How I Got Over My Binge Eating Disorder Relapse

binge eating disorder relapse

I recently had a binge eating disorder relapse so I want to talk about how it happened, where it came from, and what I did to help myself get over it.

Background

I had a great few months where I didn’t binge.

I was eating more, fuelling myself better and gaining some muscle. I was in a good place in terms of nutrition and fitness. It was also summer, and an overall calm and pretty stress-free period in my life, which likely helped.

But in recent weeks, my stress levels have gradually been going up. I think it is a combination of some financial worries, some life things, the state of the world, the cost of living crisis, and a generous amount of doom scrolling.

It’s a terrible combination and so many of things can weigh you down.

And I wasn’t giving myself any kind of outlet or release, which meant that this stress was just building up inside my mind and in my body.

It started to manifest in subtle ways that would mean I wasn’t looking after myself properly:

  • Skipping workouts, or when I do them, not feeling the energy for them.
  • Not eating properly and poor nutrition habits.
  • Complete lack of hydration.
  • I don’t take a lot of supplements but the ones I take help cover some gaps in my nutrition and I was skipping this too.

So there wasn’t any one specific destructive thing. It was just a collection of small behaviour patterns and things I wasn’t doing enough of or wasn’t doing consistently enough.

I was also snacking more. I hadn’t been bingeing, but I was starting to reach for food more whenever my mind was going through something, just to help sedate in the heat of the moment.

And I never sought professional help. I never spoke to anyone about it. I just masked it and got on with my day.

Binge Eating Disorder Relapse Trigger

That all was setting a foundation where I didn’t feel as focused, as strong, as resilient, or as motivated for anything as I could and should be.

But then I had something happen which affected me mentally and emotionally and hit me very hard. I won’t go into details because that is a separate topic. But it really knocked me flat.

And at the time of writing, it has been a bit more than 3 weeks and I’m still not over it. I feel a bit better but it is still a constant weight on my shoulders.

And it was when this happened that my binge behaviour returned.

After a solid 6-7 months of no binges, I had 4 binges in the space of 2 weeks.

They weren’t as big in terms of volume of food or calories as some of the binges when my binge eating disorder was at its peak. I suspect the fact that I was generally eating more throughout the day than I used to did help me here.

But I hadn’t had a single binge episode for months, so to have 4 in the space of a couple of weeks was devastating.

The good news is that at the time of writing and after a rocky 2-3 weeks, I have gotten myself out of the funk I was in and my binge eating is under control. I am still working through and processing the mental and emotional things that triggered this, but I feel a lot more in control.

Addressing Mental Health

Before going any further, I do want to address handling mental health, stress and emotional triggers.

As always, please note that I am not a qualified professional – for specific advice, please speak to one.

But with any kind of mental health issue, if you can get help or speak to someone to try to address is early on, it makes it much easier for you to process and cope with.

If professional help is available to you definitely make use of that.

If you’re lucky enough that you have a friend or family or someone close to you that you can speak to and they can just listen, then great. Please do reach out to them.

I, for a lot of reasons, wasn’t in a position to have either of those available to me.

If like me, you don’t have someone that you can necessarily speak to and help address whatever’s going through your mind, here’s what I did.

First of all, I needed to let myself just feel whatever I was feeling. I listened to a couple of meditations that were targeted around the issue I was dealing with, and just allowing myself to close my eyes, lie down, and listen to that helped give me some kind of release for the emotions that had built up.

And that release was really important to me because, to the best of my knowledge at least, no one knew what I was dealing with or what was in my mind or what I was going through. And I think I was masking it quite well. So I wasn’t getting any release otherwise, and it was just building up.

So having that outlet helped me.

And then at the same time, I tried to find what I would call a way forward.

I looked at what caused the conditions that set me up to get that emotional hit that I got. And I started to look at how I can put myself in a position where I’m not dealing with those things anymore or won’t have to in future.

And I’ve been able to set myself a six months target and start working on a plan to get there within that time. It’s not an immediate fix, but it gives me a sense of purpose and it gives me some kind of meaning and it gives me a bit more motivation and it gives me a little bit of light in what was feeling like a very dark time.

Dealing With Binge Urges

I’ve spoken before about how the one thing that helped me deal with my binge urges was finding a purpose or something that motivates me  more than the urge to binge.

In my case, there were two things I needed to address now:

  • the thing that caused the emotional hit for me
  • the underlying stress I was dealing with

While I was working through my emotions, I realised what I needed to do to get myself out of where I was.

I set myself a six-month target and that gave me motivation, that gave me purpose, and that’s helping me now to stay in control.

The main things to take away from this are that you want to understand the underlying cause of the emotions you are feeling.

And finding some kind of solution or way out, or having a plan in place to find something makes a huge difference – it becomes a source of light in what can feel like a very dark headspace.

Dealing With The Aftermath Of A Binge

What I’ve mentioned above is helpful for the overall binge urges and behaviour patterns that come with a binge eating disorder relapse.

But I want to talk about the immediate aftermath of a binge as well.

If you have relapsed, you can be prone to feeling intense feelings of guilt, shame, and maybe even despair at having binged again.

Here are the 5 things that really helped me with my recovery each time, and made this relapse last for a relatively short 2 weeks.

Forgive Yourself

You are a human being. You are prone to emotions. Sometimes those emotions are intense. So intense that you need something to sedate that feeling and lower that intensity right away.

And sometimes that will be a binge.

It happens.

Address The Cause

I already touched on this above.

But something that helped me in the recovery is to remind myself of the cause of the stress I was feeling and of the emotional hit I took.

I reminded myself how big a deal they were to me (they were) and that not only helped with forgiveness, it reminded me why my motivation and purpose are important. And that helped me get my nutrition back on track.

Change Your Mindset

Maybe mindset isn’t the right word here. But do something that will move your mind into a whole new setting or environment.

You can do something creative or productive to help engage it. Or you can move to a completely different environment – go for a walk, go to the cinema, or listen to a podcast. Something to move your mind from the intense feelings after a binge.

Get Active

I always find that some gentle exercise is crucial for me when I am trying to recover from a binge and have spoken about the best exercises to do after a binge as well.

What I am not saying here is to try to burn off the food or the calories that were part of your binge. That is a behaviour pattern that starts to overlap with bulimia.

But some movement will help you feel better.

It can be as intense or as gentle as you like but pick something that gives you a sense of fulfilment, and enjoyment, and will keep you mentally engaged.

Move On

It sucks to say it and sounds harsh, but honestly, we need to know when to move on.

We can’t undo what we ate, so it’s important we don’t dwell on it too much. That can actually make you feel worse.

We can only look at what happened, and what might have caused it, and try to learn from it.

So acknowledge it, learn from it, and move forward.

binge eating disorder relapse

 

Recap On Binge Eating Disorder Relapse

A binge eating disorder relapse definitely sucks. To be fair, I guess the same applies to other eating disorders, addictions and mental health issues.

If professional help is available to you, or if you can get help from a friend or family, use that sooner rather than later.

If not, you can work through it on your own (I have) but it can be a tough road.

There are some things we can do in the immediate aftermath to recover from a binge, but a lot of the work we need to do is on understanding what the underlying cause is that led us to the emotional state in the first place.

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