National Eating Disorders Association

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MegLeg
Advice for Helping Boyfriend with BED (+ Bipolar II)

Hi everyone,
I just joined this forum and haven't found any posts regarding binge eating disorder. Lately, my relationship with my (live-in) boyfriend has been a bit strained. Almost all our day-to-day responsibilities have shifted onto me over time and I need to talk to him about this because it's causing me to feel depressed most days. But I'm also really concerned about his eating habits because they've been getting worse.

He's diagnosed with binge eating disorder and has insomnia (due to the bipolar disorder) and he's been sneaking more and more junk food while I'm sleeping. I get our weekly groceries (including healthy snacks he likes! and he gets input in the list) and do all the cooking for us but he works part-time at a pharmacy and brings home snacks every day he works. He also drinks energy drinks all day. Whenever I ask him what he got, he lies about what's in the bag (telling me about 1-2 of the items, leaving the others in the bag as if I can't see them) and then he justifies the purchases to me based on their price ("well I only got this because it was only $3 for 2") kind of making it seem like he HAD to purchase it.

Our days are so different it feels like we're living completely separate lives - I get up at 7:30 and clean up wrappers/plates/etc he left out the night before, take care of our pets, get ready for work. I have lunch at 12:30 or so and if it's an off-day for him, he won't get out of bed until around 3pm. I get off work at 4 and do some more house chores or errands and make us dinner (anywhere from 5:30-7:30). After dinner, I'm so exhausted and usually feeling frustrated at him (probably a little bit of jealously, too if I'm being honest) and I don't want to do anything except curl up and read. But at this point, he's ready to hang out, play video games and watch tv together. After I go to bed at 11pm, this is when he struggles with binge eating. He usually starts around 12 or 1am and sometimes has gone as long as eating continuously until 6am. Usually he finishes eating by like 3am and then he immediately goes to bed once he's done eating. We sleep in separate rooms (due to the insomnia) and I often find even more food/wrappers hidden in his bedroom. I have to write in sharpie "for a recipe" on anything that's off-limits at night because there have been times I had to go to the grocery store to replace something he ate at night.

Lately I feel like I'm teetering back and forth between feeling like I'm being controlling and feeling like I'm being steamrolled and completely losing myself in the relationship. I almost never feel balanced between those 2 feelings. He kind of has this habit of shifting responsibility onto me. Like when he first moved in 2 yrs ago, he wanted me to find a way to lock the fridge and keep the key from him at night - which feels really unfair to me (or maybe I'm a bad caretaker?).

Has anyone else been in a similar situation? How can you show you care without making it feel like a parent-child relationship? It's hard to approach the topic because he has a history of being shamed for his weight.

Thanks in advance!

_admin_moderator
Dear MegLeg,Welcome to the

Dear MegLeg,Welcome to the forums! We are writing to inform you that we edited your post to remove specific food items and disordered eating behaviors that could be triggering for other users. You can review our community guidelines here. Thanks for your understanding and please continue to post!

BobJ48
Meg.

I can't claim to know much about BED, so perhaps those who know more will chime in.

Having said that, what do his own feelings seem to be about the situation ? You mentioned that this has been going on for several years now, so certainly he must have some thoughts on it.

And what about therapy ? Has he been able to take that sort of risk for himself ? Because therapy is kind of risky. What I mean is…perhaps it might not work ? Which is scary to think about too.

Also, I think you are right in worrying about your role in all this. Not that you are doing anything wrong, but it can't all be your responsibility either. "Laying down the law" is unlikely to work, but you also have a perfect right to be concerned.

Which he might agree with ,yes ?

MegLeg
Thanks for the reply, Bob!

Thanks for the reply, Bob!

I know he's been feeling depressed and down on himself. The weight gain and loss has always bothered him. His mom has her own struggles and shames him for his weight. (She had the audacity once to tell me that I needed to get him on track with it.)

We talked a little over the weekend and he said he wants to do more to help around the house and that he's mad at himself. He said he wants to go to sleep earlier and knows he can, agreed to cook dinner on his days off. He didn't bring up anything about the eating habits. Since then, he's done a couple chores around the house but the schedule/eating has been the same.

He hasn't been to therapy in quite a while. I don't think he's opposed to it, but he's been a little avoidant with it. He really likes his psychiatrist though, but he only talks with him for med evaluation every 6mo or so. I've been considering contacting their office (his counselor and psychiatrist are in the same practice) and asking them to reach out to try to reschedule. I guess they're probably just busy, but it seems strange they haven't been reaching out periodically.

BobJ48
Meg.

Yes, it does sound like he is trying to take charge of his behaviors, which is a positive thing. Getting his sleep schedule on track, trying to take a larger role in the chores around the place - These sound like steps forward to me, and may be things that begin to help with his depression and his sense of himself.

More of that might help, do you think ? Like that he could commit to sticking with this new routine , rather than it just being sort of an experiment for the moment ? Feeling like we are more engaged with life, in ways that are positive and productive - I'm not sure it's the total cure for depression, but it does give a person some things to feel hopeful about, when it comes to their sense of themselves as useful human beings.

Catching up with therapy might help too. I'm often of two minds about how much therapy can help, but I do believe that simply the act of committing to it can make a difference. Like that a person is taking a positive step for themselves, you know ? Which really does count as something I think.

So yes, the idea of reconnecting with the world and it's activities a little more ; That's always a positive thing I think. :-)