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4 years and counting...

by Rhiann Thomas
(Birmingham, UK)

After spending my whole childhood being chubby, early teenage years being curvy later leading to obesity and being bullied for the majority of these years; its safe to say the inevitable would happen - an eating disorder. Its not something I ever planned to do, I didn't think "Starting Monday I will throw up everything I eat". There was just a switch inside me, I remember exactly how it happened. I was 18 and with my then boyfriend, we were always eating, it was our favorite thing to do. On this particular evening I remember I ate a Pot Noodle and some bread and butter. I got into an online argument with some unimportant person who I barely knew (I don't remember what it was about) and surprise surprise, what did he call me??? FAT. Shocking. That was when I thought "You know what, to hell with all of you, I'll show you", went into the bathroom and threw up everything I had eaten. That first time felt amazing. For the next three days no food entered my mouth, I refused to eat and I loved the sense of power I had by resisting. I was a X stone fatty who could actually resist food! I thought it was going to be easy then. After those three days my hunger got the better of me and I had a bowl of cereal, god I felt guilty, I went and threw it up and didn't eat anything for the rest of the day. The same thing happened again the next day and the next and went on for at least 2 months, one bowl of cereal a day which I would throw up and that's it. Every week I would weigh myself and be so pleased with the weight coming off me. After about 2 months I had lost 3 stone. That's when I thought I could up my calories a bit, I mean why not? It was only going to end up being flushed away afterwards. So my measly one bowl of cereal turned into two, then three, then 4. Before I knew it I was eating everything in sight at every chance I got and being sick up to 10 time a day. And the funny thing is, the weight started to go back on, it terrified me yet I couldn't stop. I'd go food shopping and buy about £30 of frozen oven food, I'd cook enough as I could fit into the oven and as soon as it was cooked, I'd put another load in, stuff my face, spend the next half an hour throwing up and by the time I finished my next lot of food would be cooked and it would start all over again. I would order takeaways, mainly chinese, and I would order enough to feed a family of 5, if I got too full I would be sick and then finish off the rest and be sick again. At this point it had took over my life, I would not keep anything down. Even if I ate an apple I'd feel too guilty to keep it in my stomach. I ended up fluctuating between X-X stone at this point. I had put on over a stone in weight and it had all started because I wanted to lose weight, yes I was slimmer than I once was still but the way I was carrying on, I knew I could easily end up obese again. Then a glimmer of hope - I fell pregnant. That switch flicked off. No way was I going to damage my baby. The binging and purging stopped. I ate what I wanted. I put on every single pound I had lost. But my baby was safe. And when she was born I didn't even care that I was fat again. Until a month later when I stepped on the scales - Xlbs. But I wasn't sick. Instead I limited myself to an Xkcal a day diet and stuck to it easily. One meal a day got me through and I got down to a size 8 which I had never been in my life. Maybe I didn't get hungry because I was so unhappy at the time and had no appetite. I was unhappy with my daughters father, even though I was X stone slimmer than I was when I met him he still made comments about my body, obviously it had changed through pregnancy and he seemed to enjoy pointing out my new imperfections. He didn't work which meant I could go back to work as a barmaid. I ended up losing my job after a few months and started to suffer with depression. Not only had my social life suddenly evaporated, but I was living with a man who had absolutely no respect for me. Then a couple of months after losing my job, I lost my dad. It destroyed me. My antidepressants were increased and my appetite decreased. A few weeks later I was Xlbs and my ex told me that my hipbones really stuck out and it looked disgusting, not even considering the circumstances in which I lost the weight, we hadn't even had my dads funeral yet. After a few months I started to feel better and my appetite came back, my weight stabled at about Xst. Then as I felt stronger I left my partner. I was very happy with my new freedom but also terrified because I started to get behind of bills and found it hard to cope with a toddler on my own. That's when I turned to food again. Started off with the one small binge a day turning into up to three full blown binges everyday. I ended up returning to my ex partner through security purposes as I was scared of being alone. But the binging didn't stop, I was still so unhappy and used food as my comfort. Eventually I stopped denying I was ill and went to see a doctor. I was prescribed the highest dose of Fluoxetine and was referred to a therapist. The Fluoxetine seemed to do the trick, I felt a lot happier so stopped using food as a comfort. I'd have the occasional binge/purge session but nowhere near to the extremes I once had. As I got stronger again I split with my daughters dad for the last time and felt the best I had in a long time. Yes the financial struggles came back but I got on and dealt with it. The stress did lead back to binging and purging again but I carried on taking my tablets, seeing the therapist and trying to deal with it alone. Then I met my currant partner. I was crazy about him from the first time I met him so I decided to be honest about being ill, I would have rather had him run away now than later. But he listened and comforted me and told me he would help me through it. He's stuck to his word, he tells me that every part of me is beautiful and although I don't believe it and don't think I ever will, it makes me feel a hell of a lot better to know he feels that way for me. It upsets him that I'm ill but he's done his research, comes to my appointments, compliments me constantly and hugs me when I cry about it. There is light at the end of the tunnel after all. At the moment i'm waiting for my group therapy to start which I'm looking forward to, I'm feeling pretty confident that it'll help me on my road to recovery. I know there is no magic cure to bulimia, and it will never fully disappear, but if I can keep it under control I will be happy. Feeling positive! I have a lovely supportive partner, beautiful daughter and friends and family to live for, no way am I going to let this illness kill me. Still a long way to go, but fingers crossed i'll get there! :)

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Article by Shaye Boddington
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