When I was a teenager I was a bit of a rebel. My Mum and Dad couldn't control me at all as I had my own mind. At sixteen I started going to pubs drinking thinking I was all grown up then that year in New years eve 1993. I went to the pub with a freind and we met a group of young ladies who where on the dance floor. One of them I took to straight away her name was Jayne. As the night went on I noticed Jayne had gone thought no more of it and carried on with the night.
A few months pasted and I bumped in to her at a bus stop she remembered me and we got talking, and became very close mates. I was rather slim at the time but hadn't been I had been massive for my age. Now I am a size 22. Jayne was plump but I wouldn't say fat at all. She was the life and soul of the party always laughing and joking. We remainded friends for three years we had a very good friend ship both had boy friends and spent lots time together we were very close.
We fell out over something very stupid and lost contact for eleven years.
In 2009 I was searching on face book and came across her ands sent her a message I didn't think she would reply but she did. Finally we met up and she told me she was suffering from an eating disorder called Bulimia. I knew straight away what it was as Princess Diana had it. I couldn't belive my eyes my bubbly friend was now looking like a famine victim her frame was all I can describe as a corpe. Her bones where sticking out. She looked pale like all the blood had drained out of her being.
All I wanted to do was give her a cuddle my poor friend to me was dying this terrified me.
She told me how her Dad had died of bowel cancer when she was twenty five and that she had an abusive partner who was evil to her she lost lots weight to try and gain self confidence. Her ex almost killed her. I just had an abusive relationship and could relate to her of what it was like. However the abuse she endured was far worse than what I had experienced. My beat mate had been going to the eating Disorder Clinic to try and get help but instead found hearing what others did gave her more ideas.
My mate told her Mum she weighed more than she did she told me the truth that she weighed just over eight stone a few pounds less than that she would of been admitted to hospital.
Jayne is not a binger at all we lived together for over a year. She goes through fazes of eating to not eating. Everything she eats she brings back even drinks. People think when you are bulimic you can stop that is not true it is a mental illness that needs treating. My friend today is still Bulimic and is now thirty eight years old she has had it nine years now. She has been told she may never get over it. She has spells of temper tantrums that is rather normal with the condtion. She is lethargic all the time, as she is in a cycle of starvation all the time.My friend is a very beatiful person in side and out and I pray every day this ugly illness goes away and I get my old mate back from years ago.
One last thing, Jayne we can battle this we been friends almost twenty years.
I have changed my friends name to protect her identity.
This review is also posted on ciao under the same user name.
When you picture somebody who has an eating disorder in your mind what do you see? My guess is that you are picturing a waif thin teenage girl and not a 34 year old woman but people with eating problems come in many different shapes and sizes and do not all fit the stereotypical image. I have had problems with food and eating on and off for a number of years, if you had asked me a year ago I would have confidently told you that those problems were behind me but in the past few months they have reared their ugly head again.
My problems with food started at the tender age of 13. I thought that I was overweight but in retrospect I can see from photos that I was simply an early developer and would love to have a figure like I had then now! I hated the fact that my body had developed earlier than many of my schoolmates meaning that by the time I finished primary school I was wearing a D cup bra, in those days the world seemed to be split into two types of girls those who wore bras and those who wore vests and I longed to be in the latter camp. I detested having a grown up body with nasty hairy bits and was horrified that I had to deal with periods every month. I spent the summer just after my 13th birthday starving myself, it was easy as my mum was out at work all day so I was left to my own devices, most days I would make myself a single meal which consisted of a vegetarian sausage and a packet of flavoured rice and as you can imagine the weight dropped off me.
I was really disappointed, I had lost loads of weight but nobody seemed to even notice or care, looking back I was probably clinically depressed at the time but again my family were too wrapped up in their own lives to notice what was going on with me. I enjoyed going back to school in smaller clothes and although I still watched what I ate relaxed back into a normal routine with more normal eating habits.
The next summer when I was 14 I again relapsed into the pattern of skipping meals and living on very little food. This is the summer when I also developed bulimia and started to self harm too. I read about bulimia in a magazine, saw throwing up as a good way to speed up my weight loss. At first it was very difficult to induce vomiting but with a lot of practice it became easier. At that stage it was more of an unhealthy diet aid than a serious eating disorder, I never used to binge just eat normal meals and throw them back up again.
Again I went back to school and my depression eased and the behaviours became less and less. I first discovered laxatives when I was 16, well it was the first time I managed to push myself past the embarrassment factor of going to the chemist and buying them! My eating habits were erratic throughout my mid teens, I would go through periods where I would eat normally, periods of severely restricting my food intake, periods of binging and intermittent use of both self induced vomiting and laxative use to keep my weight down. Again my family did not notice, my guidance teacher at school did try to talk to me a few times and ask me about my home life etc but I never managed to open up to her. One of the things that happened during that time was that my mum found my stash of laxatives which I kept in an unmarked plastic bag which fell out of the cupboard. She picked them up and looked at me before going and putting them in the bin (from where I later retrieved them). She had no way of knowing those little white pills were laxatives and not something far more serious but never mentioned the incident to me, the fact my family simply showed no interest in my welfare was probably a big part of my problems developing,.
My eating disorder took a far more serious turn when I was 17 and left home. I managed to pass my exams a year early so went to university just after my 17th birthday. I muddled through most of the first year ok but became severely depressed around the Easter period of my first year, I was coping well academically but struggled a bit socially and felt shy and fat and out of place. Once again I restricted my eating and started to throw up losing a large amount of weight. I plucked up the courage to talk to student health about my problems and was prescribed Prozac which only made me worse and I ended up in hospital following a severe bout of self harm. I was referred to a psychiatrist who would visit student health to give me counselling every fortnight and prescribed different medications but by now I was in a downhill spiral and after overdosing I was admitted to a psychiatric ward, I did get a bit better and was discharged.
In retrospect I was not well enough to go back to university for my second year, I lived in a flat instead of halls of residence and the increased privacy only let my self destructive behaviour grow to new heights. My eating patterns were now well and truly out of control and I was binging and using laxatives on a daily basis. Not surprisingly I failed the year of uni and moved back to my home town. My mum died which shook me badly but living with my sister was a good period of my life. I got a job I enjoyed and started to enjoy life once more and put the eating problems behind me.
Becoming a mother at just 21 was not part of my life plan, I loved my baby but developed crippling post natal depression and once again the food issues spiralled out of control, I lost ridiculous amounts of weight by living only on pasta and dairylea cheese. My lovely GP helped me a lot, I was once again referred to a psychiatrist who diagnosed bipolar disorder rather than depression which would explain why antidepressants made me worse. I had therapy which helped me a lot although it was very behavioural based rather than dealing with the root of my problems it helped me to discover new ways of coping that were healthier, once again life was good.
Like I said earlier I thought my food issues were behind me until earlier this year. I developed a reasonably healthy body image and absolutely refused to weight myself as when at the peak of my eating problems I would weigh myself dozens of times a day. I had put on a lot of weight over the past few years and decided I would join slimming world to lose it healthily. Standing on the scales again was not nearly as bad as I thought, I managed to follow the plan for around a month and lose a few pounds but being on a diet and being weighed regularly triggered off the dormant eating disorder monster in my brain and it has been spiralling out of control ever since.
The first time I threw up again was after I went out for a Chinese meal and pigged out but still wanted to lose weight at my weigh in so up the food came. There's something very addictive about vomiting, I can't quite explain it. I have been under a lot of pressure lately and although I regularly manage to fight the urge to throw up when I do I love the clean and empty feeling and my head seems so much clearer and brighter for a while and it also drains me enough that I can sleep.
Like I said in some strange way being sick makes me feel better in the short term but it has more bad side effects than good. My stomach hurts constantly, I've been having palpitations, my teeth hurt, the massive fluctuations in blood sugar gives me migraines and although I have only lost a few pounds I look pale and have huge dark circles under my eyes. Once you are in the cycle of vomiting regularly then it is very hard to stop. Most people think bulimics stick their fingers down their throat to throw up but my stomach now rejects food fairly frequently, I can just drink tonnes of cold water to make my stomach rebel and release its contents. Sometimes it doesn't even need that prompting, one of the lowest points of the past few months was a couple of weeks ago when I had to rush to be sick after eating normally and never made the toilet in time and ended up throwing up over the floor.
This time I don't have my old lovely GP to turn to for help, my current GP does try to be helpful but ends up giving me patronising pep talks, I ended up feeling really guilty when I told him he just made me feel worse. I saw a dietician who described me as malnourished even though I am overweight and gave me wildly unrealistic diet sheets to follow. A student GP promised my some support from a psychiatric nurse but that has yet to materialise. I do take antidepressants right now but they are obviously not working, the fact that I probably don't absorb the full dose does not help. There's a new GP at my surgery, my daughter saw her last week and she seems really good so I'm also going to try and pluck up the guts to make an appointment to talk to her.
I know that means I have to help myself, online support groups are great. I found a private counsellor in my area who specialises in eating problems but unfortunately she is not taking on new patients right now. I'm planning on buying a couple of self help books, the problem is that it is a complex problem so it is not easy to beat. I know I need to tackle my eating patterns so I eat regularly and substantially enough not to trigger binge and vomit behaviour but food is only part of the problem, the food issues are a symptom that I am under pressure. I am confident that I can get it back under control again as I have managed to in the past.
