True Life: I Have an Eating Disorder

The words eating disorder have a certain ring to them that can make any person cringe.  Usually the first thoughts that come to mind is someone who is suuuuuper skinny, yet sees their self as fat  or someone who eats a lot and then forces themselves to throw up later.  But there is a third condition in the realm of eating disorders: binge eating.   The Mayo Clinc defines binge eating disorder as the following:

Binge-eating disorder is 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.

Some major symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • 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
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting

Sounds scary, right? I suffer from all symptoms listed above.  After my post about feeling bullied I spoke with a friend concerning my eating habits.  She told me about how she often used to feel the same way and visited a counseling center to deal with her eating.  I took note and one fateful Thursday, she made the trip with me to meet with a psychologist, holding my hand the whole way.  After the initial appointment, the psychologist suggested that I seek weekly individual counseling with another therapist.  The thought terrified me.  I made a call to my mother and tried to tell her.  Through the unending sobs, I just could not get the words out.   I ended up sending her an email to tell her that there was a reason I struggle with food so much.  It is because I have an eating disorder.

So, you may be wondering what binge eating disorder looks like.  It is hard to sometimes classify binge eating because it usually involves overeating, which so so so many Americans love to do.  Is going out to eat with your family binge eating?  Can anyone be a binge eater?  What classifies someone as a binge eater?  These are all questions I desperately seeked answers to, praying that I was just an avid overeater and that I didn’t have an eating disorder.  I sought help and am currently receiving it.  My questions are being answered, and my body and mind are both in a recovery process.

Here’s my story and what binge eating looks like for me.

I am currently a senior in college and have struggled with food my entire life.  I literally have a photo of myself circa 9 years old eating straight from a huge bag of cheetos drinking a 2-liter of soda.  Back then, I felt no shame in eating.  Now eating has become eating that same bag of cheetos, but adding in a bag of salt and vinegar chips, Doritos, and pretzels and eating every last bite all alone behind closed doors.  When I have finally finished and am physically sick to my stomach due to it being so full, I put the empty bags in my backpack, walk down the hallway, and put them down the trash chute.  Destroying the evidence.  Some nights it might look like getting two combo meals from Cookout, a combo from Taco Bell, an order of nuggets and fries from Chick fil a, then sitting in my parking garage in the farthest corner I can find and eating every single bit of food as fast as my body will allow.  Promptly after finishing this binge fest, I get out to throw away the trash, then go find a parking spot closer to my apartment.  There have been times that I go into a normal fast food joint, ordering a normal size meal that a normal person would eat.  Then after examining who is working behind the counter, I go through the drive through, ordering more food, always ordering two drinks, and making the person taking my order think that there is more than one person that this food is intended.  I get to the window and am so overly nice since the kind lady working the register has no idea I was just in there and that she just politely handed me my poison of choice.

Or other times binge eating looks like going out to eat with friends at a sit down restaurant, ordering a normal menu item, and being “too full” to finish, then proceed to hit two fast food stops on my way home to reward myself for not cleaning my plate in front of my friends.  Sometimes I hide in my vehicle and eat in shame, other times I hide the food in my backpack, walk through my apartment saying hello to my roommates, then lock the door behind me as I scarf down more food than my body can handle before my roomies knock on my door wanting to chat.  I tell them to hold on while I change clothes, trying so hard to hide the bags in my closet.  This is binge eating.

Usually on binge days, I sit in class daydreaming about what I’m going to eat afterwards.  The thought of food consumes my mind sometimes and my mind is always wondering when my stomach will gets its next fix.  When I do binge, I feel out of control.  Even when I eat past the point of sickness, my brain won’t tell my hands to stop going to my mouth.  I reach a fullness capacity and still refuse to put the food down.

I have wonderful friends, a great boyfriend, magnificent parents, and I am enjoying my senior year of college.  My ducks are all in order.  I don’t hide in my bedroom or my car because I’m weird and anti-social because I’m not.  I do it because I’m ashamed.  If a skinny person ate two huge combos by themselves, they and others would joke around and loosely use the term “fatty”.  But if a fat person like me was seen doing the exact same thing, words would go unspoken, and judgments would filter the air.  As long as no one can see me indulge in my overpowering food desires, then they don’t know that I do.  Hiding is part of the shame.

Food fills my stomach and body until I get physically ill, sometimes throwing up.  Not because I purge myself like a bulimic, but simply because my body needs to spit out the excess that I consumed in under 10 minutes.  I end up staring at my wrappers, empty boxes, and crumbs and feeling disgusted, guilty, and discouraged.  Usually a multitude of tears follow and I crawl into bed praying that morning comes so I can forget the negative and hateful feelings that flood my mind.  Being fat isn’t fun.  Being a binge eater is even worse.  I am addicted to something that surrounds me constantly.  Food.

