T/W for those struggling with eating disorders or severe body issues. Please reach out to someone you trust and a professional if you are experiencing these issues.
National Eating Disorders Association’s hotline: 1-800-931-2237 (Mon-Fri, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST)
I want to make clear that this is NOT A HOW TO GUIDE. I remember researching many websites on how to make this habit easier. I hope that if you stumbled across this post, you reconsider this choice.
This is my story which I share in attempt to reach out to those who struggle with bulimia/purging or those who have considered incorporating it into their lives.
I encourage you to read all the way through to understand the ailing mental state which I was in at this time. I view partaking in this similar to an addiction. Do not get started.
I suppose I should start where it began, though I can’t exactly pinpoint it all.
I remember being about 12 or 13.
A woman told me a story of how a girl in high school would taunt her and tease her. One day, the girl who was being bullied had went to the bathroom, and realized that the girl who was cruel to her would leave the lunchroom just to throw up her meals. It taught her to understand that those who are cruel tend to be dealing with much deeper issues from within.
For some reason in my twisted mind, I didn’t think about the stories moral as much as I thought “Wow…So…You can eat what you want and not worry about it?” So, the concept was introduced to me, and not too much later after that did I attempt it.
It hurt, it burned, it was messy, it took so much effort to keep quiet and to keep “pushing” myself to get it all out. I would “inspire” myself with magazine photos of beautiful woman beforehand to remind myself of my “goal”.
Between 12 and 14 it was sporadic. Every now and then when I came to a point of self loathing, I would fixate on it for a few days.
When I was 14, I had started my second year of wrestling. I was a freshman in high school. It was pre-season, and I wanted to be at the lowest weight class possible. I severely pressured myself to make it happen. Every day I would come home from school, eat, purge and then eat as light of a dinner as possible. It wasn’t until I admitted my habit to my boyfriend at the time of it, that I stopped. He reminded me how much coaches detest the habit and will remove you from the team if they know of your habit. [Which is something I would like to emphasize. The sport of wrestling in no way promotes these habits. These were self perpetuated issues which don’t have an association with the sport itself]. He also made me promise to never do it again, or else it would put our relationship in jeopardy. For the remainder of the time we were dating, I rarely binged/purged. I would partake in it sporadically. Every few months I would over eat and resort to it for a “quick fix” to feel better. I wouldn’t mention it to him if I had.
Then came the time were I was a few months shy of 17, and began working out and eating better. I stopped the habit altogether. I knew that wasn’t me. I have always been the kind of person who wants to achieve something the correct way, even if it means a longer journey.
It wasn’t until about a year into this effort that I began resorting to it. I was frustrated because I had begun to plateau in weight.
It became a sick strategy. I thought I had everything mapped out perfectly. I considered myself to be the healthiest bulimic on Earth.
Every day was the same for six months.
Breakfast, 300 calories. Big cup of coffee. Lots of water.
During classes I’d drink Gatorade/lemon juice and more water to restore electrolytes. I’d heard enough stories of lost sanity to know better.
Lunch, 500 calories.
Finish school. Go to work. Get off work about 4:30pm. Drink even more water. Eat a snack, 200 calories.
Workout. Burn 1,200 calories. Go home.
Eat dinner. Purge. Shower.
Have a few saltines for about 100 calories, then drink more water. Go to bed hungry but feeling determined.
Wake up, and start all over again.
Everyday, for 6 months of my life – and that’s rather short term for most people. Many people with eating disorders struggle for years, or their entire – tragically shortened – lifetimes. I was just lucky I came out of it.
For me, it was never “I hate my body” – it was simply “I want to be better. I want to reach that goal”. That’s why it was so dangerous for myself, because I figured that was a healthy approach. It wasn’t as though I was being self deprecating about it; I was just “doing what I had to do to get to where I wanted to be”.
In that time period I’d lost roughly 20 pounds. I was only 20 more pounds away from my final weight goal. Yet, I’d started to realize how shameful I was of it.
It was this big looming secret I kept within myself. No friends – even the ones who cared deeply for me – knew. No family members – even those I knew who struggled with similar issues who would be more than happy to talk with me about it – knew. It was just me within my own mind. For lack of a better expression, it started to eat away at me.
I was paranoid. The smell of bile haunted me. I’d be sure to clean every inch of an area and do a double take before leaving to ensure there were no traces of what occurred.
I thought about when I finally would make it to my weight goal. Would I really be able to keep going like this? Would I be able to keep it off? I told myself that I just had to do this to get down to the weight I wanted, then I’d straighten up my act and start back on a healthy lifestyle.
Coincidentally, it was around this time of contemplation that I had reconnected with that same boyfriend mentioned before. I suppose just his presence and knowing how deeply he would disapprove of the habit made me stop almost instantaneously. I confided in him.
Shortly after I wanted to be sure that I committed to doing things the right way, and express to others that they aren’t alone in their struggle. I posted on my social media accounts explaining it, and doing what I thought I could to articulate on the issue to ensure that others who may see my words would know they have an ally if they struggle or to ward them off from the idea if they were considering it.
Of course, I still struggled with it, every two weeks or so it would happen…then every month…then every other month. So far, this year I’ve been completely clean – I suppose that’s the way to describe it. I’ve committed myself to no longer allowing the habit into my life. I’ve gained back a bit of weight, but I’m on the correct pathway to a healthy weight. Regardless, I’m enjoying a healthy lifestyle.
Looking back, it was such a dirty habit. I still feel ashamed and honestly a bit uncomfortable to publish this (for me, that’s saying something). But my intent is that those who have read this will understand that the habit is not worth it.
It is mentally draining. Even just a few times starts to destroy your body. Any form of eating disorder is simply not worth it. Most commonly, these issues develop from much deeper psychological issues. For some reason, I just did it because I wanted to be better for myself. I was never teased or bullied as kid for being chubby (and for that, I am deeply grateful). Of course, I’d always felt my physical appearance when I was younger deterred away boys, but that was all self induced. I’m not sure where this really developed in a psychological standpoint. I believe my issues are more hereditary, but I’ve done my best to over come them.
I am in no way stating that my words are a replacement for medical/psychological assistance. I very much advocate for seeking professional help for these issues. I apologize if my words are insensitive in some way, or do not positively contribute to your recovery. My intention is to let you know that you are not alone and that you can over come this with the proper help and tools.
My advice would be to be understanding and gentle with yourself. When recovering, you may relapse, but that does not mean you must continue the habit. We all have bad days – you can not let that stop your recovery altogether. If you overeat, learn to accept it, and do better the next meal. Don’t starve yourself out of guilt. Learn to create a healthy relationship with food. Let it fuel and nurture your body.
Please, be kind to yourself. Reach out if you need help.