This review only shares my experiences, eating disorders are complex problems with many causes, in my case I don't want to look like a supermodel or be a size 0 so super skinny models have no effect on me. There's lots of good sources of information out there if you have similar problems. The Beat eating disorder site in the UK is a good place to start, www.somethingfishy.com is also a great resource.
My name is Melanie and I'm Bulimic. I'm 34 and I'm bulimic. I have an otherwise nice life, great friends and family and am reasonably smart and creative....yet still.... I'm bulimic. Like many!
For me it started 5 years ago. Yep late on in life. I'd been through an abusive relationship in which I almost died in and had been doing Weight-Watchers like hawk eye for a year in which I went from 16 stone to 12 stone and was a healthy size 14ish.
Me, well I'd been big since the age of about 12 years old. Till then I'd been scraggy as hell. I can pinpoint though when my relationship with food became unhealthy. Not only did my Granny die who had pretty much brought me up whilst my parents worked to bring home the bacon (so to speak lol) and I got lost in grief but no one realised and I'd always loved food and in my home I always had good food in my stomach and plenty of pocket money to spend as I desired so I spent it on rubbish! Also it was around that time I almost got raped by my friends Dad. I didn't but I got lucky!
By the time I left school at 16 years old I was 12 and half stone and size 16 and far bigger than any of my peers. I got the nickname of Blubber (from the famous Judy Bloom book) but don't think I was really bullied or anything like that it was just the odd comment but obviously it hurt me and made an impression and gave me low self esteem,something I realise more now than I did then.
I hated my weight with a passion but ignored it until when I was about 28 years old and I was said 16 stone. I met a guy (abusive ass) that loved me (ahem!) for who I was but I decided enough was enough and gave Weight-Watchers a go with his blessing and encouragement.
I found it easy peasy and it was really the first diet I ever properly followed to the letter. I never gave up and stuck firm to the plan and regularly lost 2-3lbs in a week and I was so busy doing the diet I never even realised when I became a gold member and hit my target weight of 12 and half stone!
I felt great about myself though but my relationship came to an end literally a couple of days after I became a gold member of Weight-Watchers and I ended up leaving my ex in London and moving back home to Coventry. This was hard in itself because I was used to running my own household and my own life but it was made even harder by the fact my Mum had met a guy and he had moved in. He's my Stepfather now but I felt lost and alone and sort of excluded from things really. I lost my on Dad (my best friend) to bowel cancer a few years prior to this and felt suddenly very alone in my on going grief about losing him.
I had lots of hassles with my ex too at this point. I was professionally stalked and all-sorts and my friends got death threats and I was terribly low and anxious all the time and not sleeping etc. Because I was low though the plaster was my folks saying get ready we going for a curry or out for a few drinks and stuff like that. I'd sit on the sofa and my now Step-Dad would ruffle me hair knowing I was upset and make us a BBQ to cheer me up and things like that. I was trapped by food and didn't know how to say no to it and really I didn't want to....it was a comfort to me.
I knew I should be doing the maintenance plan now for Weight Watchers and simply watching what I ate with the principles I had learnt from my diet. Instead...well I lost control, gorged and did gain a couple of pounds and I was terrified by it. I'd lie in bed knowing I was about to undo all my hard work but I didn't like to reject my parents food and at the end of the day I didn't want to either, it made me feel happy for a while.
The first few times I was sick I never had a label for it. Stupid, but I knew about Anorexia but not Bulimia. I knew I was doing wrong but I found I could be sociable, eat as much as I wanted and puke it back after-wards really well and no one would know but me. For me I was never (and am still not) a binger as such. I do have my moments when I can sit and eat my own body weight in crap but for me I'm ill after most things I eat regardless of what they are or the size of the portion nowadays.
People have this image of us lot bowled over the toilet with fingers down our throats. Silly image that is and I don't know anyone who behaves that way. When well practised at this illness no props are needed.
So I was being sick alot (up to 15 times a day). I felt rubbish and I was eating, sicking up, eating cos I was starving and lost focus....got lazy. Because of getting lazy I didn't clean up properly after being sick in the toilet and my Stepfather started to notice things (he had a sister who was anorexic). Then one day, and I'll never forget this I used to be sick in bins and bags if I couldn't get to the toilet cos I was I was being watched. I'd thrown up in my bedroom bin and tried to hide it to dispose of it later. In the meantime my Mum saw my dirty bin and yelled and screamed at me as she knew by this point I wasn't right and was terribly upset with me anyway. She picked up said plastic bin and it completely collapsed on the top of the stairs and the contents of my stomach went all over the carpet and up the skirting boards the lot. I knew then I wasn't right and I went to the Dr's with my Mum and told him my story. Even though I knew my behaviour with food wasn't right I still couldn't see it was so wrong either! I just wasn't thinking straight.
There and then I was diagnosed as Bulimic. I had to admit to the sick thing but also that I was taking a load of over the counter water retention tablets and stuffing myself silly with laxatives and diet pills (serious amounts but I won't divulge how much stuff I was taking just in case anyone picks up my ideas). Although I had these issues and was referred to a eating disorder clinic I was by this time 10 stone 10lbs which put in the middle of my healthy weight range.
The eating disorder day centre was hell for me. It was hell because I'm a sensitive person and I hated what I saw and heard from other people. I also felt not a good enough Bulimic cos compared to the size zeros (and skinnier) I felt humongous and like I had no right to be there at all. Was a bit at that point like a competition if I'm to be totally honest and it all really confused me and I was already in a mental state.
I started off having to commit to 2 hours a week and then it dropped to a year of hand holding of an hour of session with therapists and 12 other girls/women (we had no guys in our group) discussing our past and problems etc.
Everyone's experience is different going through this process but I can only speak for myself on this issue. I found it a total waste of my time. Most of the people quit the group and out of four of us who finished the course (I'm mates with them all) I have one friend dying in an eating disorder residential clinic (she's been in for 6 months now), my other mate is badly anorexic and heavily on drugs and the other..well she took off in the middle of the night and we don't know if shes ok then there's me...no better, worse if anything.
I finished the course, did all the homework, eating disorder plans, kept diaries the lot but I was no different...actually by the time I left I was then down to 9 stone 13lbs and the weigh in's every session were like Weight- Watchers to me all over again so I was pleased to be getting lighter each week of course as I was used to that.
When the course finished we were all regarded as successes simply for still being alive and following it all through to the end. I decided then to just continue the way I was really. I mean I was ok in my opinion and used to being this way by now. Sure tired and hungry I was but losing weight and feeling trim is good right?
Wrong. Move along a couple of years to today and how I am now I'm sat talking to you. Today I am 8 and half stone and losing fast and a size 6-8 at 5ft 10. If I go to 7 stone 13lbs I can be admitted to hospital without my consent. I have a bad spine, low B vitamins, am knackered all the time, cough up blood alot and have incredibly dangerously low potassium levels. I go through stages of sleeping for days to sleeping not at all. My bones crunch and click, I walk like an old lady and go through stages of malting hair like you wouldn't believe. Couple that with not being able to poo by myself!
I constantly feel ill, I have periods occasionally and when I do they hurt me so badly. I'm told I'll probably never have kids and lets face it probably just as well. I'm paranoid, argumentative and lost in this illness with no way out it feels at times. I get stressed and emotional easily, I get scared but most of all I don't feel well and shut myself away from people. I've been prodded, poked, analysed (I see a councillor every Wednesday for ages and judged by psychiatrists. I hate being seen naked or scantily clad and hate hugging people cos they make comments about my bones sticking in them.
People don't understand eating disorders yet they're so on the increase it's frightening. It's not fun, it's heartbreaking and I destroy people I care about every day when they look at me. Sometimes I feel so low I feel suicidal and it's scary because when your not eating and feel rubbish anyway life is so hard for you that it's hard to make decisions and see the wood from the trees at the best of times.
Help is limited and like people say there is only one person that can help you and that's yourself though it isn't easy at all because it's a habit. All my behaviour is and half the time I don't even think about my actions they simply are second nature to me.
There is some help out there and if you are suffering there is no need to suffer in silence with this. There is no real stigma to this illness any more as there used to be and just cos you admit to having an eating disorder doesn't mean your gonna get force fed whilst tied up or put in a mental institution either! Look at me I'm not lol.
Medication is available and I'm on a pill called Fluoxetine which is Prozac that is meant to help food stay put too which is only suitable really for recovering Bulimics (hence why I stopped taking mine recently and am about to restart taking them!). Talking about this is key. Men, women and kids alike are suffering in silence and while we do help that could be made available to us isn't being because the real statistics aren't out there.
Don't be ashamed, you are not alone, trust me on that and always bear in mind the success stories of recovery and hope that for yourself!
From my teens I have struggled with this horrendous condition and in this review I would like to shed some light on exactly what bulimia is like to live with and how it affects individuals and their families. My aim is to spread awareness and show how normal people can be affected and to inform about the signs of bulimia and share my experiences to reduce prejudice, help people to recognise the symptoms and for people to be aware of how tragic it is that this is increasing in our society.
