the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

Binge eating — one of the last of my dirty little secrets


Please also see

The Lines Project


When I did the Lines Project back in December with my wife and my daughter, I was reluctant to put a yellow line on my arm for eating disorder. I thought, “It doesn’t count!” A little voice said, “Yes, it does.”

I enthusiastically participated in The Lines Project last December, as my daughter and I deal with self-harm issues.  It was hard enough drawing some of the lines- but as I had come to an understanding of my cPTSD, and some of the very real dissociative episodes I had sometimes when the stress got to be too much, I figured I could count the orange and teal stripes.

Several others I thought were pretty self-explanatory, although purple was something that was also self-realized relatively recently- I mean in the past decade or so.  (I’ve written a little on my issues of sexual orientation, but not at great length.  I’ve been burnt by polarized discussion.)  By contrast, bullying, suicide, and such were very much a fixture of my childhood.

The yellow one was hardest to draw.  Much of the resources I read on eating disorders were mostly about anorexia and bulimia, and they seemed to suggest they were women’s issues– and only recently, did they start addressing men, but again, much of what I read was limited, as in the cases of men were effeminate gay males.  (How did I come to that conclusion?  The resources didn’t really talk about body image from what I thought was a masculine man’s perspective, especially as there was little talk about exercise, i.e. “Fitspo” ideals.)

I learned about binge eating in middle school, incidentally (late 1980’s) with a classmate and neighbor conducting an anonymous survey about eating disorders, but all the literature I read on it was virtually dead silent about it.

But at about the same time I was participating in The Lines Project, someone I greatly respect had something interesting to say:

We talked about it more, in public tweets and private DMs.  We’ve actually had a lot of discussions on Twitter about men’s issues– especially as I said I was aware of the men’s movement of the 1990s (Robert Bly uses a lot of Jungian archetypes, which dovetails with many subjects I blog about here).  I would dare say we’ve been virtual brothers-in-arms, discussing male vulnerability, sensitivity in men, and honest plans to address such when social norms and politics du jour seem to discourage a lot of it, or twist it in directions we feel are disingenuous.

Of course, I have yet to meet Rick face to face.  It’s also another matter to discuss a painful topic (such as binge eating) with someone in person, someone with some authority, and also someone who is a woman.

I don’t mean to sound glibly sexist– it’s not like that.  It’s that some of the people that were so instrumental in my abuse– some of the matriarchs of my family– gave me a lot of really unhealthy attitudes about food.  Food was part of the abuse.  And so I explained such in measured amounts to my nutritionist.

I was in for a follow-up appointment.  It wasn’t the first time I’d seen a nutritionist; this was my third.  With the first nutritionist I had, I lost almost 100 lbs. walking 3 hrs every day, dumbbell weight training 1 hr weekdays, and following a fairly strict diet.  My physician was worried about my obesity and possibly an onset of diabetes.  Pre-diabetes did come this third time around.  I lost around 30 lbs. this time following a counting carbohydrates diet, and lowered my A1C from almost 7.0% to 5.1%.  But no more weight was coming off.

So she started asking me a number of questions to figure out why.  It wasn’t the carbs- my blood sugars and A1C seemed to suggest otherwise.  So she started asking about portions and such.  The more she asked, the more I felt an emotion of panic and fear.  That sort of “oh shit, I’m about to get into so much trouble here.”

Don’t get me wrong.  She’d seen me in distress before, and at that time, I didn’t have a therapist.  She referred me to a contact with the Mental Health ombudsman, because I was loathe to get back into therapy, after 30 years of mostly failure, and dealing with so many arrogant and cowardly jerks for therapists.  That wasn’t an easy start, either- my first counseling placement didn’t work out.  My current arrangement came after contacting RAINN and the local SARC referred me to a therapist who is the Director of Counseling at the MH agency I’m at.

I’m not sure what more to say.  She spared me giving her all the details, although in the past, I was prone to spilling them all.  I felt very uncomfortable sharing as much as I did.

To be honest, I’m quite terrified.  I live in a community that treats domestic violence and eating disorders as primarily women’s issues.  There is slightly more visibility on orientation and gender issues, but… I’ll be honest, it’s not much.  I bristle at folks calling my hometown area backward, but, in a certain way, it very much is.

Author: jaklumen

Wherever you see "jaklumen", that's me- the username is still unique as of the current year. Be aware that the facet you see, is only a small part of the me that is me.

10 thoughts on “Binge eating — one of the last of my dirty little secrets

  1. I am happy for your increased bravery, as time passes. It’s past the time to care for yourself and not live in shameful silence. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ” It’s that some of the people that were so instrumental in my abuse– some of the matriarchs of my family– gave me a lot of really unhealthy attitudes about food. Food was part of the abuse. And so I explained such in measured amounts to my nutritionist”

    There is another side to the coin Jak, perhaps humans aren’t meant to live such sedentary lives. The automobile and technology has transformed our culture to look unlike any society that ever existed in the annals of history. After all, in the pre-modern society, everyone had to walk anywhere and everywhere. Perhaps we aren’t meant to live the way we do here in the USA of the 21st century…….

