Marie's story: Overcoming Binge Eating

It first started when I was at school when I was 16. I grew up in a quite stressful environment. My parents have always worked really hard running their own business and have quite high standards.

Without meaning too, they have always put pressure on my sister and I to be the best at everything we do from a very young age. I felt that I had to be at the top of the class, and whatever marks got, my mum would often ask "why didn't you get more" and "how much did so and so get?"

I was very studious and felt that I was constantly letting them down. My mum also experienced depression at that time which made things difficult as I felt that I always had to be careful with what I said to her not to upset her and her mood was changing constantly. I felt under a lot of pressure and coming home was not very relaxing. When she was in a bad mood, I couldn't help feeling that I had done something wrong.

She was also quite strict in terms of her diet. She is a beautiful woman and staying slim is very important to her. Growing up, she always made negative comments about food: "œDon't eat too much of this, it's too rich," or "that has too much sugar". I started dissociating what I eat as 'œgood food'€ and 'bad food'. This, alongside the pressure to be '€œperfect', made me feel that I was not good enough, which worsened after putting on a few pounds after taking the pill.

Being '€œfat'€ was not acceptable in my house, I tried dieting and it didn't work and felt so frustrated by not eating what I wanted that I started binge eating.

When no one was around I would sneak into the kitchen and eat large quantities of food very quickly. I couldn't control it. I felt awful and ashamed of myself. I would then compensate by over exercising which meant that nobody could tell I had a problem as my weight remained the same. I would sometimes go to the gym three times a day. This went on for a couple of years and it took me a while to realise I had a problem and affected my relationships and my mood greatly.

Once I realised this could not go on, I did some research and found an amazing self-help CBT-based book on overcoming binge eating. It was a real eye opener and everything I had been feeling for so many years was written down on paper.

I started practicing the exercises and slowly began to feel better and my binge episodes started to decrease. I also quit my very stressful job and found a much more fulfilling one which also increased my confidence. I still have the odd days when I feel vulnerable such as when I am under a lot of stress but I gradually learnt to take control of how I feel and find other ways to deal with those feelings. I still exercise but for pleasure and don't see it solely as a way to burn calories.

I've also opened up to people and found that talking about how I feel is very helpful. I am passionate about mental health and decided to share my story to help fight stigma and discrimination hoping that it will encourage others to speak out about their issues.