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Confessions of an overeater


Empty plate on a broken roadOvereating for me is worse than having a hangover. I can't just sleep the weight off. Instead I eat throughout the night, taking in even more calories than I do during the day.

How I wish I could shake this bad habit and no longer feel I have to cover my fat with a habit. The more I binge at night the more sick, tired and 'fed up' I get with myself the following day. I feel like a failure. Still it is hard to stop bad habits, to keep myself from slipping further. It only takes one binge to land me in deep depression. 

Having to take medication for schizophrenia greatly increases my appetite. I take Clozaril, an antipsychotic, which as well as stimulating my appetite also heightens the symptoms of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). This exacerbates my already existing compulsions with food.

I am a wicked creature of the night. I have never slept well. The more I munch in sinful silence the more I feel as if I am trespassing with the dead. Food did my head in even before I took tablets for my head. I feel myself turning into a beast with a huge midnight feast as I go wild with chocolate, cake and ice-cream. Sometimes I try to limit the feast to just fruit and vegetables, but doing this though requires a lot of forward planning.

I have managed at times to beat the OCD and stop myself dead in my tracks from the bed to the kitchen. This makes me feel powerful and in control. But I obviously have an eating disorder. Even though I have come a long way from my bulimic teens, I still am obsessed, and think I will always be.

Food is a mixed bag of feelings for me. I feel guilt, weakness and remorse, yet also excitement, danger and fun. I'm either really good or really bad with food and often feel more demonic rather than angelic in the dangerous Easter and Christmas periods.

Often I feel my body and mind have been possessed by food. I feel alienated from other people at parties as I go for the smorgasbord rather than the small talk and chomp instead of chat. It is easier to swallow sweet, beautiful, delicious food than take in the negativity that people often dish out for me with my disability.

Sometimes I feel I cannot help myself with food except maybe to a few extra helpings. I chew Extra gum and this sometimes works. I warn myself in advance that the more I let myself go with food the weaker I will feel in myself and in trying to manage my disability. With the loss in willpower I trip up in other areas of my life such as managing money, having an orderly routine, making rational decisions and taking steps towards recovery.

Going to the gym is the first step towards recovery, and even a slow cycle can start to slowly break the starve-binge cycle. The treadmill stops me from going through the mill (bread is a particular weakness of mine). The cross trainer stops me from getting even more cross with myself over everything I have eaten.

I tell myself that I simply can't have my cake and eat it too. The pounds come on like thunder with all my eating blunders. Sometimes I get desperate, and have even considered going off all my tablets, as well as under the knife. But stopping medication is not an option.

Instead I would like to try the healthy, natural approach of a proper diet and exercise plan guided by an experienced dietitian and trainer. I also would like to be gentler to my body, with hypnotherapy or Pilates rather than invasive plastic surgery. Somehow I feel there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Even though often I feel at a loss, having tried every diet and fitness trainer in the book, I have also found writing down everything I eat in a book to be really helpful. I hope through this to finally turn over a new leaf and win back some more control and power over my life.

Isabella Fels headshotIsabella Fels is a Melbourne poet and writer. She has been published in various publications including Positive Words, Mental Illness Voice, The Big Issue and The Record.

Empty plate image from Shutterstock

Topic tags: Isabella Fels, overeating, obesity, schizophrenia



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Existing comments

Thank you for posting this. I, too, feel that writing helps. You are very courageous, too, to post it. Lately I have been feeling that dragging our experiences out into the light like this is a critical part of our healing. You are not alone!

terrie | 08 April 2014  

I admire your openness Isabella. Have you thought of working with a hypno-therapist? I have been fortunate to find a good one: it's like having someone gently holding your hand as you explore what's going on below the surface of your conscious mind.

Paddy Byers | 09 April 2014  

What a glorious piece of prose. Thanks for writing & sharing it with us.

Helen | 09 April 2014  

Isabella you are a beautiful soul with the gift of words. Thank you for sharing. I am fit but big bodied, others have judged me all of my life for my size. I live in a really good paddock and unashamedly love food. I too have frequently walked the mid night walk to the fridge or pantry. You are definitely not alone!

Barry | 09 April 2014  

Isabella, your writing is beautiful full of honesty and courage . You show the ability for self reflection and goal direction that all of us can only hope to emulate. Thank you and keep on writing.

Celia | 10 April 2014  

Do you lift weights at the gym, Isabella? Much more satisfying than only doing aerobics, I find. But good luck with whatever exercise plan you develop.

Penelope | 10 April 2014  

Isabella, I've read twice your article. I feel deeply moved but lost for words. And I'm also busy, since I notice you've recently published three other articles that I have not read yet. Keep going, Isa, And congratulations for such a beautiful and inspiring masterpiece.

Aurelio Gutiérrez | 21 April 2014  

Many people find help in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. Some of us have been diagnosed as morbidly obese while others are undereaters. Among us are those who were severely bulimic, who have harmed themselves with compulsive exercise, or whose quality of life was impaired by constant obsession with food or weight. We tend to be people who, in the long-term, have failed at every solution we tried, including therapy, support groups, diets, fasting, exercise, and in-patient treatment programs.?? FA has over 500 meetings throughout the United States in large and small cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, Grand Rapids, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Austin, and Washington, D.C. Internationally, FA currently has groups in England, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. If you would like more information about FA, please check out our website at www [dot] foodaddicts [dot] org. If there aren’t any meetings in your area, you can contact the office by emailing FA at foodaddicts [dot] org, where someone will help you.

Food Addicts | 02 June 2014  

I too struggle with over eating. I have rapid cycling bipolar with psychosis. The medication makes me hungry and screws with my metabolism. I have struggled with suicidal thoughts most of my life and have osteo arthritis in my knees and back and have been advised to lose weight.

fiona | 07 January 2015  

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