the ice-cream in it into a trash can in anger. Rather ridiculous, but surely a good result in some way?

    On the way back, I passed an Asian restaurant and bought TWO big greasy curries with far more rice and breads than I could eat. I bought it as take-out and returned to the guest house where I ate and ate until I literally couldn’t cram any more in. Having already had a good dinner, I had gone out and spent around £20 ($30) on food that I didn’t need and in my heart of hearts really didn’t want. “Only a seriously ill person…”.

    It is often when we are most depressed about our weight that we binge the worst. And we often feel most depressed when we are most focussed on our weight. That can be when we decide to do something about it or even when we have lost a little. To anyone who hasn’t been there, it sounds ridiculous, but what you did was very normal for someone in your situation and very, very human. So cheer up – you’re human!

    “I keep saying that I want to beat this addiction. I want to be healthy… when I have a chance to do something about it… I balk”. Of course you do Annie. It’s normal human behaviour. What you are attempting can seem overwhelmingly difficult and utterly terrifying, and we’re programmed to do just one thing in response to difficulty and fear; eat. You don’t just need to change your lifestyle, your diet or your habits. You need to change the whole way you see yourself, the world, life and food. That won’t happen overnight. So be kinder to yourself and more sympathetic. No, there are no [good] excuses, and yes, we need to be tough with ourselves at times. Yet there is literally no point in beating ourselves up over things that we’ve done in the past (albeit the recent past) and by definition can not now change.

    You are doing so well just to be addressing the problem. You are also growing in understanding of yourself. That is a significant step on the way to being able to forgive yourself, which may be critical to the ultimate goal of loving yourself, which is what you need to do if you want a good reason to look after yourself better.

    “I want to stop. I want jump off this wheel and find some sort of sanity in life. But I am so scared. Maybe I beyond the point of ever being sane again?”

    Annie, I once worked with a therapist who spoke about ‘escape hatches’. She said that when some people find life hard, they look for an escape hatch. Two common escape hatches are self-harm and madness. We might not realise it, but overeating is a type of self-harm. It’s a self-destructive way of life contrary to taking good care of ourselves. We might not be pushing pieces of glass into our flesh, but we are damaging ourselves nonetheless. So that’s our escape hatch. Madness is another one. You refer here to losing your sanity, and of course your blog’s title refers to you as mad. You are, to me, clearly sane. Yet madness is a choice and believe me, I’ve seen madness close-up and it is NOT a choice anyone should. Perhaps you were joking, I hope so. Annie, believe not only in your ability to stay sane but also in your ability to reach a place where you want to stay sane. You can do it. Be kind to yourself (in a way that has nothing to do with overeating, because that is harmful and therefore unkind), and look for positive ways to celebrate success and positive ways to deal with a stumble.

    I’ll leave you with a question, and I will let you answer it either here on your blog or in your OA workbook, but I think you should deal with it. The question is this:

    How have you used excess food to escape life’s problems?

    Take care, and blog again soon. IMD

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