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Beating Bessie the Bulimic Beast

by Sally

I've got bulimia. I think I will always have issues with food, but for me, tackling the problem is learning how I can control it, overpower it, but live alongside its remnants. Today, at dinner, I began to binge; I knew it was going to happen, I knew what I was doing, but I didn't care. I just kept piling and piling up my plate. It felt so good, so fulfilling; I felt so self engrossed, like for once I was doing something totally for me, a treat from myself to myself. But, as the last bowl began to empty, the fear and anxiety began to set in regarding the insane amount of calories I had just consumed. But worse than that the self loathing and disgust began to kick in; I began to feel dirty, repulsive and fat.
I have been in and out of therapy for about 2 years, but living by myself and for myself at uni has seen some of my biggest failures and most significant breakthroughs.
Walking back from the dining room to my halls, a new wave of fear came over me. I was not fearful of the calories within me, but fearful about the trauma I was about to put myself through; going to the disabled toilet, vomitting my guts up, constantly on edge regarding who would be outside in the corridor and who might hear. I feared the thought of feeling my nails scratch the back of my throat, feel my body lurch against the awful thing I was asking it to do, feared the taste, feared the throbbing in my ears, the straining in my eyes, the saliva down my sleeve, and the feeling of total self disgust and exhaustion I knew would ensue. The thought of the whole charade literally (and excuse the pun) made me feel sick. I looked at my friends, and their carefree demeanour, and excused myself as I headed for the toilets.
I got in there, I was over the basin, I was ready to go, and I just heard what my best friend (who's sister has recently been diagnosed as bulimic) said to me: "You have given me so much hope for my sister; the fact that you pulled through this means I know she will be able to find the strength too". When she first said it to me, I felt a mixture of feelings; yes I have pulled through in some ways. I now don't only eat dinner (something I did for YEARS, and was incredibly important to me and my disease), I eat lunch and snack, I won't vomit after going out for dinner (something I would always do), I will eat certain carbs, my hair is getting thicker, my periods have started again, all massive gains. But then I have also "not" pulled through; in times of need, or merely times of want I will return to my bulimic tendencies, sometimes twice a day, just because I can. But hanging over the toilet today, and hearing her say it again, it rang in my ears and I oculdnt ignore it.
I stood up, turned around, went to the vending machine, bought two more chocolate bars, brought them up here to my room and chomped down. I decided I would binge this evening but Bessie (the name I give the bulimic part of me) is the one who wants me to purge; well, today I am not going to. I decided that I would ride it out; today will be struck off the food memory. I will eat, I will enjoy every mouthful, and I will not punish myself for it. I am sat here, with my belly out to the table, feeling very very very full indeed. I can't lie, I feel scared for tomorrow, (i am going on a hot bikini holiday) and what the hell my tummy is gonna look like after such an almighty binge. I feel anxious, I do feel quite nervous, unsure but, ultimately, and realistically, I know that tonights food consumption is not going to make me gain a dress size! But this slight feeling of anxiety is 100000% better, than the feeling of self loathing, disgust, exhaustion and despair that I had failed once more, that I know I would be feeling if I had been sick.
So I'm stuffed, I feel piggish, and a bit fat, but I beat bessie tonight. I beat bessie tonight and I think that means that I can beat bessie again.
For me, its the breaking of the cycle; tomorrow when I wake up and realise that I haven't turned into an elephant overnight, I will have slightly shifted the balance scale in my head. Because I will believe a little bit more, that even if I do let myself binge, I will not be letting myself purge. I find, the more I break the binge away from the purge, the less I binge. This is because I begin to believe in my own self power again, begin to realise that I can be in control, and that I can actually beat this evil Bessie. I am not powerless; I can choose to eat crap, and if I choose to eat crap I have to live with that choice, just like I will have to tonight and tomorrow. Purging is not a tool that can be used to erase mistakes: purging IS the mistake.
The longest I've gone without binging since being at uni has been 2months; I broke the purge away from the binge, and found that after 3 "no purge binges" I didn't binge for 2 WHOLE months, and didn't purge for 3!!! So in taking the power over food away from my right index finger, and giving it back to myself, I have actually found that I make better choices, that I binge less, because I know that I am not giving myself the option to erase it. I am going to live with it.
And I think thats maybe all we can do. Live with what we know are our flaws, and just try and get our heads around what we can, and get our control over what we can.
This isn't my whole story (obviously) but this is tonight, and tonight I feel has been an important one for me. I am taking the reigns back. I may be stuffed, but I'm smiling, I am trying to change the context of the binge and enjoy it; I'm about to watch a movie with my friend and she's got the popcorn out, something I would normally NEVER ; but I've gone wild tonight, a couple more hundred calories won't make any difference tonight. Maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way, but, this is the way that I am tackling it. I've also started a blog online: "Old Sally's Self Sort Out Spot". Its like an online diary; I said to myself when I started it (3days ago) that this was going to be a factor of stopping me; I may have binged today, but I have not purged, and that to me is an achievement.

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

The Bulimia Recovery Program