“…but my best guess at a diagnosis is binge eating disorder.”
When I first heard those words, I sat in shock. I knew that I had a problem with food – I mean, that’s the reason I sought help in the first place – but I didn’t think it had a name. As I sat listening to the woman, explain the diagnosis, everything sort of made sense. The feel of panic around food, but the simultaneous comfort that it brought. Then the shame and guilt of eating. And the cycle that started all over again.
The woman doing my intake encouraged me to go through an intensive outpatient program (IOP) that the treatment center had just created for binge eating. Numbly, I nodded my head. I needed to do this to get myself healthy – physically and mentally.
I wasn’t prepared for how DIFFICULT treatment was. Thankfully, I ended up with an amazing, supportive group of women that understood where I was coming from. We laughed and cried and everything in between in the nine weeks we spent together.
I learned a lot about myself during those nine weeks. Why I ran for food when I was stressed, bored, upset, happy, or any other emotion. Why I struggled with body image and felt the need to be thin – because I had always equated thin with beautiful, but treatment changed that for me. I went from thinking that I needed to be thin to needing to be healthy.
The biggest thing that I discovered about myself, though, was a total surprise. It had nothing to do with what I worked through in therapy – my past relationships, my childhood, growing up poor, anything.
It was how STRONG I am.
If you’ve never been in therapy, it’s a really humbling experience. But it’s also an experience that is empowering. It takes strength to overcome all of the crap in your life and to move on. Part of what I learned throughout recovery is that my past doesn’t define my future, and the only way I can get past this is to challenge my negative thoughts. That takes strength too, because it’s so easy to let those negative voices take over. Part of gaining strength was also learning what makes me tick. What stresses me out, what upsets me, what makes me happy. And then using my newfound strength to deal with it, instead of sinking into my eating disorder.
My strength comes from within. I am my own motivator these days. A little less than a year after I finished my IOP, I ended up having gastric bypass surgery. Along with overcoming an eating disorder, this was the hardest thing I have done. People think it’s the “easy way out” but it’s really not. I still struggle every day with food – I can’t binge anymore, even if I wanted to. That’s where the strength comes in. It comes in different forms – blogging and sharing my feelings. Going for a run and pushing myself harder than before. Learning new coping skills (my favorites are blogging, running, and coloring!).
I am so happy with my newfound strength. I rock it whenever I can (so basically…all the time). I am so much more confident than before I went through eating disorder treatment and had bariatric surgery. Even though it took those two events to find this strength, I wouldn’t change a thing. Where would I be without it?
Chani Coady is the resident blogger at chanigetshealthy.com, where she blogs about getting healthy, body, mind and spirit! She lives in Ohio with her husband, dog, and cat.