At one point, Gabe weighed more than 550 pounds. Today, he and Lisa remember and discuss the extreme pain and slow healing process of living with binge-eating disorder. Gabe shares his shame in being so overweight, his intense relationship with food, the story of his gastric bypass and the difficult process of learning new coping mechanisms.
How did Gabe’s bipolar and panic attacks tie in with his binge eating? And, importantly, how is he managing the illness today? Join us for an open and honest discussion on living with an eating disorder.
Please Subscribe to Our Show: And We Love Written Reviews!
About The Not Crazy podcast Hosts
Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.
Lisa is the producer of the Psych Central podcast, Not Crazy. She is the recipient of The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s “Above and Beyond” award, has worked extensively with the Ohio Peer Supporter Certification program, and is a workplace suicide prevention trainer. Lisa has battled depression her entire life and has worked alongside Gabe in mental health advocacy for over a decade. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband; enjoys international travel; and orders 12 pairs of shoes online, picks the best one, and sends the other 11 back.
Computer Generated Transcript for “Binge Eating Disorder” Episode
Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Lisa: You’re listening to Not Crazy, a psych central podcast hosted by my ex-husband, who has bipolar disorder. Together, we created the mental health podcast for people who hate mental health podcasts.
Gabe: Welcome, everyone, to this episode of Not Crazy. My name is Gabe Howard, and I am here with my ever present co-host, Lisa.
Lisa: Hey, everyone, and today’s quote is Food is love, food is life by Edwina O’Connor.
Gabe: Ok. There’s so much to say about this. But food is life. It’s life. Oxygen is life. Oh, that’s so deep, you should put this.
Lisa: It’s profound.
Gabe: Like this is like live, laugh, love.
Gabe: You need food to survive. So we all get that you have to eat to live. But food has sort of taken on a little bit extra, right? If I give you a cupcake, it means I love you. If it’s your birthday and I don’t get you a birthday cake. You don’t need a birthday cake to live. We do these things to express love, right?
Lisa: So it works both directions, giving people food is love and accepting their food says I love you back.
Gabe: Woo! And that’s where we really sort of get into, I’m gonna go with crux of our discussion today, which is binge eating disorder. Many people don’t know, I used to weigh 550 pounds. I’m six foot three. My top weight was five hundred and fifty pounds.
Lisa: You realize your top weight was a lot closer to six hundred and fifty pounds.
Gabe: That’s not true. I never weighed over 600.
Lisa: I’m willing to bet that you weighed over six hundred.
Gabe: I did not. I know for a fact.
Lisa: The day you had gastric bypass, you weighed 554 pounds, but you’d been on a diet for several weeks and you’ve been fasting for several days. I’m willing to bet you lost 20 or 30 pounds at least.
Gabe: There is one thing that fat people know more than anything else, especially fat people who have lost a lot of weight, they know their top weights.
Lisa: Ok, well, never mind. Go back, unpause.
Gabe: No, we don’t need to pause at all. I think you should leave this in there. I want people to see how often Lisa pauses to correct me.
Lisa: You’re welcome.
Gabe: Do you think that there is a difference from a storytelling perspective between weighing five hundred and fifty pounds and weighing six hundred pounds? I mean, just I guess I maybe I qualified for This 600-lb Life.
Lisa: Yeah, see, there you go. I didn’t set the limit. Somebody else did.
Gabe: Well, I’m not going to retroactively go back and try to be on a fat-sploitation show. But just the thing that I want the audience to know is that I weighed over five hundred and fifty pounds. Now, the weight that I weigh today, which according to the BMI chart is in fact obese, is 260 pounds. I’m six foot three and I’m a big guy. I’m broad shouldered. I’m not a small person. But 260 pounds is is less than half of 550. I lost a person. I lost a person and change.
Lisa: Yeah, it’s very impressive. This was a long time back. You had gastric bypass in 2003 and you’ve kept it off all these years.
Gabe: Let’s move past how I lost the weight and let’s talk about life as a five hundred and fifty pound man. Because I thought that I just ate a lot. Like, I thought that I needed to go on a diet. And when you first met me. I don’t know. You know, the more we tell our story, Lisa,
Lisa: The crazier I sound?
Lisa: Yeah, I’ve noticed that.
Gabe: You met a man that weighed five hundred and fifty pounds with untreated bipolar disorder. And you were like, yeah.
Lisa: You were very engaging. You Gabe magicked me.
Gabe: Gonna get me some of that.
Lisa: Yeah. You carried it well. What can I say?
Gabe: Oh, really? I just I dressed so well? You know, you get the right tailor, you can hide anything with clothing.
Lisa: It’s amazing. Yeah.
Gabe: But back to our point, I thought that I just ate a lot. I thought I was just overweight, like so many Americans and I.
Lisa: You’re remembering the story a little bit different. By the time I met you, you had already been diagnosed with binge eating disorder.
Gabe: That’s not true. That is completely untrue.
Lisa: That is true.
Gabe: That’s not true. Nope.
Lisa: That is true.
Lisa: That is true. I don’t know what to tell you.
Gabe: No, it is not true.
Lisa: I never thought that you were just, just fat. You know what I mean?
Gabe: You had me join Weight Watchers.
Lisa: Although Weight Watchers is obviously not designed for people with serious eating disorders, it is a mechanism to keep track of what you eat.
Gabe: Yes, an umbrella is a mechanism to not get wet. But would you hand it to a hurricane?
Lisa: I’m not saying that it was the best choice for you.
Gabe: Is this what you recommended, like for Katrina?
Lisa: But what were the options?
Gabe: Like medical intervention?
Lisa: You were doing that too.
Gabe: I wasn’t doing any of that. We can fight about the timeline until we’re blue in the face. But here’s what we know, I weighed five hundred and fifty pounds and I wasn’t doing much about it. Why do you keep
Lisa: I disagree.
Gabe: Why do you keep shaking your head? I love how you’re shaking your head.
Lisa: You told me not to talk. So I shake my head. By the time we started dating, you were already trying to get a gastric bypass.
Gabe: Here’s the thing, though, that I think you’re not considering. You’re tying together Gabe trying to get gastric bypass with Gabe understanding that he had binge eating disorder and those two things are not in any way related.
Lisa: You don’t think so?
Gabe: I didn’t know any of this stuff. I did want gastric bypass because I was 24 years old and I weighed five hundred and fifty pounds. I saw gastric bypass as a quick fix, which we’ll get into that later in the show. But let’s focus on binge eating disorder. Have we established that Gabe was overweight and had issues with food?
