Believe it or not, you don’t have to be skinny—or even thin—to have an eating disorder. When I started therapy in 2004, Binge Eating Disorder wasn’t even recognized as an official diagnosis and I was well above the recommended BMI for my height. (Side Note: I now know the BMI chart is a load of crap.) But my thought patterns surrounding food and my body were definitely disordered. I knew deep down that I had an eating disorder even though I couldn’t be officially diagnosed.
I’ll be honest, there were many times that my disordered self would’ve gladly traded in my BED for anorexia or bulimia. Not only would treatment eligibility have been a possibility, but I truly believed that being thin would equal happiness. But the more effort I put into restricting, the bigger my binges became and the more I hated myself for getting further from my goal of thinness. I couldn’t break the restrict/binge/loathe cycle, and even when I did lose weight I was completely miserable.
An escape for me back then was television. I watched Rescue Me religiously (I remember having a massive crush on Denis Leary). One episode in the first season introduced a main character’s girlfriend who was dealing with bulimia. What stood out to me was the fact that the girl wasn’t thin. Many years later when I started recovering from my own eating disorder, I learned that many people who struggle with bulimia don’t lose weight despite frequent purges.
I believe it takes real courage and transparency for movie stars and other famous folks to open up publicly about their eating disorders. Sadly, we rarely hear recovery stories from BED survivors, but I have hope! Years ago, anorexia and bulimia were just as hush-hush as Orthorexia and BED are now. As I wrote that last sentence, WordPress didn’t even recognize the word Orthorexia. The red squiggly line under that word is just another sign of how far we have to go with the understanding and acknowledgement of ALL eating disorders.
Thankfully there are resources available for individuals with these disorders. I’m so grateful for Christy Harrison’s FoodPsych and Jessica Raymond’s Recovery Warriors, because they offer a safe place for ALL of us who are ready to recover. These two resources have helped me realize that I’m never really alone.
Many of us who struggle with BED also tend to struggle with finding our voices. I smothered mine for years, stuffing down any negative feelings and feeling ashamed of any breakthrough positive moments. We deserve to have a voice, too. We are just as worthy of recovery as those who struggle with the more mainstream eating disorders. Use your voice… to ask for help, to define your goals, and later down the road, to speak up for those in need.
I believe in you and your recovery!
PS: I mentioned this book in a previous post, but if you need a launching point for your recovery journey, I highly recommend Dr. Anita Johnston’s Eating in the Light of the Moon. It’s truly amazing.