Thursday, February 19

have been hit hard

By stark realisation of the fact I have a problem.

It's scary to finally know in yourself that something is wrong.

Now that I look back, I can remember various hints at points in my childhood that could point towards me being like this one day. Age 3, although I don't remember it personally, simply stopping eating huge numbers of foods - most meat, fish, most fruit, most veg - and surviving off toast, cereal, chips, chicken dippers, apples and bananas for about six or seven years. I'd love to know what triggered that at such a young age. At 9 or 10, starting to try new things and realising they weren't all bad. Consequently, I was eating more, and gaining puppy fat. And hating it, I guess, although at the time I was still the 'skinny' one of my group. I recall announcing more than once age 9 that I was 'going on a diet', and would only ever take 94 kcals bags of French Fries for my snack. Friends said I was being ridiculous, and I always gave up within hours - but looking back on it, it's awful to think that I could've thought like that then.

From 11-14, things went fine in life. I moved school smoothly, but the constant supply of junk food available at the canteen were loved perhaps a little too much. Didn't really gain because I did loads of sport at that age. There were no noticeable, or memorable issues, except my sponsored fast I did during my second year. Nowadays, that wouldn't be a problem to me - been there, done that, and more than once. At the time, however, I couldn't cope - I was depressed and miserable without food. At midnight on the dot, I experience my first binge. I ate chilli con carne, McCoys, toast, and chocolate cake that had been brought to my Girls' Brigade that night (yes, I was a total goody two shoes), wolfing it down. I made myself so ill. Since, I have always controlled binges with fasts, most famously when my family went on holiday: but only when I consume serious quantities of food.

Age 14, I'd hit Definite Size 10 territory, and it was uncomfortable - even though I know it's small. Turning point came when buying a Topshop blazer in a sale, and the 12 looked better than the 10. I felt massive, and resolved to never buy a 12 again: and I haven't. I didn't try to lose any weight then, just not to gain. Instead of having crisps when I came home, I'd have a Ryvita, and some brie, or a banana. Really tiny changes (but the school cutting down on junk food probably helped too!).

Fifteen was when things changed. Before the summer of my 15th, I pretty much stopped eating for Boy Reasons. He came along, and made me feel good about myself - so I loosened up. But by Christmas, I was feeling the weight again. I decided to 'be healthy and lose weight' in the new year, and by God I did. I did dance mat for half an hour every night, got up at 6.30am to do a set of stomach toning workouts, kept food diaries, that sort of thing. I just wasn't too good at controlling cravings. At the same time, my size 10 mother was constantly complaining about being fat, while wearing my size. My mum and I are close, and naturally, I felt like a whale. I also automatically thought 'you can't be bigger than your mother'. I upped the attempts to be skinny.

Eventually, mother, father, colleagues, friends, started mentioning that I'd lost weight. Parents flipped, and threatened me with doctors (which I realise now I should've grabbed with both hands) and made me start eating. I didn't eat normally. I ate everything in sight, as if life was one permanent binge day. This was particularly evident at work, where breaks could consist of a yoghurt, crisps and a few biscuits or a slice of cake, then Munchies, Galaxy, Giant Buttons or M&Ms at the till later on. If I was still hungry, I'd squeeze in a Freddo or a Milky Way, too. Obviously, I ballooned. I was too scared of standing on the scales, so I didn't. It took me 6 months to get near them, and the reality was shocking.

In seven months, I gained nearly a stone. What I weighed then, by most people's standards, probably isn't 'fat'. But that's not the point. It's huge. And this started all over again.

I have my habits, just like anyone else who is stuck in this. My family always buy ice cream on Sunday afternoons: I take the stick out of the Magnum, and dump the ice cream, leaving the wood somewhere obvious for someone to see that I've 'eaten' it. I constantly tap my foot, and run as if on a treadmill in my room at midnight while watching DVDs because every calorie burned counts. I've constructed an intricate web of lies in order to stop eating in public, and to cut down whenever my family are around. I will go to extreme lengths and extreme costs to get my Diet Coke.

And that's just the beginning.

It's all very well and good to admit that I do all these things. It's not that I have a problem with. It's why I do them. And that's what I can't get my head around.

I don't want to recover, I want to understand.

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