My descend into darkness : BingeEatingDisorder

Before i start, just wanted to preface that im not really looking for advice. I just want to share my experience with BED in the hopes that others can sympathize with my experience.I grew up in a fairly healthy and normal middle class family in north america. My parents had a healthy relationship with food, they never forced me to finish my meals, and i never really ate in secret when i was a kid. One behaviour of note however was that when we went out to restaurants i was always anxious that there wouldn’t be enough food, leading me to always prefer larger portions. I stopped having anxiety over portion size in my teens. For all of high school i had a great relationship with food. I ate 3 meals a day like clockwork, no snacking, i did a moderate amount of sports and exercise and overall i was in great shape with a BMI of 22.Skipping to my first year of college. To save money i decided to rent a room in an apartment off-campus with random strangers instead of living in the dorms on campus. This is where i believe the earliest signs of BED start to emerge. Since I’m essentially living alone, I’m now in charge of making all my meals. I love cooking, so at first I’m pretty organized, I’m buying lots of healthy foods, doing meal preps, inviting friends over for home cooked meals, ect. However, since im off campus, im having a hard time making new friends, my high school friends are busy with their new lives, and i start to get lonely. I start smoking cannabis, and drinking alcohol alone in my room on weekends, and slowly i lose the habit of preparing all my meals. I start ordering takeout, some nights i just buy 2 bags of chips and call it a supper. Fortunately, i start making new friends, and things are getting better, and i more or less make a full recovery. Yet, something changed. When i encounter a relatively mild stressor, like dealing with an upcoming deadline (like writing a paper), i start coping by binge eating, drinking and smoking cannabis. I even start engaging in this behaviour after dealing with stressful social situations (like avoiding going to a party because i want to avoid X person at party). This follows me for all of my college degree (4 years). Thankfully, it didnt occur that frequently (maybe 1-4 times a month). I gained a bit of weight during this time, average BMI was around 25-30, but since i had a really healthy social life (especially in the last 3 years) I had the necessary social supports to eat in a healthy manner and to have social supports in times of stress. One thing of importance was that when i reached 30 BMI in my last year. I started a calorie counting diet and lost 30lbs, going back down to 25BMI (i was told later, by a psychologist that this might have exacerbated later binge episodes)I start my Master’s degree in 2018 with a BMI of 25. This is where things take a turn for the worst. I move cities, and essentially lose all my friends, but thankfully my common law partner moves with me in the new city. I start developing a serious case of imposter syndrome. I’m asked to write scientific peer-reviewed publications and to essentially come up with brand new hypotheses and theories. At the same time im expected to essentially learn how to code in python so i can write programs to better analyze data, I’m also taking multiple advanced graduate seminars, I’m presenting findings at prestigious conferences, I’m socializing with visiting professors, ect…… I quickly become a ball of anxiety and stress. This is where i start showing the classic signs of BED. I start eating large amounts in secret. I start lying to my partner about needing to stay up late to finish some work, but in reality im planning to binge eat while they are sleeping. My partner quickly notices what is going, given that whole blocks of cheese are going missing, the cereal boxes… you get the picture. My partner makes the connections and tells me that i should go see my family doctor because i might have an eating disorder. At first im in a state of denial. I tell my partner that this is just temporary and that im just a little stressed at school. A couple months go by and things only get worse. All my clothing doesnt fit anymore, after weighing myself i discover that im at 31 BMI the fattest ive ever been. I decide to go see my family doctor. My doctor goes through the basic DMS-5 diagnostic criteria and quickly diagnoses me with BED. She refers me to an eating disorder clinic where multiple psychologist are actively practicing and accepting new patients. I did 3 1/hour sessions with a psychologist but i had to stop seeing him because he was very judgmental (trying to convince me to stop being vegetarian and to start eating fish), he also seemed convinced that my problems would be fixed if i hate more food for breakfast and less for supper. I just didn’t feel like i was making progress. So i find an other psychologist at an other clinic. This time i feel like it’s more productive. She decides to use Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) with me and we discover that i engage in lots of “Cognitive distortions”. Due to stress and imposter syndrome i would often conceptualize of problems/task in a negative fashion, i would often catastrophize. For example, when i received constructive comments from my supervisor from a publication i was writing, i would often say to myself “wow this means im terrible, ill probably fail my defense, ill never be accepted into a good phd program, ill probably die alone and in debt….”