My Secret Struggle With Binge Eating

My Secret Struggle With Binge Eating

“Talk about the shit you don’t want to talk about.” That was one of the quotes that stuck with me from the Netflix documentary I Am Maris: Portrait of a Young Yogi, the story of a woman who overcomes an eating disorder and finds joy through yoga and sharing her stories online. I was struck by this concept of talking about the topics you don’t want to talk about. I have been pretty open on this blog, talking about some tough topics. But this one has been something I’ve been too scared to talk about until now. My main goal with my blog has always been to help other people not feel so alone with what they’re feeling, so if me talking about this subject can help just one person, it will be worth it.

I can track the start of my issues with binge eating back to 2014, when I was studying abroad in Spain. There were difficult things that happened during my time abroad which left me feeling lonely, sad, and angry. What I turned to in order to cope with my pain was food. I remember walking to the grocery store around the corner from my host family’s home and buying cookies and chips, which I would then hide in my closet or under my bed, to eat in secret when I was alone. My host mom cooked meals for us every day, and these were by no means small meals. Even when I left dinner feeling stuffed, I would go back to my room and eat from my secret stash. There were days when I felt so sad and alone, and eating gave me some kind of temporary comfort. I think this is when I developed a connection in my brain between sadness, stress, anxiety, and food. I began using food as a form of self-soothing, to try to cope with my emotions.

This habit never truly left over the past six years, but some periods of time have been worse than others. l continued into my senior year in college, when I was living with one of my best friends in a small two bedroom apartment. I would go to the store and buy groceries, including a lot of snacks (chips, crackers, cookies, chocolate, you name it). Like I did in Spain, I would hide them in my room and eat them alone while I studied or watched TV. Like in Spain, these binges often were tied to an emotional release. I’d notice myself craving junk food when I was stressed about an upcoming exam or my thesis project.

The summer and fall of 2015, after my senior year, the binging continued. I was still not acknowledging it or really aware it was an issue. I was in a long distance relationship, and I remember driving from Austin to Fort Worth to see my boyfriend, and eating on the drive. Sometimes I would start the drive determined not to snack, but at some point I would pull over at a gas station (even if I didn’t need gas) and buy candy and chips and a soda for the road. It sometimes felt like I literally couldn’t make that drive without snacks. Even if we had plans to eat dinner when I got there, I couldn’t help myself from snacking. I would arrive in Fort Worth with a stomach ache, feeling disgusting. My boyfriend had no idea.

2017 was one of the hardest years of my life, which caused the emotional eating to hit a new level. I went through a breakup, changing jobs, and my parents getting divorced all within a few months, and I didn’t know how to process or cope. Once again, I turned to food. I was living by myself, so it was extremely easy to get away with my bad habits. There was a little convenience store right down the street, and on days when I was feeling particularly sad or stressed, I would go to the store and buy a couple bags of chips and some candy, and I would eat all of it that night. Sometimes that’s all I would eat, but sometimes I would also go and get fast food, and then I would still eat a lot of the snacks afterwards.

Finally, slowly, over the past few years, I started to realize I had a problem.  I wanted to stop. But it was a vicious cycle. I would do really well and not binge for a week or two, but then one day, as if I wasn’t in control at all, I would find myself back at that store, hating myself even as I chose to buy the food. As I was binging I would say to myself, “This is the last time!” Just as an alcoholic swears this will be their last drink. Or I would convince myself I could buy snacks and control my eating, just as an alcoholic convinces themself they can have “just one drink.” Every time I was proven wrong.

One of the hardest parts of this complicated relationship with food is the negative self-talk that comes along with it. There is a voice in my head constantly telling me things like: “Nobody else has this problem. Everyone else has no trouble eating healthy and not overeating, why can’t you? If anyone knew this about you, they would see you differently. Everyone can see you’ve gained weight. You don’t look as good as you did a few years ago.”  On the other hand, there’s an equally negative voice trying to reassure me I don’t have a problem. “You don’t starve yourself. You don’t purge. You’re fine, stop being so dramatic. You’re at a healthy weight. Everyone indulges in junk food sometimes, what’s the big deal?”

I wish I could say I’m writing this as someone who has it all figured out, but I’m not. Though I’ve been doing much better lately, and the binges have become much less frequent, they still happen from time to time. I’m not writing this as someone who has completely healed or moved past it, but as someone who is ready to admit they have a problem, and commit to making a change, one day at a time.

I’m writing this in the hope that other people can relate. I feel a relief settling in me as I write this. It doesn’t need to be a secret anymore, I can choose to make a positive change in my life and move on. I’m writing this in the hopes that maybe it will help someone feel less alone. I’m also writing this to help myself. Maybe when it’s out in the open it won’t feel like such a dirty little secret, and I can finally move forward.

What does it really mean to be vulnerable?

What does it really mean to be vulnerable?

Vulnerability is a word you probably hear thrown around a lot, but do you really know what it means? I recently watched Brene Brown‘s Netflix Special, “The Call To Courage”, and it opened my eyes to a new perspective on what it means to be vulnerable. Real vulnerability is achieved when we feel scared but push through the fear and do it anyway. When we feel ashamed about our past, but we choose to talk about it instead of hiding it. When we say “I love you” without knowing for sure if the other person feels the same way.