Lisa: You were very overweight and you definitely had clear issues with food. As I might have said to you at one point, you were, in fact, circus freak fat.
Gabe: You did.
Lisa: Sorry about that, that was rude.
Gabe: I don’t know how our relationship made it.
Lisa: Yeah, yeah.
Gabe: I think that the divorce was probably inevitable.
Lisa: I’m pretty sure I said that after you lost the weight, but I’m not positive.
Gabe: Let’s talk about our language for a moment. You and I weren’t, we’re not big language police. We kind of think that the goal should be communication and context, not so much the words. But I got called fat a lot. You, Lisa, saying that I was fat, it does not offend me. It does not bother me. But other people doing it, it did. As you can imagine, weighing five hundred and fifty pounds. I got a lot of sideways glances, stares, giggles, comments, and it hurt my feelings a lot. And the other reason I kind of bring this up is because why are we so cavalier about it? I know how damaging body image can be, because, again, even though I weighed five hundred and fifty pounds, even though I couldn’t walk from my car to my office desk without taking a break, the only thing I cared about was how I looked. I didn’t care that I would lose my breath standing up. I cared that I wasn’t pretty enough and that maybe I couldn’t find a girlfriend.
Lisa: You weren’t worried about the health?
Lisa: Not necessarily worried about the health consequences, but it wasn’t things like you had trouble getting upstairs? You weren’t concerned about stuff like that?
Gabe: I wasn’t. You know, I was 22, 23, 24, I was invincible. I cared that I couldn’t find clothes that fit me. I cared that I was ugly. I cared that women wouldn’t want to sleep with me. I’m not trying to make Lisa out to be a bad person. But Lisa and I were not exclusive because Lisa gave me a fake name when we first met.
Lisa: Well, I wasn’t going to give you my real name.
Gabe: That’s fair. I was circus freak fat, apparently. I’m just saying that these are kind of the things that went through my mind. But what I was really surprised to learn and tying it all the way back to you thinking that I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder when we met because I was trying to get gastric bypass, is my entire motivation for getting gastric bypass was wanting to look better. I did not know that I had binge eating disorder until I was in the steps of gastric bypass. One of the things that I had to go through was a psychological examination where they started talking to me about why I ate. And I ate because it made me feel better.
Lisa: Everything surrounding gastric bypass was a lot different back then. Insurance companies were paying for it in a different way. The surgery was still relatively new. It was kind of a halcyon days for gastric bypass. And there were still stand alone surgery centers that specialized in this. You just don’t see those types of programs anymore. You don’t see the ads on TV anymore. And every surgeon was doing it. Every hospital had a program. You specifically went out of your way. Well, at the time, I thought you had gone out of your way to find this really good program with really high success rates. And one of the reasons they had such a high success rate was because they were so comprehensive. They had all this psychological counseling and nutritional counseling and this really long waiting period and on and on and on. And at the time, I thought, oh, there’s a health care consumer. He has made the best choice for him. Good job. But I found out later, no, he just knew this lady who went there. So he was like, sure.
Gabe: You’re half right and half wrong. When I looked at the other places they kind of scared me a little bit. I know this is a stupid thing to say, but one of the reasons that I felt comfortable at the bariatric treatment centers was because they had wide chairs.
Lisa: I remember that.
Gabe: When I walked in, they had these wide chairs that I fit in.
Lisa: They were like benches.
Gabe: When I went to the other place, it was just in a regular, it was a well-known hospital. I don’t know. I had to pay more money to go where I went. So in theory, I could have picked the cheaper place. So.
Lisa: Through a variety of good decision making and luck, you ended up at a place with an excellent program that was very intensive in the pre surgical period. They had a lot of psychological and nutritional counseling, which most programs did not have then or now.
Gabe: So here I am, I walk in and they’re like, why do you want to have this? And I say, because I’m ugly and I don’t want to be ugly. And they say, OK, that’s what we get. Like, what are some things that you would do if you weren’t this size? And, you know, I said I wouldn’t sit in the handicapped seats at hockey games, for example. I would sit in booths instead of tables. I would ride roller coasters again. But in the back of my mind, what I was thinking is I would get laid more. I felt so bad because I felt so ugly and I tied that directly to my weight. Now, I didn’t know that I had bipolar disorder at this time. I did not know that I was untreated. There was obviously a lot going on, but those were my initial reasons. That’s why I wanted to do it. And through that process, I ended up at an eating disorder clinic and I remember my very first appointments. Were you around for that appointment or had I already gone to it and told you about it?
Lisa: You know, I don’t remember if that was your first appointment. Very early, I remember going to the eating disorder clinic. Yeah, it was just like a whole other world. It was so odd to go there because obviously most people getting treated for eating disorders are anorexics because those are the people who are most likely to die of their eating disorder. So they’re the people most likely to get treatment. And most of the binge eaters were quite large. So it was this bizarre mix of very, very small, mostly young women, just painfully thin young women and extremely overweight, you know, 20 some, 30 some year olds. And I went to one of their family support groups and the majority of the people there, their family members, family or friends, were anorexic. And they had the exact same behaviors, the exact same attitudes, the exact same everything. Even though their problem was that they didn’t eat enough. And your problem was that you ate too much. That really went to show that eating disorders were not about the food. It was about the psychological thing.
Gabe: Well, that’s interesting because while it was psychological, it was also about the food. For example, if I was feeling sad, I needed birthday cake. Because birthday cake was tied to happy memories. You couldn’t just give me 20,000 thousand calories in.
Lisa: Veggies? Salad?
Gabe: Man, that’s be a lot of salad and veggies, but
Gabe: I needed like the foods that I grew up with. I guess a better way to say it is it was about the psychological connection to the food.
Lisa: Yeah. So I looked up the definition of binge eating disorder, because how do you know when you’re binge eating and how do you know when you’re just over eating? Binge eating disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food very quickly and often to the point of discomfort and a feeling of loss of control during the binge, experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards and then not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures such as purging, because that’s a whole other eating disorder. And this was interesting, I actually didn’t know this until today. The binge eating occurs on average at least once a week for three months. And this is how you can get diagnosed with binge eating disorder, which was not its own separate mental illness until 2013 with the new DSM.
Gabe: You know, all the eating disorders have things in common, right? And the thing that it has in common is this unhealthy relationship with food. A healthy relationship with food is that you eat to survive. You start to get into a gray area when you eat to survive but you also enjoy what you eat.
Lisa: Oh, I don’t think that’s fair. You can eat to survive and enjoy what you eat. You probably get into a gray area once you get overweight. And I am overweight.
