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Is binge eating a disease? An addiction? A REAL disorder?

Well according to the proposed revision to the DSM, the answer is YES:

What do I think? I use the words “disease” and “disorder” many times in referring to my recovery from overeating. Do I think someone sneezed on me and suddenly I felt a need to overeat a bag of chips? Of course not! BUT when I began treating my overeating like it was a disease, I found recovery. And was I addicted to food? Some would say yes, but unlike an alcoholic who drinks, I can’t simply stop eating. But when I utilized tools that recovering alcoholics used, I also found recovery.

Let’s face it, at age 21, weighing at over 300 pounds, I was digging an early grave. So when I got the wake up call that not only this lifestyle was killing me, I needed a cure. A solution. That solution came in the form of clean eating, exercise, therapy, and spirituality. These things saved my life. I would never put myself on the same level as say a diabetes sufferer or a cancer survivor, I did this to myself whether I like to admit it or not. Sure it started young, sure my parents contributed to the problem, sure society sent me negative messages, but I chose to make myself sick. Then one day I chose to make myself better by seeking help and doing whatever it took to live, to rescue myself from the mess I had created.

If you can’t stop on your own and need some extra support, that is OK! You are not weak or lazy or have no willpower, in fact my guess is you excel in many other areas of your life. But you might just be like I was, a person who had screwed up thinking and behaviors when it came to food. So ignore the jargon, ignore the opinions of others, and find your road to recovery. Treat yourself as a sick person trying to get healthy, not as a fat person trying to get thin or a bad person trying to get better. We beat ourselves up enough by doing the things we do with food, now it’s time to start being nice to ourselves for a change.

What is your opinion on binge eating being called a disease, addiction, or disorder?

Zen of Recovery

This has been by far the best book I have read since entering recovery (and I’ve read a lot!). Part of my recovery was joining the 12 step lifestyle which I recommend as a great tool especially for those in early recovery. There are even 12 step fellowships specifically geared toward ED recovery such as Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous and Over-eaters Anonymous. Even if you live in a small town with only AA meetings though, you may find some help there too.

The Zen of Recovery was a wonderful step for someone like me who really struggled with the whole “higher power” concept. Ok, let me rephrase that, I didn’t struggle with it, I KNEW what I believed, but some people made me think that what I believed wasn’t good enough or wasn’t what Bill W. invisioned. Then I picked up this book and found a different view, one that more aligned with how I was already feeling, one that said “this is your recovery.”

My aim here is not to dissuade anyone from attempting to incorporate 12 step into their ED recovery, it’s exactly the opposite. I feel like if you do have trouble with the religious undertones some meetings and people can have, books like this will show you that you can do 12 step and not agree with what everyone else is saying. It really helped me find my own way, my own answers in the steps.

Even if the thought of Zen isn’t for you, or even if your recovery and higher power concept is very stable, I’d still say give this book a read. It has wonderful ideas, stories, and explains the steps in an incredibly simple way that some books and sponsors may lack. In short, it makes it less scary. My book is almost completely underlined and falling apart at the spine at this point, as I always refer to it when struggling with a step or needing a refresher. Has anyone read this book or another book that enhanced their recovery?

I’ve been doing a lot of comparing of apples to oranges this week, as my therapist would call it. I have this constant obsession to compare myself to others and at times, even my recovery to others. For instance I’ll expect to have the same body as say someone who is only in recovery from one side of this disorder, like anorexia, where as I am recovering from a long stretch of what is now called binge eating disorder. At my worst I was over 300lbs, that’s a big orange. So how can I expect to have the same body as an anorexic apple or a bulimic banana? But my brain does, and then mentally beats me up for not making the impossible happen. It is like the equivalent of me yelling at my cat and saying “ughh why are you a cat today, shouldn’t you be an antelope or something!” that’s crazy right? Obviously, but so is my thinking, which is less obvious to me at least.

The worst though, and here is where I do connect with the anorexia side of this disease, is when I compare myself to old “orange” pictures of my own. The ones where I was dieting and overexercising, the ones where I was completely out of my mind and miserable. Yet I look back on those some nights and only remember the small jean size. I forget the ridiculous rituals and how every moment was spent trying to forget the pain in my stomach, everything I did was just an attempt to avoid food and lose weight. That’s no way to live either.

My thinking might be all apples and oranges, but luckily my actions today are not a reflection of that thinking. For me, the thinking takes a lot longer to change than the behavior. What has been your experience?

First time I’ve exercised in a month and it felt really, well, healthy instead of sick. I had taken some time off when I realized my daily hours of punishing my body at the gym were only feeding my disease and replacing one addiction with another. I’ve had spouts of exercise bulimia in my past and I don’t want to go down that road again. Today I went for a nice walk, yes walk. It was very hard not to start running but after some time I began to feel good and really enjoy the moment. I also had a lot of time to think. I spent the walk listening to the new Demi Lovato album I just downloaded off itunes as inspiration that I could get through this exercise disease free, and sure enough that really helped! I’m excited to incorporate exercise back into my recovery.

Why Now?

Honestly, I’ve wanted to start a blog about this for years, but there is always a reason not to. No time, no one is going to read it, I can’t find my left sandal, whatever reason it didn’t happen. After almost 3 years, my recovery hit a rough spot and I decided to try therapy and medication again, as clearly my own means were not working in this battle with, well, myself. In therapy, the writing assignments were getting too tough and my therapist saw me sinking back down into depression even though of course I told her “no I’m fine.” (I wonder if I’ve ever said the words “No, I can’t, I’m not fine.”) She decided it was time to put away the writing for a while and start exploring my feelings with another love, my art.

My answer, start a blog to keep me focused and share my journey through recovery. It is for me but my hope is even as little as one person will come across and find something that helps their life even a tiny bit or at the very least lets them know they are not alone.

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