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I can't have an eating disorder. I'm a grown up, aren't I?

(9 Posts)
DingDongBelle Sun 21-Oct-12 22:21:43

Right. Apologies if this is a bit long winded, but I am writing this in the grip of some fairly strong emotions. I think I may be in the grip of an eating disorder, and I've just had a bit of a meltdown at my husband. He got very upset at me, and has left the house, and although I understand why, and he'll be back quite soon I expect, I feel like I need to get all this muddled stuff in my head straight before I can talk to him calmly.

Basically, we just spent the evening looking at my sister in law's wedding photos. She got married in August and I was a last minute bridesmaid, standing in for her best friend who was pregnant and went into labour. I look pretty horrendous - I've got a toddler and various health problems since having him (I almost died last Christmas but that's another story) have prevented me losing my baby weight, so I am currently a size 14-16, with quite a bit of tummy, and strapless fitted green satin is a tricky look to pull off at the best of times. The other three bridesmaids are all athletic and very slim, and I am tall and pretty chunky.

I didn't tell DH or any family on the day but three different people, obviously not caught up, asked me when I was due and two used the phrase 'not long now!' I have been dreading the photos ever since I first saw the dress and was not surprised when they arrived today and I look like Alice from Popeye next to my tiny SIL and her friends. It's sent me into a bit of a mess and I ended up sobbing on the bathroom floor. DH was baffled - we have both been on the slimming world diet for a while, and he's lost nearly 4 stone and looks amazing, whereas I weigh 2lb more than when I started. I've been blaming it on my health issues and my pcos and he has been terribly lovely for ages. What he didn't know until I told him tonight is that while I have been doing the sw diet with him, I have also been secretly binging in private again.

At this point i should probably give the back story: I've always been a bit funny about my weight and food. As a teenager, although by no means overweight (at 16 I was 5'10 and a size 10) I was the largest in my friendship circle - my best friends are both petite and naturally skinny. No one at this point was ever mean to me about my weight, I was never bullied, but I always felt like the fat one, and it showed in my eating: I cycled between binging and fasting for a few years, although my weight remained fairly constant.

Fast forward to my twenties and a relationship with a man who I will call The Mistake. Long story short he was very controlling and I ended up somehow at a point where he was weighing me and controlling literally everything I ate. I was at a minuscule size 6 and pretty unwell by the time I finally left him, and in a very funny place when it came to food: I couldn't eat in front of anyone for quite some time, I was throwing up quite a lot of what I did eat, and then stiffing my face with whole loaves of bread or blocks of cheese. I was fainting at work and anaemic. Possibly the day he punched me across the room was the best thing he could have done, as I ran from him as hard and as far as I could, and am now happily married to DH.

I had all these issues when I met dh again (we were childhood sweethearts) and he was very, very wonderful, and slowly I got better, and to a reasonably normal place again with food. But when I got pregnant everything went wrong. I got hyperemesis (extreme sickness) and lost tons of weight, was hospitalised, and generally didn't really eat much at all. Once ds was born and the sickness lifted, I went mad eating again, and gained about three stone. I lost some of this when I was hospitalised at Christmas as I couldn't eat for a few weeks. Now, I find myself with a huge appetite for food, starving all the time ( which the dietician at the hospital predicted might happen as I was literally starving when in hosp in dec and again in may) but stuck in this loop where I think if I fast or throw up it is the only way to lose the weight. When dh and I were doing sw diet earlier this year, I was following the diet with him, but when he was at work, I was either binging or starving myself all day and lying about it. Unsurprisingly, the diet didn't work and while he lost loads of weight, I didn't lose or gain and have been saying "oh I don't understand it", and he has been so supportive, telling everyone how hard I've been trying, when I've been lying all the time.

When I got upset tonight he insisted on making me talk about it and I confessed everything. The binging, fasting, lying, everything, and he's really upset. Partly that I lied after all we've been through (which I understand), and I think partly because I'm showing this weird behaviour again. I'm not mad at him, but how do I explain all this weirdness about food so he understands why I lied and hid things from him? I don't think I really understand this myself: I'm not sure why I binge and fast, and I'm not sure why I hate my body so thoroughly yet at the same time don't do the things I know will work (sensible diet) and do things which I know harm me and don't actually change my shape (all the secret eating and so on).

I'm not really sure why I'm posting all this on here. I feel so stupid: I'm a teacher, and I know all the theory on eating disorders. I will insist I don't have one when if I was one of my students I would think I clearly did. I feel like I can't have an eating disorder because I'm overweight, because I do eat healthy things, because I'm a grown up, married mum and not a teenager, because I don't read fashion magazines. I think I just want some opinions on how to begin to understand this, the way I think, and how to talk to dh. I need his support but he feels I've lied and hidden things from him. which I have, and I hate that I have.

Christ what a mess.

