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I remember my friend, Rebecca, talking about bulimic people...
'Why don't they just stop being bulimic... They're so vain and don't want to get fat... That's what I like about you Shaye... You're thin, but you're not afraid to have a good feed'
My heart cringed, my pores began to sweat.
'Thanks' I said.
How ironic that conversation was.
What Rebecca didn't know was that I had been suffering from bulimia for most of my life...
I threw up for the first time when I was only 8 years old. When we had this conversation I was 19.
I had sacrificed 1/2 my life for bulimia and I knew that it wasn't easy to 'just stop'...
Clearly, Rebecca didn't understand bulimia.
My friend Rebecca is a lovely girl. But, understanding bulimia isn't one of her strengths! If she had taken the time to learn about people with bulimia - she would have discovered:
In fact, most bulimics have a terrible self image.
I remember looking in the mirror, grabbing my thighs and then punching them over and over again. Why was I so fat? Why was I so revolting?
I didn't throw up because I was vain... I threw up because I was depressed, angry and I hated my body... I threw up because I had the distorted belief that being thin would make me happy.
If recovering from bulimia was as easy as flicking a switch... Then there would be no bulimic people out there. We would all be healthy and happy.
Recovering from bulimia isn't just about not throwing up your food... It's about learning how to eat again and learning how to accept yourself...
Recovering from bulimia isn't only a physical battle... But a psychological one too.
Rebecca didn't realize how common bulimia was... And that the girl she was talking to was, in fact bulimic!
I think most people (even bulimics) don't understand how rampant this illness is.
Bulimia effects 1 in every 10 woman between the ages of 15 and 30 in the U.S...
Think about how many women you know in this age group...
And, you thought you were alone! I promise you... You're not!
Once I recovered and began talking about my illness... I discovered that my own sister and my best friend had both suffered from bulimia. If only we had known... We could walked through it together.
Bulimia isn't just about wanting to be thin. It's much more complicated than that!
Bulimia can be caused by sexual abuse, low self esteem, the pressure to look a specific way for work or sport, traumatic events and even your families attitude towards food and weight.
I know that my bulimia was caused by a combination of trauma and needing to be thin for my sports... If Rebecca had known this maybe she would have been more understanding.
Rebecca had no idea how to treat bulimic people. She thought they needed to toughen up, be less vain, not eat so much, not throw up...
What she didn't realize is that bulimics are repulsed and ashamed of their illness. They need love and support - not criticism. Bulimics need to be treated with care - as you would with somebody who suffers from severe depression... Or any other mental illness.
Bulimics need help - not a slap in the face!
You may not believe this... But bulimics have the potential to be the nicest people on this planet!
Why do I say that?
Because every single bulimic I have met in the past is wonderful. Yes, they have lost control over their eating and purging... and this makes them angry, depressed, hateful...
But deep down the reason for their bulimia is often because they care so much... They try to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders... until it's all too much and it manifests as bulimia.
If you're bulimic... Look deeply into yourself... I know you'll see an amazing person who is just waiting to break free.
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community