Binge Eating Addiction
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ROBERT MILLERThere is a story of a Navajo grandfather who told his grandson, two wolves live inside of me. One is full of greed and laziness, jealousy and anger and regret.
The other is full of joy and kindness and love for the world. Always, these wolves are fighting inside of me.
But grandfather, the boy said, which one will win? The grandfather answered, the one that I feed.
I think of all the addictions that are out there. An eating addiction is one of the hardest to overcome because it's necessary to live. It's hard for somebody having trouble with it to differentiate what you needed to do versus what you wanted to do.
Food became a real powerful thing for me. It's me, standing here in the kitchen, 2:30 in the morning. And I'm not feeling very good about myself. I had a really rough day at work, and not able to sleep today.
And this is what I'm staring at. I'm trying really hard not to go in there. Sometimes this sickness just really-- just really controls me.
Where most of this started was, probably I would say, around three or four years. You know, my mother did some inappropriate things with me when I was four. When she came home late at night, I'd be in my room. And I'd hear her, and I'd just-- I'd want her to just come and see me.
Most of the time, she didn't want to deal with it. So there was a pretty wide gap under my door, and she used to just shove sandwiches under the door. Instead of giving me a hug, I got a sandwich. So-- to this day, sandwiches are one of my biggest comforts.
If they serve bread with dinner, and I'm having chicken Parmesan, I'm going to put it on the bread and make a sandwich out of it.
I can remember times as a kid, a half hour before my mother was making dinner, I would sneak a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwich down to the garage and then come up and eat dinner. I would just sit on these steps in the garage here. The door would be closed, and then I would sneak back out.
Because of the abandonment, all I wanted was acceptance. It was about third grade, and this one kid said, I can eat more pizza than you. So all the kids in my class divided up their two slices of pizza between us. And I went through it, and I heard people cheering.
I think it was more laughter for them but acceptance for me. Food's not the answer. Food is a necessity of life. It's not going to solve your problem.
I got a page from home, and then I got a 911 page. My dad answers the phone. And he says my brother Paul had died. He was 32 years old. And every time I talk about this, it drives me crazy.
That sent me out of control, that one. It took me probably well over two hours to get here but not before I stopped at the fast food restaurant. Till I looked at the receipt, I didn't even know what I had. Three Big Macs, two large fries, a couple cheeseburgers.
I think I had a 20 piece nugget and that was less than a mile from here, and I ate it before I got here. Sometimes it doesn't happen all at once. Sometimes it's a period of two hours. But it's just constant.
You know, it's more of grazing, they would call it. Most of the times where I was in that kind of zone, it was more euphoric for me. There was no rational thought. It's almost like a drug addict getting that first hit or first high.
Once I was done, it'd be like, ugh, I'm such an idiot. Why did I do that? Start putting myself down and the negative voices would start talking to you. And then it got to the point where you do it again because you felt guilty for doing it the first time. So you did it again.
There'd be times where I'd be in the middle of a good run with getting healthy and exercising. And I would tell my wife I was trying to resist it.
But it was almost like it was just grabbing my shirt and ripping me to it. You lose control. You'll do anything to get the food.
The last straw for me was it started affecting my job. I was in the front cube, and my back was faced to everybody. And all day long, all I thought was people were laughing at me, just all day long. And I had a nervous breakdown right there at work.
They gave me 30 days to get into a treatment facility. I told them that's what I needed to do.
My wonderful wife found the place in Arizona. This place taught me no matter what you eat, as long as it fits into your daily exchanges for that meal, it's OK. This is an example of a meal plan.
This is a very important part to staying focused. Even if you have months and months and months of writing these, never wing it.
The steady decline of weight will happen if you follow it. For somebody with binge eating, face whatever it is you need to face because if you don't, you'll remain sick.
I'm in a silly mood today. I was thinking about the time when I came home from treatment. I had lost enough weight to ride a bike for my first time since I was 15 years old.
It's driving me to keep on working and to keep going. I had three goals for myself when I left treatment, be able to ride a bike again. I did that one. Be able to ride a roller coaster and fit on it. That's my next goal.
And the last one is to have a child. After a year and a half in treatment, I now feel like that second wolf. I find myself to be more gentle and giving.
The tools that I've learned help me to no longer feed that wolf that I was before. If I can share my story which helps me, if it helps one person get help, that makes it worth it.