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  • hannahhickinbotham

My version of battling Binge-Eating Disorder (BED)

The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders. However, no one really talks about binge-eating disorder. Honestly, I had never even heard of it until I was diagnosed.

So what exactly is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?

The BEAT definition for Binge-eating Disorder is ‘Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious mental illness where people eat very large quantities of food without feeling like they’re in control of what they’re doing’. The side effects are very damaging to not just your physical health but also your mental health. I’m of the opinion that the best way to break down stigma is through education and sharing experiences. I don’t have the credentials to educate but I will share resources at the end for that. I am only qualified in my own experience so here’s my version. I have struggled with my relationship with food since my teenage years, although I didn’t associate my behaviour with an eating disorder until I was ‘officially’ diagnosed aged 22. I often get asked why it took so long to get help. 1) I had no education so didn’t really know the signs to spot (neither did those around me) 2) I felt really ashamed and guilty that it was my fault 3) I was struggling with my mental health and my eating disorder made me feel in control (even though it really was the opposite..) It began with a very body-conscious teenager who was struggling with her mental health and using food as a coping mechanism. I definitely clocked that my relationship with food started to become unhealthy but I didn’t have the self-awareness to know what to do with that information. I normalised starving myself, I normalised binging until I felt sick, I normalised a yo-yo of starvation followed by an out-of-control episode which often involved the consumption of over 10,000 calories. This usually coincided with other aspects of my life.

When I was starving myself I would over exercise and usually socialise but avoid eating in public unless I had pre-planned my meal on MyFitnessPal (I was the girl ordering a side salad with no dressing - can confirm it tasted awful even if I was convincing myself otherwise at the time). When I was binging I would stop exercising, lock myself away and avoid social contact.

My ED started to get really out of control when I struggled to go a day without bingeing - the side effects of this were; extreme fatigue, purging, nausea, sleeplessness, anxiety and rapid mood fluctuation. This hugely prohibited my day-to-day functioning and my ability to be present as the years went by. I couldn’t break this vicious cycle and I blamed myself for not being able to do that.

Things changed when I was forced to get help rather than actively choosing to. I hit rock bottom and realised my life was being consumed by my eating disorder. I couldn’t continue as I was and made the choice to begin recovery. The journey wasn’t easy, there were a lot of side steps but I am so pleased to have found a life that isn’t dictated by my ED.

What helped my recovery?

  • Going to therapy (an ED specialist at one point)

  • Following my eating disorder recovery meal plans

  • Reading more about eating disorders

  • Talking to others about my experiences

  • Opening up to my friends about struggling

  • Social Media

  • Medication

My motive for sharing my experience is hope. It’s what I needed to hear 10 years ago to know that I wasn’t alone. When I started struggling with my eating disorder, I needed someone. I needed a figure to look up to, to inspire me through the dark times and give me hope that I was going to get through this. Of course, my experience won’t be the same as yours but let it be a reminder that there is life after recovery. I can’t give you a time frame and I can’t tell you what your road to recovery is going to look like but I know that you will get there. As promised, some resources to get you started:

To find out more about author Sophie Rose, you can find them on Instagram @rosierwithsophie.

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