I have always been tall and I suppose what you would call "big-boned" and as a youngster I was big for my age and I don't just mean in height! I never really noticed my size until high school and in my primary school I would happily munch through whatever I wanted to eat without really thinking there was consequences to my eating habits. My mother has always been overweight throughout her adult life and my grandmother quite the opposite being a size 4. I loved my food and I could eat at a young age more than what I see some adults eat now. As young as 5 years old I would insist on an adult menu and not the children's and what could have been seen as a healthy appetite, I paid for when I went to high school.
High school was the worst 3 years of my life. I went to a comprehensive in my town and having not really socialised so much with people my own age and been constantly around adults I was quite mature for my age and had the intellect of someone much older. I worked hard at school and always got top grades. In addition I was overweight with red hair and never felt comfortable around people my own age. This was when the bullying started. Children can be so cruel and I heard the lot that even I remember to this day. Such comments as "Lyndsey is like the village bike, everyone's had a ride but Rebecca is like the old village bike that no one wants a ride on", "I bet your mother was so disappointed when she had you and she saw you had ginger hair", "If my child looked like you I would drown it". I went through such extremes to avoid school like pretending to go to school then secretly creeping back in and hiding in the cupboard all day until I could creep back downstairs, open the door and pretend I had just come home. It was awful and then that was when the bulimia started. At first it wasn't to be thin, it was to be sick so I could show my mom and not have to go to school. It was horrible to do but I hated school that much I would do anything to avoid it. Then I started to realise that if I did this regularly I could eat what I wanted and lose weight. The worst thing about it was that I thought I could control it. I will never have an eating disorder. The ironic thing was that I thought when I read about anorexics and bulimics that they were stupid but little did I know just how easily it was to become trapped.
As time went on I increased my purging to maybe twice a week. Still I thought I was in control but as time progressed I stopped being just sick to avoid school and to lose weight, and I started to binge eat to be sick. This started at the age of 12 and by the time I was 16 I was a professional. I no longer dreaded being sick, it was a normal part of everyday life. I would eat and eat then purge and then wait maybe an hour and then start again. Obviously this could not go unnoticed for long and soon people noticed that the food in the house was being consumed at an alarming rate. I refused to get help still believing I was in control. It was my choice to do it and therefore I could stop when I wanted. This was not the case.
When I hit 18 I realised that it had gone beyond my control. I became obsessed with the gym, going twice a day alongside an exercise dvd at home. I had an amazing figure looking back yet it was never quite good enough for me. And they way I had achieved it was disgusting. Yet the feeling of pride I had in myself after I had purged was addictive. By this time my family knew and my boyfriend also knew. I would spend whole days repeating my cycle of binge and purge. If I went to a restaurant with friends I would make my boyfriend take me to the toilet so that people would think we were doing something else rather than my actual reality of throwing up the meal I had just paid for. We would return to the table to whistles and a round of applause and then I would sit down and finish everyone's leftovers to comments of "I don't know how you stay so thin the amount you eat, you're an eating machine!" And I felt proud of myself! I had envious looks from women, appreciating looks from men and saw no shame in what I was doing.
Then one day after eating a feast of a KFC family bucket I started throwing up blood. I called an ambulance and was taken to hospital, put on a drip and had my anus probed in front of my family. This humiliation made me realise I had gone too far. It was the wake up call I needed. I went to my doctor and got a note to be admitted to the Priory in Birmingham. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. In one way I wanted to go because then I couldn't eat and i was sure to lose weight. Still I was thinking about my weight! And so for a while I went onto a strict diet of chicken and vegetables but I still couldn't stop the vomiting. By this time my oesohpagus was a two way system. Acid reflux meant that I couldn't keep my food down if I tried. The most shocking thing I found during this time on bulimia websites was a girl who had posted that she had heard that you can throw up without putting your fingers down your throat and was asking fellow bulimics how she could get to this point. By this time I was horribly unhappy. I was scared to binge but I had an addiction. I believed that without throwing up it was impossible to stay thin. Having refused medical treatment my mother bought me some self-help books, which I followed for a while. I started introducing small "forbidden" foods into my diet and ate small portions regularly. It worked for a while but then I got back into my cycle with the hospital incident seeming far behind me. I realised how much I was affecting my family when on New Years Eve I got drunk and my family had to restrain me from throwing up, and the brutality of the experience made me really want to stop. Not for me but for them.
I started on the path to self-recovery and I cut down my bingeing. I still did it but I realised that I couldn't just stop. The fear of putting on weight was too intense. I mentioned before in my smoking ban review that I have only been a smoker for 3 years and this was when I started. I needed something in my mouth that wasn't food and smoking after meals calmed me and gave me something to occupy myself with. OK I had replaced one addiction with another but bulimia can cause cancer of the oesophagus, stomach ulcers, stomach ruptures, disorders of the intestines, kidney and liver damage. If anything smoking was an improvement. And so I was almost cured with only an occasional relapse.
Yet the thing with an eating disorder is even when you are recovered, you are still plagued by it for the rest of your life. The feeling that your worth is how thin you are never goes away. I will never be satisified with how my body is. There is nothing worse for me than walking to the sea in a bikini. I believe that everyone is staring and judging my body. And when I lose weight I feel so proud even now! In the past year I had lost over one and a half stone, not through bulimia but from my boyfriend leaving me last November. Now I am in France I don't have the money to eat often so I eat my piece of bread for breakfast and my main meal at night and so the weight is dropping off. And yet I feel proud I haven't eaten. It feels good to be hungry and this is where the danger of crossing the line into anorexia lies. I love the feeling of my bones sticking out from my hips and seeing my ribs in my back when I bend over. It's sick but true. So yes I don't binge these days but the psychological effects are still there. I don't think I will ever fully be normal again and the funny thing is that when I was bigger I had more body confidence than I have now that I am 4 dress sizes smaller.
I would say to anyone who is demonstrating the behaviour that I experienced at the beginning to stop now because you will regret it and you will be stuck with it for life. I never stop feeling guilty about eating. I even get snappy at people when I have finished my meal and that anxious feeling is creeping through my stomach. I never over-eat anymore to reduce this feeling. For families and friends who are aware of someone with an eating disorder the key is not to push. Bulimics get very touchy about the subject and by shouting and screaming you will only aggravate the shame they feel and push them into a binge. The trigger for me to stop was seeing my mother crying at what she had created, even though it wan't her fault part of her thought that it was due to her own issues with eating that I had this horrendous disease. You have to be calm and by removing all the food in the house it won't help because bulimics can find food, the desperation is so intense that they will always find it.
Signs to watch out for are going to the toilet frequently, taps running for long periods of time, frequent flushing, bags of rubbish hidden anyway, food disappearing, over-eating claiming that they haven't eaten all day, a stuffing type action when eating as if the food may disappear off the plate and wearing baggy clothes. It can also be accompanied with alcohol and drug abuse. If you confront them be gentle, don't make them feel abnormal and never ever shout at them. A bulimic needs to reocgnise they have a problem before they can do anything about it. I ignored my family for years thinking my behaviour was normal and controllable. Another thing to remember is that bulimics are not anorexics, they do not need to be painfully thin in appearance. They can be normal size, thin or overweight.
Even now I have relapses on occasion but I have to stop myself. My most recent was when i went to visit a friend in Prague and she wanted me to try everything and Czech cuisine is not the healthiest. I had to get rid of the food or I couldn't function. This was my last relapse and it was in April this year, but after those 4 days I came back and restrained myself. Going to the supermarket and buying just enough pre-prepared meals to get me back on track. Occupy the bulimic after eating so they are distracted and don't overload their plates with food and try to give them healthier food to reduce the anxiety after eating. I am not fully recovered but a few times a year is a big improvement on several times a day. I hope that one day I will be able to fully recover but I don't believe my feelings of guilt over food will ever go away. Here in France my problem has gone and the French attidude of quality food in moderation has helped me to understand how to enjoy food again. I can only say that if you are struggling with this problem share it with someone, they will help you to make the right choices. The worst part about it now is that if I ever genuinely need the toilet after a meal I know what everyone is thinking and I will have to wait a suitable amount of time before I feel comfortable to leave the table. Another thing if you are aware of someone with this problem, never give them the impression that you are talking about them when they return to the table. The amount of times I have come back to a sudden halt in conversation when I reappear and sometimes it was a completely innocent toilet visit. It makes the person feel that even if they are trying to help themselves people are still doubting them. Make them feel like they can overcome it because if they feel no one else thinks they can do it they are unlikely to believe it themselves.
I hope that this review has heightened people's awareness and to make people realise that normal people get eating disorders. With pressure in society today it is becoming more common-place and I seemed like a normal happy young person on the outside but on the inside I felt paranoid and depressed with myself. If you feel like this then don't suffer in silence and no matter how many times that someone tells you that you are beautiful or thin at the time it seems impossible to believe. But help is at hand and don't be afraid to ask. Don't let it go as far as mine. I still suffer with the permanent damage I have done to myself now. Only last week I had my front teeth filled because of them breaking due to acid rotting the enamel. The consequences are irreversible and once you go down that road it is hard to turn back.
A friend of mine recently made a post on her livejournal mentioning a couple of sites and groups about anorexia. I went and had a look and started thinking about eating disorders in general and about all that's happened to me. There are so many people suffering from disorders of different types. I started thinking about my experiences.