I make a conscious effort to avoid the scale at all costs on binge days.  The number is only an ordinal to the level of unhappiness my body feels on the inside.  A number isn’t important at that point.  My weight loss goals aren’t important.  I’m not important.  What is important at that point is food.  On non-binge days I hop on the scale crossing my fingers and toes that the number will be acceptable to me.  If not, it usually induces me into a binge state.  In my mind I know what it takes to lose weight.  I know that eating a great diet and being more active will get me the results I want.  But sometimes when my mind is focusing on a binge, it doesn’t think logically.  I know what it takes.  After all, I have lost 57 pounds before and felt good doing it.  I can be that person again.

Binge eating disorder is a real thing and it shakes me to my core.  Now, there are some days that I don’t binge at all and don’t even have the thought of a binge.  Other days I don’t binge at all and fight all day for the accomplishment of saying I did not binge.  And of course other days I binge with regret, guilt, and disappointment.  Most recently, I made it 22 days without a binge.  But food got the best of me.

So, to treat my eating disorder, I meet once a week with  my therapist.  We sit in a room with big comfy chairs facing each other.   He doesn’t write anything down, but all of our sessions are both filmed and recorded.  I always have a box of tissues next to me ready to wipe any tears that never fail to make an appearance.  We talk, he asks me questions, and I answer as honestly as possible.  I get real, I get raw, and I get emotional.   I say things that have been hidden and suppressed for so long and I do not receive judgement.  It is such a liberating feeling to freely express my addiction and disorder with someone whose primary concern is to help me heal and recover from it.  I always leave counseling with a huge weight off my shoulders.  The past three weeks have been great, and like I said, I made it 22 days without a binge.

Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing random tidbits of what I learn in therapy and how I am recovering from my eating disorder in addition to my regular postings about becoming a runner and losing weight.  A long road definitely lies in front of me, but I hope that by being honest and real here on my blog that people will know who I really am and that will encourage me not to hide my shame and guilt.  Maybe some of you are struggling just like I was/am.  Please know that you are not in this alone and that there are people and resources there willing to help you.  I may have an eating disorder, but an eating disorder does not have me.

35 thoughts on “True Life: I Have an Eating Disorder

  1. Kelsey, first of all, thank you for sharing this! I know it took a lot of guts to put yourself out there like that. I am so proud of you for stepping up and reaching out for help, that takes even bigger guts, you have my support 100% and I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress. You are such a fun, lighthearted, and caring person, it’s time to put yourself first and take care of yourself. I know you can do this, stay strong girl!!! There are lots of us out there rooting for you 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your story! I was crying as I read it, because I can relate so much. It is such a scary thing, and I am glad that you are getting help with it. I have some similiar stories, and not many people know. I am doing okay right now, because I am losing weight, but I fear that when I’m done, I will fall back into binging and gain the weight back. (3 years ago, I lost over 60 pounds and then gained almost 30 back mostly from bingeing.) Keep your head up and congrats for facing your fears!

    • Thank you for commenting, Katie. I know that after reading your blog, we go through a lot of the same struggles. It is very scary, but we must deal with it. Your story relates to me so well! Feel free to email me anytime to talk about binging. It is an EVERY DAY struggle but having support makes it so much easier. I’d love to chat 🙂

  3. Big hug to you. I’m sure that took a lot of courage to write and put out there for the world to see. This hits home because I also struggle with binge eating. I am happy for you that you are getting help! That alone takes a lot of courage. It sounds like you have a lot going for you and an awesome life ahead of you. Really looking forward to reading more about what you learn and how you are doing.

    • Samantha- I think many people struggle with it in their own way, in various forms, and different levels of extremes. Food can control us, but it is because we choose to let it. Getting help was one of the greatest things I have done for myself. I appreciate you reading! 🙂

  4. You are very courageous and inspiring! I believe you are taking all the steps to live a healthy and happy life that you deserve. Keep going and know that people like me are supporting you throughout your journey.. :Big hugs: =)

  5. My heart goes out to you Kelsey, because I have been through it as well. I have not binged in over 6 years, and it has gotten easier with time. I can vividly remember my lowest point…going to a convenience store and buying about five dollars worth of 50 cent Little Debbie snacks (honeybuns, doughnut sticks, etc.) and sitting in the parking lot eating ALL of them within about five minutes…It was an endless cycle that I thought I’d never break. I am SO proud of you for going to therapy and working through this difficult patch of life. Thinking of you!!!!

  6. Oh Kelsey, everything you wrote here hurts my heart so much. I want to reach through this computer and give you the biggest hug. You are one of the bravest, most inspiring women I have ever met. It takes so much courage to #1 accept that you have an eating disorder #2 truly seek help #3 share your story with the world. I have no words that can make you feel better, but please know that there are so many of us rooting for you, supporting you and hoping that you find a way to get through the root of this so that you can find a healthy and happy way to move forward.

    • You are too sweet, Corey! Thank you so much for your supportive words; I took them to heart. This whole blog thing brings so many people together and there is support in the blogging community, you just have to be open to receive it. Healing is a process and I am making baby steps. I really and truly appreciate your kind words. Hopefully we will see each other soon! 🙂

  7. Binge eating disorders are different and hard to classify because everyone that does it does it their own way. For me it was not knowing what portions were, what calories were and eating massive amounts of food (i.e. binges). Then there were times where I just ate all day long, not necessarily huge portions but just a lot of food all day long. I consider both to be binge eating.

