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


  1. It's never too late to speak out, lovely! I am soooo proud of you!!!!!!

    Would you be able to do a post on how you have accepted the change in your body? Most days I'm ok with my body but since I've stopped doing intense exercise (because it hurts my joints and I no longer enjoy it anymore) I'm finding the thoughts getting a bit too much...:( Any advice?

    Love you so much, girlie!!!

  2. this was beautiful and you are amazing. I am so so so proud of you for speaking out, that takes a lot of courage. I am totally with you on the stigma surrounding EDs and even within the ED world. I've never personally dealt with binge eating but I have a friend who does, so I've seen how painful a disorder that can be and how much shame she deals with because of it. We need more brave people like you to speak out about this and put an end to the ugly stigma around these illnesses!!

  3. I love this post. I love your honest, your brave and sparkling personality. I love you!!

  4. thanks for shedding light on the issue!

  5. i love the vulnerability haley. as i have always said, you are not alone in your struggle. you know that. i hate this for you and it breaks my heart, but praise God that you are seeking help and making small victories! small victories turn into winning battles and winning battles turns to winning the war. i love you sweet thing.


  6. It's really hard to be vulnerable, much less on a public venue! Well done, congratulations, and best of luck in your recovery from eating disorders in general. All of them suck the life out of you, and all of them have nothing to do with the food, the food is how the feelings are exhibited.

    You can do this. You're not alone! Keep talking. Keep seeking happiness and health!

  7. There is nothing to be ashamed with having a disorder. There are other people who have the same problem as you. The bottom line is that you are helping yourself recover from it willingly. And admitting and being honest to oneself is one way to help make the burden of the disorder lighter. Accepting is the first step to fully recovering from any disorder.

  8. I love this post -- thank you so much for your honesty! To me, eating disorders exist pretty much all along the same spectrum and whether it's over-eating or under-eating or somehow compensating for eating (or all of them), this sucky disease is really about feelings and self-acceptance. I agree with Katy: I'd love to read a post on how you've accepted the change in your body. Your writing is so helpful!

  9. Thank you (again) from the bottom of my heart for this post. <3 I keep re-reading it on days when I feel the urge to binge eat or even starve and remind myself that recovery from both eating disorders is possible. Re-reading these words also reminds me that there is too much more to do in life than worry about food. <3
    Huge hugs.

    1. Hey I totally agree, I am suffering from binge eating disorder and I am struggling with accepting that recovery will come one day.

  10. Thank you for this beautiful post! I know how hard it is to reveal the truth, especially when you have to struggle with a binge-eating disorder. :( Ugh. It does seem easier to talk about the restriction phase, but when you fall into binge-eating...not fun. And I totally know what you mean about trying to fall asleep and night and think about binging.
    I just started blogging yesterday. I created my own blog: I am also a 21-year-old girl, running at the collegiate level. I have been struggling with an eating disorder for the past few years as I struggled to lower my weight to run faster. It's nice coming upon your blog because I feel like so far I can relate to a lot!
    Thanks again for this post.

  11. I am quite new to do I follow your blog? Friends were asking me how to follow mine as well but I can't find a "follow" button on my page (
    Thanks for your help, sorry this is more of a techy-thing.

  12. Great info thanks for posting. Do you need info on outpatient eating disorder treatment? then you should really check these guys out they really take care of their patients.

  13. This post made me cry, because I've struggled through similar things you have. I started out with anorexia, and starved myself until there was no hope left. I was trapped in a black hole I thought I couldn't go out of. After a while of therapy and coming to terms with having a disorder, I got better. A lot better. But then came the binges, the endless nights of eating out the whole pantry. I completely understand you when you say the self-loathing was worse. At least with anorexia, I felt skinnier and I knew that skinny was coming. When I began binging, I could feel the weight gain. My thighs began to touch, and I had to suck my stomach in when I was in public. I feel as though there's only two ways to go- overeat or undereat. I can't seem to find a middle. I admire you so much for being strong, and keep fighting because hope is there.

    1. If it gives you any more hope I am finally learning to find that happy medium--I am moving away from the binges and at least I feel like I can "hear" my body. I guess what has worked best for me is sticking to a consistent meal plan and little by little I am getting better.
      Good luck to you!

  14. This is the first post about... well I think it's the first blog ever that made me cry. I very recently accepted the fact that I am a binge eater, and I need help with my eating disorder. I've never said that before. What do I do now?..

  15. Excellent article! Good info for the viewers,give more information related to this topic in future on this blog.

  16. Thank you for speaking about this. I also have struggled so many years with binge eating, it's made my weight fluctuate like crazy and kept me cocooned in my own private world.
    Congratulations on recovery!

    xx Liana

  17. Thank you so much, really :)

  18. That was very inspiring! I appreciate your courageous act of sharing what you've gone through. Discipline is a habit that can be developed. That is all you need to recover fully from this struggle. Learn to accept yourself and the things that you can't change. Be happy of what kind of person you are, Haley!

    -Mitchell Winslow @ PrimaryCareAK (Lake-Otis-Urgent-Care)

  19. Yes, yes, yes!! I have binge eating disorder as well. And I went on pinterest just now to read stuff about it. Everything was about binge eating, not binge eating disorder, and they are soooooo different. Way to stay strong! I'm glad you have recovered too :)