Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Don't Have an Eating Disorder... or Do I?

This was a guest post for Alissa at A Journey To Thin.
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Hello! My name is Christina and I blog over at Love Yourself Healthy. I live in New Orleans with my husband and 2 children, and I am thrilled to be writing a guest post for Alissa! When she first asked if I’d like to write a post for her blog, I immediately said “sure!” Coming up with a topic was a bit more challenging, but a few of her more recent posts inspired my topic for today: “I don’t have an eating disorder… or do I?”

It was April of 2014 when I first started to think that I might have a problem; not a simple, “Ijustlovefoodsomuch” problem, but an “I think I might need professional help” problem. I’d always struggled with my weight, and I’d jump on one weight loss bandwagon after another. I’d lose a little, then fall off the wagon, give up, and gain everything back and then some. Every one of these failures resulted in an epic loss of “willpower,” an all-out binge, and I’d start the cycle all over again.

I never knew there was a name for what I was experiencing—and until recently, there really wasn’t. Binge Eating Disorder (BED) was finally added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) as an “official” eating disorder in 2013. It is the most common eating disorder among US adults (surprised? Yeah, me neither).

(I would like add that it was very difficult for me not to go off on a wild tangent at this point, but I’ll save that for another day!)

According to www.BingeEatingDisorder.com, the symptoms of BED are as follows:
  1. Regularly eating far more food than most adults would in a similar time period and in similar circumstances, and feeling that one's eating is out of control during a binge.
  2. Binge eating episodes that include three of the following:
    • Eating extremely fast
    • Eating beyond feeling full
    • Eating a lot when not hungry
    • Eating in secret to hide how much is being eaten
    • Feeling terrible after a binge
  3. Feeling very upset by eating binges.
  4. On average, binge eating at least once a week for three months.
  5. Unlike people with other eating disorders, adults with BED don't routinely try to "undo" their excessive eating with extreme actions like throwing up or over-exercising.

It is important to note that not everyone who binge eats has binge eating disorder (source). I’d experienced periods of binge eating all throughout my life, but I don’t think it was actually BED until maybe the year prior to when I actually got help. The triggering event was the loss of my job.

My job loss could be a whole post in and of itself, but the important part is this--it took a HUGE toll on my self –esteem and I felt like garbage. I started to believe that all the crazy things at my former job were actually my fault and that I was a horrible person and a terrible employee. We eventually had to sell our house and move to New Orleans for my husband’s new job, and after that I was certain that if I could just get a job, everything would be better.

After a year of unemployment, I did finally get a job, but it didn’t make me feel any better. I questioned everything about myself that I’d always thought to be true, and I didn’t trust my abilities. Through all of this, I continued eating through my feelings. Every negative thought was squashed with a candy bar. Every time I felt angry, I ate until I quite literally couldn’t eat any more. I have a lap band (it’s unfilled and I don’t utilize it anymore, but there’s still a limit on how much I can stuff myself), so I’d throw up a bit and then continue eating. Every feeling of sadness, of loss, of anger, of failure, was stuffed down until I couldn’t stuff myself any more.

The final straw came in April 2014. Easter candy was on sale and I went to the store and bought all kinds of candy and ate it in my car on my lunch break from work. I remember thinking, “Oh my God, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to feel this way anymore, but I can’t stop. I CAN’T STOP.”  And I finished every bit of it, tears pouring down my face.

I went back to my office and immediately joined Weight Watchers, and then I starting googling Weight Watchers blogs. Now, before that day, I’d never even heard the words “binge eating” or “binge eating disorder” in relation to what I’d been experiencing, but the first two blogs I came across were women who’d struggled with binge eating. That, of course, led me to more blogs and then I did some research and realized that I just truly needed help. I found a therapist who specialized in eating disorders (binge eating disorder was actually specified in her profile), and it took a few days but I was finally able to make an appointment.

That, my friends, was probably the single most important thing I’d ever done for myself. I saw my therapist weekly for a while, then moved to every other week, then once a month. Maybe 5 months in, she finally convinced me to meet with the nutritionist she worked with, and I’m glad I finally did that. (I was also going to my Weight Watchers meetings every week.) I did this for 10 months, and my “team” was amazing. I worked through so much, so many experiences, so many feelings I didn’t even know I had.

I still struggle—in fact, I’ve made an appointment to see my therapist next week. I still struggle with depression, with binge urges, but now I have tools. I have tools to use to help me fight off those urges, and I feel empowered. I learned that in a world full of things I cannot control, the one thing I can control is myself—how I react to different people or events, the food I put in my body. It’s all my choice, and I have the power to control these things—no one else.

If you think you might have a binge eating problem, don’t be afraid to seek help. It’s so hard to take that first step, but it’s so worth it once you do it.

2 comments:

  1. Great post, Christina! You are a therapist's dream!!! So willing to work on yourself and so open to changing the kind of thinking about food and weight that is so reinforced by everything around us. Good for you!

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  2. Awesome post Christina! I think I do identify myself with some of the above. The struggle is real.
    You made so much sense!

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