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At the End of my Rope; Isn't knowledge supposed to be power?

by Anonymous
(USA)

Well. I never thought in a million years I would be physically writing the story of my ED in a public forum. I've always been a secret-keeper, defensive to the end even when cornered. But obviously that isn't working for me anymore.
I've been a bulimic since I was 13 but I wasn't professionally treated until I was 15. I'm 21 now, and it's difficult to imagine that I've been living with something so ugly for 8 years.
I was never an eye-catching beauty growing up. I was a geek, an odd one by all accounts. I loved books, random facts to share, dinosaurs, and Jesus. I was also a very naive, gullible child. Ignorance was bliss until I was in about fourth grade. This was the point at which my uni-brow had to be plucked, I had to start wearing a bra before anyone else had heard of one, and I was blessed with needing braces. There was no hope for me when I finally 'fell' for my best friend at the time, Daniel.
(The fact that I still remember all this so vividly just speaks volumes to me about how OCD and self-consumed I am...)
I never dealt well with critisism growing up. I would cringe when my overly-strict parents would even slightly be disappointed. I was a perfectionist at a young age, getting straight A's all throughout elementary and even middle school. But it was right before middle school when my innocence was completely taken away. My grandfather was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. He had almost been more of a father to me than my own on-again, off-again dad. My mother, a nurse, took me out of state to care for my grandfather. I watched him die and helped care for him for a year. He passed away a week after my 13th birthday, and my first dog passed away out of state a week after that. The ones I loved most in my life were gone.
In their place; a disease that had been born out the depression I experienced throughout that year.
In fifth grade, I had become a little heavy for my age. I had also hit puberty early. The connection makes sense to me these years later. At the time though, my parents felt the need to get stricter with my diet. My mother was especially adamant about this, even watching the sugar I got in my tea. She was so worried about that...
Anyway, by the time sixth grade came around I had a healthy fear brewing over food and what I ate. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I've been a stress eater from birth so while I was trying to deal with a new school, isolation, distressed family members, and a dying grandfather; I ate. I ate a lot. I would steal desserts from the downstairs pantry and eat a whole box of cakes to myself. This meant that I would be full for dinner however, and that didn't jive with my hearty Italian family. More food would be shoved down my throat in fear of that disapproving look. I learned after one too many times of feeling like I was going to puke, that it was just easier to lean over the toilet/drain plate/sink and do it.
I had read what you said about doing random, almost shocking things as a kid, almost like an attention seeking thing. I did the same sort of things, and when I purged the first few times I felt as though I had learned some shocking secret too awesome for anyone to know about. Some kind of wonderful loophole to the way I felt at the time. Needless to say, the kids got rougher as middle school went on. I went to half of seventh grade out of state and then returned home. Returned to my classmates shock at the X-some odd pounds I had put on over that time.
And did I ever hear about it. The girls were vicious and the boys had no compassion. I had always dressed in an alternative style, my own twist on the punk thing. But I slowly began to withdraw deeper into myself, become darker, angstier. But besides the normal teenage moods, I was dealing with a mind boggling and self defeating voice in my head.
I kept telling myself that it was just my weight, plain and simple, that was keeping me from pleasing my parents/having friends/doing good at school. Grades began to slip, I lashed out at my mother who was pretty much a single parent at the time, and I started hanging with all the wrong kids. And why? Not because I had anything particularly in common with them. No, I was still pretty naive going into 8th grade. I was just happy to have people accept me. And even they ended up saying small things related to weight that would stick out to me and bother me.
You know what I mean, right? Those little razor words. Things people may not even realize they said, or that weren't said maliciously at all, but you take them straight to hear. Those words, and everything I saw in magazines, TV, and even at my school, kept drilling the desire to be 'perfect' in my head. It was almost like a mantra in my head, 'try HARDER.' But not at anything important, no. Just at being thin.
When I look back I can see that the voice I thought was my own was actually the ED. Everytime I would have a problem, or a bad feeling, or something weighing on my conscience...It was the ED.
To make a long story a little shorter, my ED got to the point where I couldn't keep even a little bit of food down. I compulsively had to throw up. Add to that ridiculous impulsive behaviors like shop lifting, and it was time for treatment. I spent the summer between ninth and tenth grade in the Eating Disorders inpatient unit. I met some of the most amazing people I ever had in my life. I had also met my first boyfriend right before this and he stuck with me through it and for another 2 years. Of course, as it usually goes, he didn't stay around forever and ever as I had hoped.
My heart was broken, and since I had foolishly based all my reassurance and treatment around that boy, my thought process was broken again too. During my junior year and half of my senior one, I completely lost control. Not only of my ED, but of myself in general. I smoked pot on a regular basis now and started sleeping with just about any guy that made me feel alright. I still attended sessions with my psychiatrist then, but only scarcely. I met my next boyfriend at the end of a long, humiliating list of one-night stands. He had no job, no diploma, and no intention of getting either. I supported him for two years. I worked 3 jobs at one time and attempted school full-time during this period. I gained over X pounds, and weighed an all-time high of X pounds. I let him and the ED convince me that I needed him and his non-judgemental view of me. He didn't care if I was a cow as long as I took care of him. He also convinced me I didn't need to be concerned with 'bullshit' like an eating disorder. So I was away from treatment for a year.
That relationship ended too after 2 years. He was with someone else within a month of us being separated. My self worth was at an all-time low. I learned that he had been talking to girls behind my back the whole time. I tried to go back to treatment that month, but I only went once. Then I got into two more stupid situations with guys.
One I let live with me for 3 months while he insisted we weren't 'together' and saw other girls on the side. After I got the guts to kick him out, I screwed up yet another actual friendship by hooking up with the guy.

Now we're at present day. After all the messed up shit I've done up to this point, karma finally gave me a break. I met one of the most beautiful people I know in my life while I was coping with the last mistake. I almost let him get away though with my indecisiveness, train-wreck of a thought process and my 'second voice's opinion on the matter. I took a leap of faith though and couldn't be happier.
Except...I could be. And not by any fault of his. It's my fault and I know it. See, I retained pretty much every morsel of information from treatment. I soaked in exchanges, behavior management, thought records, healthy patterns, affirmations. I could probably treat someone with an ED myself at this point in all honesty. I know what words and excuses we use, and the best ways to keep things to myself. But I can't keep it up anymore. I was able to keep the ED at bay for a long time it feels like. I even lost X pounds the right way, with regular diet and exercise. I took it that step too far though. It's all I think about, I'll i'm concerned about. I find myself sneaking food and bathroom time again and the compulsion and frustration are getting to me. My thoughts are everywhere and all I can think of, like a banner in my head, is that he's gonna leave me.
He's gonna leave me for some X pound, cute little hipster chick in a sundress. That's the phrase that's in my head.
And I know how this goes. I get paranoid, and start being in a worse and worse mood. I'm already not eating the right way to support healthy thoughts.
I'm trying to deal with this new job I have now after losing the one I really love, and I'd like nothing more than to start and succeed at college this spring. But I know it isn't gonna happen this way.
I want to show this man that I'm so much more, I'm a good person underneath all of this...ugliness. I can control my thoughts and behaviors, I can finish school and be someone to be proud of.
I can defeat this voice that tells me I'll never be good enough if the numbers on the scale are off.
I just need to know HOW I can do this. I'm tired of the vicious relapse/remission cycle. Does anyone have any advice??

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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community


The Bulimia Recovery Program