Gabe: The goal of food is not enjoyment. The goal of food is sustenance. The reason that we get in a gray area is because who’s ever eaten that extra bite? Because it tastes so good. That’s a gray area. You do not need that extra bite. But also, why do we have foods that go with holidays or occasions? That’s a gray area, right? There is no reason on Earth that we need to celebrate our occasions with food.
Lisa: But that’s an evolutionary thing. What encourages the animal to eat? Because it’s enjoyable. It’s pleasant. Otherwise we wouldn’t eat. We’d all starve to death. So it goes together. Humans throughout time would not survive if they did not find enjoyment in food because then they wouldn’t eat and they’d all die.
Gabe: Well, I disagree with that. Why can’t it work the other way? We don’t eat, so we feel pain. We feel hunger.
Lisa: It’s both.
Gabe: I suppose alleviating that hunger provides joy. I don’t know why we fell down the rabbit hole on it’s a gray area. But I do I think that it’s important to establish that sometimes our relationship with food, while healthy, is a gray area. There is absolutely no reason that we have to have cake on our birthday. But I would venture to guess that anybody who didn’t get a birthday cake or some sort of special dessert on their birthday would feel that they were left out or that they missed something.
Lisa: Well, that could be its own separate show about the emotional relationship to food and American’s relationship with food, because we just have this ridiculous eating pattern that nobody else has. Nobody in history has had previously.
Gabe: So would you say that that’s a gray area?
Lisa: Ok, fine gray area.
Gabe: Lisa, the point that I am making, when I was sad, I ate. That is what I learned by going to a nutritionist and examining my relationship with food. And I think that everybody in America has sort of a messed up relationship with food to a certain extent. What I called the gray area, but it was just so extreme.
Lisa: When you were sad, you ate to comfort yourself. When you were happy, you ate to celebrate. When you were angry, you ate to calm down. When you were fill in an emotion, you responded to it with food and to a lesser extent, so do I. Which once again is why I’m overweight. But it was very extreme, and still is extreme for you.
Gabe: But I don’t think it’s fair to call it extreme anymore.
Gabe: It was extreme before I got help. I don’t think it’s extreme anymore. I do think it’s outside of the normal lines.
Lisa: Ok. Well, that’s just a semantic argument, it’s much more than for the average person. How about that?
Gabe: Well, I’m just saying, if my relationship with food is extreme now, how would you classify it before I got help? When I weighed five hundred fifty pounds, what word would you use there?
Lisa: Even worse.
Gabe: Well, but we need a word here. We’re using extreme for my relationship with food now.
Lisa: Horrifying. I would call it horrifying. I think you have lost track of how far outside of the norm you still are. You are much better than used to be, obviously. But I think you’ve normalized in your mind a lot of your behavior, and it is not. This is not the way the average person, even the average American, reacts to food.
Gabe: It’s the way you react to food.
Lisa: Well, yes, but that’s not a good measure because I am also overweight. But it’s worse with you. It’s a lot worse.
Gabe: Give some examples.
Lisa: Whenever we go out, there has to be food. It’s not fun for you if there’s not food. All activities have a food that goes with it, a food that must go with it. You can’t go to a movie and not have popcorn or snacks. There’s no enjoyment in the movie if you don’t do it. You can’t go to a Blue Jackets game and not get concessions. You know, a lot of people say, oh, well, I like to have a beer while I watch the game. No, it’s a whole different level for you. You would rather not go at all than go and not eat.
Gabe: You think that’s out? Popcorn at a movie theater? Me wanting popcorn and a movie theater?
Gabe: You’ve decided that is extreme and outside the norm? So I’m the only one?
Lisa: The level at which you want popcorn at the movie theater and the level of distress you go through, if for some reason, you can’t have it. If I told you in advance, hey, the popcorn machine is broken at the movie theater. You wouldn’t go. Even if it was Star Wars on opening night. You would not go.
Gabe: I think that is untrue.
Lisa: One of the things Gabe and I don’t know if you remember this, that I think really showed the emotional relationship you had with food is a few weeks after you had gastric bypass. We were in the parking lot of your apartment building. And I don’t remember, we had argued about something. And you got so upset that you started crying and you actually said, I just feel so bad and now I don’t even have food. I don’t know what to do. I don’t even have food.
Gabe: I remember.
Lisa: The idea being that was what you were going to turn to make yourself feel better. And this was so soon after surgery that you couldn’t and you were devastated at that. You were so distraught because you just couldn’t come up with anything else to soothe those emotions.
Gabe: My mom and grandma were staying with me. I asked them to come and take care of me. You know, I was single.
Lisa: Well, you needed someone, major surgery.
Gabe: But, you know, fish and house guests smell after three days. And they had been there for a week. And I was ready to get my privacy back. And I had asked you to stay to kind of be a buffer. And you said that you were ready to go home. You’d been there for a while
Gabe: And I walked you out to your car. So we didn’t really argue. I had pleaded with you to stay.
Lisa: I don’t remember that part.
Gabe: Just, you know, come on, come on, come on. And, you know, you were like, no, I gotta get going. I’ve got to go back to work. So I had walked you out to your car and you asked me what was wrong. And I just, I just started crying. And then, of course, I had trouble standing because I just had surgery and I fell down next to your car.
Gabe: And I was going through so many emotions. And my coping mechanism at that point was eating. And I didn’t have it. I had not learned new coping mechanisms yet.
Lisa: Just how emotional you were at this loss. Almost as if your best friend had died.
Lisa: And it was one of the things that really drove home to me how much your emotions were tied up with food. That there was this thing you had always been able to turn to and now you couldn’t and you didn’t know what to do or how to behave. And it was heartbreaking.
Gabe: You know, on one hand that a devastatingly sad story.
Lisa: It was.
Gabe: But the reason I’m snickering is because do you remember my neighbors walking by? And one of them said hi to you
Gabe: But of course, as they rounded, they see this 550 pound guy hunched over in his bathrobe on the
Lisa: On the ground.
Gabe: On the ground. They’re just like, OK. I, yeah.
Lisa: When a really large person hits the ground, people, people react.
Gabe: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Lisa: And then your mom thought that you had just fallen
Lisa: Because she didn’t know that you’re upset and you didn’t want her to know how upset you were.
Lisa: So she started getting all upset because she thought, well, we’re not going to be able to pick him up. He’s fallen down and we can’t lift him back up. So there was humor in it. Sort of. Looking back.
Gabe: You know, hindsight,
Lisa: Mm hmm.
Gabe: Hindsight is always funny-funny.
Lisa: Fun times. Fun times.
Lisa: We’ll be right back after these messages.