I actually wrote this for another site, but I figure it can't hurt to get it out to as many places as possible. If just one bulimic looks at this and takes comfort from my story, then that's a wonderful success. Writing this was the first time I've actually put into words what happened to me and I think it's really helped me come to terms with it and realise just how far I've come.
Most of this is about my personal experiences. One problem with an illness like bulimia is that it's so different for every person. There are some things that are similar for most sufferers, but the cause will be different for every single one of them. That means the response needed is different. People have ideas about what bulimia is. One common misconception is that bulimia is just about people throwing up because they don't want to put on weight. While weight and appearance is often a contributing factor, it's usually not the only one and often not even the most significant cause.
I hope that my story will help people understand this illness a little more.
When I was fourteen, I got really depressed. There was no single cause for this, so I can't easily say when it began. The depression hit me during my GCSE's and school was one of the major factors. I'm above average intelligence and have tended to do well in school, however my older sister works incredibly hard and always come out with brilliant exam results. I know my parents never compared us, but its hard to think like that when you're a teenager and you've got exams coming up that you know your sister passed with all A's and A*'s. So I was worried about doing well in school.
At about that time, some of my closest friends had problems of their own. One friend's parents were getting divorced and she was having to choose which of them she'd live with. Another was diagnosed with a serious illness. Another found out that her mum was dying of cancer. Each of these would have been a sad event in itself and, naturally, made me miserable. Then I started feeling guilty that I was so miserable when clearly my friends had it worse. This just made me feel selfish and that made the whole thing worse.
At some point, I started binging. I don't know how or when. I expect I probably started just having large snacks between meals and the snacks got larger. I didn't just decide one day to go and binge.
At first, I would walk to the village shop and buy a bag full of food. Generally, I would buy a three or four bags of crisps (or maybe a tube of Pringles), a packet of biscuits, some processed cheese slices, a pack of crackers, a load of chocolate and some big bags of sweets. I realised how greedy I must look, so I would generally buy some vegetables or a loaf of bread and try to imply to the shopkeeper that I was buying stuff for my entire family.
Of course, I didn't want him to tell my parents about how appallingly greedy I was. I lived in a small village with one person who ran the shop who knew just about everyone. I was horribly ashamed at how much I would eat, so after this had been going on a while, I would walk to the next village over (about a half hour walk) and buy food from the Co-op there where I didn't know anyone and where my parents didn't shop. I remember once that the woman on the till commented that I must be having quite a party. By this point, I was buying cakes and packets of party eggs as well as what I would have bought from the village shop. I remember that I made up a story about my little brother's birthday. I don't have a brother! I was just horribly embarrassed about how much I was buying.
After I'd binged, I would hide everything. I kept food wrappers hidden in the bottom of my wardrobe or in storage boxes under my bed for days, sometimes weeks, because I didn't want anyone to see. When I threw the stuff out, I would rummage in the dustbin so that I could put my rubbish at the bottom where no one would spot it. Every time I did this, I felt disgusting and I hated myself for needing to hide what I was doing in such a foul way.
At some point near the start of my binging, back when they barely counted as binges, my mum started talking about me needing to lose weight. She never meant it in a mean way, but my family has a history of diabetes and she didn't want me to run the risk of getting it too. My mum was somewhat overweight at the time and she made suggestions of us both trying to lose weight together to give each other support. We went and signed up at a local gym. She meant it completely for the best but it still came at a bad time. She didn't know how depressed I was; I was determined to hide that as well because I felt guilty and selfish due to my friends' problems.
Despite my mum telling me I needed to lose weight, I still went and bought food and pigged out. So I started really looking at myself in the mirror and seeing the rolls of fat on my stomach and the enormous thighs (I still hate my thighs). I would see myself as fat and ugly and knew that I really needed to get thinner.
So I would skip meals and go to the gym and try and eat healthily.
So I would get hungry.
So I would lose control and go and buy a huge bagful of food and stuff my face until I felt full enough that I felt physically sick.
So I would feel disgusted with myself for my lack of self-control. I would see how greedy I was and how fat and how ugly and how I really needed to lose weight.
So I would be more determined than ever to skip meals and exercise hard and eat only vegetables and healthy food.
So it would all begin again.
During my starvation periods, my metabolism would drop and some instinct in my brain would decide it was a famine so I would start craving sugary and fatty foods. And, when I did eat, everything would get stored as fat. Everything I lost while I exercised and starved, I would put on again. I'm not sure how much weight I gained, but it must have been well over a stone and it was all fat, no muscle mass at all. This meant that, as things went on, I began to feel more fat and ugly and greedy and useless.
Between binges, I became obsessed with how many calories I was burning. I would sit in my lessons at school twitching my leg, or wriggling my fingers or anything that would give me just a little bit more movement. I wanted to burn off every single possible calorie. If I could burn just one more by sitting through a lesson clenching and unclenching my left hand, then I would do it.
Since the body uses energy to keep warm, I would run large baths full of cold water and lie in them for ages. It was horribly uncomfortable, but I would lie there and feel pleased that all the body heat leaching out into the water was going to have to be replaced by my body burning calories.
But, despite all this, I didn't think I had an eating disorder. I clearly wasn't anorexic and all I knew about bulimia was that bulimics threw up after they ate. I never made myself throw up. I sometimes did throw up just because I'd eaten too much, particularly if I had a binge in the evening and then tried to go to bed with my stomach still too full. But I never deliberately threw up what I ate. So I wasn't bulimic, right?
If I'd believed I was bulimic, I might have told my parents. As it was, I just felt greedy and disgusting because my mum was telling me I should lose weight for my own good and because she was actually doing really well on her diet. I didn't want her know how weak I was, what a failure I was.
A definition of bulimia, according to wikipedia is:
"Bulimia nervosa, commonly known as bulimia, is an eating disorder in which the subject engages in recurrent binge eating followed by feelings of guilt, depression, and self-condemnation."
Binge eating? Check. Guilt? Check. Depression? Checked, checked and double checked. Self-condemnation? Absolutely!
"The sufferer will then engage in compensatory behaviors to make up for the excessive eating, which are referred to as "purging". Purging can take the form of vomiting, fasting, the use of laxatives, enemas, diuretics or other medications, or overexercising."
This was what I'd misunderstood. I'd assumed that bulimia meant vomiting and therefore I didn't have this mental illness. I starved myself and exercised like crazy, but I thought that was the good thing to do, because it was the only way to get rid of the calories I'd eaten when I'd binged. I felt I had to do something good to make up for my weakness when I'd last stuffed my face.
I hid what I was doing from my parents and my friends because I felt disgusted with myself. I did things that I was horribly ashamed of.
On one occasion, I was binging but didn't really have enough food, so I went to the larder to see what was there. Among other things, I took a bar of dark cooking chocolate and ate the whole thing. I don't like dark chocolate, but I ate the entire bar thinking about how horrible the taste was and how horrible I was to be doing this. Then my mum wanted to cook something and couldn't find the chocolate that she'd bought especially for it. I felt worse than ever because I'd ruined her plans and she was hunting through the larder and wondering if she'd somehow not put it in the bag in the supermarket. Then she and my dad found the wrapper in my room. They lectured me about the fact I'd not said anything. They talked about the importance of honesty and things like that and I just felt so completely worthless that, once they'd finished talking to me, I ended up huddled in the corner of my room crying my eyes out. At that time, there was a part of me that really wanted them to ask about why I'd taken the food. After they'd just talked to me about telling the truth, I think I might have admitted to what I was doing. But they didn't ask, so I didn't tell them. I was scared that if I told them, they'd think I was trying to get attention by pretending I had an eating disorder, which I'd already decided I didn't have.
The depression and the binging both got worse over a period of about six months. Then I decided I'd had enough. I was having a conversation with my sister, I can't remember what either of us said, but I just came to the conclusion that I was sick of it all. I was going to kill myself.
I think that was the first time in almost a year when I felt truly happy.
I decided I would die and then I wouldn't have to worry about exams. I wouldn't have to worry about losing weight. I wouldn't have to worry about my friends talking about their problems to me and dumping their worries on my shoulders as well. I'd just end everything.
I planned it all out that evening. I wrote letters, one to my parents and one each to two of my closest friends. I said goodbye to them. I worked out when I would kill myself. After all, I didn't want somebody walking in and calling the ambulance before I was done. I even worked out what I was going to wear.
It was a morning two days later (this was during the Easter holidays) when my parents were both at work and my sister had gone ice skating. I put on the outfit I'd decided on and went into the kitchen with my letters. I took a knife out of the drawer and tried to slit my wrists.
It hurt like hell and there was blood all over me and all over the kitchen floor, but after a few minutes, the cuts stopped bleeding very much. So I tried to reopen the cuts. I tried to make them bleed more. I didn't even faint.
I don't know how long I sat on the kitchen floor, trying to make myself bleed to death, but I eventually realised that it wasn't going to work. So I started crying like crazy. Clearly I was such a failure that I could even die properly. I thought that if anyone found me like this, they'd assume I was doing it for attention because it was obvious I hadn't done anything life-threatening. So I bandaged my wrists, cleaned the kitchen floor, changed my clothes, buried what I had been wearing down at the bottom of the bin and burned the letters.
