There’s some phrase about secrets making you sick, right? Sounds like it originates from old school sobriety communities, but there is something to it, nonetheless. I’m going to share something with you guys, something that scares me more than anything else to share. My biggest shame, and I’ve shared quite a few over the years in this space.
I have binge eating disorder. I was formally diagnosed in early February, but I’ve known that was the case for awhile. Writing that, “saying” that, makes me feel utterly exposed and well, just kind of gross. As a cisgender female-identifying person who came of age in the 80s/90s, it feels like there can be nothing worse to admit about yourself. But, I’ve learned something over the past few months: nothing takes the power and angst out of something like exposing it.
I’ve discussed in the past here that weight/body image is something I’ve long struggled with (take a number, right?), but over the past 5 or so years, I’ve developed extremely unhealthy eating habits and an increasingly sedentary way of living. I’ve blamed it on a million things: stress, the nature of my job, being busy, PCOS, etc. Those things don’t help, for sure. But the bottom line was, anxiety (and secondary depression), unresolved hurts/traumas (a big one being the death of my mom), and an increasing desperation to stop feeling those things, conspired to create a perfect storm. What I’ve realized now, is that while I was aware on an intellectual level of those things, I was completely disconnected between my mind and my body (and believe whatever you want, folks-that connection is very real, and very necessary for overall health).
I never really understood when people would talk about feeling empty and needing to fill that void with something-food, alcohol, relationships, whatever. But I’ve discovered that’s exactly what was happening to me-stuff, stuff, stuff until you’re so uncomfortable and checked out. It’s a vile feeling, but it sort of “exhausts” the other things you’re feeling, if that makes sense.
I started doing really secretive things like only eating certain foods in front of people, and then binging on “bad” things in private, hiding wrappers and packaging in the trash, throwing away receipts, you name it. Things I imagine are indicative of active addiction. In retrospect I kind of think its funny that I thought it was so secretive-my weight was giving me away.
But one day, something happened to crack the facade. Andy and I were looking through my online banking app for something for taxes and I got super, super anxious that somehow he was going to see what I was spending on food, and how frequently I was doing so. He, of course, didn’t. In that moment I thought to myself, ‘Am I going to keep doing this? This is completely exhausting.‘ And I just looked at him, and told him everything. And then I told my sister and my friends. And all of them being the incredible, loving people they are-they listened without judgement, and offered me all the support they had.
Since then, I’ve been working with my therapist, my doctor, and a dietitian. I’ve been finally treating myself with the care I would treat someone else who is struggling. I’m showing up for myself, first. I’m very early on in my recovery (and that’s really what this is), but I am down 20lbs, and feeling good. I am still triggered by emotions and presence of certain things (hey, candy!), but the focus I’m placing on connecting my thoughts/feelings to my body is helping me build healthier skills. I’m practicing feeling and processing things, and I’m also limiting the other things that hinder me, like alcohol. I’ve got so long to go, but I feel good about the foundation.
This is all extremely difficult for me to share, because it exposes me in a way that causes me deep shame (working on that too). But as much as I’m doing it to flex my own vulnerability muscle, it’s my hope that maybe someone else struggling with something like this will read it and be able to name it, in their own lives. I feel like a pressure valve has been released in my life, and I feel like I’m actually alive again. I want other people to feel that way, too. We all deserve it.