Announcer: Interested in learning about psychology and mental health from experts in the field? Give a listen to the Psych Central Podcast, hosted by Gabe Howard. Visit PsychCentral.com/Show or subscribe to The Psych Central Podcast on your favorite podcast player.
Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. Our counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.
Gabe: We’re back discussing binge eating disorder.
Lisa: In order to have the diagnosis of binge eating disorder, you need to have three or more of the following: eating much more rapidly than normal, eating until feeling uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry, eating alone because of feeling embarrassed or by how much you’re eating, and feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty afterward. And when I read that, the thing that really struck me is eating much more rapidly than normal. It was amazing how fast you could eat. Like you could be a competitive eater.
Gabe: One of the things that really struck me is the things that I used to do to hide how much I was eating. Like, I would order pizza and I would say, you know, hey, I need two large pizzas. And they’re like, OK, do anything else? Well, hang on. Hang on, guys, you think two large pizzas is enough? Hang on, hang on. You got like a special for three. Go, go ahead and. There was just me. There was literally just me. I wasn’t even married. I was just. I was.
Lisa: So, you were pretending there were other people on the phone to the pizza place because you didn’t want them to know you were ordering for yourself?
Gabe: Yeah, and I would go through drive-throughs and I would order multiple value meals. Same level of, you know, I’d like a number two and number three, both with Diet Cokes. All right, what sauce do you want? You know, my girlfriend likes your barbecue. So let’s go ahead and grab that. And on that other one, I think my buddy said he wanted no ketchup. Yeah, these were all for me.
Lisa: Right. And you knew that.
Gabe: Oh, yeah. It was important to me that nobody thought that I was eating all of that food. Also, if I had, like, appointments. I was going out to lunch or something for work or business, I would eat before I went.
Lisa: You remember that night with the pizza?
Lisa: And I ate more pizza than him. And I thought, huh? I’m a giant cow person and I need to eat less pizza. But no, it turned out that you had ordered two and eaten a whole one before I got there. And now were pretending that this pizza had just arrived and we were now sitting down together for the first time. When you had, in fact, already consumed an entire pizza.
Gabe: Yeah, and I hid the box.
Lisa: Yeah, you would hide the box or the wrappers.
Gabe: It wasn’t even like I said that I ate. I didn’t want you to think that I was a giant fat ass. That was important to me.
Lisa: One of the things that was interesting when we went to the eating disorder clinic is you did try to hide how much you would eat, but you didn’t have a problem with eating in front of me. One of your doctors told me that was a little bit unusual, that most people literally do not want to be seen chewing in front of other people. But you never seemed to have that particular problem.
Gabe: Well, I didn’t have that problem in front of you.
Lisa: Ok, that’s fair. You want to tell the story?
Gabe: I don’t want to tell the story, but I think now you’re going to have to. The people just heard you give the punchline away.
Lisa: You go.
Gabe: We were at a pizza buffet, all you can eat pizza buffet, and I was eating and I looked up and you were looking at me and.
Lisa: I had stopped eating by this time and was just watching you.
Gabe: And I said, what? And you said, wow, you can really put it away. And I was like, that’s so mean. I’m just trying to eat my lunch. And you’re just like, I don’t know what to say.
Lisa: I remember that day because we were eating and then eventually I’m not eating and I’m just watching this because it was like watching. Oh, I don’t know, a snake swallowing its food or something. It was like watching some sort of extreme physical feat. It was amazing. Like, ignoring that it’s pizza, I would not have thought the human body could chew and swallow that rapidly, that a human being could do that. And you couldn’t look away. I do recognize, especially looking back, that was really mean. But I kind of feel almost justified in it. This thing I was watching in front of me was just so stunning and so extreme. How could I not stop and stare and comment on it? It was just incredible in a really, really horrifying way. Yeah.
Lisa: It was disturbing.
Gabe: When I got to the eating disorder clinic, you know, they put me through a lot of paces and I started to realize that my relationship with food was not good. I mean, my weight, you know, over 550 pounds, my girlfriend looking at me in disbelief as I ate, the side glances, the comments, not being able to fit into things like roller coasters or booths or I had to sit in the handicapped section. I needed the seatbelt extender for my mid-sized car. It’s not like I was in a tiny car. I had a Ford Taurus. A family car. And I needed a seatbelt extender.
Lisa: By the way, you’re welcome.
Gabe: Yeah, that was all Lisa. I just didn’t wear a seatbelt before.
Lisa: Because I don’t let anyone ride in my car without a seat belt and I thought, what kind of fool doesn’t wear a seat belt? And then, lo and behold, you didn’t wear a seatbelt because it didn’t fit, because he couldn’t wear a seat belt.
Gabe: Remember when I said it doesn’t fit? And you said, bullshit? Show me. You didn’t believe me.
Gabe: You’ve seen how far those things stretch out.
Gabe: Didn’t fit.
Lisa: So, yeah, that was really shocking. And just within a couple of days, we had seatbelt extenders for all the cars of everybody we knew.
Gabe: Yeah. Thank you. That.
Lisa: They will give them to you for free if you ask.
Gabe: Just call the dealership or call the manufacturer and they will mail them to you. Also side note, if you’re on an airplane, just ask the flight attendant when you get on. Just whisper I need a seatbelt extender and they will bring you one or hand you one. Highly recommend doing that as well. Very, very important. But here I am at the eating disorder clinic. I finally got a surgery date. And what was it like a month and a half before I finally got gastric bypass after like two years of fighting for it is when I went to the psychiatric hospital.
Lisa: Yeah, like two months before. But you already had the date scheduled
Gabe: Yeah. And so as I’m losing the weight, I’m also getting treated for bipolar disorder.
Lisa: Right. That’s what comorbidity is. You had a lot of things going on at one time. This is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to treat mental illness and binge eating disorder because there’s all these factors coming together. And how do you tease out what’s what?
Gabe: I guess I don’t remember the specific day that I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder. I do remember my aha! moment. I had to do a few things and one of the things that I did is meet with a nutritionist. And she had flash cards and she held up the flash cards. And she was like, what has more calories? And the only one that I remember was she held up a donut, cream filled, icing, and she held up a muffin. She said, Which one has more calories? And I said, the donut. I know this one. Muffins are a diet food. And she said, no, the muffin has more calories. And I said, how is that possible? Muffins are healthy. Muffins have less fat. But they have way more sugar. But I thought a muffin had less calories. It didn’t.
Lisa: Lots of people don’t understand the specifics of nutrition or aren’t quite sure what the right foods are to choose, etc. That’s why they have eat this, not that. What does that have to do with binge eating disorder? Why was that your aha! moment?
