Warning: content may trigger those that have or currently struggle with an eating disorder. There are many facets and complexities that contribute to eating disorders. This is solely a personal share. I’m not a medical professional.
It has been about one year since my last binge and about 13 months since the last time I have purged after a binge. There was a time in my life I didn’t know if I would ever be free from my eating disorder.
I can remember moments where I would fall on my knees, crippled by shame and hopelessness, begging our Father to take this away — Crying to Him that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel that I desperately wanted to see.
At that point, I was just praying for peace to know I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life struggling with this… That there would be a day that I could have a slice of bread and not indulge in the entire loaf, followed by anything else I could find in my fridge or pantry. I remember nights when I would eat three boxes of girl scout cookies, a loaf of bread, more than half a wedge of cheese I had gotten from Trader Joe’s, and an entire bag of banana chips in one sitting. Every day looked different. Different foods that I would binge, different times of the day. If there would be treats at the office, I would sneak several to my desk and go back for more until they were all gone and eaten.
Often times, the foods I would indulge in most were the foods I restricted and wouldn’t allow myself to eat. I used to follow an extremely strict diet and never allowed myself foods that weren’t in alignment with those restrictions. I told myself, and others, that I couldn’t eat those foods because “I don’t have self-control. I can’t just have one or two, I have to have the whole package, so I just avoid those foods”.
I was knee-deep in the fear of food.
I was constantly checking menus of restaurants my friends wanted to go to to make sure there was something I was “allowed to eat”. If there wasn’t, I would suggest a different place or heavily modify a menu item to fit into my parameters of control.
Contrary to popular belief, seeing bones and a frail, tiny frame isn’t the only way those with eating disorders appear. At the height of my bingeing, I had gained a lot of weight. I was the heaviest I had ever been. My confidence plummeted into the negatives. Only one pair of work pants and one pair of jeans still fit me and they would barely zip. Everything felt constricting. I couldn’t wait to come home at the end of the day and take off my pants so the reminder of my weight gain wouldn’t be pressed and digging into my stomach and legs. It was the same with almost all of my tops.
I hated myself more for being so concerned about the weight I had gained. It felt vain. It felt like the most selfish, self-absorbed thing I could’ve been worried about. Quite frankly, I felt like the worst Christian. I was scared to open up to people because I was worried I’d be viewed as a fraud. I was someone who only claimed to love and follow Jesus but behind closed doors struggled with self-control and vanity.
I believed that God’s grace couldn’t cover selfish, chosen actions.
Everything we are taught about Jesus, everything that Jesus is, and the story of the gospel didn’t feel applicable to me at that moment. What I never lost sight of, however, was my knowledge that I couldn’t make it out of this alone. He was going to help me. I didn’t know when, and I didn’t know how, but I knew I needed to hold on tight to the bottom hem of His garment.
I needed to clutch onto the promise that He had, and has, given.
Every ounce of me felt resistant to tell a single soul. The enemy tried so hard to keep my secret in the darkest corner of my heart. Until I finally heard the smallest whisper.
“Tell someone. Tell someone immediately.”
One of my best friends and I had plans to get coffee that morning and I knew that was what the Spirit was telling me — that I needed to share what I was doing in the confines of my home.
Another small whisper in my heart told me I needed to see a therapist. I had been to therapy throughout my adolescence for other traumas and even just when I needed to work through a tough decision. What I learned in therapy was profound. The issue was far deeper than food. The issue was deeply rooted in other trauma and avoiding feelings and emotions that came with processing those past events.
Obviously, I am not God. I will never truly know the reasons for when, why, and how.
I still see a therapist, every week. No longer about food but instead about difficult emotions I’m struggling with. But honestly, my tiny human brain really believes that the Lord used my eating disorder as a way I would finally listen and seek healing.
That it would finally allow me to hit my “rock bottom” emotionally so that my only options were clinging to Him and saying “I trust you. I trust you fully and I know you can do anything. If you can move the mountains, you can heal me.”
Jenny Gogol is a native Texan turned Coloradoan with a business degree from Nebraska U. She is now living in Dallas, TX. With an ear to listen and passion for encouragement, Jenny enjoys having deep rooted conversations and speaking words that build others up. Jenny is an avid adventure seeker and Christ follower and finds immense joy on seeing Jesus in the smallest of details.
Follow along with her on Instagram @js.gogs
Note from the Editor: If you are struggling… you are not alone. We have women who are ready and willing to walk through this with you. Reach out to us if you need a listening ear and an open heart. You are so loved, so valuable, so worthy, so beautiful.