Bulimic?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

When I was 18 I started throwing up once a day, usually after my one big meal of the day, and I exercised a lot, I lost 10 lbs in 2weeks, I was 87 lbs. My mother sent me to the Dr. I eventually ended up in the hospital; I lied and got out without being sent to the psych ward. After that I got scared and decided that I could just exercise, and eat almost nothing to maintain my weight. That worked for a long time. 5 years ago my husband had an affair, I was very depressed, and suicidal, I attempted suicide several times (since I was 10, but 4 times since the affair) I was sent to the psych ward a couple of times, and then put on meds that made me feel worse, while on those meds I gained 30 lbs I was 130 lbs and only 4ft 11in…I was huge, a fat festering mess!

Here is the problem, I have thrown up every meal, except the occasional cracker or piece of bread since Nov 1st 2008. I have lost 31 lbs. I am happy about the weight loss, and yet I am still miserable with ME! I hate my life and I feel guilty when I eat, and when I throw up. I feel trapped, I cant stop to save my life. I am tired all the time, but I cant sleep, I worry about everything, and my brain will not turn off! I AM SO MISERABLE!!!!

I think I am bulimic, but they said that bulimics throw up every couple of days, after a binge, I throw up after every meal…what’s wrong with me? What the hell is this called so that I can get some help? I AM SO TIRED!

A. No wonder you are tired and miserable. You have been effectively starving yourself and torturing your body since you were 18 years old. I cannot say with any certainty which eating disorder you suffer from but you’d likely meet the criteria to be officially diagnosed with at least one of them.

In case you are not aware of this the way you treat your body is very dangerous. Your body cannot function well when you deprive it of food and nutrients. When you do not take care of your body it begins to shut down. That would explain your lack of energy. If you regurgitate your meals you take away the food your body needs to produce energy. When you lack energy and are tired it is difficult to feel well emotionally. Tiredness and hunger can make people feel “on edge” or irritable. It is also difficult to think clearly when you’re tired and hungry. The bottom line is that your body and mind cannot function correctly when they are deprived of food.

Many people develop eating disorders when their lives are chaotic and they feel they cannot control various aspects of their life. For some people managing their food intake makes them like they are in control.

There are also individuals who believe that the ability to resist food is a measure of self-discipline. It’s good to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to not overeat but some people take this practice to an extreme. For those extremists (usually individuals who would qualify as having an eating disorder) severe food restriction is something to be celebrated. For instance you wrote that you have vomited after every meal since November 1, 2008. I get the impression that this is a feat you’re proud of. If you are you shouldn’t be. It’s not something to be proud of. As you can see the eating disorder ravages your body and mind. It harms you. It makes you feel worse and not better. It does not help you. Your behavior is something that needs to be corrected and can be if you are open to getting help.

You need to learn new ways to cope with problems. When you learned of your husband’s infidelity you went into a mode of self-destruction that landed you in the hospital. The ways in which you cope with problems seem to be maladaptive and dangerous. Therapy can teach you new ways to deal with problems that do not involve self-harm.

Please consider seeking help from a mental health professional. As you said this is not something you feel you can stop on your own. You are depressed, have a history of suicide attempts and on a daily basis you’re putting your body in very real danger. These are all issues that need to be addressed immediately and require the help of a qualified, trained mental health professional. Thanks for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Jan 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Bulimic?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/01/19/bulimic/