Gabe: Because up until that moment, I thought I completely understood what was going into my body, why I was eating it. And that was the first thing that let me know that, no, you’re just wrong. You’re just wrong. I did not understand how any of this worked, but I thought I did. That’s the part I’m getting at. If I can be so wrong about what constitutes a healthy meal, then what else am I wrong about? And she helped me understand that I don’t know what’s going on. I clearly do not have a good understanding of my relationship with food, food in general, nothing. And that opened my mind.
Lisa: So your lack of understanding of nutrition made you feel like, hey, maybe I don’t understand a lot of things about eating and how I eat, and therefore maybe I should consider that these people are telling me something of value rather than something I can dismiss?
Gabe: Sure. That’s a fancy-schmancy way of putting it. But what I actually thought in the moment is, holy shit. I don’t know what I’m eating. I do not understand food. I am putting food in my mouth and I think I am making healthy choices. You know what I used to eat and I thought it was a health food? A Snickers bar. Because the advertising was packed with peanuts, Snickers really satisfies. I was hungry and I needed a snack to get to the next meal. So clearly peanuts. I was eating a candy bar with peanuts, but I thought I was eating a nutrition bar. I thought I was eating something healthy because the advertising got to me. I did not understand what I was putting in my mouth, but I’m supposed to believe that I understand the psychology behind my desire to eat? No. That’s when I started to become much more malleable. That’s when I started listening. That’s when I wanted to understand why I was making the choices that I was making.
Lisa: Well, what did you think before, though? What did you think your relationship with food was up until then?
Gabe: I thought that I overate, like everybody, but I also thought that it wasn’t my fault because after all, I didn’t get a good metabolism.
Lisa: Oh, metabolism.
Gabe: I believed in that. Aww, my metabolism that’s broken. I don’t have good genes. It’s not that the people who weigh less or are a healthier weight or are healthier in general are making better food choices. No, no, no. They won the genetic lottery.
Lisa: It was not something that you could control. It was just this swirl around you that was impacting you.
Gabe: Right. Yeah. I didn’t believe it was my fault at all. It was bad luck. Everybody else was eating just as much as Gabe. But because of their bodies, their metabolism. Oh, well, she just has a good metabolism, and that’s why she’s not overweight. I have a bad metabolism and that. It’s not my fault. It’s just I didn’t even realize I had any control. I.
Lisa: So stuff just kind of happened to you. You weren’t directing the action.
Gabe: Yeah, I was the victim. I very much felt that I was a victim. That my body had somehow failed me. That it wasn’t in my control or my fault.
Lisa: Well, did that matter though? I’ve been cursed with a bad body, which means that I must now make different choices than other people.
Gabe: Yes. And one of those choices that I thought I needed to make was to have surgery to correct it.
Lisa: Oh, ok.
Gabe: See, I thought that surgery was the magic cure. People have said to me, you know, surgery is the easy way out. It’s not. I don’t know who believes that or why they say it. I don’t know why there is a moral value in what method you use if you are super morbidly obese like I was. But I gotta tell you, spending four days in the hospital, being cut from the top of my chest to below my belly button, opened up, having my insides rearranged, the six week recovery time, the vomiting on your mother, the crying in the parking lot, all of the problems going through two years of therapy and nutrition appointments and re learning everything, with the aid of the therapy, over the next year and a half to finally lose all of the weight and then having to have a secondary surgery to remove the massive amounts of excess skin and male breasts that I had then developed. I had a full mastectomy. So, attention, listeners, I don’t have nipples.
Lisa: He likes to get that into every conversation.
Gabe: It’s you know, it’s a fun fact. I just. Then people look at me and they’re like, Oh, you had surgery? You did it the easy way.
Lisa: Well, I think that people what they don’t understand is that the surgery is not magic in that you can still eat. You’re not somehow prevented from chewing. You can still eat. You just react differently to it. And as evidence of surgery is not the easy way out, the failure rate is really high. And what is the definition of success, you ask? Someone has had a successful gastric bypass if they have kept off 50% of their excess weight over the course of five years.
Gabe: Well, I’m successful.
Lisa: You’re very successful.
Gabe: To be fair, I went from five hundred fifty pounds all the way down to two hundred and thirty at my lowest weight. Now, my average walking around weight is about 260
Lisa: The failure rate for gastric bypass, depending on the numbers you look, is up to 70%. So after five years, 70%. It’s now been 18 years for you. So even if you gain all the weight back tomorrow, even if you weigh 700 pounds tomorrow, you have had a successful gastric bypass. And then also let’s do some approximate numbers here. Say that you had 300 pounds to lose. Right. And you lost 280 of them. You realize that you could gain, right now, 130 pounds and still be successful. You could right now weigh over 400 pounds. And when it came time to count up all the gastric bypass numbers, you would be in the success category. So when some people say, oh, Gabe had a successful gastric bypass. No, you didn’t just have a successful gastric bypass, you had the A plus, gold standard, amazing of gastric bypasses. Because you could weigh substantially more than you do now and still be a success. You have plenty of people in your life now who never knew you then. People don’t realize how much weight you have lost and this backstory that you have. They just look at you and you look normal
Lisa: And they think, oh, there’s Gabe.
Lisa: No one’s gonna describe you as thin, but you’re perfectly normal. You’re perfectly normal weight. Nobody stares at you in public. And that makes people think that you’re done, that you no longer have this messed up relationship with food, that you’re no longer struggling. And that’s not true. I don’t think you get enough credit for that. You are actively struggling with your weight and with your eating disorder on a daily basis. And it just doesn’t show anymore because you’re not so fat. People look at you and they think it went away. It didn’t go away.
Gabe: I still want to give you a little push back on, is it OK that we’re using the word fat so cavalierly?
Lisa: Seriously, that’s what you’re going to get out all this?
Gabe: No, I, mean, thank you for all of the kind words.
Lisa: We’re both still fat.
Gabe: I kind of wonder if I was listening to the show and we just kept saying, fat, fat, fat, fat, fat.
Lisa: Well, but you’re adding the pejorative. What does fat mean?
Gabe: Overweight, I guess.
Lisa: Overweight or heavy or excess weight or more weight or something like that. Why are you adding extra words? It’s like when people say, oh, no, you’re not just bipolar. Yeah, I know. Why are you adding in words? I’m saying to you, hi, I’m bipolar. That’s not all you are. You’re also blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, I know. You’re the one who added all the baggage to the word. I was just fine with the descriptive phrase, fat.
Gabe: Are we taking it back?
