I have been a binge eater for as long as I can remember, but I can remember specifically when it evolved into bulimia. I was 17 years old and almost 200 pounds. I hated to throw up so I did research to find a way around it and this is how I discovered laxatives. I still abuse laxatives and enemas almost 10 years later. It is a lot more controlled because I’m not in denial about the illness.
For the longest time, I referred to it as “my eating thing.” I didn’t see it as a big deal because it had insinuated itself into my life as second nature. I would eat anywhere from 800 to 1,500 calories in one sitting and then take laxatives to purge.
The cycle of destruction never stopped. I don’t know if I felt worse from the overeating or the purging, but I couldn’t stop. All I could see was the weight and I would do anything to make it go away. The emotional damage from purging created a situation where I just wouldn’t eat anything for a week or two, but the binge/purge cycle started right back up.
I started to gain the weight around puberty. It was fueled by trauma and depression. The binge eating was a factor in my life that I knew I could control. I would eat until I felt the food lodged in the back of my throat with a disgusted sense of satisfaction. I think I was trying to make myself unattractive by binge eating because there was a history of sexual trauma so maybe if I were fat then it would stop. It was faulty logic because it didn’t stop and just made me feel worse. I was 28 before I actually spoke to someone about it.
I found out about pro-ana and pro-mia websites in my 20s. These websites glamorized eating disorders and gave a forum for tips and tricks on binging and purging. The pictures were glaring with emaciation and quotes were rampant. The quotes said things like, “Thin is the only way to be,” or “You can’t be attractive if you’re fat.”
These sites both fascinated and disgusted me. I stared at the pictures and could feel my insecurity crawling out of the back of my mind. I knew in that instance that this disorder would always be in the back of my mind.
I have never gone to therapy or anything for it. It wasn’t something I even took seriously until I started working out until I got sick. I knew that I couldn’t keep that up for long. It was in that moment that I started to sort through the feelings behind the actions.
To binge and purge wasn’t the problem, it was only the symptom. I started to work on my self-esteem and created a balance of diet and exercise. It is very hard to sustain this routine because any anxiety or stress promptly triggers the feeling that if I lost weight then everything would be okay.
I’ve done really well in my late 20s as far as keeping the diet and exercise to a healthy level, but I still have moments where I fall off the wagon. It’s so discouraging to try so hard to accept oneself completely and not being able to. It’s a battle that some people fight every day and, hopefully, people who have this illness will be on the wagon more times than they are off it.