I have suffered an unhealthy relationship with food since adolescence. For thirty-five years, I hid my tendency to treat food like Xanex or Valium. But by my mid-forties, the food benders were coming ever more frequently, and I found that I had little control over my ability to stuff food in my mouth. This summer, two years after the American Psychiatric Association published a revised DSM V, a therapist diagnosed me with Binge Eating Disorder (BED). I began treatment--partial hospitalization and then an Intensive Outpatient Program--for this mental health issue.
As a result of BED--as well as co-occurring depression and anxiety--my weight has ballooned more than sixty pounds. Now at 5' 7" and 202 lbs., I find myself at the average weight of the ideal NFL running back. I have not gone for more than a cursory run, an activity I had once loved, in many months. In recovery, I look forward to finding my "new normal," and regular running will be part of the active lifestyle I seek to embrace. In effect, I am going from "couch potato" to 10 K. in honor of my precious and longtime friend, who was always, in life, and now in death, such a support when I was going through hard times.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, this term signifies an illness "characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards." People with BED often gain weight, but, far from merely an aesthetic dilemma, this mental health disorder can be diagnosed as "life threatening."