The story behind the BED Post Blog.
Hello and welcome! I’m Sharon, otherwise known as the BED Post Blog.
My mental health diagnoses are Binge Eating Disorder (BED), depression and anxiety. I struggled with binge eating and anxiety from childhood, and had my first episode of depression when I was 21.
I spent my whole life using food to cope, mostly through bingeing, but also restriction, and at times purging. I kept this secret from everyone around me, including family, only telling GPs on a couple of occasions. They advised diets and exercise due to my size.
In 2013, I started taking anti-depressants. I was going through a difficult time and actively thinking abut ending it all. During that time, I lost my job, partner and home. Thankfully my parents took me in, and I accessed counselling before finding a new job and moving to a new area in 2014.
I had lost almost everything and survived. Now I wanted true recovery. I spoke to my new GP about my relationship with food, and that I’d lost a lot of weight while on anti-depressants. (This happens sometimes with BED.) He was the first to truly believe me. He told me he thought I had BED and referred me to the local Eating Disorder Service.
I received care from them over the next 2 years, with 2 group workshops, then 1:1 therapy, then a mindfulness course, before being discharged.
Then I immediately sabotaged my recovery by weaning off the anti-depressants, then quitting smoking, in the same year. A couple of days after I quit smoking, I received some sad news, and was asked to keep it secret, which of course I did, but it placed me under a lot of stress. I relapsed badly, and for a considerable period of time. My physical health also started to decline at that point, with what was only recently diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Bingeing was still the only way I knew how to cope – it had been my default for nearly 4 decades.
After a while, as my life became more settled, I returned to what I’d learned in therapy. I started following fat creators and ED recovery accounts on social media, which is how I discovered intuitive eating. It intrigued me, and so I decided to try it. It wasn’t an easy journey. I still struggled to recognise hunger and fullness. But gradually, it helped me to gain peace with food, and together with the skills from the acceptance and commitment therapy I had received, I slowly worked towards almost full recovery.
As I write, it is a year since I last binged. In 2021 I binged twice. It is almost 3 years since my last major relapse. When I binge or or use ED behaviours, I take time to reflect on why and learn from it. I eat intuitively as best as I can and only really think about food when I’m hungry. It no longer dominates my waking thoughts.
I am learning to sit with my emotions instead of numbing them; I am also learning to recognise and name my emotions. I developed BED so early in life that I realised I had never had the chance to do this in childhood.
I have found other ways to self-soothe, some positive like stretching, listening to the birds in my garden, or reaching out to friends. Some are not so positive, like online shopping. My blogs, poems, and posts on my social media accounts are basically my way of journaling, but my journal is online for the world to see.
I have learned to be be open with the people in my life, and made true, lasting friendships, which has had a very positive impact on my mental health.
I still have periods when I feel anxious, low in mood, and hate my body, especially when my fibromyalgia symptoms are bad. I also have ED thoughts. But I have the tools to recognise and address them now thanks to the therapy and counselling I have received over the years.
I’ve been raising awareness and sharing my experience for a few years now. What started as a single email on Time to Talk Day 2017 has morphed into a “hobby” which takes up the majority of my free time.
I have been a Time to Change Champion, in the national and now local campaign, for 5 years, but my campaigning stepped up during the pandemic, to support my own mental health and also relieve the boredom of lockdown. In late 2020, I contributed my lived experience to Beat’s 2021 Eating Disorder Awareness Week campaign, which focused on Binge Eating Disorder. Around the same time, I set up this blog and Instagram account of the same name, to share my experience and break down stigma. This was followed with a Twitter account in mid 2020.
More recently, I have appeared on podcasts and local radio, volunteered at a local mental health event, and contributed to a co-design project for eating disorder resources.
I have seen so many people online struggling to get any support for their condition, or being referred to inappropriate services, and wished I had the appropriate skills and training to help. So I am training in peer support, which will enable me to provide that help in a way that utilises my lived experience and the lessons I have learned through campaigning.
A few months back, I saw a tweet from someone in the medical community, who has an eating disorder. She wrote “What we are taught isn’t actually on par with the reality of what it looks like to have an eating disorder.” This perfectly sums up why I am doing this. There is no substitute for lived experience in supporting someone with a mental illness. The shared experience, not having to explain everything because the other person “gets it”. The hope that comes from having someone there who has been through something similar and come out the other side. Because recovery is really hard work and can feel hopeless at times.
And this is even more important for highly stigmatised and secretive mental illnesses like Binge Eating Disorder, where people have often never met others with the same diagnosis when they enter treatment. This was my experience, and one echoed by many I have spoken to since. The more experience is shared, the less alone people will feel.
Wherever this journey takes me, that was always the aim: less stigma and more awareness. Less loneliness for those with eating disorders, but especially BED, and more compassion and understanding in its place.
Thank you so much for being here and taking the time to read. I hope to see you here again soon 💕
Find the podcast episodes here:
All Bodies Recovery Podcast episode 2 https://open.spotify.com/episode/6cSepSEs5FGnHNMOnOHRJU
The Full of Beans Podcast episode 59 https://rss.com/podcasts/fullofbeans/398487/
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