My suicide attempt was, without a doubt, the stupidest thing I have ever done. But, in a strange way, I'm glad I tried. I admitted to my friends (the two I wrote the letters to) about what I'd tried to do. I didn't tell them about the binging, but I let them know about being depressed. They were amazing. One of them in particular reacted to my revelation in such a shocked and terrified way that I realised just how much I would have hurt her if I'd really died. I made a promise to myself right then that I would never try to kill myself again. No matter how bad I felt, no matter how much I hated myself, I wouldn't put my friends through this again.
So, I had two choices. I could live out my natural life feeling miserable and disgusting and hating myself. Or I could get better.
I was absolutely determined that I would be happy again, no matter what it took.
I never sought professional help, though I think I probably should have done. I never took anti-depressants. I didn't even tell my parents! My mum did figure it out though, about two months later, because she spotted the cuts on my wrists while we were swimming.
My friends were an enormous help to me. I think it's safe to say that I would have tried to kill myself again if they hadn't been there. When they found out I didn't want to tell my parents, one of them made me a bracelet so that I could hide the cut that wasn't covered already by my watch. It also helped because I didn't look at my wrists and see the evidence of my own stupidity; I looked at my wrist and saw the symbol of friendship. They were both there for me just being supportive. I think just knowing how much they cared for me helped me more than anything else.
There were times I thought about telling my parents, but I never did. I still felt stupid and ashamed, both about the suicide attempt and the binging. My mum found out after a while about the suicide and she told Dad, but I'd kept everything so secret that neither of them had guessed before that. My sister didn't realise until less than a year ago that I'd even tried to kill myself. And, as thoroughly as I'd hidden my depression, I was more determined to hide my binging.
Yes, there was a part of my brain that knew there was something wrong with me and that I should ask for help. The problem was, I was still too deep in the disease to ignore the self-disgust. I was so ashamed that I even lied in my diary about what I was doing. There was a part of me that said I should confide in someone, but that was the same, reasonable voice that, whenever I went to buy food, used to say, "You don't want to binge. You'll just hate yourself later. Turn around and back home and make yourself a sandwich if you're hungry. You know you don't want to do this."
I never listened then either.
I didn't try and deal with the depression and the binging separately. Each was both cause and symptom of the other. As I gradually got less depressed, I gradually binged less, so I was less depressed about my weight, so I was less guilty about the binges, and so on. As the spiral of guilt led me down to the point of suicide, the road to recovery acted in much the same way. A slight improvement in one side led to another slight improvement in the other.
Recovery was a difficult journey and a slow one. There were times when I didn't think I'd ever be normal again. Then, over year after my attempt at suicide, it happened. It was after GCSE's were over. My school organised a trip to Alton Towers and I was there with my friends. It suddenly occurred to me, "Hold on. I'm happy! How did this happen?"
That was the first sign of how much improvement I'd made and that gave me hope for one day being free completely.
Even then, it wasn't always easy. I had several relapses during sixth form, with the knowledge of my sister's four A's looming as a self-imposed target. Of course, I was still overweight. I don't think my parents ever realised about the binging so my mum would still comment about the fact I ought to lose weight. After all, I had university interviews coming up and I didn't want their first impression of me to be, "God, she's fat!"
The first term at uni was really hard. I was away from all my friends and I suddenly was in a position where I wouldn't have to hide my binges so thoroughly because my parents were miles away. The friends who'd been my strongest support through my depression were now too far away for me to just talk to about how I was feeling. A lot of people struggle settling in at uni and I guess I was no different. I didn't become friends with my housemates. I didn't hate them either, which was good, but there was no real friendship. Besides, they were all the sort to go out and get drunk and party all night, while I'm a teetotaller who hates clubs. Not exactly a match made in heaven.
Then, miracle of miracles, I got a boyfriend. I wasn't out looking to meet guys, it just sort of happened. Suddenly, my self-esteem went through the roof. I obviously wasn't fat and ugly, because there was a guy who wanted to go out with me. The dizzying high of being in love for the first time couldn't keep me so wonderfully happy forever, but it was amazing while it lasted and it's still something I can think about to lift my spirits if I get miserable.
Getting a boyfriend helped in other ways because he introduced me to a couple of societies that I wouldn't have gone to otherwise and through those I've made some great friends and really got involved with the social side of uni that doesn't involve getting drunk every night (yes, this exists).
But, despite the friends and the boyfriend, despite doing well on my course, I still get depressed sometimes. I still have the fear of academic failure if one of my modules turns out to be harder than I'd expected. And, last year, I made friends with a first year who has now been diagnosed as depressed. I'm back in the position of being the shoulder to cry on, which is where this all started. It doesn't help that she frequently forgets to eat (she's not anorexic, she just forgets she's hungry) so conversations will often turn to the subject of food, or someone else will suggest getting take-away if they know she hasn't had dinner. Talking about food and depression just makes me remember what it was like at the worst of my depression and I get terrified of ending up back there again.
My most recent big binge was last October. We were at a society welcome meeting and this friend had missed her doctor's appointment so her prescription of anti-depressants had run out a few days earlier. She was therefore fairly messed up emotionally and ended up yelling at someone and then breaking down in tears, while surrounded by people she hardly knew. I was in charge so I was the one who had to calm her down, talk to everyone else and walk her home to make sure she got back alright. All the time, I kept thinking about how I ought to be able to help her. What was the point of having gone through all I'd gone through if I couldn't tell her anything useful? So I felt guilty that I could do nothing and then I felt selfish for thinking of myself when she was the one needing help and so the whole mess started again. I got home after seeing her safe and just burst into tears. The next morning, I rushed out first thing to the supermarket, bought a huge amount of food and stuffed my face.
I've had a few minor slip-ups, before and since, but nothing on the scale of when I was fourteen and fifteen. Some of my worst moments were last summer. I took a job abroad. My boyfriend joined me for some of the time, but the last couple of weeks, after he came home, I felt really miserable. I was on my own, in a country where I didn't speak the language and where I had no friends, so I binged. I binged severely enough to throw up on one occasion.
I know that I'm now a thousand times better than I was when I was fourteen and fifteen, but I'm still not completely better. I still feel guilty every time I eat something sugary. I still look in the bathroom mirror and see the fat and the huge thighs and think about how horrible I look. You don't just get over something like this. Even though I don't binge much anymore, there are still occasions when I eat more than I should and I hide the evidence. In the bottom drawer of my desk, there's a collection of sweet wrappers and biscuit packets that I didn't want to put in the bin in my bedroom in case my housemates noticed.
I eat regular, healthy meals and I make sure I don't exercise to exhaustion, but I still suffer from a lot of the tendencies that set in while I was going through my eating disorder.
I'm trying to lose weight again. I'm about a stone over the healthy weight (this is according to a fat percentage calculation, not BMI) and am trying so hard not to slip back into bad habits while I get down to what I should be. I've talked to fitness instructors at the university gym about how much exercise I should do at a time, what my pulse rate range should be, how much I should restrict my calorie intake by not to risk the natural instinct for sugary foods to kick in.
In some ways, I've become as obsessive about keeping my meals regular as some ED sufferers get about restricting their food. I have to tell myself not to panic about the calorie content when a friend shares a packet of biscuits with a group. I still read calorie contents and will buy a different drink because the bottle shows it's two calories less per hundred ml. I fret about my boyfriend's eating and make sure he gets enough vegetables and vitamins, because it's easier to worry about his food than my own.
Even though I don't binge two or three times a week, even though I don't starve myself after I've had a bad day and eaten too much, I'm still obsessive about food. I worry about every calorie and every gram of sugar. I fret over having enough protein and fibre. And, yes, I still eat way to much sugary stuff when exam time comes and I start getting scared that my grades will drop and I won't get a first this time.
I'm happy with my life. I've got friends I can count on, an amazing boyfriend and I'm doing well on my course. I'm not depressed in the slightest... except when I look in the mirror.
I haven't gotten rid of the eating disorder completely, no matter how hard I try.
I read a comment online once, saying that the writer had no sympathy for eating disorders (although this was specifically about anorexia) because they could just stop. I wish it were that simple. I really do.
If it were as simple as just stopping then I wouldn't worry about going to the supermarket alone because I'm scared I'll lose control and end up buying a trolley full of biscuits and cakes and just scoffing my guts out. If it were that simple, I wouldn't still look in the mirror and hate what I see even though my boyfriend compliments me when we go out and my friends have commented on me looking nice when I wear a flattering top. If it were that simple, I wouldn't ever have sat and cried, surrounded by packets and crumbs and my own self-hatred.
So, what am I saying? Am I saying there's no hope for people with eating disorders? Am I saying that they're stuck with their problems forever?
Not at all.
I'm happy, mostly healthy and over the past four months I've lost almost ten pounds by completely safe methods. This is something I wouldn't have thought possible five years ago.
It's true that I'm not completely free of my problems, but still having some of the tendencies I had as a bulimic is not the same as still being bulimic. I expect that even these tendencies will diminish over time.
Getting free of an eating disorder is slow and difficult, but it's possible.
So, what advice can I give to people who suffer?
Admit you have a problem. That's the first step. My problems got worse and worse because I refused to admit to myself that I had an eating disorder. I wasn't bulimic, therefore I was just greedy, weak and useless. You can only start fixing things once you know that there's something to fix. If you think you might have an eating disorder, even if you don't behave in the way you believe anorexics or bulimics behave, try reading around online to find out if others have the same symptoms as you.
