Monday, December 1, 2014

My Battle with Bulimia

As a small child I feel that I was right in the middle, weight-wise. I wasn't thin, but I wasn't overweight either. I don't recall my weight ever being an issue, I had friends, and wasn't teased, life was good. Then, my family moved when I was starting 3rd grade, and things kinda went downhill fast. I had a long lane I had to walk down to catch the bus for school, and the kids on the bus named me water buffalo, and would chant those words the whole time I would be coming down the lane. And no matter how much I begged, my mom wouldn't drive me to school, and the bus driver just seemed to not notice or care what was going on. Anyway, the water buffalo year, as I call it kind of set the stage for an eating disorder. During the summer between 6th and 7th grade, I went away to camp, dropped a few pounds naturally, grew a few inches, and I came home a new girl. Nice and slim, the water buffalo was gone! But the problem was I got hooked on being thin, and wanted to be more thin. My childhood wasn't always the happiest, and I certainly didn't receive a ton of praise as a child, so losing the weight generated some praise, and positive attention, so of course I wanted more. I first followed a very strict diet of a slice of dry toast, with maybe half of a grapefruit. Lunch would be a half cup of cottage cheese, with like two saltines. Dinner was trickier, as I had to sit with the family, but as anyone who has had an eating disorder knows, pushing and rearranging can make it look like you ate more than you did. Having a dog helped also.(King Tut R.I.P) My diet kept getting more and more restricted, and I was working out more and more, and really lost a lot more weight. When I was around 14, after struggling for about a year, I was forced to go to a doctor, wwho informed me that if I didn't start eating, he would put me in the hospital, and feed me with a tube. At this point, desperate to stay thin, I discovered bulimia. It was my answer to everything. I was able to fool everyone, and I did put on a few pounds, so it was actually believable that I was magically "cured". Bulimia became my everything. It was my best friend, it was a way I could gorge on all these foods I would never allow myself, and not gain weight, and it quickly became how I dealt with stress, and bad feelings. I had bulimia through the rest of my teens. When I reached my twenties, that was really when it took almost total control of my mind and body. I was never thin enough, and definitely not pretty enough. It really didn't matter how many people told me I was pretty, or thin, in my mind I was still a water buffalo. Bulimia was also like solitary confinement in many ways. It's not exactly a pleasant problem to have, certainly not something you stand around the water cooler talking about. And there were days that I would easily binge and purge 15 or more times in one day! I mean, it had me in it's grip all the way. I went to therapists here and there, was put on various anti-depressants, and even at one point went to a clinic for eating disorders. Nothing really worked. Part of the problem for me is that I have a hard time listening to someone telling me how I feel, how I should feel, and how much better my life will be without this eating disorder, who has a college degree, maybe even specializes in eating disorders, but yet never had one. That kind of stuff I've always had a problem with. Those years while I had friends, and relationships, I was living this secret dark life of self loathing, and self harm.
In many ways, when I moved to Seattle, I was desperate for help. I was hoping that I was going to be so flipping happy in Seattle, that the bulimia would just go away. So naïve right? Bless my heart. Needless to say, the bulimia didn't go away all the way, but I did start having binges less and less often. I should stop the story here to say that with my bulimia, I went above and beyond just the standard purging, I also used laxatives, laxative tea, syrup of ipecac, and when I was desperate for anything to help me stop, I would take diet pills, hoping those would curb the binges.(They don't) When I look back on those days, honestly a lot of it I've blacked out, probably for my own sanity, but my main thought is I have never in my life hated anyone as much as I hated myself, and I could NEVER imagine being that cruel to anyone. I'm not only talking the act of bingeing an purging, I'm also talking about the cruel things I said to myself, I showed myself no mercy, no love.
I always knew my eating disorder was the root of almost all of my problems, and one day I was really ready to close that chapter, and I came to the conclusion that I had tried everything, clinics, pills, books, therapy, praying, everything, and no one could help me, and I decided I was going to close this chapter once and for all, for me. The first year that I gave up my bulimia of course had some setbacks, and I had a few lapses here and there, and I distinctly remember my last purge, I remember that it wasn't as easy as it used to be, and there with my head in the toilet, I felt like wow, I'm getting there! It's been so long since I have had a spell, I can't even remember when my last spell was. Not a day goes by where at least once I am so amazed at how great it is to calmly eat a normal amount of delicious food, and it's okay. It's even okay if sometimes you eat more than you think you should. You don't have to get rid of it. It's truly amazing, and I don't think I will ever lose my wonderment at eating normally, and enjoying it. And especially as I have been on the quest of self love, I just love learning more and more about natural health and healing. And I need to be so kind to my poor body, it's been abused pretty badly.
I certainly don't have a perfect bod by society's standards, but after writing all of this and really thinking about it, I think my body is pretty perfect because I am still here, and strong, and I want to be kind and heal myself.
For me, bulimia took over my life, and caused so much mayhem, and pain, and at times made me into a person that I am not. I to this day don't think anyone in my life fully understands how big of a presence, and how destructive it truly was.
I hope that my story can maybe give someone hope. Maybe if you are struggling, or you know someone who is. Ten years ago, if you would have told me that I would reach a point in my life that I wouldn't binge and purge I would have never in a million years believed it. But it's like giving up anything, it has to be when your brain wants to stop something. And vegan food is so freaking delicious, I don't want to waste it like that.
Like mental health, eating disorders need to be discussed more, and taken more seriously, because I truly wouldn't wish that kind of self hatred on anyone. And quite frankly, for as long as I've been alive, I've heard people discussing eating disorders, and fashion, and the media, and Hollywood all cause these. While I definitely agree, we also need to look at taunting in schools, and now online also. The words fat and ugly are used far to often to put women and girls down. We can change all of this if we really tried. If just one month, people wouldn't buy any magazine with a stick figure on the cover, oh they would listen. They can only sell us what we are willing to buy. And eating disorders for men have been slowly increasing over the years, so it's not getting any better, and I want to make it better.
Have a kind day.


  1. Other kids can be so cruel at times. I'm a mom and see my daughter starting to be teased like this. It's hard to help kids develop self-confidence when they are always being picked on by others. I will share your story with my daughter to help her understand to try to live a healthy lifestyle and ignore the bullies.

    Margaretta Cloutier @ Aspire Wellness Center

    1. Please do. I went through so much because of my eating disorder, and anything I could do to help anyone else I want to do. Kids are relentless, and bullying has gotten so much worse. I don't know if I could have survived in today's world as a teenager. Now mean kids can torture you at school and online.
      But now as an adult, everyday of my life I regret giving those bullies so much power. Power to the point that even though I've recovered from the disorder, I still have lingering self esteem issues.
      I'm kind of going through some stuff right now, but I plan on talking more about my story in the future. I remember going to therapists and having a hard time taking them seriously, because they knew about eating disorders through books, not experience. So, I feel like talking about my experiences might help someone. At least to know they aren't alone.