"I have an eating disorder."
I remember the first time I truly grasped those painful words.
Then the time I actually said them out loud.
Then the time when I really meant them.
It sadly wasn't that long ago.
That phrase is so gut wrenching to say. I never thought in a million years that I would ever have to say them. I never thought I would be one of those people. Notice how I said "those people."
Not my life.
But, that's just it... so many people suffer so much pain inside and we never know it. Whether they are good at hiding it or we are just too blind to see, more people than you could possibly imagine suffer from an addiction, a disorder of some sort.
To be blunt, most people hear the term "eating disorder" and visualize a person standing in front of the mirror, nothing but skin and bones. Or, a person sticking their finger down their throat and hugging the toilet in secret. Most people think of anorexia or bulimia; and please don't get me wrong when I say those should be the most talked about forms of eating disorders.
They are the most common, most dangerous, most deadly.
Yes, you heard me, deadly.
However, there is another form of eating disorder that isn't talked about as much.
Maybe that's part of the problem....
Rarely when you hear "eating disorder" do you visualize someone sitting in their car alone, shoving a combo meal from both Taco Bell and Chic-Fil-A down their throat, all in one sitting.
Rarely do you ever think of someone sitting at a Sonic drive in for 30 minutes staring at the menu in tears and disgust because of the inner turmoil going on inside their mind; whether they should push the button and let themselves lose control or not .
Rarely do you think of someone ordering a pizza and cheese sticks at 2am when their roommate is asleep and then after the binge is over, just stare at the empty boxes and being to cry their eyes out because they are more concerned about how to hide the "evidence" rather than the physical abuse they had just inflicted on themselves, on their heart, to their temple.
Rarely do you think of someone standing in line for food, pretending to be on the phone with someone ordering so that way the checkout person wouldn't think they were ordering that much food for themselves... When in fact, they were.
Rarely do you think of someone who, for just those few moments in time, those few bites of food, has absolutely no problems in the world at all, and all that matters is when they can get the next bite, the next "fix."
Rarely do you think of someone who gets a genuine high each time they place food inside their mouth.
Rarely do you think of someone who literally lives to eat, not eats to live.
This form of eating disorder is called, binge eating disorder.
Oh, and in case your curious... yes, I have done those things and
so many more shameful, hurtful and humiliating things you can't even imagine.
It's hard to describe the pain of those memories... But, someone needs to. Someone out there is searching for someone to understand, just like I was. I hope this can reach that set of eyes someday and I hope this series can bring someone hope, no matter what their addiction might be.
I look back and I just want to shake that person and scream at her, "YOU ARE WORTH SO MUCH MORE THAN THIS! YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS DECISION!"
But, unfortunately we can't go back in time.
The only person I can talk to and do anything about,
is the one facing me in the mirror at this present time.
To this person, I just want to wrap my arms around her and say,
You will get through this.
The Mayo Clinic describes binge eating disorder as,
A serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, usually done in secret.
When you have binge-eating disorder, you may be deeply embarrassed about gorging and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion that you can't resist the urges and continue binge eating.
You may have no obvious physical signs or symptoms when you have binge-eating disorder. You may be overweight or obese, or you may be at a normal weight. However, you likely have numerous behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms, such as:
After a binge, you may try to diet or eat normal meals. But restricting your eating may simply lead to more binge eating, creating a vicious cycle. A person with binge-eating disorder can become an expert at hiding behavior, making it hard for others to detect the problem.
- Eating unusually large amounts of food
- Eating even when you're full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you're uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Experiencing depression and anxiety
- Feeling isolated and having difficulty talking about your feelings
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
- Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting
me in a nutshell.
Some of you may remember my "Live Free Project" on this blog that I tried over a year ago. I don't have the link to it because I deleted all the posts.
Yes, I was that embarrassed to say the least. I thought if I deleted the project and never brought it up again, I could make it go away. Pretend it never happened and just deal with my weight on my own.
I was so wrong.
It most certainly didn't go away;
the pain, the emotions, the weight.
Let's back up a little bit...
After returning home from Australia June 2011, I was the biggest size and heaviest weight I had ever been in my life. I attempted to blog about my weight loss endeavors in hopes that it would hold me accountable. I called it the "Live Free Project." I had great support and such positive feedback from so many people. How could I possibly have any problems, right?
WRONG.Although my heart was in the right place, the project failed, miserably. I should say, I failed miserably. That's not because I didn't try... I did try, so hard.