    If we lived our lives differently, than obesity would drop drastically overnight, and it would have little to nothing to do with the foods we eat.


    • I’m aware of that– so apparently, you’ve entirely missed the point, and you know NOTHING of binge eating, or why it’s a compulsive behavior.

      My grandparents were extremely health conscious, and this very much includes exercise. They ran the Bloomsday Lilac race in Spokane, WA, fairly close to when it began, up until a few handful of years ago. Although I joined them only one year in 1994, they were constantly extolling the virtues of exercise. Whenever I lived with them, they were encouraging me to be active- whether it was kicking the ball all over their backyard as a small boy, walking through the neighborhood, bicycling all over the South Hill, swimming at the YWCA, learning the fundamentals of golf and bowling, and aerobics. I used to do aerobics 2 hours a day as a young man, Kenny, and was so devoted that my grandparents tracked down one of the hosts of the programs I worked out to- Gilad Janklowciz- as they had a timeshare in Hawaii and were close to where he films.

      Although I was never athletically inclined, I participated in baseball and softball programs as a child and preteen, and I played a bit of rugby with Hanford Site employees in my mid-20’s.

      I’m 41 now, but I’ve been in physical therapy off and on for about 5 years, trying to deal with the damage to my spine. This is a real schmuckish move, Kenny, to come over to my site and start preaching to me about exercise like I was a lazy couch potato, when you know NOTHING about me personally. I used to like what you had to say, Kenny, until I got the impression that you were giving off a negative vibe and were too inclined to preach, as if you’d already learned most of everything life had to show you. I think that smacks of hubris, sir, and I wish you’d take a step back. Please don’t come back until I can be reasonably sure you’ve taken a moment to research eating disorders– not to mention, taken some time to research that exercise can be taken to extremes, as well. Remember, you referenced my nutritionist/dietician– she’s got the authority to speak on this matter, NOT you.


      • It seems you misunderstood me Jak,

        1) I wasn’t preaching to you about how you should live your life
        2) I wasn’t saying, “you don’t exercise enough”
        Reread my comment, I never said that.
        3) I was suggesting that the way our culture is designed technologically is antithetical to the way humans should live.
        4) I was suggesting that if we lived in a society where there were no cars and we lived in cities like they did hundreds and thousands of years ago, that the obesity rate would naturally (organically) decrease because everyone would be living differently.
        5) I believe we are meant to be as connected to nature as possible, and technology unfortunately disconnects us.
        6) I have degrees in psychology, addiction counseling, and more….so your inference that I don’t know “NOTHING” about binge eating, or the psychology of the matter is a bit out of touch with my counseling background.
        7) I have always treated you with the utmost kindness and humility, it is odd that you responded in such a hostile tone when i have never responded to you in such.
        8) I’m sorry you misunderstood me, but no offense in the least was meant in my comment.


        • Right- out you go, sir. You got off on a really bad foot, but instead of an honest apology, I got apologetics.

          Yes, I know you’ve got a counseling background– which means– you should know better. This also isn’t the first time… but I guess you didn’t get my reply at your blog, on a different subject, but, my concerns were similar.

          I’m not talking about “other people”. I’m talking about me. Your insistence as such tells me you’re WAY out of touch. If you don’t understand why I found your comment offensive, I’m not going to tell you– I explained the best I could.

          I strongly advise you to take the door. It’s not staying open.


    • I grew up in an incredibly active family and I work an active job, but emotional abuse and my father always telling me how worthless I was because I was a stocky kid caused me to binge eat because no matter what I did, nothing was ever enough. The endorphins from sugar compensated for the affection I yearned for.

      Genetics are not on our side for weight loss. Gaining is easy, but your body does not want to give that food up.

      I work out every day. I exercise every day. And I’m still over 300 pounds. Everybody has a different body.


  3. I hate that when people discuss mental illness and obsessions like anorexia, bullemia, binge eating, and even cutters, they always refer to women. I also hate how people don’t let men express their emotions. My husband was crying in public once and people were whispering and staring. When he was hospitalized for three weeks for severe depression and suicidal tendencies, his work was so unsupportive and were going on about how much of a pansy he was. It’s ridiculous.

    Thank you. Thank you for bringing awareness. Thank you so much. You’re a good man, Jak.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you once again- I came back to your reply as I’m still struggling to come to grips with an eating disorder. I had a clue, once, a very long time ago. A friend at school did an anonymous survey on eating disorders in one of my middle school classrooms. You can imagine, it being maybe 1987 or 1988, how limited understanding was back then. After reading and answering some of the questions, I knew something was wrong, but I hadn’t the slightest idea where to go.

      I tried to go to a local support group. I was turned away; the groups are women only. I heard later that the agency where it was at is poised to become our lone resource for eating disorders, and I still can’t get over the fact they turned me away- because men here don’t want to talk, about ANYTHING. Well, except for maybe Ted Cadd, and he’s on the Bristlecone Project (I’ll explain another time).


    • Holy shit. A year and four days exactly. Kinda cyclical how I’m revisiting this topic?


  4. Reblogged this on the tao of jaklumen and commented:

    I revisited these thoughts, and more details I haven’t shared here in an answer on Quora:


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