Eating disorders take a lot of things away from you. They take your mind, your friends, your "normal" life. Something many people don't know is that they take away your money too. This is another aspect of eating disorders that is rarely spoken about. I'm not the first person to lose money because of my eating disorder and I won't be the last. It's taken me a while to realise that I'm not alone.
Before I entered my most recent period of binging and purging, I was rather good with money. I knew how to budget for every week and save some back when needed. However, when you enter an episode of binging, your impulses run wild, you literally lose yourself. You enter a trance-like state that you have no control over. Partner this with money, and you have a huge, uncontrollable spending spree on your hands.
During my worst months, I was so ashamed of my eating disorder and my weight gain that I completely isolated myself. I only left the flat to buy binge food when I was in that state of trance. I was spending up to £40 a day on binge food alone, my weekly budget gone in a matter of minutes. After the binge, I would feel so embarrassed that I would throw away whatever was left and threw up what I had eaten. This would then be repeated the next day.
I ended up going deep into my overdraft when my student loan alone was supposed to be enough to live off (I had the full amount). I may never find a way out of my overdraft.
Huge sums of money didn't just get spent on binge food, it also got spent on clothes as my body was forever changing shape and size. And clothes aren't cheap. But I still hold on to my smaller clothes because I'm so determined to fit back into them. So, I had to buy more storage to fit my overflowing clothes into.
As well as clothes, I also had a gym membership which I couldn't afford. That cost me £12.99 a month which is pretty good for a gym membership, but it still adds up over time. I also bought a load of exercise DVDs and books. And I can't tell you the amount of times I've almost been pulled into one of those expensive weight loss programmes.
In the future, I'll likely have to dip further into my overdraft so I can get private therapy because the NHS just can't give me the help I need. I've been on a waiting list for therapy over a year now. This could cost me up to £100 a week.
As I slowly get better over time and binge a lot less, food is still costing me extra money as I'm obsessed with being healthy. After spending so long depriving my body of nutrition, I need that food just like every human being needs and deserves it. However, I'm finding it near impossible to afford as weekly shopping costs have increased drastically since my days of restriction.
The cost of eating disorders is devastating, emotionally, physically and financially. Talking openly about how much my binging cost me is terrifying. People will think I'm greedy and have no self-control, which I guess the last part is true. Until you're in that state where you lose all control over your body, you don't know exactly how it feels. You don't know how impossible it is to stop yourself from spending money and the shame that comes with it.
We get trapped in these habits that keep us ill. But know that there is both mental and financial help out there. If you're struggling with an eating disorder, speak to your GP or support worker about it as they can refer you to the relevant clinic. You can also talk to Beat either online or over the phone by calling 0808 801 0677 where help is available all year round. For financial help, get in touch with Citizens Advice Bureau.
Until the next time,