Hi, my name is Kelly and I have an Eating Disorder.
The big E.D.
See, here’s the thing. When I hit rock bottom a fortnight ago, I thought it was just a self image thing. A simple “I’m overweight and I need to fix it” kind of thing. And that’s still true, nothing has changed there. What I didn’t expect was to have to get smacked over the head with a truth bomb, eat a huge piece of humble pie, and confess some huge secrets that not even I had really clicked that I was hiding. Or at least, had buried so deep inside I couldn’t see them.
It’s been a fortnight now since my post, and like I promised, I’m sharing with everyone my path forward from here. So let’s get stuck into it, tackling first with the burning topic of my eating disorder.
I have “Binge Eating Disorder”
Also known as BD.
No, it’s not that I just eat too much, let’s get that out of the way right now. There’s so much more to it than that, and it would be unfair to describe it as such.
From the National Eating Disorder Collaboration site:
Binge eating disorder is characterised by:
- Frequent episodes of binge eating involving the consumption of a large amount of food in a short period of time. Binge episodes will be accompanied by a loss of control over eating and the inability to stop the binge
- A range of identifiable eating habits, including eating very quickly, eating without being hungry and continuing to eat to discomfort when already full
- Feelings of guilt and shame about the amount of food consumed during a binge episode and the way it has been eaten. Binge eating often occurs at times of stress, anger, boredom or distress, and at these times may be a means of coping with challenging emotions
- Secretive behaviours around food. Because of their feelings around food, people with binge eating disorder are often very secretive about their eating habits and choose to eat alone
Once I first head about BD it was literally like a lightbulb went off in my head. I heard the stories of a girl that suffered from it, and as she was recounting her story I just kept thinking “I do that, and that, and that”. The realisation that I possibly had BD dawned on me, and then it all just made sense.
It all started when I fell pregnant. I had just lost a lot of weight, hit my goal weight for the first time in my life, and was happy with how I looked. Suddenly I faced putting weight back on, at the scariest time in my life when I had work stress and overwhelming emotion about having children. I didn’t know how to cope and so I turned to food.
9 months later I put on 40kg. I don’t have to explain how unhealthy that is. After he was born I dropped 10kg, and then struggled from there. Every time I looked in the mirror I saw my lack of control and the absence of discipline. It was more about just not liking being overweight, it was a visual reminder of my worst habit.
Now I’m finally able to separate myself from that emotion. I’m ready to take back control, learn how to cope in challenging situations, and get back to a healthy weight.
The first step is to be honest. So, here I am, sharing with you all what I had hid from even myself.
Examples from the last month alone
- Sneak eating junk food when no one was around (or finding an excuse to be on my own so I could eat treats)
- Spending hundreds of dollars on food other than our grocery bill (and I didn’t go out for lunch that often – the majority was snack food). I didn’t tell my husband about this, and it was on my own personal credit card so that he couldn’t see it. Then when I would get my “pocket money” for the fortnight I would repay that onto the credit card…except that I was spending more than I was getting. This had gone on for months, but really ramped up in the last month to crisis point, when I hit rock bottom
- Obsessively thinking about food, and my next binge
- Mentally willing my husband to go out somewhere by himself so I could stay home and eat
- Stuffing wrappers of junk food down into the bin and covering it with other food, so my husband wouldn’t see it unless he went digging around in the bin (unlikely)
- Hiding food in my handbag
- Eating to the point of feeling sick, but needing to finish the packet (and then some)
- Feeling extremely ashamed of myself, swearing not to do it again, and then repeating it all the next day
The scariest thing was that when I was binge eating I wasn’t thinking about it. I was complete removed from the situation and lacking any emotion. I just needed to eat. And so I mindlessly ate. The emotion set in once the food was gone and I saw what I had done.
In the week before my rock bottom post my eating reached crisis point. I was smashing my body every single day with binging. Just some examples of that in one week:
- 6 subway cookies, one-after-another
- A block of chocolate bought from the supermarket near work, then pre-broken into pieces. I hid the block in a bag on my desk, and by having pre-broken the pieces it meant I could eat them systematically without my workmates hearing it.
- 1.5 large bags of m&m’s
- Tubes of pringles
- Buying 4 king-sized freddo frogs “on special so it’s a great deal and I’ll only have one a day” then finishing them all within hours
I look back on this, and I’m beyond disgusted.
Plan of attack
So where to from here? It’s not as simple as just snapping my fingers and stopping it, although I’m happy to report that I’m currently 1.5 weeks binge free. There’s a lot of work ahead of me.
But like I said earlier, the first step is being completely honest with myself.
The night after I realised I had an eating disorder I sat with my husband. I went through it all in detail, tears staining my face. He hugged me, and let me talk nonstop. First he tried to tell me I was OK, and when I assured him I wasn’t, the very next thing he said was “how can I help”. I was so grateful for his support.
Writing this post is a huge step for me. I’m not hiding anymore. I’m throwing it out there, officially shrugging off the last of the shame and the secrecy surrounding it.
I’ve spent the last 2 weeks putting a plan in place. When I first wrote my rock bottom post I thought it was just about diet and exercise. I never realised I would have to factor in a huge mental health overhaul into it. Suddenly what seemed so straight forward to plan went in a completely new direction.
I’m going to write my plan in another post, since there is so much to cover. I just wanted to share this news with you.
My name is Kelly, and I have an eating disorder. But soon, I will have had an eating disorder.
This won’t beat me, nor will it define me.
I am in control of my story.
I will be healthy again, both mentally and physically.