    • You are right, Lisa! They are all so different, just like any other disorder. I wrote about what classifies me as a binge eater but I would definitely agree that there are various other forms. Your example of eating all day (not huge portions) rings true for a lot of people, also. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow. Thank you for sharing this and being willing to be real. Know that we are all supporting you. We are here for you. I look forward to understanding more about this so should I ever come in contact with one who struggles with Binge Eating, I can truly help. Thank you again! Praying for you today.

  9. I have just recently started on the same path. Its a painful thing to realise and for it to not go away like all the other problems do with a slab of choc. I will be following you and supporting, as this blogging is hopefully going to be part of the process. xxx

    • Thank you for sharing! It really is incredibly painful, but the healing is so worth it. Learning to feel better with ways other than food is definitely a struggle and takes practice. We are all in this together!!

  10. First, I want you to know that you are not alone in this. I have been where you are and your recovery has already begun! I want you to know that there is no need to feel any shame for anything, I know it’s hard to work through something like this, but all of us here are encouraging you and standing behind you–we are your biggest fans! If you ever need me you know I’m here, mama. Love you! xoxo

    • This is why we are such good friends…even at a distance. You always know what to say. I think of you so often and the changes that you have made and how you have kept it off and done so well. YOU are an inspiration. I love you so much!!

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  12. I’m writing this post with tears in my eyes!! Thank you for being so courageous and sharing your struggles, triumphs, and everything in between with us! I admire you for taking the leap of faith and seeking the help you need to over come…while our society tends to put a stigma on visiting a therapist, I personally believe it is the best decision anyone can make for themselves! I will be praying for you as you journey down this path of conquering and overcoming!!! I HIGHLY recommend you read Made-To-Crave…it is a truly amazing, life changing, inspiring book about overcoming our stronghold with food! BIG HUGS!!!!

    • Holly-just ordered this book off of Amazon. An old workout buddy of mine once told me about it, but at the time I didn’t acknowledge that I had a “problem”. Can’t wait for it to arrive and start reading 🙂

  13. Very belatedly I’ve just read this. Wow, you are such a brave girl. I am in awe. You’re going to beat this and then you’re coming to San Francisco and you’re going to beat the hills! Really hope I get to meet you then. So much support from me.

  14. you might be one of the most inspiring, wise and brave people i know. If i had the courage that you do as a senior in college, I could’ve conquered the world. So proud of you for sharing and overcoming this. I’ve seen a therapist for years-and i’m a firm believer in them-even if life is “perfect” (abusive relationship and divorced parents sparked mine-i’m not perfect :):) ) anyway-lots of hugs your way sweet friend.

  15. Thanks for liking my pic on Instagram! I can totally relate to this post. I have an eating disorder as well, even though I don’t look like people’s stereotypical sufferer. After a lot of therapy, meal plans, and support groups, I feel like I have the upper hand most of the time. I would definitely check out some support groups–they have helped me a ton!

  16. My heart goes out to you! Thank you for such a great post. I have been a binge eater. I went through a year of therapy. For me, I used binge eating as a form punishment, eating till I was sick and miserable because I felt that I didn’t deserve anythinng better. I spent years in a state of depression and self-hatred. While I don’t go into full blown binges anymore, I still struggle with portion control but I’m learning to stop myself. I no longer use food as a punishment; I use it for nourishment! It a long, slow journey but it’s worth it.

  17. Wow! This is so heart felt. I wish I could hug you! I’m just so amazed that you are coming to terms with all of these difficult things while you are in college. You are a tough cookie! I hope it helps to have the blogging community surrounding you and lifting you up. Count me in as a supporter!

  18. Hi, I’m struggling with binge eating also. 😦 I’m 31 and my adrenals and hormones are all messed up and my only exercise is VERY slow walks 😦 I never purge or overexercise (obviously) and have a ton of digestive issues so…I feel like crap…my binge tonight was horrendous (AFTER a full day of eats and snacks)….anyways, it ended with nearly a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate. I suffer with constipation, so the morning is always….a nightmare 😦
    Hang in there. I feel badly for not even trying harder, but Its like I don’t even “want to” ….sucks …silly way to be…
    I am looking and exploring various “cleansing ” programs now…just 7-14 day type things..NOT juices or weight loss gimmicks but REAL food options because I need NEED a meal plan to follow. The worse is trying to figure out how to “clean” out the gunk in my body when I can’t eliminate it and can’t exercise….like I need a SERIOUS reset button and don’t know what to do…email me if you want…maybe you have thoughts on a good “meal plan” to do for a few days to tame myself (??) ..I have some links here…anyway, you are not alone. I’m too old for this…and know I need to change but its like I’m not “ready”….silly “excuse”, but anyway…the next day is the worse…the weekends are hardest….etc etc. I’m tired of it. It steals away all my energy and positivity so that I can’t focus on my real passions in life. And life keeps going by…You are NOT alone . Trust me on that one.

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