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Bulimia: how chipmunk cheeks changed me for the better

by Winner

I'm five days +a lifetime free of bulimia. This is the first time I've properly quit, and I know I'm done with bulimia forever.

What made me change?

I woke up 5 days ago and noticed my face was a little swollen. Even though I had purged the night before, I didn't really think it was related, and much like any other naive bulimic - I put it down to being fat and assumed I needed to reduce the time in between my binging-purging as I was evidently putting on weight.

I then got into work and looked in the mirror in the lift and almost feinted from the shock of seeing what I now know to be 'Chipmunk Cheeks.' I was horrified. As attendance on that particular day was vital, there was simply no running away and hiding which is what I was dying to do. So i pulled out my hair and hoped that my hair curtain would cover my grossly enlarged cheeks. The entire time I thought everyone around me was staring at me, I was paranoid that somehow this well concealed well hidden way that I'd maintained my enviable figure, despite eating the portions I did, and let people believe that I must have a very fast metabolism. Then it dawned on me, I'd lost myself. I was living a complete and utter lie. I've always been complimented on how pretty I am, and I'm smart and successful. Bulimia allowed me to have it all- to have the perfect figure to fit the perfect life. I did have this all, all until I looked at myself in the mirror in the lift, and all until I got home that day and just stared at myself in disgust. And I reflected...

I reflected on...
...all those times where someone would cook me a meal out of love, and I couldn't wait to leave so that I could go home and purge.
...all the times where I'd pretend to be busy because I'd planned a b/p session.
...all the times I'd let my friends voice their envy about my figure, when all along I knew that there was no way it was achievable by 'exercising' (because I rarely did, I didn't need to as far as I was concerned, if I consumed any unwanted calories- I'd just throw them up)
...all the times where I spent horrendous amounts of money on easy-purging food, money I could've spent going out or treating my friends
...where I felt bloated even though I'd not eaten anything except a salad (now I realise that's actually a nasty but TEMPORARY side-effect of bulimia) so I'd b/p and feel great again
...that dead look in my eyes when I looked at myself in the mirror
...all my pictures with my friends which have shown my face to gradually get more and more swollen does go on

For 5 days straight, I've barely left my room, all I've been doing is researching bulimia, reflecting, and reading this blog-site (which is excellent). My chipmunk cheeks have almost settled, but I truly believe that God gave me them in order to make me change. I woke up every day after going to bed having b/p every night, thinking 'no more b/p'...and of course it never worked. I needed these cheeks to change me, to allow me to share this with everyone. The cheeks did settle, I obsessed over them: tried putting a hot water bag on them, chewing gum and some tablets which research lead me towards but I do not want to encourage them as I'm not sure how much they have helped and they do have many side effects.

How I've kept going is reading other people's stories, eating well and not worrying at the moment about my weight. I accept that I'm going to put on weight and I'm going to give myself 6-8lbs as 'rehab' weight. It's not that I'm going to accept being fatter, no., I'm going to be healthier, eat healthier and lose weight and tone up the correct way, but that's not my priority at the moment. Bulimia is a short-cut to losing weight, a short cut with such a short-term outcome. I, and all of you here, have to acknowledge that bulimia cannot go on forever, and unless you want even worse side-effects: kidney failure, permanent chipmunk cheeks and a fat face to name but a few.. then you must stop NOW.
I've been taking pictures of myself twice a day. As the cheeks drove me near to insanity, this kept me focused and showed me - through physical evidence- that my recovery was paying off. And maybe it can show the rest of you that although you may feel obese from not vomiting the before and after food pictures will be identical.
Bulimia tends to be in women who are high-achievers, aiming for perfection, but what they fail to realise usually until it's too late is that it WILL catch up with you and cause so so many side-effects, warping you with guilt.

I hope my story helps other people to relate and to recover.

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

The Bulimia Recovery Program