Disclaimer: This post may contain words and topics that may trigger people. Reader discretion is advised.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Every Wednesday in May, I’ll be featuring a post on mental health wellness and guidance. In this post, I’ll be sharing when I realized I had an eating disorder and my road to recovery.
When we think of addictions, we automatically think of drugs or alcohol. Some of us may even think of exercise as an addiction, but the last thing we usually think of as “addictive” is food.
Sure, you may say in passing “I have such a sweet tooth, I’m addicted to sweets!” or “I crave salt all of the time, I must have an addiction!” Sometimes when we go out to eat with friends or we order food in, we say something like “No shame, but I’m binging tonight.” It’s said lightly and joked about all of the time, but we never think of anyone actually being addicted to food.
I was there once. My best kept secret for 7 years was that I’d eat normally in front of people, but then I’d binge at night when no one was awake. I’d feeling out of control during my binges as if my mind and body were on autopilot. I’d feel guilty for eating too much, whether I was binging or dieting. I’d put restrictions in place after a binge, and I put myself on a low-calorie diet. I’d constantly question why I couldn’t stop eating.
These were all signs of binge eating disorder. For the longest time, I thought this for of disordered eating wasn’t real and that I just had a big appetite. When I thought of an eating disorder, I thought of anorexia or bulimia, but never binging. The more research I did on binging and disorder eating, the more I learned about what triggers a binge and that I couldn’t “cure” myself of this on my own, so I sought help.
The main point is that binge eating disorder is more than eating too much. Sufferers mentally cannot stop! Guilt and negative thoughts consume them and belittle them for not being able to stop. Yes, it may be funny to say “I’m binging” as a joke, but it’s not a joke for some. Binge eating disorder is a mental illness just as much as depression or anxiety are, and it is an eating disorder just as much anorexia and bulimia are. Sufferers come in all shapes and sizes, so be mindful of your words and comments you say on body image — it could trigger a binge or a restriction.
I started going to therapy for binging in November 2019 and like my eating disorder, I kept it a secret. When I got to my appointment, my therapist asked me why I was there and what I wanted to focus on, and that is the first time I admitted to my binging. I was scared of judgment and I felt super vulnerable even though I knew this was a step in the right direction to recovery.
That first session changed my life completely. It’s been a year and a half since and I am free of the guilt I had associated with food. I recognize how toxic diet culture is and that all bodies are beautiful. I eat mindfully and I listen to my hunger cues. Most importantly, I’m free.
Do I mess up? Occasionally, like once every 2-3 months and I haven’t had a binge in at least 5 months now! What’s great is I no longer binge in a trend (meaning over a consecutive amount of days) and I no longer force myself to eat less after a binge. If I have a binge, it’s controlled, but it’s still triggered by negative emotions and stress which has always been my trigger. I’m working on finding other ways to handle negative emotions and stress that don’t revolve around food, but I’m still a work in progress.
Next Wednesday, I plan on writing a post about diet culture and body positivity as a way to inform, so if you’re interested, please check back! This post was meant to inform, as well, and to relate to those that experience or are going through the same process. If you can relate to my experience in any way at all, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that help is there if you need it.
Stay healthy, friends!
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