Lisa: Not even that necessarily. Just why are you adding in this pejorative of fat is inherently bad and we shouldn’t throw it around so cavalierly? You were heavy. You were big.
Gabe: It’s true.
Lisa: The word for that is fat. And I would like to point out, for the record, that both of us are currently fat.
Gabe: I guess that is my question. As much as I love you, Lisa, you are not the same size as you were when you were 23.
Lisa: Yeah, even then, I was not thin.
Gabe: So are you, are you fat now or would you prefer that I say nothing because I’m not dumb?
Lisa: Well, don’t get me wrong, usually I do not care for it when people tell me I’m fat because they mean it as a pejorative. But as a simple description, am I overweight? Am I heavier than those charts and everything? Or even heavier than I personally would like to be? Would I like to be smaller than I currently am? Yes, I am fat. Accept that. I’m also blond and relatively short. Accept it. Yeah, I’ve got a big nose and I’m fat. There you go.
Gabe: Your nose is gigantic.
Lisa: I know. I hadn’t noticed how huge it was until we started doing this so much and with the video and all. I knew it was big, but, oh, my God. Like a toucan. This is the part where you say something nice, like it’s very attractive or, or, you know.
Gabe: If I had that ability, we would not be divorced.
Lisa: Fair, fair. So anyway, we could talk for a long time about all the high points of amazing stories surrounding Gabe and his extremely disordered eating and the struggles of gastric bypass. And to hit a few, when he said the whole thing about struggling after surgery and throwing up on your mom. He didn’t mean his mom, OK? He threw up on my mom. He didn’t vomit on his own mother, although you actually did that as well. He vomited on my mother. That’s the story he’s telling.
Gabe: In a fancy restaurant.
Lisa: Yeah, yeah. And the reason why it makes me, people are like, oh, why are you angry about that? The poor little dear, he got sick. I told him not to eat that. I told him it was gonna make him throw up. He ate it anyway, and then he threw up on my mother. That’s all I’m saying. That’s OK. We’ll get that over now. Are there any high point stories you’d like to hit? Do you remember how you’d written that list of things that you wanted to do once you lost the weight?
Lisa: And one of them was buy clothing in a normal store.
Lisa: Sit in a booth at a restaurant
Lisa: And ride a roller coaster.
Gabe: The roller coaster.
Lisa: And we went out. We were at the mall. He went off to go shop. I’m looking at clothes. And then he comes over to me and goes, Well, I asked them for the largest size they had and it didn’t fit me. And I thought, aww. And I said, well, honey, it’s okay. It will. You’re still losing. It’s okay. And then he goes, and that’s why I got the size three down,
Gabe: It was.
Lisa: Because it turned out that he had gone below the largest size they had in the store. He was so excited.
Gabe: It was. It was a good day. The booth. Do you remember one year
Lisa: I remember.
Gabe: For Christmas. You got me a gift card to every restaurant that I couldn’t go to because they only had booths.
Lisa: Yep. There had been a lot of places that he couldn’t go because they didn’t have tables. They only had those fixed booths and there’s nothing you can do. And yeah, occasionally he would try because someone would ask him to go to that restaurant. He’d try to squeeze himself in. And, oh, God, it was so painful to watch. You would say things like, oh, no, I can fit in that chair. Dude, you cannot fit into that chair. Please don’t make all of us uncomfortable by trying. Please stop.
Lisa: Just, it was terrible on so many levels. Yeah. I got you that for Christmas one year. I did like a ten dollar gift card to all these restaurants you hadn’t been able to go to. And you insisted, even as we were walking in the door, that you would not fit. And I thought, yeah, you’re, dude, you’re going to fit. And then you crawled into the booth and started like wiggling around to show how much extra space there was. And of course, listeners can’t see this, but the look on your face right now and how much you’re smiling like it’s just the greatest thing you could ever remember. It’s, that’s so sweet.
Gabe: Do you remember when we went to the amusement park?
Gabe: Because, remember, roller coaster is on there. And again, I was worried. You said that I was at the right weight and we went up to the first roller coaster and I said, will I fit? And the gentleman said.
Lisa: The ride attendant.
Gabe: Yeah, the ride attendant said, I’m not sure, but we have a seat here.
Lisa: And you know, these lines can be very long. You might be in line for an hour or more. So they have one of the roller coaster cars sitting at the front of the line, so you can test it. Because no one wants to wait in line for an hour, only to be told, hey, you don’t fit in this seat. Get out of line.
Gabe: So the roller coaster attendant was super nice. I sat down in it and as he was pulling the thing down, and he said, we just have to make sure that it will latch over your shoulders because of your height. And I said, you’re testing this because I’m tall? Of course, he’s just this kid. He just looked at me like I was a crazy person. I was like, oh, my God, I just, no, I was asking because I’m fat.
Gabe: And for real, I just wanted to, like, hug him.
Lisa: When you walked up to him and said, hey, I’m worried that I might not fit, he thought you were saying I might not fit because you were tall.
Lisa: It never occurred to him that you were saying because you were fat.
Gabe: I cried. This poor kid. He’s like 19 years old and he’s like, Why is this man crying?
Lisa: You turned to him, you said, oh, my God, you said that because I’m tall. And he was like, Yeah? He was so confused. And you spent the next forty five minutes repeating that. Oh, my God, he thinks I’m too tall. Oh my God, he said that because I’m tall. Yeah you did. You started to cry a little bit. You were so excited.
Gabe: That was a good day. Lisa, you touched on comorbidity a little bit. I believe very strongly that I, of course, do have binge eating disorder, but I also believe that it was driven by the excess of untreated bipolar disorder.
Gabe: I was doing pretty much anything that I could to manage the emotional overload of depression and grandiosity and mania and suicidality. And anything that could provide me even a moment of joy, whether it was drugs, alcohol, food, sex, spending money, I would do. What do you think the intersection of all of this Is?
Lisa: Well, obviously, having gastric bypass was an amazing choice for you, and it worked out great. And who knows what would have happened if you hadn’t had it done? But I actually recommended at the time that maybe you not do it because you had just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and everything was changing so fast. And I thought, well, hey, maybe his eating disorder isn’t actually the thing. Maybe this has always just been an almost symptom of bipolar disorder. And once he has that under better control, he’ll just be able to control his eating and he won’t need to go through the surgery, etc. And of course, you have a gastric bypass, you were losing a pound a day. Think of how delicate that balance of all your different medications are and then think about how you get that balance when your body is changing so rapidly.
Gabe: One of the things that I think about in terms of comorbidity, is mistaking feelings, and the big one is that it took a long time to be diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder because I honestly thought that panic attacks were hunger pains.
