The Cycle of Addiction, Binging, and Quest for Control

I believe that most, if not all of our psychological disorders stem from the need to be in control, and the reality that control – even when felt certainly – is an illusion. You can be Albert Einstein or Britney Spears, and in the end still end up six feet under, eaten by worms, and eventually dissolved into a thousand nanoscale bits spread across the universe.

Of course, on a day to day basis, control is more about feeling an ownership of time instead of time owning you. It’s about accomplishments large and small. It’s about praise and pride. Success has never felt like control to me, however. Success is the scariest feat of all… because once you succeed, the expectations are higher the next time you try, and you have a lot further to fall.

This leads to my admittance that — my name is Joy and I’m a — addiction-aholic. That is, there are a lot of things I do that i wish I didn’t do that I haven’t been able to stop myself from doing, or things I should do that I can’t force myself to do as often as I should. That is unhealthy, and something I’d like to solve in any way possible.

Luckily, I never ended up addicted to drugs or alcohol, but my addictions range the gamut. Shopping. Eating. Avoiding. Procrastinating. I’m addicted to binging because it makes me feel in control, if just for a moment. It lets me say — fuck you world, I’ll never be thin, so I might as well just eat and eat because it feels good… because I can do it, because no one can stop me from eating this entire box of Oreos until it’s gone — because the only person I’m hurting is myself, and it feels good to stuff my face, to empty one column of cookies from their slots and the next, to hide in my room and finish as quickly as possible to be done with it.

I used to be the same way with shopping — go to the mall, or the bargain store — and buy things I didn’t need because THAT gave me the same sense of control. It made me feel good. It was a rush… of something I could do for myself, on my own, with no one else knowing. I was in charge and in control as much as I had given up on any real control.

Do I have an eating disorder? A shopping disorder? Yes, and yes. I am an addict. And I need to stop the cycle of self abuse. But, like any other addict, I love it. Why? Is it that I feel I deserve the abuse? Yes, probably. Growing up my parents taught me to second guess myself, to not trust myself, that I was always wrong and other people were always right. Spending money, eating junk food, wasting time watching tv instead of being productive or even reading a book… forgetting how to concentrate… and finding a wild talent for daydreaming between binges, was my life.

To this day, I’m constantly looking for the rush to fill the hole of my addiction. It’s not a conscious choice, it’s just so finely ingrained into my psyche. I’ve gone to therapist after therapist – but talk can only do so much. I’m talked out. Action is the only thing that will make things better, but I’ve never been able to change my mindset on a deeper level — to convince myself that I DESERVE to be happy and that I DESERVE success (no more or less than the next person) without having to worry about what that means, and how it only sets me up for failure.

Still, every day, I feel like I’m living a lie. So quickly people figure it out. What’s real? Eating is real, it’s visceral, it’s animalistic, it’s safe and warm and often feels like the only thing I can do that’s for myself, where other people can’t judge me in the moment, where I’m not judging myself, but I’m just cramming food in my mouth — bread, chocolate, even healthy food in large quantities — as I can’t imagine myself healthy in any definition of the word. I’m really not sure what to do about it.

  • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea

    I could have written this post. Especially this:

    "Growing up my parents taught me to second guess myself, to not trust myself, that I was always wrong and other people were always right."

    It's funny how things like this can breed control freaks (raising my hand) who reach for anything we can find to control since life is often uncontrollable. People who haven't been there underestimate how powerful money (and food!) can be.

  • http://headoverheelsindebt.blogspot.com/ Babybluewater

    Wow, I appreciate your honesty. That must have been hard for you to write and just put it all out there. I think your idea of using your blog to be accountable may help. Just think, the only person you are fooling if you are not being honest, is yourself. Your readers will support you along the way but the true growth or change, will only come from you being honest about your actions. Good luck, stay strong, blog often!

  • http://girlmakescents.blogspot.com Girl Makes Cents

    I think we all have some addictions. Some healthier than others. Good posting though. Very honest :)

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  • http://insomniaclabrat.blogspot.com/ Insomniac Lab Rat

    Although I am, of course, not happy to hear that you have struggled with these things too, I can relate.

    On my list of "blog posts to write when I ever find the time (and the words)" is something along these lines. In particular, the procrastination one- I KNOW that if I just quit doing it, things would be easier. But it's addicting. Having also struggled with eating disorders ranging from anorexia to binge eating, I can relate to food related addictions, and addiction to control.

    Thank you for writing this, and I think the best we can all do is just keep trying. Good luck!

  • fabulouslyfrugirl

    I have my addictions, as well. And I also hope to overcome them.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • http://livingintherealworld.net/healthy Sagan

    Wow. This story really speaks to me – I have a similar addiction/control/fear of success thing. I guess many of us do. Thank you for sharing this – it makes me feel more confident that we can all find ways to overcome them, if there are many of us who feel this way. We just have to keep plugging away and trying new things to do our best to overcome the addictions!

  • chipsforsupper

    I also have the food addiction. When you were writing about Oreos, I can picture myself doing that (mostly because there's an empty bag of Oreos sitting next to me). There's a vicious cycle involved.