British Eating Disorders UK (BEAT)’s summary – “Binge eating disorder will affect one in fifty of us in our lifetime, it is the most common but least understood. It isn’t about being greedy or lacking in willpower, but a serious mental illness which many suffer with alone, often with the fear of how others might react the reason they don’t reach out for help”. I’m not responsible for the poor syntax 😉 , nor am I responsible for the clashing colours, but the meaning’s clear enough. They’ve also pointed out on their website that “binge eating disorder is linked to low self-esteem and lack of confidence, depression and anxiety” and that “some people gain weight because of emotional difficulties, and being overweight can also lead to emotional difficulties”.
This is Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2021, with the focus on Binge Eating Disorder. Everyone’s having bad days during lockdown: if you’re someone who struggles with Binge Eating Disorder, you may well be finding that some of those bad days trigger eating binges. If relatives or friends tell you that they’re having a bad day, you’ll probably try to comfort them by telling them that hopefully tomorrow will be better and they’ll be able to put it behind them. That doesn’t work with Binge Eating Disorder – the scales don’t care that you were having a bad day, so an eating binge will probably lead to weight gain, and then you’ll feel even worse about yourself, and it makes it that much harder to move on to a good day. Scales are very mean like that. So you’re probably having some pretty rough patches.
This isn’t meant to sound like a whingefest, just an attempt to highlight a problem which is often hidden. Thank you to BEAT for highlighting it. And almost a year of the pandemic is exacerbating a lot of mental health issues, especially in parts of the country which have been subject to extra restrictions. If any of these are affecting you, have a lot of virtual hugs from me xxx. And, on a totally different note, Happy St David’s Day.
It’s a chicken and egg situation, and also a vicious circle. Oh dear, using two clichés in one situation isn’t very good English either, is it? If you’re someone who has issues with overeating, and if you’re genetically prone to being overweight, then you’ve probably been called names for as far back as you can remember. Society doesn’t half vilify overweight people, and that’s from early childhood onwards. That probably led to low self-esteem, and may well be linked to anxiety and depression. If you’re someone who’s genetically more likely to develop anxiety and depression, then you’re probably also more likely to have issues with food and eating. Round and round it goes.
Just personally speaking, my worst days with it were when I’d just left university and was applying for jobs. I filled in application form after application form, went for interview after interview, and got rejection after rejection. When that happens, however much people tell you that there are loads of applicants for each place and that the constant rejections don’t mean that you’re a failure, it doesn’t half feel like you’re a failure. But all sorts of different things can be triggers, and obviously it’s different for every person.
As with any mental health condition, some days, and some weeks, months and years, will be bad, and others won’t. But lockdown is making things pretty difficult for everyone. We also keep being told that obesity is one of the major factors leading to hospitalisation if someone has contracted Covid-19. That’s a medical fact and I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be spoken about, but it’s adding to the feelings of guilt and shame and inadequacy that surround eating issues.
Also, one of the main causes of eating disorders is a need for control. That sounds strange, because, with eating binges you lose control, but then you feel terrible because you lost control. Feeling trapped can be a major trigger, and we’re all trapped at the moment. Roll on March 29th, April 12th, May 17th and June 21st, eh?!
If you’re struggling, please shout. If you suspect that someone else is struggling, please be nice. Please don’t make comments about how much someone else is eating, and please, please don’t tell them that they’re fat. One in fifty people are affected by this – that’s a lot of people.
Thanks again to Beat Eating Disorders UK for highlighting this. There’s a lot of it about.