I remember ninth grade health class very well, specifically one day in particular. The day we talked about eating disorders, I was ready to hear about anorexia and bulimia. I was not ready to walk out of that classroom with confirmation that I had an eating disorder, but that is exactly what I did that day.
After speaking on anorexia and bulimia, my teacher told us about Binge Eating Disorder.
My 14-year-old ears perked up. I had never heard of this disease, but I was immediately interested. I knew anorexia and bulimia well, they were the diseases that, at the time, I wish I had the determination to try, but I was too scared to hurt my body.
Binge Eating Disorder was new to me. My teacher described it as continuing to eat after you were full and eating for hours at a time. As the signs and symptoms continued to be read, I realized... that the last three years of my life had been plagued by binges. There was a lot I couldn't control in my life, but eating was one thing that I always had control over. It was the one thing that always brought me comfort.
Most binges would start after I came home from a hard day at school, or maybe after I got in a fight with a family member. Maybe I felt insecure about the growing number on the scale, but I ate.
It always started with half a bag of chips, then maybe a cookie or other sweet treat, and then I would finish with something else I could find in the pantry. My mother would come home and begin making dinner.
Ashamed, I would hide the food anywhere so my family could not tell I had been eating and then I would go eat dinner.
This was a common occurrence for me, but I had no idea that my habits were wrong or should point to an eating disorder. The only thing that I knew was wrong with me, was that I was gaining weight.
For the longest time, I thought an eating disorder was something that helped you lose weight unhealthily, not gain weight. It wasn't until I sat in a health class that I realized that there was anything wrong with me.
Education is so important in overcoming eating disorders. We are making such great strides about informing people about the dangers of eating disorders and positive body image.
It is so important that we start making Binge Eating Disorder a topic that is as known as anorexia and bulimia. No one ever discusses Binge Eating Disorder, not even the dangers of it, maybe if they had my life might have been different.
Maybe I would have found out about it earlier and could have gotten help before it got out of hand.
I wish I could say that I left that health class that day and never had a binge again. The truth is I binged several times after that, and still to this day I have an episode, although they are very rare.
It would be unrealistic to tell you that I overcame my eating disorder that day because it is a journey I am still completing. Every day presents a new challenge, and sometimes I fail, but I will succeed, and succeeding is worth a few failures.