I won't advise you to tell someone, because that would be hypocritical. I've been hiding my eating disorder since it first began. No one I know in real life knows that I was once bulimic. I suppose that's one of the tendencies that's stuck with me; I still feel ashamed of how I used to act. But maybe you can talk about other problems. I told my friends about being depressed and they helped me enormously, even though they didn't know about the bulimia that was a huge contributor to my depression. Since eating disorders are usually linked with other problems, maybe you have something else bothering you that you are able to explain to someone.
If not, there's always the internet. When I started writing this, I wasn't sure if it was a good idea or if I'd finish it. Now, I'm glad I've written it. It's been almost therapeutic to be able to describe my experiences in words in a way I never would do to my friends or family.
There are loads of online support groups, forums, livejournal communities and mailing lists for people with eating disorders. If you do suffer from an eating disorder of any kind, I think you ought to consider joining one of these. It's a lot easier to talk about your problems to a load of faceless strangers than people you care about. It's also good to hear people talking about the same issues and struggles. When I was suffering, I felt disgusting and useless and as though everyone else would hate me if they found out. But there are loads of people out there feeling exactly the same way. Getting in touch with them, even as just words on a computer screen, makes it easier to accept yourself and to see that you're not such a terrible person after all.
Be careful, though, with these online groups. Some of them seem to be more about eating disorder sufferers encouraging each other. I've seen groups where the members share tips for appetite suppressants and talk about how long they've gone without food. I don't think these sort of sites are a good idea. Yes, you get to know that you're not alone and that you're not a horrible person for thinking like you do, but these sites are likely to encourage the behaviour that you really ought to be fighting.
Check out a lot of different sites and groups before joining any and only join the one that you think will best help you recover. I would strongly recommend staying away from anywhere that's likely to show thinspiration.
Thinspiration is where people show pictures of incredibly thin people to encourage themselves and others to lose weight. If you're trying to fight an eating disorder, it's best not to be anywhere that people are going to show you unrealistic ideals.
My real advice to anyone who has an eating disorder is to keep fighting. It doesn't matter if you slip up every now and again. One binge doesn't mean you've lost the battle to get free. Every day you don't binge is a victory.
The progress can be extremely slow. There were plenty of times when I didn't think I was getting any better. But I did. Try keeping records. You can mark down on a calendar or in an Excel spreadsheet or something every time you binge. But then don't go back and look at it as failures. Wait at least a month before counting up and seeing how many times you've binged. In a month's time, do this again and it will be less. I will admit that this process doesn't work for everyone. Some people look at the records as signs of failure, but maybe you could do it the other way round and mark down each day you don't binge.
Or you could set yourself a system of rewards. Every time you go ten days without binging, you can go out shopping and buy a new top. Find a reward system that works for you.
Give yourself a reason to be proud for every success, no matter how minor it might seem. This will help build up the self-esteem which is the most important part of fighting something like this.
If you do tell friends about your problems, ask them to say what they like about you. Focus on these instead of the bad things. Even if you don't tell anyone, you can still try and do the same thing for yourself. Come up with a list of qualities that you like about yourself and think about those every time you get miserable.
The best advice I can give is to never, ever give up hope. Keep trying, no matter how hard it seems or how many times you slip up. There is a way out of the misery and the cycle of binging and self-loathing.
Happiness is still out there, so go look for it.
I wrote this a few years back and wanted to put it on here, not to offer advice, or a diagnosis for anyone but as a story which some of you may well feel you have written yourselves. I know when I read some of the other reviews on this I felt like that. It was a piece a doctor asked me to write to other sufferers explain what was happening to them. I later realised it helped me far more than it could any one else.
" I'm writing this on day 4 of being without Bulimia and I felt that this was the best time to write. I say i'm without it but thats not really true as I'll go on to explain.
I'm not a doctor, I don't pretend to know anything more than my own experiences, and it is this I will tell you.
It all started 11 years ago when I was only 11, looking back I realise it now but no one would have guessed not even me! Several things happened which made me feel low. My self esteem was rock bottom, not a good place to start the great climb to puberty!
I've always been tiny, all my family are, I think my natural size would be an 8 but with Bulimia it goes up and down.
Although Bulimia is an eating disorder, it is not an obsession with being thin, or at least it wasn't in my case. I wanted to feel secure, I wanted a way of coping with being raped when I was 12, but most of all I wanted a friend. All those years I wasn't 'someone with Bulimia' it is really hard to explain but I was me and my Bulimia felt like a person who was always with me. Someone to sit with me, someone to bully me.
It all starts with the bingeing, this is not your normal overeating where you eat two packs of bisciuts. I would eats tens of thousands of calories in just a few hours. It would feel great, the release, the comfort, the energy, the distraction. Then all of a sudden came the guilt, the feeling that you couldn't even control your own food intake, the girl in the mirror who was fat and ugly. I would force myself to vomit and take laxatives. This was the terrible bit, I would vomit till i was so exhausted, my teeth were damaged by the acid. But I felt great, again I was in control. I was above every one else who couldn't control their food...... and it would start again. This cycle would repeat itself every few days, that was my life for 11 years.
I had a child, got married and divorced and went through three more live in relationships. Now I realise this was just another form of control. I would stay with a man then I would leave him as I was getting settled as a form of punishment.
Then last week it all came to a head, all at once it dawned on me that what I was doing was abnormal, I was the one who had the problem not all the 'normal people who ate what they wanted when they wanted'. For the first time ever I really did have control. I called my mental health team (I also suffer from depression) and I got some great advice.
I was told to eat only little bits but often and before I ate I would tell myself that is where it would end I would not vomit. Well it worked, of course there is no magic pill but I have only had a few 'mistakes' in the last few days. I am me now, and yes I have a disorder, but it isn't part of me any more than a cold is.
I was also told to clean my teeth every time I vomited as the acid will damage the inside surface of your teeth.
This is all great advice but I'd like to add some of my own which has helped over the past months as I was realising what was going on. This is all about self esteem; so it is really important to do something which makes you feel good, mine is tap dancing; exercise is great for feeling good.
The most important thing is to talk though, to anyone, a doctor, a friend. It is so important because once you have said those words you are on your way up. No matter what you like you are worth fighting for. I'm not sure I believe all this yet but a mental health worker once said to me 'It is always the stronger people who suffer from this'. If you are in my shoes stick your nose in the air and start fighting with yourself instead of against yourself.
I know that without the Bulimia I wouldn't be here now it was a release. I wanted to end my life so much but I felt I was in control with the eating. Nothing is worth dying for and now my judgement is less clouded I can see that i have a lot to live for.
Well here I am at the end of a long letter (sorry) and I'm in floods of tears, ashamed and sad. This is the beginning though, now I have written this I can stand up and start living and that will start now......... xx
I'll let you know how I get on! "
Well that as I say was a few years ago now and I am 99% free, I feel great. I look back on the person that wrote that and it doesn't feel like me at all. If you are in those shoes get help TODAY and change them to a comfier pair of trainers. I did start that day and I won't be turning back now xx
This is not going to be very easy to write and some may find my rather detailed personal experience alittle too descriptive. I wrote this for another site but thought maybe someone here may like to read it. I honestly can not remember the first time I made myself sick after eating. Looking back it seems to have started when I was about 14. At this time, I had never even heard of bulimia nervosa but was about to find out that what had started as a once in a blue moon thing, would soon take over my life for the next 10 years. When I say take over, I mean it. As you will soon understand, this became a daily nightmare. Let me first tell you what it is. Bulimia Nervosa, sometimes known as ox hunger, is an eating disorder common in adolescent girls not unkown in males and can happen to anyone at any age but, a young woman with low seft-esteem is it's main target. I must stress before I go any further, I have always had a loving family and many friends and to the outside world, wanted for nothing, so as you can see, anyone is at risk of this awful life threatening condition. Unlike anorexia nervosa, bulimia is where you eat. Now this may sound funny, let me explain. Anorexia is where you dont eat and if you do it is very little, often hiding food to make it look like you have eaten it. You convince yourself you are not hungry, you starve yourself, you always think you are fat and food becomes your enemy. Bulimia on the other hand is when you do eat and when I say eat I mean binge. By binging I mean eating, no stuffing as much into your mouth as you can. You eat all the things associated with fat, cakes, pastry, chocolate, anything. You then disappear (when you think no one is watching) and throw it up in a toilet. Now I have at times, suffered with both. You can go from one to the other, starve for days, binge, throw up then starve for days, get the picture and in some ways there is a very thin line as to which condition you have. With both the trigge
r and the end results are the same in that you are not happy with your body and long to be thin. The only problem with this is when you do get there, thin is still fat. And if you are lucky you are still alive. My story --------- As I said, I am not sure when or even how it started. One day I could eat as much as I wanted, never thought about it, the next, I only had to look at food and would put on a pound. At first I didn't think I had a problem, could control it. It didn't happen every day but when it did I would feel so good. I thought that life and the people in it would like me more if I had a nice figure and I would love the comments on how good I looked. I started to mature, things started to grow and I started to become a woman and fill out. I didn't like this and wanted my thin self back. My best friend had a great figure, which didn't help and this just added to my need to keep myself thin. I did say that I think it started when I was about 14 but only as a little fix now and then, when I had over eaten. The real problem was about 2 years later when I started work, found nightclubs, and boys. I have always loved my food and think this is why I became bulimic more than anorexic. With bulimia, I could still eat all my favourite foods enjoy the taste then be sick. This way I didn't feel I was missing out on anything. As time went on, what started as a small fix, soon became a way of life. The feeling of eating anything I wanted, throwing it back up and still having a flat belly, was a way I could control my weight. Now it was starting to get out of hand (looking back it already had but, I still thought I could control it). A once in a blue moon went to once a week, once a day then up to 5 times a day. Sometimes I would binge, vomit, binge, vomit, binge, vomit. I think the worst feeling I can remember at that time was when I had binged to the point of exploding and was just about to get rid of it when a friend knocked
