I had bulimia and I recovered. Here is my story.
Self Expandation is a journey to improve as a person.
“Expandation” is not technically a word, but I like the way it sounds. I thought a verbal creation would be appropriate to reflect the nature of the self, which is to be forever changing. We like something or someone today but will our feelings be the same tomorrow?
I started from very low. When I was a child, I was nothing. People thought I was nothing. They called me names but most of the time they didn’t see me. I believed so much that I was nothing that I deliberately took steps to live as if I was no one. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to be invisible. This showed in many areas of my life. For instance, people could never remember my name. They would look at me and I could see they were struggling to remember who I was. Perhaps they were wondering why I was even here. This state of nothingness was accompanied by a feeling of anger.
I eventually became so small and so angry that I developed an eating disorder called bulimia. People seem to think E.D.s are about wanting to lose weight. That’s far from the truth. In my experience, my E.D. was about being so small, so stupid, so unable to be good at anything. I couldn’t do anything without thinking I would fail. This anxiety over failure came from my early childhood when I received abuse over small things. I was not even 10 when someone who was supposed to care for me told me I was going to be a failure, anyway. The word “failure”, and many over negative labels danced around in my mind nearly all the time. Something had got to give. When I developed bulimia, it felt like I had coming to me. I deserved it. It was my fate.
I read that eating disorders are caused by a “pervasive state of mind”. Whoever said this is right. My experience with bulimia started with intense feelings of self-hatred and anger.
Living with bulimia was like living with my worst enemy. The enemy was myself, or more truthfully, a part of myself. Something nasty and evil that would relentlessly remind me of negative things people had once said about me. I wouldn’t call it a “voice”, it’s more like a nagging thought, a broken disc that just doesn’t want to stop taunting and humiliating. This thing is kind of blackmailing you into eating. Stuffing myself felt right… at first. Until I grew concerned I would become huge. What would people think? They didn’t see me eat more than usual. That’s when I started to purge. I didn’t do that to lose weight. I did that to prevent my body from changing.
Things quickly got out of control. I squandered my money on food, mostly chocolate bars. Sometimes at night I could feel things happening inside my body: it was like something was pinching my bowels. I felt like I was going to die. I had become ugly, a walking skeleton with a swollen face. One day I found that my weight had dropped down to 49 kg (I’m 5 ft 9). That’s when I became really scared. This had to stop.
I started to read everything I could find. There was a lot about anorexia but nothing much about bulimia. I ordered books from America. I read about anorexia too.
I also thought about what I could do to sort myself out. I decided the first thing to do was to tell my family – they already knew I had a problem but didn’t know what to do as I kept denying it.
I then spoke to a doctor, was referred to a psychiatrist. I did a few sessions and quickly stopped going. I didn’t feel this was helping me. Talking about my family wasn’t helping me. I knew why I was sick anyway. I knew where my fears came from and who was responsible for them. I only needed to change the behavior and work on having a healthier relationship with food. I was also starting to run out of money. My habit was costing me a lot and though I wanted to be cured, I was still very addicted… The money that Mum had put on the side for me was nearly gone.
I found that the best course of action was to focus on something. There was an upcoming competition. I planned my days, my breaks, my snacks…. I was living by a strict schedule. I didn’t have time for my E.D. anymore. Each day, each week was a victory. I was eating normally, 3 courses a day with a few snacks in between and a lot of water in between. I allowed myself some chocolate everyday. I was convinced that if I didn’t have chocolate I would relapse. I avoided checking my weight but after a few weeks I gave in and found that I had regained some weight. Months passed. The red marks on my fingers eventually disappeared. I had a minor relapse when my dad passed away but quickly got myself in check.
Bulimia was once part of my life… 4 long years of binges at least twice a day. I can’t remember much of that time. I don’t like seeing old pictures of me from back then.. A long tall Sally with sticks instead of arms and legs and a puffy face.
As a result of those 4 years my body seems to have received permanent damage. My teeth are fragile. I have digestion problems I didn’t have before. I now have to watch what I eat because some ingredients seem to upset my system.
I learn everyday. I try things. Gluten free food, coconut milk…. I have to say, I hate bulimia. At the same time, it has given me the opportunity to make healthier choices and find out who I am. It has enabled me to turn my life around and learn how to ignore those nagging thoughts. I barely hear them today, but they lurk in the dark, ready to surface when I am stressed or tired.
I have moved on from being nothing to being someone who chooses to live and learn everyday. I choose to do something with myself and open up to the world. I travel, I buy nice things and do lots of things that make me happy. I believe that you can get out of whichever hell you are once you make the choice to do so.
This blog is for anyone who was ever told they are not worth anything.
Remember to care for yourself. Now. And tomorrow and everyday afterwards.
With loving thoughts.
“Pnexi” (Julie, in real life)
Featured picture: Pinterest