This question comes to us from someone who prefers to remain anonymous.
Q: I hate myself so much. I buy food all the time then I eat some and then I get rid of it by throwing it out so I don’t eat anymore, and then later I go through the garbage can to get it. I’ve even tried pouring coffee grounds or cigarette ashes on top. It doesn’t matter, I’ll eat it anyway. And I’ve even eaten a half eaten slice of pizza out of the garbage that was in the street. I’m disgusting. I’m not poor and I’m not homeless. I’m just gross. I hate myself so much. I can’t believe I do this. I don’t eat off the street very often, just a couple of times, but I’ve eaten out of my garbage, out of my parents garbage, and when I was in college, out of the dorm garbage. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I’m a mess. Can you help me?
A: I am so, so very sorry to hear that you are going through such a tough time. First off, I’m so happy that you reached out for support. What I want you to know is that eating out of the garbage is not uncommon for someone with an eating disorder. You are not alone. I can tell that you are feeling a lot of shame and guilt. This is not a character flaw, this does not make you a bad person, this does not make you disgusting, this does not make you worthy of self hatred. This is a very intense addiction and compulsion that you are dealing with. I would encourage you to get help from a therapist as well as doing some group therapy. I would also encourage you to join a group such as OA or CEAHOW or EDA. You will find others who have acted compulsively with food, whether it be shoplifting food, eating out of the garbage, scavenging or stealing food, or any other type of way that people tend to act on their compulsive desires around food. So many people who deal with these kinds of issues feel so isolated and alone, as though they’re the only person who’s ever done this. However, as I said before, this kind of behavior is very, very common amongst people dealing with an eating disorder. Working to heal your shame and change these behaviors will take active work on your part, however, I think that as you begin to tell your story, you will find hope and healing.
If anyone has any other answers, suggestions, experience, strength or hope, please do feel free to contribute in the comments.
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.