on my door. The sheer panic that I couldn't get it out, get rid of this bad food, was torture. That was the longest hour of my life just waiting for her to leave. Once gone, I rushed upstairs and not satified that I had rid myself quick enough, took laxatives just to make sure. It got so bad that in the end, I would also bring up blood where the back of my throat was so raw from sticking my fingers down it. This went on for years and what was my meant to be my secret, was common knowledge. My friends could see it, my work mates and family. each in their own way tried to make little comments to help but as I still did not accept I had a problem, it fell of deaf ears. I would find myself lying, avoiding people, and making up silly excuses as to why I felt sick. All the time they knew and didn't know how to tell me. I shut myself off and when I look back, I was looking for a happy life only I made it a hell. Me now -------- As sudden as it started it stopped. I fell pregnant with my daughter, Charlie at 24 and for the first time in my life, I could be fat without people thinking FAT. I look back and think how lucky I was. I did not go for treatment (but think if I did, maybe I would not have lived 10 years of hell), and to this day have still not told those around me I know, they knew. It has become a non talking subject that I have put behind me. I think in a way, my daughter saved my life and if I ever see the tell tail signs with her, would maybe be a bit more blunt with the facts. This is the first time I have written about this and by laying it down in black and white can see that maybe I still need to talk to someone. One thing I will say is that in my experience, once you have suffered this, it never goes away. I can say that it has been 7 years now since I have felt the urge to throw up my dinner so as not to put on the weight but in the back of my mind it is still there. The only way I can relate this is if you have eve
r been a smoker and given up. You can do it, you have done it but every now and then the craving is still there. You have to be strong and say no. Think about why you stopped in the first place. Any Advice ----------- Well yes. First you have to admit to yourself you have a problem. The lying, I found can go on for years but you have to accept that people around you do know. At first you may feel embarrassed, maybe anger and even shock that you did not hide it as well as you thought. but this is a life threatenening thing that if not stopped, can lead to heart problems, rotten teeth, ulcerated gums and throat, kidney problems, death, need I go on. At the end of the day you need to learn to love yourself for who you are. One last thought. You are not alone. It is said that 1 in every 200 adolescent girls now suffer from an eating disorder and this is getting higher every year. Please anyone that is reading who relates to this, PLEASE seek help. I know it is not easy to admit and you dont have to talk to anyone who knows you (but if you can I would). Contact your G.P for advice on meetings in your area. Dont trust them'' Ask jeeves. Just type in bulimia and log on to the Anorexia and bulimia care's web site for advice. You can do this without giving out your name or details. If this has made just one person think twice, it was worth writing.
It is my belief that Bulimia is often the result of a serious trauma or problem in your life, this was the case for me and other people I know to have the same problem have also agreed. People often think that this disorder is a clear cut issue over weight but often the problem is rooted much deeper and is not so easy to solve. For instance my Bulimia started after I was raped and sexually abused at the age of 10. Bulimia was my escape, I would binge to forget my problems for a brief moment I would feel good but when I saw how much I'd eaten I would feel guilt and remorse and a total disgust for myself and what I had done to myself the only way I felt i could rid myself of these feelings was purging unfortunately this created more guilt which eventually lead to self harming, sadly self harming is related to many eating disorders. Although I cannot speak for others this illness because that is what it is lead me completely out of control, although I had believed I was in controlI found that I could not stop myself and that deep down in a way I didn't even want to stop! Contrary to many peoples beliefs it is not an attention seeking illness,( my family still don't know even though I suffered for six years ) in fact it is often a guilt ridden illness and one reason why people are so afraid to face up to this illness is because of the attitude of many nonsufferers who humiliate the suffers with their lack of understanding and disgust for an illness they have never suffered from. Although I suffered for six years I am now recovered but this only happened after I faced up to the underlieing cause of my illness, being raped, and until a suffer can understand the underlying cause of their illness and face up to it they cannot recover. Iwish every suffer the best of luck in recovery and want to say stay strong and believe in yourself because it can be done.
I don't really know where to start. I’ve never really spoken openly about my experiences, and even though this is anonymous, it’s still a bit scary. Even if I think back to when I was playing with my little ponies I cannot remember a time when I didn't feel like an outsider. The fat one. Although I was never really bullied as a kid, I got my fair share of names like everyone else, I quess. I was the one, who had boobs first, and a big bum and a chubby face. I hated it; I just wanted to be small and normal looking so I could fade away and blend into the background. It just would have been so much easier if no one ever noticed me. But they did. When I went to secondary school the whole thing really kicked off. All of a sudden there was this new pressure to look good, to get the right boys to fancy you, and to hang around with the right people. To be thin. It began just by trying to stop eating choccies and crisps, which I was crap at. So then I decided just to have breakfast and dinner, nothing else. I kept that up for about two weeks, and lost quite a fair bit of weight. It felt so good to have people telling me I looked good. That feeling of walking into a room and being confident that you don't stick out, that you are just like all the other kids. One day at lunch I broke my diet and had a bar of chocolate (or something). A guilt like I had never felt before came over me, almost horror. Going back to being that hideous thing was too much to bear. Not that I still couldn't do with losing a few pounds. I'd seen a girl on the telly making her self sick, so at home that night after dinner I tried it. Locked myself in the bathroom, turned on all the taps, and did the deed. It was hard, and I felt immediately disgusted with myself. But then I felt my stomach, and how flat it was, without all that fattening food inside it. Now I am writing this I realise how much o
f a buzz I got from that feeling, and how disturbing that is. At my worst I was being sick maybe 20 times a day, who knows, I didn't count. I'm certain that it was a cry for help, deep down inside I really wanted people to notice me, and to appreciate the person I was, it was just too risky to let people get close enough. Eventually I told my mum what was going on, she was very sympathetic, but had her own problems and didn't really know how to deal with it. I don't really know how I got over bulimia, I think leaving school and college and going to university was a major factor. Now I have friends and a boyfriend who couldn't care less what I weigh, and to be honest, I'm not all that fat. The feeling will never leave me though, I still have days when I rip open packets of biscuits and throw them down, followed by dry bread, cereal, anything. The difference is now I don't make myself sick. I don't know if that qualifies me as being " better", but I don't feel how I used to feel about myself, and I'm happy with that. So, I suppose I should end it there, although I could write an epic on this subject.But please, please if you are suffering with bulimia, anorexia, or anything that stops you from living your life, just take a step back and try to identify what it is you REALLY want from life, and go for it.
When I was 14 I had sprouted about half a foot in a year and was a tall, skinny, awkward, high-jumping freak. All legs and elbows and bits that stuck out (albeit not on my chest). About a year later and I had padded out somewhat, infact I was practically bursting out of my jeans and had to hold the flies up with a safety pin. Looking back on it I was depressed and comfort-eating, although I didn't realise it at the time. I ate and ate and ate - i seemed to be starving all the time. At the school sports day I was devastated when instead of winning the high-jump, my bum would just knock the pole off every time. This, coupled with the fact that all my clothes were tight and I couldn't supress my craving for mars bars got me down. REALLY down. I hated that I had gone from a size 10 to a 16 in about a year. it just wasn't fair. Gradually I became obsessed with the notion of dieting. My diaries from that time are full of charts...'no snacks, no sweets, 4 pints of water a day (tick box when acheived)'...I thought that if I could only lose a bit of chunkiness for off my lower regions, everything would be just fine. How wrong I was... At 16, I was an EXTREMELY conscientious student. Faced with the first 'major' exams in my life, the stress really got to me and I stopped eating. I studied so much I never really noticed until the stress lessened somewhat and the hunger pangs started. I had a sugar craving like there was no tomorrow...it wasn't uncommon for me to buy 5 chocolate bars, 3 packets of crisps, packets of fairy cakes and eat it all within 15 minutes. But, as anyone knows, gorging yourself on an empty stomach does not bode for fair sailing. Suddenly being hit with a rush of sugar and bulk, I felt sick. Above the nausea, I felt guilty. Weak. Panicky. Pathetic for having given in to myself. The only way I could relieve this was by sticking my fingers down my throat. This is an extremely unpleasant thing
to do - you gag, you choke, there is a lot of half-digested food reappearing, your eyes water with the strain. Not only the physical strain, but it was extremely hard on the emotions too. I knew what I was doing was unnatural and harmful - but there was nothing else I could do to take away the sickness and the overwhelming guilt. After being sick I always felt a wave of calm come over me. I felt cleansed. i wanted to feel as though all my organs were clean and shiny and free from 'poisonous' food. Until my blood-sugar took a dive and I frantically raided the cupboards for a quick fix. Bulimia is a vicious cycle, and an extremely hard habit to break. Some people reckon there is a chemical reason why people become trapped in the 'behaviour-pattern', but in my experience it was purely a cognitive maladaption to stress, depression and the obsession with being thinner. My desire to be thin didn't last too long - infact it seemed only to be what triggered the whole thing. After a while it wasn't what I looked like, but how I felt that mattered. If i managed to abstain from eating, great - I was in control. But if I gave in to bingeing then it seemd I had lost all self control and then hell would break loose. After about a year of what would be diagnosed as bulimic behaviour, I overcame the urge to binge-eat and lost weight by almost complete starvation. The two experiences are linked (one was the result of having failed ot lose weight whilst still bingeing) - but i suppose that is another category... I was talked into going to see my GP after I confided in a friend about my 'problem'. The strange thing was that even for a couple of months after that I refused to admit to myself that there was infact a 'problem'. One rational part of me said 'you have got to get this sorted', and the other said 'no you don't - it's what you want, isn't it?' Good angel, bad angel. It was a co
nstant battle between two opposing forces. It was almost too hard to bear at times, and yet I could not see a way out. I wouldn't attribute my recovery to therapy (although I would definetly advise it to anyone caught in this hell) but more to intense mental battles with myself and the way my life has worked out since. I can now look at the bigger picture. Even though, 4 years on, I would say I definitely do not have an eating disorder of any kind, there are days when the old urge come back to make myself sick, especially after having been a bit too greedy at dinner. But I daren't be sick - the whole risk of being thrown back into that terrifying cycle of abuse, deceit and lies (aimed at myself and others) scares me. A lot. Bulimia can be extremely difficult for those who have never been there to understand. I was lucky enough to have a friend I could confide in and who listened to my confused statements. I f you know anyone caught in this messy trap - listen to them. Be there for them. It's not just about food, it goes a lot deeper than that.
