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Today I'm also going to give you some bulimia recovery tips on how you can start the journey of bulimia recovery for yourself. I'll also share my personal bulimia recovery story...
I suffered from bulimia for many, many years. It was 12 years in fact, that I had been suffering from bulimia before I had reached my wits' end and I had to recover. I felt that I could not live with bulimia for another day, let alone another month or another year.
I took my first real true step towards bulimia recovery, and that was booking in to see the university counselor at the university I was at. I'd tried to recover from bulimia many, many times before on my own, but it normally went something like a promise to myself in my head that, “As of tomorrow, that's it. I'm not going to eat anything until lunch time, because if I don't eat I won't binge, and if I don't binge then I won't purge.” Of course this made me fall flat on my face every single time I tried to recover!
So after having tried this unsuccessful recovery method for years on end, I decided that I had to try something different. For me the next step was to email this counselor at university and ask her for help. As I say, I emailed her at first because I was just so ashamed of my bulimia that I couldn't bring myself to phone and book an appointment. I actually asked her if she could treat me online, because I didn't want anybody to know me in person as being a bulimic.
She agreed to give me bulimia help online, but within one week she had worked her persuasive magic and I was sitting in the reception room, waiting to go in to see her. I remember that day really clearly, because I could feel the sweat dripping down my arm and I had the shakes and was just an absolute and utter mess. This was a secret that I'd had for 12 years that I was about to share with somebody in person for the first time, and I was absolutely terrified.
I wasn't actually expecting anything from these counseling sessions. I suppose I'd been doing it for so long that I didn't really know what to expect, and recovery almost didn't seem like it was real. I suppose I thought maybe I could get better to a certain point, but I would always on some level be bulimic. I was nervous and I guess also slightly excited about what the results of this counseling session would be, but at the same time - I didn't want to get too excited.
The counselor, Amanda, walked in and called my name and I stood up and walked down the passage. I remember I was just so, so nervous. I sat down in her office and I can't actually even remember what we talked about for that session. When I get nervous I talk a lot, and I remember just talking the whole session, but what I said - I can't remember! I don't know, but I left the meeting that day and I felt a little bit of hope inside me for the first time.
I'm not sure if it was something that Amanda had said or some advice that she'd given me, or just simply the fact that she believed that I could recover and she didn't think that I was a freak. Simply having her confidence in me revived my own confidence within myself and I thought, “Maybe I can beat this. Maybe I don't have to live with bulimia for the rest of my life.”
That trip to see Amanda turned into quite a few more sessions with her. It must have been six or eight months or so that I visited her once a week or once a fortnight, and it really helped having somebody else know about what I was going through. Whether this was because she was giving me advice, I'm not sure, or because she was somebody who I could tell my successes to, tell my triumphs to, and tell when things weren't going so well, although I have to admit that I wasn't always completely honest with her. But I think it was just the fact that there was somebody else there who was now on my bulimia recovery team, and it wasn't just me fighting this battle alone all by myself.
I obviously took any advice that Amanda gave me and I started researching more tips and advice for recovery. I start experimenting with different things that would help, and I found a whole lot that did and a whole lot that didn't, and slowly but surely I started to see progress. It was really slow, but having been bulimic for so long, I expected the progress to be slow.
It was seven months before I had my first binge and purge-free day – seven month! You might be thinking, “Oh, that's such a long time!” but in the scheme of things it really wasn't. That first day led on to another one, and another one, and another one, and many, many more. It led to my full bulimia recovery. Just getting that one full day under my belt really gave me such a boost and gave me so much motivation to push forward and run to the finish line of that journey.
For anyone who's in that same position I was in... re: needed to make some sort of change to start my bulimia recovery, I would suggest getting somebody else in your bulimia recovery team. I know that might seem really scary, because for a lot of people – maybe you included – bulimia is a secret. I remember thinking it was a secret that I wanted to die with. I never wanted anybody to know about it. Now look, I'm sharing it on the internet for everyone to see!
The point is, when you suffer from something alone, the feelings of shame that you associate with it are so much higher. You feel so much more shame, and opening up is so important for releasing some of that shame.
One of the key steps that I think should be in everybody's bulimia recovery, including yours – and I'd like to suggest that you take the step today – is to get somebody else on your recovery team. That can be somebody you love and trust. It can be a family member or a really good friend. Choose somebody who's a good listener and somebody who will be there to support and back you.
Or you can ring a therapist in your area. Do some research and find a good one. Ring around until you get a feel for the therapist that's right for you.
Or, you could join a bulimia recovery community such as the one in my bulimia recovery program.
Any of these three suggestions would be so beneficial simply because you won't be fighting this battle alone in the isolation of your own mind. You'll have people to bounce ideas off, people to ask questions to, and people to share your progress with and share your successes. There's nothing like achieving a little goal along the way and being able to share that excitement with somebody, rather than trying to celebrate it in your own head. The two can't compare. You need somebody on your bulimia recovery team.
It might be scary at first to open up and share your secret, but it's worth it a million times over. I wish that I had done it far sooner. Once you've opened up to people and it gets the wheels of your bulimia recovery moving, you'll see that opening up about your bulimia isn't that bad.
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community