Lisa: Yeah, you would say that all the time.
Gabe: Every time that I would have a panic attack, I would think that I was hungry. Which, of course, created a Pavlov’s dog effect where a panic attack was very much associated with food. And in fact, more importantly, the cure for the panic attack was associated with food. So every time I have a panic attack, I would have to eat.
Lisa: We’d be standing in line or something, and I recognize now that you would start having a panic attack, but what you’d say, you’d turn to me and say, I’m hungry and, oh, I’m so hungry, my blood sugar, ack. I actually thought back then, I thought, well, I mean, he is really heavy. So, I mean, I don’t know what that does to your body chemistry and stuff. Maybe he really is feeling hunger this often? And looking back on it, yeah, those were panic attacks. And you had them a lot.
Gabe: I did. I really did.
Lisa: Well, what happened? When did you figure out that it was actually not hunger? I mean, what do you do now? One of the things you told me years ago is that when you had the urge to binge that you didn’t even try to stop the urge anymore. That was impossible. It never worked. Just forget it. That what you did instead was try to substitute different foods. So instead of bingeing on chips or pizza, you were now bingeing on strawberries or yogurt.
Gabe: So, a few things, you are right, making healthier choices does help to try to put those feelings or emotions at bay in a healthier way. Some of the things that I do now when I have a panic attack is one, I understand that it is a panic attack. So sometimes I can stop them just because I am aware of what they are. And I have all kinds of other coping skills, you know, sit down for a moment, count to 10, remove myself from whatever is causing the panic attack if I can see the cause. Splash water on my face.
Lisa: All the thousand and one coping things that you have for panic attacks.
Gabe: I mean, yeah, there’s just so many coping skills. You know, salty snacks help. Once again is probably in the gray area, it’s not the healthiest choice. But, you know, sometimes, like eating saltines, eating crackers, eating pretzels.
Lisa: Pretzels, so many pretzels.
Gabe: I try to find a healthy choice. You know, sometimes sitting, drinking a diet soda, eating some pretzels, counting to ten, taking a 20 minute break. These things help. But remember, before, all of this would happen, I would go eat a large pizza. I would go eat two, three, four, five, six thousand calories in order to get rid of that panic attack. And because I didn’t know it was a panic attack, I was having multiple of these a day. This would happen once or twice a day on top of all of my regular eating.
Lisa: I tried to look at it now as kind of a harm reduction thing. It is not the greatest for you to sit down and drink that much Diet Coke or to consume that many pretzels. But in comparison to the things that you were doing to deal with this before, this is much better. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t do any of this stuff. You wouldn’t have panic attacks to start with. You wouldn’t need the coping mechanism to begin with. But since you do, this is a much better choice than what you were using before.
Gabe: I’m certainly in more control today than I ever have been in my entire life. But it’s not perfect. I still binge to this very day.
Lisa: Well, that’s a question, how often would you say you binge these days? Because it used to be daily. What is it now?
Gabe: Maybe once a month.
Gabe: I would say that I start to binge maybe once a week. But that’s an advanced skill, right? I put all of the food on the plate. Like I’m ready. I am ready to just binge. And I realize before I get too many calories, oh, this is bad. And I’m willing to get rid of the food. I’m willing to wrap it up and put in the refrigerator or push it down the garbage disposal or just not eat and I never would have done that before, because, after all, that would be wasteful. So I’m proud of myself for being able to stop. I still order too much. I have an unrealistic view of what a serving is. One time I had four people coming over, so I ordered three pizzas. Three large pizzas, and it was you. And you said, why did you order so many? I’m like, well, there’s
Lisa: There’s four of us.
Gabe: There’s four of us. And you said, you realize that if you ordered two pizzas, that would be half a large pizza per person and you ordered more. And you have chips. I was like, huh?
Lisa: He does that all the time. You always have way too big of servings. It doesn’t matter what size pie you have. It’s a little tiny pie, or if you get, like the giant pie at Sam’s Club, you will count how many people are in the room and cut the pie into that many pieces regardless of pie size.
Gabe: I want to make sure that everybody gets enough pie. I am learning. I am learning to let people cut their own pie and to ask other people to cut for me. I also had to accept along the way that I can have seconds before I thought that I had to take all the food that I wanted now.
Lisa: So obviously food is love, mixed up with all this emotion. A lot of it, you can tell is very clearly rooted in your childhood. Have you figured out the origin story or the backstory on this? Why did this hit you? Where does this come from? Your brother and sister don’t have this problem. They’re normal weight, maybe even thin. Nobody else is at the level that you were.
Gabe: Nobody else is bipolar in my family either. There’s
Lisa: That’s fair.
Gabe: You know, I’m a foot taller than every member of my family. I’m the only redhead. For those paying attention, that does, in fact, make me a red headed stepchild. I’m the only one with severe and persistent mental illness. I don’t know. I had to find a lot of coping skills. You know, some of the questions that I asked myself is, you know, why did I gravitate toward food and sex? Why didn’t I gravitate toward
Lisa: Right. Yes.
Gabe: Toward alcohol and drugs?
Gabe: So I think that sometimes
Lisa: Or extreme sports or any other thing?
Gabe: Or whatever. I think that sometimes there’s just no answer. I don’t know why my brother and sister don’t have this problem. Of course, they both have kids and I don’t. Why did that happen? I mean, just it just did. And on and on and on.
Lisa: You don’t really think it’s a worthwhile problem to even contemplate, then. You just feel like, hey, these things happen and. Because on TV, people can always pinpoint it to like one specific experience. Oh, it was the day that I was so sad and my great grandmother gave me cake, you know? But you’re saying in real life, no, you don’t have anything like that.
Gabe: I think that there is that. When I was sad, my grandmother did give me cake and my mother gave me cake and my mother would make the foods that we wanted on our birthday. And food is love. As you said, food is love. My family loved me a lot. I don’t know what you want. We celebrated every single success with food. We licked our wounds with food. We went to the buffets all the time. Buffets were huge, huge things when I was growing up. What do you want? Name something and I will tell you how food is involved.
Lisa: Well, yeah. But almost everyone can say that.
Lisa: Why did it hit you different than anybody else?
Gabe: I have no idea. Why does your brother ride a bike 100 miles a day and you don’t?
Lisa: Yeah, that’s fair.
Gabe: I have no idea and I don’t think you do either. Lisa’s brother, like for real.
Lisa: He’s an athlete.
Gabe: If you Google super athletic bro dude, I’m pretty sure Lisa’s brother comes up. And if you Google refuses to go out in the sun, hates to walk, Lisa comes up.
