Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Visible (Holiday) Progress

3 Christmases ago I started dieting.
2 Christmases ago I was recovering from anorexia, but still severely restricting.
Last Christmas I binged until I wanted to puke.
Today I did not restrict, and I did not eat past the point of being full. I never thought this would have been possible when I was struggling with either of my eating disorders. It seemed like I would never get better. I especially would not have believed my food choices. I would have been repulsed to learn that I ate green bean casserole, mac and cheese, turkey, peas, pies, and fudge. But today I am so joyful, and proud.

My brother recently asked me if I would take back the time I spent in my eating disorder if I could.. Of course it was a horrible time in my life, but I don't think I would because it made me who I am today.
I am a happier person; I am a better person.
I love who I am.

Mary Oliver, The Journey

Merry Christmas, loves

Monday, December 10, 2012

Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder

I had this whole post written about how I've been doing lately, but it sounded just like the others of the past few months, and I feel that it is unfair that I so often discuss the progress I have made in recovery, yet I barely wrote on my struggle with my second eating disorder.

So I'm going to do something different; I am going to be completely honest and vulnerable in discussing my struggles with binge eating disorder.

I used to write this way, when discussing my struggles with anorexia, but once I developed binge eating disorder I was much more vague and tried to hide my problems. I was ashamed.

This brings up the question, why is it more acceptable for someone to have anorexia rather than binge eating disorder? Why does society idealize small bodies and assume that all those that are bigger are that way due to laziness?

Looking back, it saddens me that I hated myself so much for having binge eating disorder.
Of course I didn't like myself much when I was anorexic either, but it does not compare to the self-loathing I experienced with binge eating disorder.
When I was struggling with anorexia, I knew that it was a disease. It wasn't ME that decided that I shouldn't eat; it was Ed (my eating disorder).
When I was struggling with binge eating disorder, I felt like a failure, like it was all my fault that I gave in to the craving of chocolate chip cookies at midnight.

However, binge eating disorder is a mental illness just like any other, and it had me do things that I would never have done otherwise.
I was constantly preoccupied. I wasn't able to concentrate on anything other than food for long periods of time. Countless nights I would be tucked in bed, ready to sleep, but I could not because there was this uncontrollable urge to jump out of bed and grab a jar of peanut butter or a half gallon of ice cream, and most of the time I gave in.
I would write notes to myself next to my jars of peanut butter.

Haley, don't do this. 
Everything in Moderation. 
You will feel sick to your stomach. 
This will make you a slow runner.
You will hate yourself for this.

I would throw my binge foods away if I had too much that day, but later that night I would find myself digging through the trash just to get the half jar of Nutella that I had so hastily 'wasted'.
And no tactic seemed to work. People told me to take a walk, call a friend, draw a picture, write (okay, that one may have helped for short periods of time), but for the most part these techniques didn't do anything.
You see, I did not want to take a walk. I wanted to eat. I wanted to numb the pain of loneliness, of self-hatred.
I would eat until I could not eat anymore and then go back an hour later and eat even more.
I once skipped a test to binge. I once binged the night before and morning of a cross country race.
Binging was the only way I knew to cope with my day-to-day life.
And I could not admit this to anyone because I was too ashamed.

I think social stigma definitely comes into play with most mental illnesses, and eating disorders are no exception. And within the eating disorder category, there are different ideas about each disorder.
Like I mentioned earlier, those struggling with binge eating disorder may have it worst as far as society goes because they look like normal or 'fat' people. Many may think they are overweight because they eat too much, and that's their fault.
But binge eating disorder is not something that you can simply rid yourself of once you realize that you don't want to eat so much. It will not go away when you decide that you want to be healthy. It is a serious problem that many people face, and it is not easily defeated.

And that brings me to the question I am asked so often, now that I don't struggle near as much with Ed thoughts or behaviors, "How did you recover?"
Honestly, I don't have a definite answer to that question. 
As far as my recovery from BED goes, I did go to a couple therapy sessions, but mostly I stayed in the hole that Ed had dug for me until I could no longer stand it.
My recovery from anorexia was different because I found it easier to seek help. I went to therapy every week, and I also saw a dietitian.
I do wish I had had the courage to seek help when recovering from binge eating disorder, but like I said, I couldn't bring myself to speak out.
So I'm speaking out now. I know it's late, but I want all those struggling to know that there is a way out. You can get through the lies Ed feeds you.
You cannot believe him (Ed) when he tells you that you are not beautiful, intelligent, humorous, or fun to be around.

I reach a recovered state when I stopped believing Ed's lies. I stopped listening to this stupid voice in my head telling me I was good enough.
I grew tired of hating myself; I learned to forgive myself for my mistakes.
I forgave myself for the unhealthy amount of weight I had lost or gained. I forgave myself for binging or starving myself instead of doing more important things, like going out with my friends. And I forgave myself for developing eating disorder after eating disorder.

Every day was a challenge, but a day without a binge, or even a day with a smaller binge, was a good day.
I celebrated the small victories, like 24 hours binge-free. I remember being so proud of myself when I could hold out for at least one day.
Eventually I noticed the period of time between relapses was growing larger, and I gained hope.
I took each relapse as a learning experience. I pinpointed my triggers, and I tried my best to stay away from those.
I believed in my heart that recovery was possible, just like it was with my anorexia, and eventually I did get there.
I am proud to say that I cannot remember my last binge. It has been a hot minute. :)

I did not write the last paragraph or this post to brag; I wrote it because sometimes people need to know that others have struggled with the same things they do and have come out stronger because of it.
I hope you can be that inspiration for someone someday.

xxx Haley