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I’ve written a lot about my story. There was even a period of time really recently where I made the conscious decision to stop. I couldn’t bare it anymore. I have done so much work on separating who I am and what my story is and constantly writing about it was making that difficult. I no longer wanted to define myself or be defined by the things I have been through or my illnesses. I wanted to find the real me under the layer of story and events.

The truth that I’ve come to realize, is that while yes those things don’t define me, they are and will always be part of me. I process through writing and always have. I journaled obsessively for most of my life. It was and is how I cope. I also know how important the value of helping people through shared experience is. So yeah, I still am getting to know who I am under those layers. And yes, I still am shedding my story to make room for new stories. But I doubt I will ever stop writing about those times and those experiences because while they are not who I am they have a large part to do with who I have become. And for that I am grateful.

By the time I was nineteen I weighed over 300 lbs., had been in and out of hospitals, diagnosed as everything from bipolar to ADD, and had dropped out of college in pursuit of health. A pursuit that was held up for two years and caused my second and most severe suicide attempt due to my insurance company claiming I wasn’t sick enough or big enough to warrant the treatment I desperately needed. I was begging for help and the stigma of mental health and the type of eating disorder I suffered from was overpowering that need.

I have a binge eating disorder. For years people didn’t look at this as a serious issue. They called it “emotional eating” and chalked it up to lack of self control. Because I didn’t purge I wasn’t considered a person who had a real problem. Yet I was pre­diabetic and had the beginnings of sleep apnea and barely left my bed or showered for days and very seriously wanted to die. Only recently within the last few years was B.E.D. (binge eating disorder) put in the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a classified illness­­ yet it is the most widely spread eating disorder in the United States to date. 
I have a binge eating disorder. For years people didn’t look at this as a serious issue. They called it “emotional eating” and chalked it up to lack of self control. Because I didn’t purge I wasn’t considered a person who had a real problem.
I think this may be one of the reasons I feel so strongly about speaking and writing about my illness so much. Because for a long time it wasn’t taken seriously by anyone outside of my medical team and family. Because for a long time people like me were forgotten about and left to die. We are so quick to discuss the problem of obesity in this country, but when you bring up mental health and eating disorders the room goes quiet. It is comfortable for someone to talk about their new diet plan and yet somehow uncomfortable for people to talk about what caused them to get to that point in the first place, or the fact that they are in therapy, or what void they were trying to fill.

My void like so many others comes from the sexual abuses of my childhood. They are foggy and mostly gone from my memory. Sometimes even today at 30 years old, ten years after finding recovery, I still doubt whether what I think happened actually happened. It took a lot for me to finally realize that it doesn’t matter. That I don’t need to know. That those memories do not need to resurface in order for me to heal or even feel the damage they had done. I still get embarrassed by them though. They still affect my life in big ways. I still have a dysfunctional relationship with food, and my body, and sex. Honestly, I probably always will.

The thing about being a person in recovery is that it is an active thing. You are not recovered you are in the process and it is a daily practice. I think this is also part of my unrelenting need to constantly share what I’ve been through/ am going through. Selfishly, by putting it out there, it holds me accountable for my health. Eating disorders and mental illnesses are really isolating. Which is another reason why I think it’s so important to share. Not just for fulfilling my own need, but to help someone else know that they are so incredibly not alone or crazy.

I’ve learned very recently the need to accept the parts of myself that for so long I considered bad and felt I needed to get rid of. I have done so much healing work, gone to so many therapists, meditation teachers, and healers. I have been on this path since I was seven years old and yet only this past year did I realize in order to move forward without this story as the definition of who I am, I have to love myself as is, story and all. To read more about my story and my journey from illness to recovery check out my memoir for free at bingemystory.com and follow my blog at sararomeowhite.com