Editor’s note: this post deals with a personal struggle with disordered eating. If you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, please check out the Resources page from the National Eating Disorders Association. This post was originally posted on Coach Melissa’s blog during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, February 22-26.
I don’t want to talk about it… But, I will.
It is National Eating Disorders Awareness week. Since I work in the fitness industry, my Facebook feed is full of posts about it. People sharing their stories. Brave souls sharing their stories of survival. I’ve read several stories already. And, before the week is over, I’ll probably read more. But, here’s the thing, I don’t want to talk about it. Because to talk about it is to live it… again. I don’t want to be a person who had something that there is an “awareness week” for. I don’t want to be a statistic.
But, it’s that attitude right there that makes it so hard for people like myself and others to stand up and say ” I have an eating disorder.” No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to acknowledge the fact that we all know someone who is battling or has battled an eating disorder. No one wants to admit that there’s a problem. There is such a stigma surrounding Eating Disorders, that it’s almost like you are a horrible person if you have one.
Guess what, you aren’t a horrible person. Neither am I.
I have battled eating disorders for many years. Going from one of the spectrum to the other. For a while it was a food addiction that controlled my life. That addiction prevented me from being a good mom. A good wife. A good person. That addiction controlled me. At the height of my addiction, I was hiding food to eat when no one was home. I would stay up late, not because I wasn’t tired, but because I wanted to eat that box of cookies after the kids were in bed. I rarely cooked meals at home, instead indulging in the dollar menu at the local McDonalds. It wasn’t uncommon for me to eat out 3-4 times a day, several days a week. When I got to the point of being fed up with my addiction, I decided it was time to make changes. However, my unhealthy relationship with myself and with food led me straight into Bulimia. I never told anyone. In fact, this is the first time that I am putting it in writing. I am sure that others around me suspected it, but no one wanted to talk about the elephant in the room. Soon, though, my addiction won out and I was back to stuffing my face. I justified this with the thought that “at least I am not throwing up all the time” I justified one eating disorder with another.
I look back at those years and feel sadness. No one stopped to tell me, “Hey, you are killing yourself.” No one asked me if I was okay. No one said anything. I would make comments to my husband about it, and he’d brush it off. No one wanted to talk about it. To talk about is to admit there is a problem. A problem that is much bigger than us. But, guess what? It is a problem! It needs to be talked about. Whether you want to or not.
I am a recovering food addict today. Recovery is a life long process. Sometimes, I can’t even take it day by day, I have to take it minute by minute. The physical reminders are still there. I’ve jacked my metabolisim all up. I have scars on my arms from the times that the darkness just got to be too much to handle. I am still battling with my weight. The emotional scars are still there too. I’ve discovered many triggers. I can’t count calories. Meal planning gives me anxiety attacks sometimes. And, then there are the days that I fall off the wagon completely. I am no stranger to binge eating. While it happens less than it used to, it still happens.
But, I no longer “don’t want to talk about it.” I want to shout it from the mountain tops. I have an eating disorder. It’s okay to talk about it. Because it’s only when we decide to talk about it, that we can start helping ourselves… and others.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out to a trusted friend, relative, or medical professional. Or, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org for more resources. Remember, it’s okay to talk about it.