When Clairebelle Burt got to the point where she wouldn’t leave the house after years of battling eating disorders, she knew she had to get help.
“I had gotten to the point where I hid away from the world and couldn’t even go to the supermarket because I was so scared of anyone seeing me at the size I had gotten. It was time to change this and get my life back,” Burt told Popsugar.
An issue stemming from childhood
Growing up, she was always bigger than other kids her age and was bullied because of it.
I was called a giant, whale, and Bigfoot all while in primary school, which made me hate myself at the age of only 8, which then contributed to my body image and food issues.Clairebelle Burt to PopSugar
Once high school came around, she was taller than all the boys and girls in her grades and the bullying got worse. “I started restricting my food intake at 15 and wouldn’t eat for days because when I looked in the mirror I thought I was way bigger than I was,” Burt said.
Her binge eating disorder (BED) started to really set in after she finished her first year of high school, and by 2013, she weighed nearly 300 pounds.
When dieting backfires…
She gave dieting another try in 2014, but it led her to impose major restrictions on herself, and she developed bulimia.
Every time Burt binge ate, she purged.
No one around me knew this was happening. I began to lie to everyone. Not only was I starving, but I was over exercising, which led me to get very sick.Clairebelle Burt to Popsugar
“Everyone was complimenting me on my weight loss, saying how amazing I looked, which made me sink deeper into bulimia. I had a distorted image of myself and had to body check every 20 minutes to remind myself I had lost weight. I look back at photos and think ‘OMG, I was tiny,’ but at that time I didn’t think I was.”
Her disorder came back
Then in 2015, Burt’s binge eating disorder took the front seat again.
“I stopped going in public and my binges got bigger and bigger and began to happen every day, and the purging stopped so I was gaining weight by the day, literally,” she said.
To make things worse, she was in a toxic relationship at the time and her mental health really took a hit.
“I sunk into a deep depression and had no self-love or self-worth, and I hated myself so much.” remembered Burt.
I thought I was disgusting and a monster, so I thought the world would see me in that way, too.Clairebelle Burt to Popsugar
At her heaviest, she weighed 375 pounds. That’s when she knew it was time to take matters into her own hands and get help.
Addressing her demons
At first she went to see a doctor who gave her the typical “eat less, exercise more” advice and failed to diagnose her with an eating disorder.
That’s when her parents stepped in and got her a private therapist, who specialized in eating disorders. Burt was quickly diagnosed with BED and with the help of her psychologist, she was able to start fighting it.
Inspired by the process and what she was learning about herself, she started her Instagram page @life_of_a_binger_eater_, where she started to document her recovery journey.
“It has been such a massive help to fighting my BED because I have connected with so many others who struggle with it. It’s also helped me with my self-love and self-worth. I can truthfully say I love myself so much now,” Burt said.
Through her page, she hopes to raise awareness of BED and help others that may be struggling feel less alone. But the community has also helped her in the actual weight loss journey.
I credit my hard work and my constant fight every day with the support of my family and the online community I have with my Instagram keeping me strong and motivated.Clairebelle Burt to Popsugar
Her diagnosis was a strong first step
After getting treatment for her eating disorder, Burt lost 88 pounds last year. She changed her eating habits and began to follow the Paleo diet, while at the same time taking up daily walks. She fought every day not to binge eat.
“There were bad days where my binge brain won, but the bad days seemed to get further and further apart and the binges were getting smaller,” Burt admitted.
Now, at 27, she’s gained back 44 pounds but isn’t dismissing the progress she’s made. “I’m OK with that. In the past, I would have been so upset and my mental health would have been affected dramatically,” Burt said.
Clairebelle’s journey is not over yet
To this day, she continues to battle BED but has learned so much along the way. “My weight is not my worth. That’s what I have to tell myself. My health is the most important thing.”
The next step in her journey will be to undergo gastric sleeve surgery, which will help her not only lose weight, but also keep it off.
“I didn’t make the decision lightly and have done so much research on it,” Burt said. “I have talked to hundreds of people with BED who have had the surgery and their lives have changed forever.
How it is always a step by step process
Clairebelle’s story shows the importance of going back in order to move forward. Her eating disorder went undiagnosed for years, even though it stemmed from childhood. She had to discover the real cause of her binging before she could start the process of getting healthier.
The answer isn’t always evident but it isn’t undiscoverable. One should only persevere until one gets to it.
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