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written by Carley Weissert
A binge is a failure, therefore I am a failure. At least, that’s what I used to think.
As a young woman who’s struggled with Binge Eating Disorder (BED), I spent more nights than I care to remember hiding from the world. Eventually, my friends dwindled down until all I had were the packages of cookies, bags of chips, and cartons of ice cream I ate night after night. My binges allowed me to disconnect from my emotions temporarily, though the numbing effect was brief.
Whatever kind of high I felt during a binge, the low that inevitably followed was always more intense. I would be overcome with feelings of failure, regret, and disgust. What’s worse, I carried these feelings and self-judgments around with me. I just couldn’t shake them.
The cycle was vicious.
Feelings of being a failure triggered binges; yet these binges just confirmed my belief that I was a failure.
It was like a riptide. The more I struggled against it, the deeper I was pulled into it and the more exhausted I became. It wasn’t until I started to work with it—instead of against it—that the shift started to happen.
My Binge Eating Disorder (BED) went untreated until I entered therapy at 23 years old. I spent eight months working through my disorder, and it was here that I was able to start the process of separating my binging episodes from feelings of failure.
Therapy was incredibly beneficial. It helped me see, for the first time in my life, no food was inherently “good” or “bad.” The slice of pizza my husband offered me, or the cupcake my coworker surprised me with, wasn’t evil or threatening. It was just food.
I spent the next few years in a much better place emotionally. My relationship with food and my body had both improved markedly, yet I still suffered from periodic binges and weight fluctuations. And that was okay.
I was able to separate my actions from my thoughts about myself.
Was binging ideal? No. But did it make me a failure? Absolutely not.
Since that time, I’ve started to see a new counselor specializing in BED, body image, and intuitive eating. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that I can’t be afraid to ask for help when I need it.
We’ve only been working together for a few weeks, and my new counselor has already opened my eyes to a valuable tool when it comes to binging: compassion.
Coming from a place of compassion allows me to diminish the feelings of guilt or regret that have been creeping up for me recently. To be truly compassionate with myself is something new for me, though I’m already noticing the benefits.
As you may suspect, having compassion isn’t only helpful with binging. It’s allowed me to love myself in a new way—a deeper, truer way than before. I have a connection to and respect for my body that simply wasn’t there before.
This journey has been filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and steps forward and back. I’ve had moments of shame and upset, just as I’ve experienced times of triumph and growth.
My transition toward healthy eating and body image is still a work in progress.
If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s this: I am not a failure.
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