One of the defining characteristics of vulnerability is the presence of some kind of risk. According to Brene, “Vulnerability is the feeling you get when there’s uncertainty, risk, or emotional exposure.” If you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable or scared in your life, you may not be letting yourself be vulnerable often enough, and this can actually have a negative effect on your ability to connect with others and have a fulfilling life!

One of the main misconceptions about vulnerability is that it is a sign of weakness. However, it’s actually the opposite. As Brene says, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” It takes a lot of courage to be truly vulnerable, because it usually means making a decision that could lead to failure. Asking for a raise, starting your own business, telling someone you have feelings for them. You don’t really know if you will succeed in any of these moments, and in fact, you are likely to fail. But if you never try, that’s the real failure!

In Brene Brown’s TEDTalk on vulnerability, she says the word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means heart. The original definition of “courage” is: “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” I absolutely LOVE that definition! I’d never thought of courage that way before, but it makes total sense. It takes great courage to be authentically you, to let people in to what you’re really thinking and who you really are. To tell your story. That’s vulnerability!

One of the main things that hinders vulnerable is shame. Shame is a feeling we all experience, and the only people who don’t have “no capacity for human empathy or connection” according to Brene. We’re scared to be vulnerable, because we’re ashamed of ourselves, ashamed of our past, of our feelings, of our desires. We’re afraid of being judged, of coming across as weak, of not being liked. But in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to really be seen. We have to harness that courage, push past the fear and shame, and let our voice be heard.

As I wrote about in this post, it’s always been difficult for me to open up to people. This blog has helped me with that immensely, and has been a great source of comfort for me when I need to get things off my chest. Finding my voice and being vulnerable isn’t easy, and I still struggle with wanting to bottle everything up and be the person I think people want me to be. Watching Brene’s special and reading more about her thoughts on vulnerability has been a huge eye-opener for me, and I feel ready to fully embrace my vulnerability moving forward! I know it won’t be easy, but nothing that’s worth it in life ever is.

What does vulnerability mean to you? When was the last time you felt truly vulnerable? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Book Review: Why Not Me?

Book Review: Why Not Me?

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I can’t believe it’s been three months since my last book review! I definitely want to write more this year, I’ve just been really busy lately, and I haven’t had a regular reading schedule for myself. But I finally got around to reading this book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts.

Mindy Kaling has been one of my celebrity idols for a while now. From writing and acting in my favorite show of all time, The Office, to creating her own show, The Mindy Project, I have been following Mindy’s career for a long time and have been impressed with everything she’s accomplished. She also happens to be hilarious, and very inspiration when she wants to be. Not to mention she is an amazing writer. Mindy, if you’re reading this, I’m basically in love with you. No big deal.

I read Mindy’s first book and loved it, so I knew I would like this one if it was anything like the first. And it was, in all the best ways, while still bringing fresh topics and jokes to the table. It’s also full of great quotes, both inspirational and comical, so I thought I would try writing this review a bit differently. I will be sharing some of my favorite quotes from the book, along with a bit of context. Hopefully this will give you enough of a sneak peek to make you want to read the book yourself.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you don’t got it, flaunt it. ‘Cause what are we doing here if we’re not flaunting it?” 

This quote is from the chapter Unlikely Leading Lady, where Mindy tackles the topic of body image. She talks candidly about her relationship with her body, and the way the media tends to focus on her appearance since, as she puts it “women who are my size are so rarely seen on TV and film.” She also talks about how, although she has had her fair share of body image issues, in general her brain is filled with more important thoughts than what she weighs or whether or not she should eat dessert.

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“As calm as I might be, still, about once a month, I wake up at 4 a.m. and lie in the dark worrying about the same handful of things.” 

This was from a short chapter at the end of the book, aptly titled 4 a.m. Worries. I liked this quote (and this chapter) because Mindy shared some of the real worries that keep her up at night. It made me feel better to know even someone as successful as Mindy still has fears in life. Some of the fears she listed included: what if I have nothing to say? What if I have too much to say and not enough time? 

“Confidence is like respect. You have to earn it.”

In the final chapter of the book, Mindy explains the connection between hard work and confidence. She states confidence must be earned, just like respect. And it must be earned after a lot of hard work. She fights against the idea shown in many movies and TV shows, that working too much is a bad thing. “I have never, ever, met a highly confident and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.”

“People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them.” 

I loved this quote because I think it is so inherently true, no matter where you live or who you interact with in life. As Mindy mentions, “That’s why the show Intervention is a hit, and everyone loves ‘worrying about’ Amanda Bynes.” People don’t like seeing others succeed, because it reminds them of everything they haven’t been able to do yet. Mindy goes on to say it perfectly: “When you’re winning it makes them feel like they’re losing, or worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late.”

 

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Mindy Kaling’s second book, Why Not Me. There were so many other hilarious and inspirational parts of the book, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find out what they were! Comment below which quote was your favorite, and if you have already read this book or plan to in the future.