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A Figure Skater's Bulimia Story

I have never told anyone about my life with bulimia before... so here goes:

Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with doing everything perfectly. I was a very active child; I played about ten sports and have always been very fit. I started figure skating at the age of six and decided it was the sport for me and I gradually dropped all my other activities so I could excel at skating while earning perfect marks in school. As a child I was very confident and other than being fairly picky, I didn't have any issues with food.

However, at age twelve things started to change. I started junior high and I grew about five inches. I was about 5'7" and finally broke 100 lbs. My skating suffered and as I lost my tricks to my growth spurt I began to hate my body. I felt huge (especially compared to the tiny girls figure skating is made for). I started counting calories and severely monitoring my diet. I thought that I was too fat to be good at skating. From seventh to ninth grade I would eat one granola bar for breakfast to make it through skating, school, skating, ballet, and show rehearsals until dinner which my mother insisted was family time. By dinner I was starving and exhausted. I would gulp down my dinner and then proceed to eat snacks after dinner, however I couldn't eat without having an overwhelming sense of guilt afterwards. I started occasionally purging to erase the sin of eating my whole dinner. I got to a point where my coaches were questioning my nutrition and were worried about my health as I started having heart pains. My mom took me to get my heart checked out and it scared me enough into eating more normal meals and I started to gain weight in tenth grade (however I also grew a few more inches). I skated and danced better and had more energy, however I couldn't shake the feeling of being huge.

My bulimic tendencies were not very frequent throughout 11th and 12th grade, yet the sense of guilt that followed eating still was an every meal occurrence. I started working out every free moment and doing crunches in the middle of the night. I was exhausted, and I remember crying in the middle of calculus because I couldn't focus and got a B on an exam. Throughout these years I dated a little bit but I mostly distanced myself from all my friends and family because I couldn't relax and have fun.

This past year, however, bulimia has all but taken over my life. I started college and although I love my school it was a big change (especially since I moved from Colorado to New York). Eating with friends at school was a big change from eating with the skating and dance friends I had at home that would hardly eat. I saw that normal girls ate a lot more than I knew. They would even eat dessert! I would eat with my friends but then I started working out until I burned off at least 1000 calories and I would throw up every lunch and dinner. Most of the time I would throw up in the shower so no one would hear me. It was pretty gross.

Then in a terrible skating session, I got a stress fracture in my ankle. I started gaining a lot of weight and started purging more to "erase" my meals. I tried to suck up the pain in my ankle and still skate and work out but it was extremely frustrating and I think I actually suffered from a bout of depression. To try to ease my feelings of failure I decided to join a sorority, and although I love the girls, pledging was especially terrible because they "break you down to build you back up." This meant the emphasis of all my body's flaws and at this point I already suffered from extremely low self esteem (although I hid it from everyone). My boyfriend at this point became serious, however I felt I needed to be perfect for him as well.

The combo of sorority girls and a serious jock boyfriend brought out my insecurities and the second half of my first year of college was the worst my bulimia has ever been. This past summer I have been trying to improve my self esteem, and I have been eating healthier and throwing up less. I desperately want to be able to eat something and not feel the guilt that goes along with eating. I don't want to feel tired all the time. I don't want to have weak bones. I don't want to die from this. But, bulimia feels secure. It feels like an old friend. It consumes my thoughts, my time, and my life. I don't know how to let go and sometimes I don't want to. I love it and hate it. I'm scared.

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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community

The Bulimia Recovery Program