So, I’m pretty livid right now.
I’ve been trying to recover from Binge Eating Disorder (I’ll be abbreviating it as BED) for the last 7 months. Its been an up and down battle, and for the most part I’m winning it. But when things get chaotic in my life, so does my eating. I can easily gain a several pounds in a couple days when I’m at my worst. I mentioned this to a nurse at my doctor’s office earlier and she looked at me like I was joking. She had absolutely no idea what BED was.
Yep. Surprise, bitch. My fat ass has an eating disorder.
Somehow, I keep running into actual, real life people working in the medical field that seem to think only emaciated people have eating disorders. (PS - you dont even have to be emaciated to have anorexia/bulimia/ednos. so.. they’re fucking stupid on multiple levels.)
So, in an effort to not DRIVE MY FUCKING CAR through a bunch of medical offices killing everyone in my path for failing those of us who are dealing with EDs: May I present my all over the place, angry, and hopefully a little educational personal story about living with and recovering from BED.
I guess I’ll start off by explaining what this disorder is. Put simply, its eating disorder where the sufferer has frequent, uncontrollable episodes of binge eating. The sufferer usually does this in secret, and is extremely ashamed of what and how much they eat. There’s generally no attempt to reverse the binge (like through purging), though people with BED do tend to cycle through occasional periods of restriction to try and change themselves.
There’s so much more to it than that, though.
When you have BED, your entire life revolves around food and binging. You hoard and stockpile food to binge. You eat normally or very little around others just waiting to get home and gorge yourself. You push everyone away so they don’t see how much you’re eating. Staying at a friends house? Letting someone stay with you? Absolutely not. You have eating to do.
Living with others becomes a game of ‘hide the evidence’. You binge on massive amounts of food. You can’t take the wrappers/boxes/plates back to the kitchen.. they might see it. You can’t just toss it.. they might see it. You can’t take it to the outside garbage can. Someone will see it. They’ll know how disgusting you’ve been. They’ll see how much you’ve eaten. So you shove it under your bed. You pile it in your closet. You pack it into drawers. You refuse to let people into your room. You sneak the trash out in your purse little by little. You take the bags to the dump yourself. Or you leave it there. Either way, all it does is remind you of what you’ve done and make you want to eat more. And if your stockpile is empty, and theres people around who might see you get more food? Well, good thing you have all that food packed into every corner of your room. You’ll be binging on your trash. Its still good, right? You wouldn’t want to waste it. Whatever. You’re desperate, and its the only option you have.
Think I’m exaggerating?
I live alone, and I still do all that shit when I relapse. I’m terrified that someone will open my trash can and judge me if they ‘just swing by’. I’m scared of what the fucking garbage men will think of me.
I had a hard week. I usually make myself strict meal plans and bag myself exactly what i’ll be eating for the week on my days off. This week though.. I didn’t. Shit has been chaotic. I worked almost 80 hours. I didn’t do my meal plans. I’ve been stressed. So, my eating reflected that.
I’ve taken two bags to the outside trash, but decided that was enough and that if I took more out I would be judged by my neighbors and the trashmen.
I just took all of the wrappers, bags, boxes, etc out from my closet and under my bed.
This is my bathtub.
This is my bathtub with the “evidence” of what I’ve eaten this week. Keep in mind this is without the plates of food I ate for my normal meals and the two bags outside. This is my binge food.
One week. All of that is inside me.
Once a binge starts, its uncontrollable. Its like I’m not even the person doing it anymore. I feel completely numb. Nothing else exists. I’m barely even aware of how much I’m eating. Eventually, I get so full that I’m not only nauseous.. but in intense physical pain. While I’m in binge mode, I get pissed and annoyed about the pain. I’m not ready to stop eating. I still have a ton in my stockpile. I’m not done yet. So I throw up to alleviate the pain and make room for more. Then I keep eating. Theres no point of satisfaction. Once I start going, theres literally no end until I’m either forced to stop because people show up, or I have to sleep. Or I run out of food. But theres always a way to get more food.
I’ve destroyed my insides and my outsides. My teeth are weak from years of binge eating until I passed out without brushing them. My skin is covered in stretch marks from insanely rapid weight gain. My stomach is sensitive. My intestines are destroyed. I’ve had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, frequent kidney stones.. I’m 22 fucking years old. Last year I had to have a colonoscopy and surgery on my intestines because of the damage I put them through trying to force my body to process so much food. I literally ripped them apart. I had to have my asshole cut open (think of a Q) and pieces of my intestines cut out and cauterized (burned) shut. I spent weeks in a pool of lukewarm water and blood unable to stop screaming because I was in so much pain. And you know what? I still couldn’t stop myself from binging. I was supposed to be on a liquid diet. Nope. I ate and ate and ripped myself back open again. The surgeon who did the operation told me that it was the most painful surgery he does, and that if I didn’t stop I would end up back in the operating room. It took four months after that experience to decide to seek help for my relationship with food. Thats how strong BED is.
And you know what? Its not about laziness. Its not about simply “having willpower and self control”. Its not about the fat girl just needing to put in some effort and stop being such a fat fatty. I have a very physical job. I workout 5-6x a week. I run. I lift weights. I do yoga. I eat clean and do my best to eat healthy everyday. I’ve spent countless hours reading health and nutrition artcles and books. I spend almost every night helping others do the same & updating my health/fitness blog. I know how to lose weight. I understand it. I’ve lost 70lb since starting my recovery. I’m even 7 months clean and sober from hard drugs and alcohol.
But you know what? I wouldn’t be 7 months clean if I had to have a little bit of my drug of choice everyday to survive. BED becomes an addiction. & You can’t just stop eating food and stay away from it to fix it.
So. Yeah. Don’t tell me BED isn’t a fucking eating disorder. Don’t tell me I just need to “stop binging and eat right”. Don’t tell me I’m too fat to have an ED. Don’t tell me its just about delicious food and not knowing when to stop. Its not that simple.
And to everyone reading this who has BED or suspects they might have it? IT GETS BETTER. I swear to you it does. Recovery is possible. Even if you fuck up sometimes. Its possible. You’re able, you’re worth it, and I support you. My ask is always open if you want to talk to someone who’s been through it. I know how bad you want to change it. I know how worthless it makes you feel. Change is possible, and support is out there. Don’t give up.