“I am not my binge eating”

I’ve never been one of those girls who could eat whatever she wanted and not have to worry about her figure. I have never been a size 0; in high school I was a 5’9, fit girl who played basketball and wore a size 4/6 pants. I’ve always had curves and am taller than most girls I know. The defining moment for me was in eighth grade when a boy said something that to this day forward is forever ingrained in my memory like a brand mark on an animal. “If she gains any more weight, we are going to have to put a cow bell around her neck.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never considered myself fat until that day. Since then, comments such as “big boned” and “you will never be a stick,” have been directed towards me. These insults plague my everyday thoughts.

I never had healthy eating habits in high school yet college was the true turning point. I was having the time of my life freshman year. Yet I would sit on my dorm bed consuming thousands of calories within short spans, feeling sick to my stomach afterwards. I would enter into a daze, not realizing how much I had consumed in so little time. When I finally stepped on a scale and saw I gained 30 pounds, I was devastated. During the following semester and summer, I managed to lose 20 pounds.

I managed to keep the weight off during the fall semester of my sophomore year, while having some binge episodes. I recall one specific night where I was watching tv and I looked down and did a double take. There were wrappers all over my bed. After my initial confusion wore off, I asked myself, “are these from me… did I consume this all?” wondering who ate the food. It took me a minute or two to realize who the culprit was-me. It scared me that it was possible for me not to recall eating anything. Yet I pushed aside the gnawing thought that I had a problem. This continued into my spring semester and I gained around 30 pounds. I worked my butt off at the gym that summer and lost 18 pounds.

I lost an additional 10 pounds the fall semester of my junior year but I fell back off the bandwagon my spring semester. I would eat a normal meal in the cafeteria with friends, then sneak off to the campus convenience store, while shame surged through my body. I would buy what my usual binge episode consisted of-a pint of ice cream, a box of donuts, candy, chips and a frozen meal. I would rush back to my dorm and spread out my purchases around me on my bed. I would pour myself a glass of water and lock my door.

When I binge eat, there are no thoughts on my mind. I stare blankly ahead as feelings of euphoria wash over me. Afterwards, I look at the damage I have done and feel a wave of extreme guilt. I promise myself I won’t do it again but it’s never the case. I throw out the offending boxes and pretend the binge episode has not occurred. Out of sight, out of mind right? Following any major binge, I abstain from food the next day. It was towards the end of my junior year where I finally acknowledged that I might have an actual problem.

When you think “eating disorder,” I am sure only anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa pop immediately into your mind. People don’t talk much about binge eating disorder. Food is my coping mechanism, my solace. With any emotion I feel, joy, sadness, stress, I turn to food. I would like to say that I’m better now. But the thoughts are something I struggle with every single day. The comments are constantly swirling around in my mind. I lost about 20 pounds so far this summer. It’s always the same, gain 30 lose 20, gain 30 lose 20, so I am constantly increasing in weight. I am about to enter my senior year of college and I am terrified. This has been the cycle for 3 years and I feel as if I am creating this self-fulfilling prophecy that there will be a 4th cycle with this upcoming school year. I am aware that constantly gaining and losing large amounts of weight is not healthy. I am nowhere near perfect. I am aware that this will be something I will deal with for the rest of my life. But I won’t let this define me.