Right from a young child I have always loved food; I loved gatherings because of the food. As I got older I would steal food and money to buy food. My life was all about food and if I wasn’t eating, I was thinking about eating and food.
I was very athletic at school and not terribly worried about my weight at that time. It was when I went into high school and the “beach girls” came to our high school that I started looking at the differences. They were brown, thin and seemed to be very popular with the boys. I watched them and what they ate. I started eating what they were eating at school, but would eat as much as possible at home.
I tried to fit in, but wasn’t able to make friends easily. I was obsessed about my weight and food by now and it drove me to exercise and diets. I went on my first diet when I was sixteen years old, I took herbal diet tablets, exercised like a person obsessed and I drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes and drank black coffee to control my weight. I lost five stone and got a lot of compliments about how I looked, but that didn’t stop the self-loathing and madness in my head. It didn’t matter how much weight I lost or how thin I was, I was obsessed about my body, how fat I was and how thin I wanted to be. My self-obsession and food controlled my life, and it was to get much worse as I got older.
I started vomiting to get rid of the food I had eaten; this went on for years, through my pregnancies and well into my thirties. My weight would escalate up and down, but it was my thinking that drove me mad. I hated myself so much. Why couldn’t I just lose weight and keep it off? Why couldn’t I just be like others and eat at coffee shops and still be thin and happy?
I desperately wanted to be thin, but my obsession to eat was insatiable. I dieted and exercised and stopped eating meals to lose more weight, the more I starved the more self-obsessed and insane I became. My behaviour was getting more erratic and my frustration and anger were all-consuming. My family were worried, but I would not listen to them because I knew better. Being thin was going to be the answer to all the problems in my life. How wrong I was to be.
Getting married and having two babies did not stop me from bingeing and purging and being obsessed with my weight. I thought about suicide because I couldn’t stop thinking about food and losing weight, so I spent fifteen years going to counsellors, self-help programmes and workshops. I read countless books and listened to tapes, trying to find out what was wrong with me and how I could change. Little did I know that I was an addictive eater and I needed a programme of recovery for this disease.
I saw a public notice on the TV. It was a woman standing at the fridge eating uncontrollably. That was me, and it said there was a solution. I rang and they told me about a 12-step programme that might be able to help me. I started going to meetings and learned that I had a disease of addiction and if I wanted to get well I needed a Higher Power, a willingness to surrender my old ideas and a sponsor to help me work the Twelve Steps of AEA and help me with my unmanageable life.
I thought I was willing, but I didn’t realise how powerful the disease of addiction was. It took many years to surrender my self-will and ask for help from a lady who was off the food. I didn’t like what that lady had to say at first, but I was very grateful for the gift of desperation and asked for help. I started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and identified with the disease of addiction from the very first meeting. It was also suggested that the disease swaps from own substance to another and I knew exactly what she was talking about (I had always swapped from food to alcohol and medication to stop the madness in my head), so I knew I needed to put all mind-altering substances down to get well and stay well.
Because of my Higher Power, the 12-step programme of action and support from the Addictive Eaters Anonymous fellowship, I am not addictively eating now, my mind has quietened down and my food and self-obsession has been relieved. I am much more peaceful in my daily activities and I am not so tired from trying to control my life and everyone else’s. I am also learning how to have kind and loving relationships with my family and the world around me.