Wolfiefan Sun 21-Oct-12 22:30:39

You can be grown up and struggle with food! I'm a teacher too and every day is a chance for me to eat healthily or stuff my face until I feel ill. It sounds like you have struggled in your own for too long and could do with some outside help. In the meantime I'd focus on trying to eat a normal healthy diet as far as you can?! Size 14-16 sounds far from huge. (Take it from me I know!) Is this more about control, emotions or how you view yourself?
FWIW. Give yourself a break! You sound like you've gone through all kinds of stuff. Well done for telling him the truth. That can not have been easy.
The road to feeling happy and healthy starts with one good choice. Good luck.

Viperidae Sun 21-Oct-12 22:32:33

No wonderful advice but didn't want to read and run. You sound very confused about all of this, which is perfectly reasonable, so it might do you good to talk to somebody professional about it. The GP may be a good start.

Also I'm not sure doing SW is the best thing for someone with eating issues. When I have done it I find myself obsessed with food so I don't know if it is healthy for you.

Good luck. Hope you can get some help.

Quodlibet Sun 21-Oct-12 22:33:16

Firstly, whilst this (today) must feel totally unmanageable with all the shit hitting the fan, being honest with DH about what is going on is a massive step in the right direction towards addressing it.

I think you know that your relationship with food is unhealthy - clearly food and your emotions are connected in a way that's not helpful for you. I imagine that the stress/guilt of lying to DH has possibly been exacerbating your eating issue and trapping you in a bit of a vicious cycle?

Your DH sounds like a wonderful, supportive man and I'm sure once his anger has died down you will be able to find a way together to start to address these issues. Does he know about The Mistake and the way he controlled your food? I think it would be very hard for him not to be understanding about why your relationship with food is disordered after an ordeal like that.

It does sound like you could do with some professional support to start understanding this. You sound like a lovely and very brave person and I hope you can find the help you need to get in a better place with this.

lisad123 Sun 21-Oct-12 22:36:55

Please go to the GP and ask for some help. Your relationship with food is not a healthy one and you have shown that you can't do it alone, so please go and get some professional help.

Funnylittleturkishdelight Sun 21-Oct-12 22:44:20

I'm very similar to you in that I am a teacher who has an ED. I'm expecting my first DC and they've finally pushed my appt with a psyc through (waiting since jan) and am petrified at my weight gain.

I have no real advice, just a hand hold. It's taken me months to admit I have an ED again, so ashamed that as an adult I haven't given up these teenage idiocies.

DingDongBelle Sun 21-Oct-12 23:30:09

Just having a little cry at such supportive words. Thank you. DH came home just a little while ago and we talked a bit more, he was lovely and gave me a cuddle and just let me prattle on for a bit. He said he will keep an open mind and help me any way he can. You're right: he's great and I am very lucky.

I'm a bit resistant to counselling for some reason. I think I just feel like I know what they will say and so can't see how it can help. And I think I would feel like a bit of a wally going to see a gp about an ed at my age (30). Just seems... I dunno. I'm perpetuating a stereotype but I think I would need more courage than I currently have and I've had my fill of doctors and hospitals in the last 2 years.

I'm glad I told dh though, especially since he's just been so sweet about it. He does know about The Mistake, and he was very supportive around that time, while we were getting together and I was dealing with the issues surrounding leaving TM: I had to do a bit of a runner as he got very nasty, and then obviously had lots of residual issues with food. It took me a while to pluck up the courage to explain why we never went to dinner! But he was great and really helped me.

Quodlibet; I didn't think of that. I have been feeling horrible about lying to dh. We simply don't have the kind of relationship where we lie or hide things. Possibly those little lies made me feel bad so I ended up in a circle. Hmm. You're not a psychologist, are you? Very astute smile

Funnylittleturkishdelight: thanks for the hand hold. Being pg was a very strange experience as I was so terrified at losing control of my body like that. In some ways, being so horribly ill was a blessing as I was literally so sick all the time I couldnt even think about it. We also had a horrible scare where we thought we might have to terminate and I was so relieved when everything turned out ok that I would have had stretch marks down to my knees just to know everything was ok with ds. It's a strange experience if you've got body issues. And admitting it to a midwife must have been hard. It is so true that I feel like this is something teenage girls get and that in some way I ought to be over it by now. Thank you for sharing - its more common than I thought, apparently, and we can't both be daft can we smile

giraffesCantGoGuisingAsZebras Sun 21-Oct-12 23:59:50

have you been on b-eat website?

MMMarmite Mon 22-Oct-12 00:22:16

It sounds like you're having a really tough time. With illnesses, a recent hospital stay and a toddler to look after, you must have had a huge amount of stress recently: maybe for you, that stress is shown through disordered eating. I agree that you should talk to a medical professional. It's scary telling the gp, but if the treatment helps then you will have a huge weight of stress lifted from your shoulders. Don't worry about feeling a wally, the only people who will know are you and the gp, and the gp is a professional who has seen thousands of embarrassed and upset patients.

About the lying - please try not to feel guilty. You are a lovely person, it's the illness that's causing you to lie. You need to treat the illness.

Don't try to cope with it alone, you deserve help and support.

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