When You're Stuck On the 'Hamster Wheel' of Binge Eating Disorder
Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.
The last article I wrote that was specifically about my binge eating disorder (BED) got 900 hearts.
I remember seeing the number — feeling my heart jump with excitement. My words had reached 900 people, most of whom do not know me.
But since the publishing of that article — during which I begged the shame I felt to leave me — nothing has changed. Binge eating disorder is a serious illness, and the silence surrounding it is serious too.
I’m not sugarcoating it or floating around that point anymore.
The silence is more lethal than the bingeing itself.
Sugar kills. Yes, I know that. But do you know what can kill faster than levels of glucose ingested per binge?
Feeling afraid to see your parents’ reactions. Being unable to move when confronted by a friend. Crumbling inside as you see the laughs of those around you.
It hurts. It really bloody hurts.
And just like any vicious cycle, the pain then feeds the addiction. It sends us back to the self-loathing — to the drill sergeant in our heads that remind us how weak we are, how selfish we are, how disgusting we are.
In the last few months, aspects of my mental health have really improved. Despite feeling sickened by my appearance, I no longer have to hide from every reflective surface. In fact, there are times at which I can appreciate my body for the functional and — dare I say it — beautiful thing it is.
No, I am not void of the pain, but my ability to function has increased, so why am I now bingeing more than ever? Why am I crossing lines I have never dared cross before?
Yes, you guessed it. Because I’m ashamed. I cannot even begin to form the word “binge” in my mouth. I cannot face my helpless mother as she struggles to find the words she wants to say. I cannot reach out to a friend and tell them the humiliating thing I committed and hear the silence on their end of the phone. I am so ashamed of this illness that I cannot face it long enough to fight back.
I cannot face the loneliness and isolation that bingeing creates.
Binge eating disorder puts our bodies through relentless amounts of stress. And then this shame, this distaste for our own bodies, creates a mental stress that quite literally pulls us into our beds to hide.
Stress, regardless of where it comes from, is the leading cause behind binge eating disorder. It pushes me into that vicious cycle and the shame then works to keep you trapped, forcing you to keep going like a rodent on a hamster wheel.
So maybe taking shame out of the equation could help us escape the cycle. Yes, the stress will eventually drag us back, but wouldn’t it be great to have some time outside of the cage? Some time to sort out why we are so lonely that we feel the need to binge?
It might not be the cure for binge eating disorder, but it could be the first step towards recovery.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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Unsplash photo via Usama