Lisa: Look at me, for God’s sakes. You think the sun is safe? The sun is not safe. I could burst into flames.
Gabe: You have the same parents, were raised in the same small town, raised in the exact same way, grew up on the same foods.
Lisa: That’s fair.
Gabe: How come he likes to ride a bike a thousand miles uphill for no apparent reason?
Lisa: That’s true.
Gabe: And you don’t like to talk about bikes?
Lisa: Ok, that’s fair.
Gabe: Remember when your husband bought you a bike and you just started laughing at him uncontrollably?
Lisa: What were we going to do with that? Oh, we can go for bike rides. That’s just stupid. Anyway.
Gabe: Lisa hates that bike so much, she won’t even use it as a clothing rack.
Lisa: That’s true. That is true. It’s in the garage now. We’re probably gonna get rid of that the next time we move.
Gabe: I think that reality television is really skewed people to believe that mental disorders, mental illnesses and issues have to have some triggering event.
Lisa: An easily found one.
Gabe: Whether it’s substance use disorder, whether it’s hoarding, whether it’s. The reality is, you don’t need any of this stuff. Does smoking cause lung cancer? Absolutely. But there are people who do, in fact, get lung cancer that never smoked a day in their life. Yeah. There’s not always a clear and present cause for these things. Sometimes there are. Sometimes the thing that we think is a clear and present cause isn’t. We’ve just assigned it to that.
Lisa: That’s fair.
Gabe: I work with families all the time and they’re like, oh, my God, the mental illness started when he lost his job. OK, well, let’s talk about what he was like before he lost his job. And they would tell me all of these things that are clearly symptoms of mental illness. But in their minds, it was the job loss that triggered the mental illness, even though there was a decade’s worth that they ignored. And I think we do that to ourselves, too. Lisa, what are the takeaways? I mean, binge eating disorder, it’s played a major role in my life.
Lisa: Yes it has.
Gabe: And I know that it’s played a major role in other people’s lives. And I think largely that a lot of eating disorders don’t really get the respect that they deserve. They’re dangerous and people die from them and.
Lisa: The death rate is a lot higher than you think.
Gabe: Why do we as a society not take eating disorders seriously?
Lisa: I don’t know, maybe because we live in a time of abundant food? Which has not always been the case for humanity, isn’t the case everywhere in the world. Maybe because you can’t see it?
Gabe: We take substance abuse disorder seriously.
Lisa: Probably because you can’t have an all in. Right. Oh, you’re an alcoholic? Never have another drop. That’s it, problem solved. You have to eat. That was always, because a lot of the treatment things that you did were focused on this food as addiction model or 12 steps, et cetera. When complete abstinence is not an option, how do you manage an addiction? I did not notice until after you had gastric bypass, every other commercial is for food and the food looks so good. And it’s always for food that’s bad for you. No one ever has a commercial for carrots, you know. No, it’s a commercial for fast food or pizza. And it’s so desirable looking.
Gabe: And cheap.
Lisa: Yeah, and cheap.
Gabe: And cheap.
Lisa: There’s a reason why marketing is everywhere, it works.
Gabe: One of the things I think about is the fast food restaurant that advertises fourth meal. Fourth meal is not a thing. They’re advertising it as if it’s real. Don’t forget fourth meal. And now second breakfast is a thing. The marketing is literally tell you to eat when you do not need to eat. And we’re proud of this, you know, fourth meal, second breakfast. It’s exciting.
Lisa: Well, and if you’re the average person, no problem. It’s like alcohol ads. The alcohol ads are telling you that, hey, when you’re having a good time, you got a beer in your hand. All celebrations go with alcohol. And for most people, hey, that’s fine. No problem. That’s the ad. But if you’re an alcoholic, that’s a real problem. How do you get over that? Most people look at the fast food and are like, oh, yeah, I might stop there for lunch, but for you, it’s a whole thing.
Gabe: It is, and it is very difficult. I’m so glad that I lost the weight. And when people look at me now, like you said earlier, Lisa, they don’t see it. I have deeply entrenched issues with food, things that I struggle with every day. And because I’m a normal body weight, we’ll just go with that, nobody realizes this is a problem and it makes it difficult to seek out community. I remember when I went to my first binge eating group, I was really large and the other members of the group were also very large. And in walked this man who was thin. He was thinner than I am now, and I consider myself to be a normal size. And he was lanky and he just talked about his struggle and how he ate a whole gallon of ice cream on the way there. And we were mean to him. We did not pay attention to him. We did not offer him any help. We as a group were not kind to him. And now I kind of feel like I’m that guy.
Gabe: I don’t want to go to the binge eating support group because I’m afraid that they’re going to look at me and say, you know what? You’re thin. I’d kill to look like you. And I understand. I understand why they would want to have the success that I’ve had over the last 18 years. So I don’t know where to get support or. I’m very fortunate that I can afford traditional therapy and that I have a therapist and I have good supports. And of course, the online communities are really, really helpful. And I’ve advanced to a stage where I don’t need as much support as I used to. But I do remember. I remember what an asshole I was. I don’t think I said anything, but I certainly didn’t put any effort into trying to help him because in my mind, he didn’t need it. And that’s an important lesson I want to get out there. Binge eating disorder is not dependent on your looks. It’s not dependent on your weight. It’s not dependent on your size. It’s dependent on your unhealthy relationship with food.
Lisa: And the important thing is that you’re so much better now. The struggle isn’t over. You’re still struggling with it. But it’s night and day. You are so much better.
Gabe: I love it when we have microphones. You’re so much nicer to me when we have microphones. I’m just going to carry around.
Lisa: You know I think you’re better.
Gabe: A podcast kit and just every time you get, like, mean to me, I’m just gonna, like, thrust a microphone in your face and be like podcast time.
Lisa: To think we’ve been arguing all these years for free. How wasteful,
Gabe: Ok. Listen up, everybody. Thank you so much for tuning in. Obviously, the whole world believes that food is love, but you know what else is love? Subscribing to our podcast, sharing our podcast, rating our podcast, telling everybody that you can about our show. The official link for this show is PsychCentral.com/NotCrazy. Share it everywhere and subscribe on your favorite podcast player.
Lisa: Don’t forget, there are outtakes after the credits and we’ll see you next Tuesday.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Not Crazy Podcast from Psych Central. For free mental health resources and online support groups, visit PsychCentral.com. Not Crazy’s official website is PsychCentral.com/NotCrazy. To work with Gabe, go to gabehoward.com. Want to see Gabe and me in person? Not Crazy travels well. Have us record an episode live at your next event. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for details.