Moving Beyond Shame

Recovery Warriors - Moving Beyond Shame

As someone in recovery from binge eating disorder, shame in the way I look and the validity of my illness was something I struggled with for a very long time. When I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder, I was considered to have EDNOS(Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). When I first opened up to someone about the nature of my disorder they said, “ So what! Does that mean you just eat a lot of cake or something?” I was mortified, and this statement solidified the way I perceived society would look at me and my disorder. I didn’t feel my disorder was valid because I didn’t look “sick enough” and I wasn’t going to die.

After greater research and the addition of Binge eating disorder to the DSM-5 in 2013, more people started coming forth with the illness, and I didn’t feel so alone anymore. In all honesty, I never really felt alone in my disorder. I always shared the same emotions and fears as others I have encountered with an eating disorder, my illness just manifested itself differently, which doesn’t make it any less than any other disorder.

When people think of Eating Disorders, they have this image in their head of what an Eating Disorder should look like. Whatever that image is, regardless of what it is, it’s an image molded by societies ignorance of eating disorders. An eating disorder is not a body shape, an eating disorder is first and foremost an illness. By identifying an eating disorder as specific “body type” gives the illness power because it’s being classified by superficial, physical traits that takes away from the underlying meaning of its existence. We have heard countless times that it’s not about the food, the way you look, your body type, but rather about the emotions, attitude, and overall perception of yourself that plays into the disorder.

Every eating disorder is valid, and there is no shame in not being the “typical” eating disorder because there is no “typical” look of the disorder nor should an eating disorder ever be considered “typical”.

Binge eating disorder occurs in 1 out of 35 Americans, and is considered to be the most common eating disorder, so why is there such a stigma?

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1 Comment

  • Thank you so much for speaking out about BED. I too have felt shame and uncertainty when admitting my diagnosis. In fact just a few weeks ago I struggled to get travel insurance as none of the insurers I called had ever encountered it!

    I honestly believe that it is only through sharing our experiences that we can continue to grow the community and increase societal validity of BED.

    I think you’re spot on in pointing out that the symptoms of other EDs have become synonymous with EDs, as opposed to the triggers and the thought process behind them. Of course, as with every other mental health illness, other people can only relate as far as their own personal experience or second hand understanding can take them. So I suppose it really is up to those of us who have suffered or are suffering to stand up and have our stories heard, to feel counted and valid and understood.

    Thank you so much for highlighting this!

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