Addiction: The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
In my opinion, there is no hierarchy when it comes to addiction. All addiction is painful and often traumatic to the person experiencing it.
Addiction Recovery is an ongoing process; one cannot simply be "cured," however one can retain long periods of sobriety. Addiction isn't about simply liking something a bit too much, or the occasional overindulgence; it's about a carnal need to obtain something.
From an early age, I was addicted to food. The specific foods I craved don't matter (it wasn't fresh vegetables). What's important is the sense of powerlessness I had over my food, the incessant thoughts about food, planning my life around food - a hunger that was far beyond anything physical.
There were definitely periods in my life where I had more of a handle on my addiction. I could use various coping skills I had learned throughout therapy to not give in.
But for me, there are so many outside factors that directly impact where I am in my recovery at any given moment.
Last year, I was experiencing severe stress from my employment situation, which led to a relapse in my binge eating disorder.
Why didn't I use those coping skills? Because giving into my addiction was easier and had instant gratification.
Simply put, it felt good - and who doesn't want to feel good when life is making them feel bad?
It started off small because to me a cookie is never really just a cookie; it's the gateway to the entire box of cookies.
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM V), the "bible" of mental health professionals, binge eating disorder is, in fact, an actual diagnosis all on its own.
DSM V explains it better than I ever could:
"Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
2. A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)."
There were countless times I ate not only to the point of extreme discomfort, but often to physical illness. How many times did I end up on the bathroom floor at a friend's holiday party crying from the pain?
This past December I had to make a plea for help.
I had completely given in to my addiction to the point that I did not recognize what an appropriate meal was in regards to portions or food selection.
This was a low I had never plummeted to previously in my decades of battling my food addiction. It was time to get my life back.
To be continued ...
Laura Kaponer is a mental health advocate and social media blogger, as well as a volunteer with the local chapter of NAMI. #LauraKaponeris1in5 (as 1 in 5 Americans have a mental illness)