Today and this week marks a rather special milestone for me: I am officially 2 years binge free. 2 years! I am, as you would no doubt expect, delighted.
To celebrate this, I would like to share with you the day that changed and saved my life.
Let me paint a picture of the person I was 2 years ago before this momentous day happened. My hair was very short and very blonde, I was still working as an actress and I was around 6 months into my relationship with future husband. My life had improved immensely if you compare it back to a year previously (2 dress meltdown). I had felt liberated and gave myself a new lease of life by chopping off my trademark long curly brown hair into a short blonde crop. Drastic change of style meant I wanted to be a different person and I did feel that way for a while, and falling in love was another obvious wonderful occurrence.
I could feel myself changing, my life was changing for the better, yet despite it all, the one thing I hoped would have been eradicated in the process hadn’t: I was still binging. My binges weren’t as severe or as regular as they had been in the past, but they were still happening and equally as upsetting because I was suppose to be a different person now. I had love and new look: that meant I physically couldn’t be the same Danielle that was a binger….right?
And on top of that future husband would never, ever know. I swore and promised harder to myself more than anything else: Even if we’re together forever, he would never know my binging shame.
For this next part I am only going to be specific regarding details of my own feelings which I hope you’ll understand is to protect and respect others right to privacy.
The day that everything changed, I went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life. Yes I’ll admit that before I walked into that open meeting I was extremely nervous, sceptical and yes, I was probably even slightly judging the folk I was yet to meet – which perhaps resulted in intensifying the revelation I had.
My main concern going to this meeting was that I would be perceived as a fraud – I am not in fact an alcoholic, but that didn’t matter. I was accepted no questions asked into a warm and friendly environment and over the course of the next 90 minutes I grew complete and utter admiration and respect for every single person in that room, I was completely humbled by them.
Their unashamed honesty made me feel privileged to be sitting in the same room and their example set a powerful motion in myself, I wanted to emulate them. They were brave, they were able to talk about themselves without judgement, they could be honest without fear: I was inspired to do the same. If I didn’t then that would have made me more of a fraud than not being an alcoholic.
I left that meeting uplifted, inspired and smiling. Not only was I not as afraid of revealing my secret, I wanted to, which is what I did not long after. I confided into someone about my binging and I received some amazing words in return that I was not at all expecting ‘I know how you feel.’ If exorcisms are real then this is what I imagine they would feel like. Something lifted from shoulders, that urge, that force, whatever it was that drove me to binge dissipated, I felt a calm, peaceful sensation wash over me. We talked and we shared about our similar problems and experiences, our own little meeting.
And it didn’t stop there, once I had let it out there was one more person I was desperate to tell: Future husband. I literally couldn’t wait to get home so I could finally explain that last piece of the puzzle that he was never going to get his hands on otherwise. Of course I was still scared, I cried and I could only whisper the words ‘I binge eat’ but I did it and the burden was once again relieved from my mind and my body.
Up until that point there had been changes that were helping me defeat binge eating disorder, but I was never going overcome it until I was honest. Keeping it bottled up, trying to push it far away into the distance, pretending to others it didn’t exist was never going to work. It needed the complete opposite, it needed to come forward, to be said aloud so that it didn’t have the same power over me any more. The shame and secrecy could only be challenged once it was out in the open and even though that thought seems even more terrifying and horrifying and that the easier option would be to just keep the secret where it is: don’t. Please don’t. Get it out, tell someone. I’m not saying the solution is telling a huge audience or writing about it on the internet every week, but please do the best thing you can for yourself and your mental illness or even something that’s simply worrying you – confide in someone you trust. I promise it will help. It was the best thing I ever did.
Here I am 2 years on from that pivotal day without a binge. It hasn’t been an easy road, it certainly didn’t mean my life and how I felt about myself instantly went to fantastic – instead it was the beginning of another journey, which again sounds like hard work, but trust me it’s a lot easier and enjoyable than a life where I’m still binging and I wouldn’t be on the recovery road it right now unless I took that leap of faith 2 years ago.