Attending my first meeting was the best thing I’ve ever done
One of my earliest memories was getting a chocolate dispenser for Christmas – you’ve probably seen them – red with about 10 tiny little bars of chocolate in – each one released by a 2p coin. My parents indulged me with coins until the chocolate was all eaten. I thought the coins and the chocolate were never-ending and remember being shocked and sad when it was over.
I was just over two years old. I was probably a compulsive overeater back then, but the disease was held in check because my dad was addicted to chocolate, so my mum only bought sweet things in small amounts.
44 years later, just before Christmas, I bought a ‘bargain’ box of chocolates in a supermarket for £7 to eat with the family over Christmas. The chocolates never saw the next day – I’d eaten them all. I grudgingly gave my daughter four or five, then hid the box under the sofa when I’d finished, to hide my shame and guilt at eating the lot in one evening.
I’d tried diet clubs, but I knew something was missing. I was humiliated with the patronizing comments, “That’s another two pounds off!” I cringed. I knew there was something missing. I knew the psychological and spiritual side of the problem wasn’t being dealt with.
I went to my GP and told him I ate too much. (He may well have noticed for himself the extra seven stones I was carrying!). He offered to refer me to a dietician. By this time, I could have written diet books for myself. I KNEW what I should eat and shouldn’t eat. I could look at a meal and accurately assess the calorific content and I knew what proportions of protein/carbohydrate/fat I should eat.
The GP referred me to a weight management course where they tried to educate me on healthy portion sizes and such. I explained to the course facilitators and course members that this stuff wasn’t new to me, but I pointed at my brain and explained my problem is “up here”.
One of the other members told me about Overeaters Anonymous. It took me a few months to work up the courage to walk through the doors. I feared that I would end up with a sponsor who dictated what and when I could and couldn’t eat. But it was nothing like that at all.
On 28th December 2013, I attended my first meeting. I wept my way through it. I felt in such good company and realized that everybody there – even the slim people – had the same mental problem as me. In my entire life, I have never felt as accepted and understood by other people. Attending my first meeting was the best thing I’ve ever done. I found myself a sponsor and now I’m working through the Twelve Steps. I’ve been abstinent from trigger foods and trigger behaviours for six weeks now and haven’t looked back. I have difficult moments, but I have a wonderful sponsor and OA family to reach out to at these times.