My ED Recovery story
I first started to feel negatively towards my body around the tender age of 9 or 10. Something didn’t feel right and I didn’t feel like I completely fit in with those around me. Fast forward a year or two, and my negative body image started to form. I was taller than most girls and all of the boys. On top of that, I developed fairly early. Then the teenage years came. That’s when I really started to notice how different my body was. What a sweet set up for high school, right? Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed high school and made great friends, but I had my struggles. Not only did I feel that my body was different, but I was also starting to notice how uncomfortable I was in my body. I looked at all the other girls I was surrounded by daily and started to compare. All I did was compare myself to every girl around me at all times.
It was a tape that played in my head. I wanted to be in basically anyone else’s body but my own.
Around this time of budding teenage angst, I realized I had some binge eating behaviors. When I was 18 and about to go to college, I knew something was a little off, but I couldn’t really figure out what it was. College arrived in a fast and furious manner. I turned to food even more than I did in high school. I saw food as a way to heal or solve any unwanted or unsettling emotions. I saw food as an escape from my body. I also was introduced to shame. Shame went basically everywhere I went. I felt shame almost every time I got dressed in “going out” clothes, and every time I didn’t do something perfectly right. It would constantly tell me “you are not smart. You are not worthy. You’re just not good enough” So as you can imagine, I was constantly disappointing myself. This ever-present disappointment turned into depression. I didn’t want to get out bed. I didn’t want to be seen or go out with my friends. I made excuses for almost everything, and I missed out on a lot.
As the years went on, I continued to use food to numb the fact that I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. It got the point that I would look in the mirror and be completely dissatisfied with what I saw. Not only did I use food but sometimes alcohol too. As these behaviors and unsettling emotions started to form, it became the perfect storm. I was just using food as anything but nourishment. Honestly, anything. I had no healthy coping skills for any of these emotions. Food and a negative body image truly took control over my life by the time I was age 21/22. I started to really isolate and hide. I missed out on so many things. I didn’t go out because I felt like I wasn’t worthy of getting dressed up (missed a lot of fun sorority events because of this). I didn’t feel like I was worthy to be seen. I felt paranoid every single time I went out and someone looked at me because I thought they were looking at my body. I can look back on some of my college experience with fondness, but it’s mostly consumed with shame. For those years, in particular, I felt extremely disconnected. I had no true connection to myself and didn’t feel like I had a true identity. I was completely and utterly lost.
The few years that took place now and college were okay. I like to refer to them as the between years. But, I realized that I still wasn’t happy. I was never satisfied with what I saw in the mirror. So here I am, 25, trying to understand why can I not get this problem under control. Everyone seems to be so normal and I have all these problems. What am I doing wrong?
I entered treatment on June 26 of 2018 and it was the best decision I ever made.
I have binge eating disorder, and even though it’s not the most well known, it’s the most common. Binge eating disorder is frequently overeating due to distress or lack of control. It goes beyond the feeling of stuffed or eating a lot just on occasion and it’s usually followed by more distress, shame, and embarrassment.
The thing that I have realized by being in treatment is how rooted in secrecy and shame eating disorders are.
I’ve been pretending everything’s ok when it’s not just for the sake of others, and for the sake of not truly feeling those uncomfortable emotions. Quite honestly, I’m pretty done being secretive and harboring intense shame. It’s so exhausting to go through life like that. I’ve done it for almost 7 or so years. As I go through the recovery process, I’m realizing how important authenticity is and that I am open about my struggles. By being open, it helps people understand me more. I hope that after reading this, people not only have a better understanding of binge eating disorder but a better understanding of me.
I know now that it’s important for you to be kind to yourself, to trust yourself, and to know that you’re worth fighting for...no matter what.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MAURA HAWFIELD
Maura is 25 years old and currently resides in Houston, Texas. She works for a great nonprofit organization as a development and events assistant. She loves the beach. After treatment, she became committed to being an advocate for positive body image and for eating disorder awareness. In Maura’s words, “Life’s too short, so it should be filled with as many laughs and moments with loved ones as humanly possible.”