My journey with binge eating disorder began as an adolescent… long before I knew there was a name for my disordered eating. This is where my binge eating disorder story begins.
In 4th grade I switched elementary schools. I went to a new school and didn’t know a single person there. I’d left people behind that I’d gone to school with since we were in kindergarten, and starting new was really really hard on me.
I’m an emotional person, and one who wants to be liked and have lots of friends. I’ve always been that way. So, when I had no friends at school, and felt alone more than ever, I turned to the one thing that was always there, and never made fun of me or turned me away… food.
This is where my binge eating disorder story begins.
I can remember coming home and eating out of the pantry for hours. I was home with my sister, our parents worked and so our eating wasn’t monitored after school. This is how it started.
Food became my friend during a period of time where I felt like I’d lost all of mine.
I gained 18 pounds, and on a child’s frame, that’s quite a bit. I can remember crying in my bedroom to my Mom in 4th grade about how I was so embarrassed by the way I looked and the scale had tipped to 104 pounds. My Mom did what most Mom’s would have done. She took charge and said she was going to help me.
I joined Weight Watchers with my Mom soon after this conversation and so my binge, restrictive cycle began.
I am going to say this up front. I do not blame my parents for this. I do not blame myself for this. There is no blame to put on anyone.
God knew I was going to have this struggle so He could use me for it, and it’s taken years for me to recognize that.
My Mom was doing exactly what she thought she should do, she was helping her daughter lose weight because it was upsetting her. She was doing exactly what she had done herself for years. Today, parents are given more direction when it comes to childhood obesity, but my parents had no direction and they did the best they could to help me. I do not blame them for putting me on a diet in 4th grade.
My parents would have never wished this struggle upon me, so even though some of the behaviors I learned as a child contributed to my unhealthy relationship with food, I have no interest in blaming my parents for my eating disorder.
I did Weight Watchers off and on for years. I would join, lose some weight, feel better, quit the program and go back to bingeing until I’d put on 20-30 pounds and need to get it off again and the cycle would repeat.
In college I drove back to my hometown every Monday night and went to meetings with my Mom. I would eat very little all day, weigh in, then go to dinner and eat a large meal, then have a bag of snacks packed in my car and eat the whole way home to school which was about a 45 minute drive. By the time I arrived back to my sorority house on Monday nights I was almost ill because I had eaten so much food.
I would wake up the next day and be back on “plan” and I’d spend the week exercising excessively and eating “on plan”. In all of the years I have done Weight Watchers I have never reached my goal weight. Ever.
I did Weight Watchers in a very unhealthy way back then.
I did Weight Watchers in a way that the company would have never endorsed.
I do not recommend doing the Weight Watchers plan in this way and if you are, please reach out to me or someone else for help.
I joked a lot in college and said I was a bulimic who didn’t purge. I had no idea that was actually an eating disorder that existed. My major was Health Promotion and we discussed eating disorders but I never remember discussing B.E.D., that’s something that is still really bothersome to me because so many people struggle in silence and have no idea that they aren’t alone.
After college I met my husband and we got married. A few years into our marriage I joined a weight loss center and that ended up being the final tipping point in my food addiction.
I had to weigh in 3 times a week. I kept a journal of my food and had to show my journal to the people weighing me in. They would circle the “bad” foods in red marker and tell me not to eat them. A tortilla was too many carbs in one day. ONE flipping tortilla. (If you are on this kind of diet… RUN.) I believe I got down to 145-150 pounds and that’s pretty thin for me.
I felt more confident, but I was miserable.
I couldn’t eat anything I wanted and if I went “off” the diet, I binged heavily.
I got to the point that I knew I couldn’t do it anymore and decided to leave the program (and then the following month they claimed bankruptcy… shocking, huh?) I was still working out, but had gone back to “normal” eating which included restricting and then bingeing. I never starved myself or struggled with anorexia, but I would eat minimal amounts of food to “save” my calories for a dinner out, or if I knew I was going to eat a lot later. I would basically eat enough to keep my blood sugar up, but I would feel hungry.
It wasn’t healthy. Even writing this out I am shaking my head at how unhealthy this is, and I didn’t even realize it.
Then one day during this time I was at the gym and happened to be on an elliptical next to a woman I knew. She was getting her masters and was talking to me about how she was studying Binge Eating Disorder. I asked her lots of questions because I’d never heard of it. I can remember walking out of the gym feeling like I had been given information I couldn’t ignore. It was almost an out of body experience because when she explained it, it was almost like she had crawled into my deepest darkest secrets and exposed them to me for the first time in my life.
I walked in the door that night and said to my husband, “I think I have an eating disorder and I need help.” I am so thankful God placed us next to each other on the ellipticals that night. That conversation started a revolution in me, and it’s taken many years to find my peace, but if she wouldn’t have shared with me that night, I would still be a miserable woman trying to lose weight and find happiness in a body I hated.
I don’t know how much time passed between the recognition of the disorder until I was sitting in a therapy office discussing my food issues but I can tell you that what came next, I wasn’t ready for. God was, but my husband and I were not. Binge Eating Disorder almost cost me my marriage. It tried to rob me of my happiness, my future and my health. But, I didn’t let it win.
I am here today telling my story of freedom to give others hope.
If you can relate to any part of my story, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are many others who struggle with Binge Eating Disorder. I didn’t know that when I was going through therapy, I had never felt so alone.
No one around me understood what was happening and why I was doing what I was doing. They couldn’t understand why I couldn’t “diet” or just get motivated to lose weight.
Looking back, it all makes perfect sense, but in the middle of that mess I can see how my family and friends were concerned.
I gained 100 pounds in my first year of therapy.
I became extremely depressed and was on several different medications to treat my depression and my eating disorder.
My life felt hopeless.
My life felt like it had no purpose.
I lived in a dark hole that I could not break free from. One day I did though.
And I will spend the rest of my life offering hope to others who are feeling alone. I will grab your hand and tell you that you have a friend in me and you have a future where you have freedom from food.
You can do this.
I broke free, and you can, too.