So I told my boyfriend I used to have an eating disorder
I figured if I could open up to him about it then I should share it for others who have had a similar experience or are currently trudging through their own mud. Those who have had an eating disorder can attest — it’s all rough until you realize what it is, what you’re doing, and how to change it.
It wasn’t that I starved myself, or that I would eat gluttonously just to watch it all come back up — no. I was a secret-eater… a binge-eater. Rather than use new clothes, makeup, booze or drugs to cope with hard times, I found my comfort in handfuls of chocolate chips and leftover pasta in the fridge late at night when the kitchen was “closed” and my family was fast asleep.
I’m a little surprised that my parents never noticed the slow depletion of food in our house. It’s almost as if they never thought twice as to why the tub of peanut butter that they just bought a week ago was already gone. I’m sure the fact that the house was filled with four kids (and my grandparents) was my alibi.
Binge-eating was a rush. It was about stealth. I was a binge-eating ninja who knew which stair creaked and what movements would make the least amount of noise. And then off I would go into this delicious Neverland of Everything I Could Ever Want to Eat, comforted by the glow of the fridge and the coldness of the floor before sneaking back upstairs unnoticed.
On really bad nights I would make something. One night, after eating spoonfuls of cookie dough, I made more. Other times, I would toss an assortment of candy into Bisquick mix batter and eat it. I would eat until I felt it in my throat, until it physically hurt, and then I would go back to bed. I felt like I won. I fooled them all. It was like I was screaming for attention but unable to make a sound. Don’t get me wrong — I grew up in a beautiful house my dad built in suburban-farmland Connecticut. My parents are very loving and supportive and we were all rather happy kids but by the time puberty hit, so did emotions. My mom always likes to say she raised us all the same but I felt the difference — and I think at some points I almost liked it. I was the victim. I was the scapegoat. I was the one they always forgot about. My 16th birthday alone, cooking myself pasta, is a prime example. They all forgot.
By the time I hit high school, my binge-eating made its way into the classroom. I would rush to the cafeteria to buy breakfast — two sandwiches with egg, bacon, and cheese on an English muffin. Always two. I’d scurry away and hide somewhere, barely breathing while I ate the first one in secrecy. After wiping away any evidence I would grab a soda and walk the hallways. Laps. Everyone just walked the hallways before school. Sometimes I would hang out in the Outreach Worker’s office with the rest of the kids who felt like they didn’t belong; hiding their own secrets. This was when I would “pretend” my second sandwich was my first — saying how I was “starving” and “can’t wait to have my breakfast.” I should have won an Oscar, it was quite the performance.
The food comforted me throughout my high school years. I continued to gain weight and nobody said anything about it — unless I was being picked on, which happened often, but I had Cheetos and french fries and Mountain Dew Code Red to wipe away those tears. The food also fed my depression. The unhealthiness of it, the lack of nutrients, I fell into a rabbit hole and wanted to just not exist anymore. It was a rough time.
College came and I moved to a new state. New people. New cafeteria. And with it all came the eating disorder, except now it was an all-you-can-eat buffet for one swipe of the meal plan card. I would sit in the cafeteria for hours doing my homework in there so I wouldn’t have to leave. I felt safe knowing the ice cream machine was only 15 feet away, the sandwich bar was being re-stocked, and found comfort in the smell of the grills kicking on for lunch or dinner.
My whole life I thought an eating disorder was either anorexia or bulimia. I never realized that there were other types and how many women suffer from them. At my heaviest I weighed 240 pounds at 5′4″. My knees hurt and I was most likely at risk of heart disease and diabetes but no doctor ever raised a concern. Over the years following, my binge-eating subsided, naturally on its own. It took me until my mid-20′s to realize that I suffered from an eating disorder… and when I realized that’s what it was I felt embarrassed. It took me quite some time after that to notice that I still carried some of the mannerisms that came with it.
Just the other day I took a piece of chocolate from my boyfriend’s fridge. I wasn’t hiding the fact I was taking a piece — but he noticed the way I looked when I was doing it – guilty. I looked like I had been “caught” even though I was openly getting it.
Sometimes I catch myself feeling guilty or feeling as if I am sneaking… and then I stop and remind myself that I am a 30-year-old woman and if I want to have a piece of chocolate at 10pm before bed then I am CHOOSING to have it.I no longer sneak around, feeling victorious that no one knows I am treating myself. It’s been a long road and every now-and-then I hit a bump. But I’ve learned to keep an open dialogue about my health, my habit, and my nutrition both with myself and with those closest to me. I’ve lost the majority of the weight but it’s always an uphill battle. Overall, my lifestyle change has made me a happier, healthier person. I still find comfort in food, but for different reasons. Now my diet is filled with nutritious food and I find passion in being active.
So yeah. There it is you guys. I was a binge-eater for roughly 8 years of my life and all I got were these stupid stretch marks. The Huffington Post recently wrote a big article about Binge-Eating being the disorder nobody really talks about. If you’ve ever felt how I did above, I highly recommend reading this article, doing some research, and then taking the step to finding a healthy lifestyle.