… essentially id have a tendency to over-analyze fairly mundane day to day tasks into a very negative thing. Which incentivized me to avoid actually working and instead engage in coping behaviours like binge eating and procrastinating.The CBT helped me out a bit, in that it reduced the occurrence of binges, but i was still binging every week. After the 12th session, my insurance plan ran out and i had to stop the therapy sessions. Literally the month after, covid hits. The little social support i had is cut off. My research is put on hold. I’m no longer commuting by bike to the lab everyday, so i essentially stop exercising completely. This is where the depression hits me. For a while i just brushed it off as a normal feature of the Covid lockdowns, but months after covid, even after the lockdown measures were eased i still felt depressed. However there’s a specific day where it really it me. My masters is related to clinical work, and part of my work involves diagnosing Major Depression Disorder (MDD). One day im training a new student via zoom on how to use the standardized assessment form we use for MDD. I’m pretending to be someone with MDD so he can practice his assessment skills. As im pretending to have MDD during the training, i have a mini internal panic attack as i realize that i check off all the boxes for MDD according to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. That evening i confess to my partner that ive been feeling depressed, and that i sometimes even have suicidal thoughts. Sometimes i walk out on my balcony (high rise) and i contemplate how nice it would feel if i just jumped off. I’ve never really seriously considered it, but simply having the thought, especially if it’s re-occuring is sufficient to diagnose someone with MDD. My partner is really supportive and they suggest that i reach out to a psychologist again. So the next day i contact a bunch of psychologist, but all of them are full due to covid and wait-lists are months long. I get discouraged so i just suffer through i try to focus on my work.At this point im really not productive at work. I’m in my last semester and i asked for an extension because i know im way behind with my thesis. This is where things get really grim. I start displaying serious cognitive symptoms of depression. My ability to plan out my work is severely impacted. Im constantly missing deadlines. When i miss deadlines i dont even care that much. I cant focus for very long. For example, i write 2 sentences in my thesis and immediately start scrolling social media, or watch youtube. Just the thought of working makes me anxious because i know ill have to start thinking about all the deadlines i missed, about how my supervisors are disappointed in me, about how bad my ideas are, how im useless, how my research is a waste of money and time ect…. My partner also notices that I dont pay attention when they talk to me. They might talk for 1 minute and im looking at them in the eyes while they talk, and all the while im just thinking about something else and i completely forget to pay attention to what they are saying. This becomes so common that they even start to get frustrated since my partner has to repeat themselves so many times.I’m having a hard time keeping friendships, i keep ghosting friends and family, i cancel outings with them. And throughout all this im binging almost everyday. 3 months ago i weighted myself and my BMI was at 38. I know that i gained weight since then, since my new jeans that i bought can barely fit me anymore. But im literally too afraid to weigh myself. I feel totally trapped. Most of the time im either thinking about planning my next binge or thinking about doing an extended fast until i lose lots of weight. This has basically been my life for the last year. I maybe do 10 hours of work a week, i binge almost everyday, my social life is a mess, i feel like im destroying my relationship with my partner, and im extremely scared that my partner will leave me because of what i have become. On top of that ive recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure and fatty liver disease. My doctor says that it is most probably caused by my stress levels and my BED. Earlier today i filled for my 4th extension for my masters degree. There’s actually a chance they wont approve it this time and ill essentially be kicked out of my program. Some part of me wishes that im kicked out, because maybe it will give me the breathing space to focus on my mental health. But idk if ill be able to live with myself knowing that i spent 4 years of my life getting into debt, slaving away all for nothing.This is the first time ive opened up before. It’s hard for me, but despite it being a old stereotype, i do really think that as a man I’ve been conditioned to avoid talking openly about my emotions and my deepest insecurities. I actually cried a bit while writing this up. And it actually feels good, definitely some catharsis going on.Anyways, i feel like i could have written 10 times more, but this is post is already long enough as is. Feel free to ask me any questions. ill try to answer as honestly as i can.

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