Death from bulimia was on my mind every single day. I'd been bulimic since I was a scrawny child, eager to impress the dieting women in my life. I was now a women in her early 20's, who seemed to have it all together. Slim, educated and in a long term happy relationship. Apparently I was the girl who people admired for "Having her shit together".
Nobody would have guessed the constant torment I was in. How each night I'd go to bed with a nervous ache in my belly wondering "Will I wake up tomorrow?".
The possibility of sudden death from bulimia was a reality I lived with, day in and day out.
It was a possibility that horrified me... But what horrified me even more was the thought of people discovering I was bulimic as a result of my death...
A death which I felt could happen at any moment if my constant binging and purging continued.
Bulimia was killing me. One day at a time. Looking back at photos from then I can see that I was sick...
I had no idea how to recover from bulimia - but I didn't want to end up like that lady on the news - Terri Schiavo. She had suffered massive heart attack as a result of her bulimia and was severely brain damaged. She was then placed on a feeding tube to keep her body alive. 15 years later, her husband won a controversial court case which allowed her feeding tube to be removed. I remember hearing that it took Terri's body over 2 weeks to die of starvation.
It made me realize that death from bulimia is usually unexpected and arrives unannounced - especially for family and friends who often have no idea that their loved one is suffering from bulimia.
I knew that what happened to Terri Schiavo could so easily happen to me... And although life felt like hell at times, I was not ready to die...
I knew that the hell I lived with was a result of being bulimic. If I could get rid of bulimia, life could be so beautiful.
And guess what...
I did manage to beat bulimia - and I was right - life is beautiful! I'm grateful everyday that I dedicated myself to recovery because it saved my life. At the time of my recovery I promised that one day I'd put together a program to help other women understand the real causes of bulimia - and the real steps needed for recovery. It took 5 years but I did eventually fulfill that promise - and if you would like to learn more about my program, please click here.
There are many conditions and complications that can cause death from bulimia. But before you read about them, I just want to remind you that your body is resilient... Just because you are suffering right now, doesn't mean it will always be that way. Recover from bulimia and your body can bounce back! Having been severely bulimic myself, I know that recovery can seem impossible - but I promise it is possible... And I promise it is possible for YOU! For proof that you can beat bulimia, click here.
1. Ketoacidosis: This is when high acid levels build up in your blood. An extremely dangerous condition that can lead to sudden coma and death.
2. Seizures or Fits: People with bulimia have a higher chance of suffering from seizures or fits which can cause brain damage and death.
3. Pancreatitis: This potentially life threatening illness is when digestive enzymes attack your pancreas. It can be caused by the excessive use of laxatives or diet pills.
4. Electrolyte Imbalance: Dehydration, the loss of potassium and the loss of sodium can cause electrolyte imbalances. Abnormal electrolyte levels are common in bulimics and can cause sudden cardiac arrest - which is what happened to Terri Schiavo.
5. Suicide and Depression: Being bulimic can feel like a living hell. Every day is hard. It's an exhausting and depressing way to live. Suicide is a real risk for those deeply lost in bulimia.
6. Cardiac Arrest: Cardiac arrest is when the heart simply stops beating. It is one of the most common causes of death from bulimia.
7. Gastric Rupture: A gastric rupture can occur when you eat huge amounts during a binge and it bursts your stomach. Although it is not very common, a gastric rupture is often fatal.
8. Hypo and Hyperglycemia: These can be caused when your blood sugar levels are too high or too low. This is usually the result of binging and purging/fasting. Hypo and hyperglycemia can cause many different life threatening complications.
9. Barrett's Esophagus: Bulimia can cause Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This can lead to a condition called Barrett's Esophagus... A very small percentage of people who have Barretts Esophagus will develop cancer. This can be easily prevented though by going for yearly screens with a specialist. If you suffer from bad reflux, it's worth getting yourself checked out for peace of mind.
I hope that this article reminds you how important it is to work on bulimia recovery. I want you to live a long and happy life - so please do one thing today that will be a step forward towards your bulimia recovery...
Here are some ideas:
Whatever you decide to do, I hope and pray for your recovery. You are a beautiful human being who deserves to be free :)
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community