Binge eating disorder (BED) affected not only Tiffany but those around her as well.
Before she was diagnosed, Tiffany* tried her best to hide her symptoms of binge eating disorder from her friends, but she suspected they took notice of how she would avoid going out, especially when going shopping for clothing.
The only people who knew about her BED were her parents and her boyfriend.
Tiffany had a close relationship with her parents. Her dad, a psychiatrist, was always supportive and taught her how to be aware of her own personal feelings and to ask for help. Her parents felt horrible seeing Tiffany suffer, and they did everything they could to help her, but her recovery had to come from within.
Tiffany and her boyfriend were also very close, with a relationship built on trust. Before finding out she had BED, she often expressed her negative feelings about her body to him. He tried to reassure her as much as he could, but he was left frustrated because he couldn't understand why she was feeling this way.
Then she sought help. Tiffany says that the hardest thing was to admit she had a problem. After addressing her other health conditions, her symptoms of BED came to the forefront of her attention. She was no longer able to attribute them to other conditions. But despite her knowledge of mental health, Tiffany had never heard of binge eating disorder until she was diagnosed.
Tiffany's psychiatrist was knowledgeable and empathetic. The consultation centred on her thoughts and concerns as well as on the neuroscience behind her feelings. One of the greatest benefits of the consultation, she notes, was the validation she received. The psychiatrist's explanations provided Tiffany with answers she needed and reassurance that her symptoms were because of a medical condition.
After being diagnosed with BED, Tiffany did a lot of self-reflection. She wanted to understand how she felt about it and why she felt that way. Writing down her feelings helped put things into perspective.
Next, she did something truly difficult: she told others she was suffering from BED. The first people she told were her parents, who were very reassuring and validating. When she told her boyfriend, he surprised Tiffany by being genuinely interested in BED. Although it was difficult for him to understand initially, he tried his best by asking questions in a clarifying, non-judgmental way. Tiffany found this very helpful for both of them. Not only did it strengthen their relationship, it increased his understanding of mental health.
Now, Tiffany is very open about her condition. She’s told her friends about her condition and has even opened up to her medical school classmates about her experience during discussions about mental health and eating disorders.
*Tiffany, whose real name is not disclosed to protect her privacy, is a Canadian in her early 20s and is currently enrolled in medical school. She hopes that, as a future physician, she may be able to educate and help many others through their general and mental health struggles, including those with BED.