I was 21 years old when I was diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder, though I suffered from it since I was 13 years old. Binge Eating Disorder is a disorder in which you consume unusually large amounts of food very quickly and feel unable to stop eating.
How it Happened to Me
I was 13 years old when I had my first binge experience. Over many years I was bullied at school. Feelings such as helplessness overwhelmed me every day. The food was something that I could control and it wouldn’t hurt me, at least, not like people had hurt me. Before I knew what was happening, I would binge eat every day. An example of a binge episode for me would be eating two bags of chips, a whole box of waffles, a sandwich, etc. Basically, anything I could get my hands on while I was feeling this overwhelming incapability of not being able to help myself.
I hid what had happened to me and my reaction to it from my family. I would hide the food in my bag and eat it later in the car. I would throw the wrappers away in the trash cans outside the house so that my parents didn’t see it inside. I was ashamed and I didn’t want anybody to know what I was going through or what I was doing. It took ten years for me to tell my family, and during that time span I constantly battled with anxiety and keeping what I was doing secret. I didn’t exactly know what I was doing to my body. During this time, for a long time, I didn’t think that God heard my prayers.
I started to get worried when I gained twenty pounds in the span of three months. I had been binge eating for years, but my binge eating had escalated and my activity level had dropped due to a back injury. As incredible as it seems, it didn’t connect in my mind that all the eating I was doing was causing the weight gain. This is typical with people suffering from a mental disorder—you disassociate your behavior from the consequences. I scheduled an appointment with my family doctor to discuss with her my concerns over my rapid weight gain. She was the one who recognized the signs and asked me if I wanted help.
That is one of the hardest questions that I had to answer. By getting help, I would be talking to a therapist to figure out the reason that I was eating so much. I would have to lay out something that I had been keeping secret for ten years. I was scared because it felt like all the defenses I had put up to protect myself were falling down around me.
Some kind of courage possessed me that day and I agreed to get help. At first, it was scary, but I found I really wanted to go through the therapy because I wanted to change who I had become. I prayed constantly to God for help in dealing with this eating disorder. This sparked the realization that God was hearing my prayers.
After a while, through a combination of therapy and reaching out to God, it was easy for me to see the difference in my life. I could see that God had given me extra strength and courage so that I would be able to be humble and admit I needed help and seek out the right people who could help me. With their help, I was able to face the weakness that I had been ashamed of for so long.
One of the things that I have learned from life is that you have to expect the unexpected. When my eating disorder was diagnosed, I was thrown for a loop. The only thing that I focused on during that time was finding extra strength with God so that I could learn to cope with my emotions better. Some of the things I did to help feel Heavenly Father’s love and strength were to say my prayers (even when I felt like He wasn’t listening), read my scriptures, read talks from our church leaders, and go to church and the temple.
“Even so, it seems that in every family, if not in every person, some physical conditions exist that require special care. A pattern for coping with such a challenge has been given by the Lord. He said, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; … for if they humble themselves … and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Decisions for Eternity, President Russell M. Nelson).
Sometimes, we have to walk through darkness to get to the light. My eating disorder was my darkness. It kept me from fully interacting with God and made me feel worthless, that God wouldn’t care about me because I was broken. To know that God’s love is there for me during the times that I am sad is such a great comfort to me. Once I believed that God could love me, that crippling sadness was gone. Because of that situation, I grew closer to God. He has truly molded me.
I had to trust in God that he had me go through this for a reason. Trusting in God was a process because I had to let go of my control and trust in Him. By trusting in Him, I was able to let go of the eating disorder. Because of all these trials, I have grown closer to God and I constantly feel His love surrounding me.
“Don’t give up. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. You keep your chin up. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come” (An High Priest of Good Things to Come, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland).
Trusting in God does bring good things. We may not see them now, but they do come. I know that he loves us with everything He has. He will always be there for us.