Debi was a perfectionist. Debi was always better at school than her friend. She was a fantastic athlete. She wasn’t particularly gifted academically but she studied hard, revised and made up the difference of the natural intelligence that had eluded her. Debi was 5ft 2in tall, she wasn’t particularly attractive, but she had a certain something about her. She was quiet, but had an amazing sense of humour, and her parents pushed her all the way so that she could be the best she could. Her friend was slim, always had been. Embarrassingly so at times. She ate whatever she wanted, when she wanted but still she had arms like stick insects, no breasts, and no curves. Little Debi, though small had a lovely slim curvy figure that all the boys at school would secretly drool over. Her friend was tall, and it only accentuated her lack of curves, and breasts. Her friend used to feel silly walking next her, she used to feel like a monkey, with arms too long, and if they were ever stood talking together, at 5ft 8in she would always bend one leg to appear more like Debi, and so be smaller. Debi and her friend used to talk about all sorts of things, one of them was about weight. At 14 this was not usually a great deal of talking, because neither of them, although very slim, never put on any weight, and if they did, it was only in relation to their height and growing bodies. Debi was always (and probably still is) a size 8 and she used to feel fat if she went to a size 10. But Debi was only petite, so it was ok. The two friends grew up, but remained firm friends, sharing the same humour and goals in life. They moved in with each other when they were a little older, by this time Debi’s friend had a baby. Debi’s friend felt really fat and frumpy with her stretch marks. Being taller than Debi was hard for her, sharing a house with Debi was hard for her. Debi was so slim, no matter what she ate, she stayed so slim. Her friend wondered how she did it. <
br> Her friend found out one day why she was so slim. Debi was Anorexic. She would starve herself, and rejoice in her denial. Even though the hunger pangs were almost killing her, she would feel joy…delight at her perseverance. Sometimes, she would jokingly mock her friend if she was eating a mars bar. She would say with a wry grin on her face “naughty girl, look at me, I’ve not eaten for two days, you big fat pig” but she was only joking. She was not being nasty to her friend, she was doing it to make herself feel better. I’m sure she never meant for her friend to feel bad. But then, that was Debi, always the perfectionist. If she said she was doing something, she didn’t do it by halves. Debi would survive on one apple a day and would do one hundred sit ups in her room. Her friend didn’t have the time or inclination to do this, partly because she was always a bit weak, and could never stick at anything, and partly because she had a young baby to look after. The little boy would love sausages, cakes and sweeties from the shop, and you know what kids are like. They never finish anything off do they? So what do you do? Well of course you finish them off for them, shame to see it go to waste isn’t it? Her friend, was 21, had given birth and was a very slim size 10. She was tall and was always complemented on her figure, but she couldn’t believe what they would say. She had no boyfriend, a young baby, and rarely went out. If what people said was true, why wasn’t she in love? Why weren’t the men flocking at her door to go out with her? She knew why. Well, Debi was thin, so controlled, her friend envied her discipline. Her friend trie d to emulate Debi. She tried strving herself, but she wasn’t as disciplined as Debi, and she couldn’t always starve herself because she had to eat with her son. Her friend soon realised that she could starve herself all day with Debi, and th
en when Debi had gone to bed, she could gorge on whole packets of biscuits, then a sandwich or two, perhaps some toast, maybe even four bowls of cereal, and then make herself sick. She hated doing it, but she felt jubilant when she had finished. It was almost as if she was the one who was now “better” than Debi. After all, Debi was racked with hunger pangs, but her friend wasn’t. Her friend would look forward to her evening binges. Sausages, chips, chocolate, bread, crisps, pizzas, anything. If it was there, she would eat it. Then she would be sick, and she never put weight on. Sometimes her friend lost weight, but on the whole she stayed exactly the same weight, so her family and Debi never realised what she was doing. Her mum was particularly envious of the way she could eat whatever she wanted and never put weight on. After a while, she became tired of being sick all the time, but she soon realised that you could use laxatives to get rid of the “excess” too. The laxatives were painful. I mean really painful. She wouldn’t know when she was going to have to “go” or for how long, and it was embarrassing. The flatulence was really noisy and smelly and very hard to disguise! I know, gross isn’t it? But then, it was effective, so who cared? She became weak, and knew the calorie content of each and every thing that entered her mouth! People think eating disorders are about weight. It isn’t. It’s about control. When you feel you are losing the grip on everything around you, you can control this one thing. If you are weak, there are ways round it, like binging and vomiting. To the outside world you are thin and in control. It has taken her friend, me Lisa, a long time to realise that the only way to really be in control, if only of your weight, is to not to think about it. To this day, I still watch what I eat, and I do get down if I put on weight, and I do get happy, na
y overjoyed if I lose it, but I know now that the only way to be in control is to be me. If I want a pizza, I will have it, if I want a chocolate bar I will. The worst thing for an anorexic, or a bulimic is to be in competition. They spur each other on. With every pound lost of the other one, they want to match it, and more. They can’t bear for the other to be thinner than them, because to them, the other one is “winning”. For Debi and I, it was never about who was thinner, it was about who had more willpower. I was always the weakest, and so I became bulimic, she was “stronger” and could deny herself far more than I. Luckily for both of us, we moved out. I will always have the same feelings regards food, I will always watch my weight, and have the same worries about it, but now I am more relaxed about it. I have no-one to compete with now, only myself. I haven’t binged, vomited or used laxatives for ages. I will always have feelings that started the bulimia, but I am older and wiser now. I have two children to look after and I know that it doesn’t matter what I weigh, they will love me. The stupid thing is, I have always been slim, even when pregnant, I just always want to be slimmer. I am now5ft 9 and 9ST 12lbs. Do I wish I was slimmer? Of course. Will I put myself through hell to be slimmer? No way! Life is for living, not counting calories.
Last year I noticed my best friend was losing a lot of weight over a very short time.She also ate very large amounts of food but had massive guilt trips about it and ofetn disappeared for ages after meals. I recognised that she might be suffes=ring from bulimia and asked her how she was losing so much weight.After a while she confided in me and told me she was making herself sick up to 10 times a day. Along with another friend we got an appointment at a doctors and told the doctor about what she had been doing.After discussion the doctor confirmed outr suspicoins but told us that we had caught the problem in time. My friend recived counselling and now eats healthily. The point to this story is that if you know someone who seems to be suffering from an eating disoreder is to try to help them.One of the ways I convinced my friend that she was being unhealthy was telling her the problems bulimia can cause:teeth rotting,osteoporosis and infertility. Please try to help anyone with this condition by supporting them and trying to understand.
Bulimia is an eating disorder where people eat a large amount of food and then make themselves sick, take laxatives or both. It is often a very secretive illness and leads to awful guilt feelings. Most sufferers appear to be coping well with life although they are different behind closed doors. Most bulimics are a normal weight so the problem is not as easily noticed as anorexia (where the person is usually extremely thin) The problem is usually tied with psychological problems and a low self esteem. My own experience of Bulimia has left me with no enamel on my front teeth and I have had to have 2 teeth out at the back caused by constant vomiting. Other medical problems are having a swollen stomach, swollen glands and a puffy face and a constant sore throat. It also causes electolyte imbalance (low pottasium being one of the main things to worry about as this can affect the heart) In my experience dietitans and food plans do not help unless you are really willing to give up the illness, and the fact that I don't want to gain weight stops me from working hard enough to beat it. Having said that, help is availabe if you are strong enough and brave enough to accept it and many people do recover. I also beleive that the only people who can undertand the guilt, disgust and depression it causes are people who are also suffering or have suffered at some time.