My Eating Disorder and Me

CW: Eating disorders

June 2nd 2016 was the first ever World Eating Disorder Day, and also the day I finally received recognition that I was suffering from an eating disorder. I remember feeling overwhelmed with sadness but also relief, finally a medical professional was listening to me and was on my side, he was finally giving me a diagnosis I'd unknowingly spent years waiting for - Binge Eating Disorder

I can't remember a time in my life where I didn't struggle with food, the relationship has never been healthy but for years it was hidden and controllable, I was just chubby and overweight, I just liked chocolate and biscuits, no one saw the pain and struggle I was going through, not even myself. 

It wasn't until university when I began to truly see my problem. Sparked by other mental illness problems by eating began to spiral out of control, I was binging in a way I never had before and I didn't know how to cope. I gained a lot of weight in a short space of time and I hated myself for it. I was desperately unhappy and therapists, medical professionals and family didn't see anything wrong. 

"Stop eating the bad food," one doctor told me after I'd finally worked up the courage to seek help. It took another 2 years for me to ask for help again. Luckily when I did I got the help and support I needed. I didn't know it was binge eating disorder (BED), I thought it might be but I craved the confirmation from a professional, someone to tell me there actually was something wrong and I wasn't just a lazy fatty who couldn't stop herself. 

Since that day I've gone through a lot. From weekly therapy sessions with a dedicated eating disorder therapist to serious depression. I've reached a point of recovery and plunged back deeper than I was before. It's been a rollercoaster and throughout it I've mostly kept it to myself. I'm not ashamed, but I'm afraid of telling people. 

Like a lot of people struggling with an eating disorder I have low body confidence. I'm fat, that's what can happen when you binge eat, and seeing a body that doesn't feel like my own every time I look in the mirror sparks negative thoughts which leads to binging. The cycle of self destruction can feel impossible to break at times. 

Being overweight I know that to a lot of people I probably don't 'look' like I have an eating disorder. I think that a lot of people aren't aware of BED, or they perhaps don't consider it as serious as other disorders. It may all be in my head, but there is also the fear of judgement, that people will just see me as a fat person who has no self control, that if I wasn't so lazy or if I tried harder I wouldn't be like this. Those fears have led me to stay quiet about my eating disorder than I am my other mental illnesses. 

I can't stay quiet any longer though. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding fat body positivity, around fat shaming and obesity awareness, and for the most part I don't know where I stand, but I do know that struggling with an eating disorder is difficult, and being fat and struggling with an eating disorder is a whole other dynamic. 

I wish I had answers, solutions, even words of comfort for those struggling in these situations, but I don't. Right now each day is a risk, each day I wonder if something I read will make me feel judged or looked at. Whether I will wake up and hate what I see in the mirror or feel good. Whether I will eat dinner today, whether I will binge until I feel sick. I don't know, because every day is a struggle of some sort, and its hard to see a different future. 

What I will say is please think the next time you talk about diet, weight, obesity, bodies, food, health, anything that focuses on food and weight. These things can be such huge triggers, and people can be completely oblivious. Obviously I don't expect to walk through life without seeing or hearing comments about food and weight, but all I ask is that you keep your thoughts to yourself and not push those on others, especially if you are not aware of their struggles. 

If I could go the rest of my life with no one commenting on my eating habits or my weight it would make surviving with an eating disorder just that bit easier. 

This is written from a very personal point of view and is not meant to be speaking on the behalf of any other sufferers. If you are struggling with your relationship with food please seek help from family, friends, medical professionals or an eating disorder organisation such as BEAT. If you don't feel like you've received the help you need please keep searching, you deserve to be helped. 

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