Pleasure or Relief in Eating Disorder Experience?
- Category: Self-Help
Eating disorder interview questions teach me about what can be in the minds of people who don't have eating disorders and wonder about them.
This afternoon I did a practice interview in preparation for my video shoot tomorrow. It's designed to help get the word out about the release of my book, Healing Your Hungry Heart in August.
Naturally a question came up about my personal experience with bulimia and how I had my first binge and purge episode when I was thirteen years old. The intervier surprised me with her next question. She asked, Why did you continue to binge and throw up after that first time? It must have given you a lot of pleasure.
Pleasure? I was startled by the word, yet I understood that, for someone naive in the ways of living with an eating disorder, pleasure was a reasonable assumption.
When I first binged and threw up I didn't feel pleasure. I felt relief and joy that I had found a way to nevigate my life. I didn't have to feel overwhelmed by impossible demands. I could live up to the expectations of my parents, in public, and bury my growing anxieties under a mountain of food that I could vomit in secret.
- Pleasure? No. Relief that my desperation could get channeled into the binge/purge? Yes.
- Pleasure at the result? No. Relief when I was groggy and in a twilight state of consciousness following an episode? Yes.
Most of the time I speak with people who have or had an eating disorder or with colleagues who work with people who have or had an eating disorder. Many of my colleagues are in some form of recovery themselves.
Now, as my book takes me into new experiences I see that I will be speaking to people who don't know about eating disorders. Their lack of knowledge I can meet with information. Their natural assumptions, reasonable and inaccurate, are teachers for me. I need to learn how to address these assumptions and learn.
What about you?
- Is pleasure a word that applies to any aspect of your eating disorder episodes?
- Do you know the difference between pleasure and relief?
- What do you remember of the the first time you began your eating disorder?
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After reading this, I sat this afternoon and pieced together everything I can recollect & figure out about my ED and when/how it started...
I'm probably not your typical person with an ED, as the roots of mine truly do lie in food & eating behaviours, I think the subconscious realisation that I could use food to numb my emotions was a natural progression that came later....takes quite a lot of explaining, will try to summarise.
Initially I think it started as a baby/toddler with my mum's fear of choking & the the way in which she restricted my diet as a result, but there were other things too, she used food as a means of bribery and emotional blackmail, and I ate to please her, to try to get her to love me.
By 6 or 7 yrs old I was pretty overweight and she started putting me on crash diets and restricting what I ate in quite a big way. I went along with this to try to gain her acceptance and to get her to love me, but whenever I wasn't on one of her diets, I had little choice than to return to the overeating if I wanted her approval, I was bad/naughty/ungrateful if I didn't eat what she gave me.
And that's how it all began - I've never known what it is to eat a normal range or normal volume of food, it was always restricting or eating to excess to get my mother's approval, and ultimately to try to get her to love me.
It wasn't just food, she controlled every area of my life either by violence or emotional blackmail...and somewhere along the line, I guess I subconsciously figured out the association with overeating and numbing of emotions.
I have so many issues and hang-ups as a result of her controlling ways, that I needed to be numb just to cope on a day-to-day basis...but then there's the knock on effect of self-hatred because the eating to numb everything makes me fat, undesirable,unhealthy,a bad role model to my kids, with the effect of crushing any self-esteem I might've had, restricting me physically due to my size, and ultimately me knowing that I'm eating myself to death, and potentially leaving my girls without a mother...which in turn needs numbing even more.
And people think I eat for pleasure??? I eat, or should say, I did eat, just to get through each day - it wasn't a life, it was an existence. (It's made me cry to write this tonight)
Brava Shh and Lori, You are both getting closer to the authenticity of your experience. You are moving across barriers you've used your eating disorder to support. Now you are getting near your very real personal challenges. When you get close to the reality of your personal challenges it means that you DIDN'T use your eating disorder to block. You are stronger and more healthy than you were even minutes ago. Two issues occur to me when reading your posts.
1. Control is different from honoring limits. Control comes from determination and will power. Honoring limits comes from respect, care, kindness and courage.
2. Now that you are honing in on the difference between pleasure and relief. You know eating disorder actions give you relief, albeit temporary relief.
The question becomes, "What is pleasure to you - pure, guilt free, shame free pleasure? Not relief but pleasure.
Pleasure is being allowed to be myself
Maybe pleasure is a hand massage or a foot massage or standing under a running shower that's just the right temperature.
Please let us know what you discover that is pleasure for you. It's the little moments that can add up to a worthwhile day.
Thank you for letting me know. I'm glad you found safety in the storm and that I was somehow related to safety.
Cats think and move fast in emergencies. They are amazingly resilient and creative in rescuing themselves. Maybe that relates to your dream too.
Maybe, despite your fears you are more creative and resilient in your self care than you know.
I have two cats (brothers - Jack and Bodhi) and one terrier (Winston).
When I leave I have someone come in daily to tend to the needs of Jack and Bodhi. Winston either comes with me or goes to a dog sitter he loves.
I've never known or heard of a cat who likes riding in car!
But we do the best we can with what we have. Hopefully, as we develop, our best improves.
I'm off to TN for a five days, come back and then get in the car to drive to CA.