However, I didn't fully grasp the realm of my disorder. I didn't realize what was going on internally and emotionally within myself; in short, I just wasn't ready.
So, as the Mayo's description states, I restricted myself and tried to "deal with my weight loss" only, since I wasn't ready, it lead to more binging, a deeper depression, and yes a viscous cycle. I went from talking about it all the time, to not talking about it at all. "It" being my weight and my problems with eating. All the while, never looking to fix what the REAL problem was...
I was addicted to food.
It was my drug.
With every pound gained and tator tot ate,
it covered that much more hurt and sadness.
What's even more crazy is I can't tell you exactly WHAT I was so distraught over. I know when the cycle started, but more on that topic later in the series. However, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how or why this was still happening! What was so wrong with my life that I did this to myself?
It was around the this time that I started to realize the addiction; realize this wasn't just about weight lost or weight gained... This was a serious problem.
This my friends is the time that I began a fully committed relationship with E.D.
Aka, my deliciously & beautifully disguised, violent & abusive eating disorder
You see, no other addiction or disorder has to survive on the one thing it cannot control. Meaning, a drug addict doesn't have to shoot up to live. However, a food addict, has to face their addiction, their demon,
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL.
In NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM am I belittling other addictions. I'm just simply stating facts. The fight with food occurs more frequently than almost any other disorder because you have to face it in every single setting or situation. It's there, looking you dead in the eye, telling you each time you eat how weak you are.
I began to seek counseling and started to show progress.
However, I stopped counseling and life started to get hectic again with classes, work, etc. and just like clockwork, the addiction came full circle again. E.D. was everywhere I turned, following me like a stalker, lurking in the shadows to wait for his next move.
Fall semester went by and slowly but surely, I began to get bigger and bigger and my fight against food, my relationship with E.D., hit an all time high.
The holidays went by.
I went home during those times to visit family and old friends I hadn't seen in awhile.
This is when I began to see it on people's faces...
The way people treated me began to change.
I had no longer just "gained a little weight."
I had full on exploded.
I felt lingering looks of disgust, the staring up and down.
Surely they had to be thinking,
"WOAH... She's really let herself go. She's gotten huge!"
I could feel it in the way they spoke to me.
Their words were empty and their eyes were heavy with condemnation and judgement.
You will never know how much people's thoughts, views and opinions of you change when you don't look the way they think you should look....
It's beyond heartbreaking.
E.D. had completely corrupted me, no matter how much I tried to hide what was really going on.
I no longer saw Sam in the mirror, but instead, I saw E.D.
I saw the bruises and scars that E.D. had given me;
the invisible ones that laid on my heart and on my soul.
I saw food.
I saw what I had become.
I couldn't fit into ANY of my clothes and I had to buy sizes I never dreamed I would have to buy in a million years.
I had returned home from a trip to NYC over New Years Eve and I found myself hating every single picture of the entire trip, due to the way I looked. I realized how much this was affecting the overall happiness and health of my life. I couldn't even enjoy the wonderful memories I made and moments I captured because of E.D. and his constant control of my life!
Then, one night. E.D. decided to really spice things up...
I guess he was getting bored of the same ol'.
I somehow stumbled upon the realization that after a binging episode, I could make myself throw up and not feel so bad. Almost like it erased the whole thing from my mind.
Out of mind, out of sight, right?
From the research I've done, this seems to be the norm. No eating disorder is typically by itself. They're usually a package deal. Maybe not the whole time, but at some point there's a combination.
A few weeks went by and I made myself throw up some more.
After another episode, I laid on the floor crying and I'm not sure what happened, but I truly knew I couldn't live this way anymore. I was the heaviest and unhealthiest I'd ever been and if I didn't get help, get my life back, I would be lost forever.
This is when I would say I was experiencing some of the darkest times of my relationship with E.D.
I saw the honest truth... I was literally killing myself.
This was when something inside me shifted. Something inside me snapped.
I couldn't take it anymore.
I finally was ready to take on my demon.
My relationship with E.D.-Part 2 coming soon.
Still to come:
- Where & when E.D. and I first met.
- The real moment of freedom.
- The continuous battle.
- The healing and much more.
You never know what they are going through and friends, pain is pain.
No matter what shape, size, or form.
If someone you know is suffering, don't bombard them with interrogations and condemnation.
Instead, love them and find ways to encourage and help them.