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Doing well in bulimia recovery, but just relapsed

by Lindsey
(Minneapolis, MN)

Hi Lindsey,

I had been struggling with bulimia for 10 years, until about a year and a half ago when I just chose to stop cold turkey.

I had not purged at all, literally, for over a year and a half. Recently, I got into a very frightening car accident where I was not injured, but the car flipped, and I very easily could have died if luck had not been on my side. That night when I got home to my parents house after they came and got me and we settled the issue, I wanted to binge and purge. I have not had that strong of an urge since a year and a half ago. I did not engage in it, but I knew it was a very strong feeling/desire...

A couple days later, the feeling did not go away, and was still extremely strong. I started eating foods I have not let myself eat in over a year and a half, and I purged.

I felt scared, sick and disappointed. Then, since that first purge, I have purged probably about 7 more times. I am scared. I do not want to fall backwards or hurt myself.

I am not sure what to do, if this is normal, or if I'm at greater risk for health problems now. I do not want to be doing this at all, and I am scared.

What do you recommend? I can't believe I am engaging in this again, it feels so horrible and like huge steps backwards.


Shaye Says

Hi there!

That car accident sounds terrifying - thank goodness you came away unscathed... Somebody/something must have been watching over you :)

It's quite common for trauma to bring out past addictions... So, you are definitely not alone in this! The good news is that you've beaten this before - and it is generally always easier the second time around!

Relapse is a normal part of recovery.... So I guess you could say that you are still on the pathway to a 100% bulimia free life. Be kind to yourself - remember that you have been through a terrifying event! You need to try to be gentle with yourself. Don't beat yourself up about this - rather look at it as a challenge to get one step closer to complete health and happiness....

For example, you mentioned that you have been bingeing on foods that you haven't let yourself eat in over a year and a half...

A year and a half.. That's a long time to have specific foods on the off-limits list... It doesn't sound very fun! Perhaps this phase of your recovery you could try allow yourself to eat these specific foods from time to time - obviously they would be 'sometimes foods' but try to make nothing 'off-limits'. Having off-limits food is dangerous... It causes these foods to be put on a pedestal in your mind... They're the desired foods that you're never allowed...

What's probably happening now is subconsciously you feel like you wanted to have some of those foods because they were comforting and you had been through a trauma... Then, once you began eating them, your sub-conscious said "Woa... never stop - because once we stop we're never allowed these again!" If you know that it's okay to eat these foods again - and you won't cut them out completely - it will be easier to get back into a normal and healthy eating routine.

I think structured eating would be a helpful tool to get you back on track... I wrote about it in my last newsletter... To read about how you can use structured eating to end your binge urges, click here.

Remember that relapse isn't a huge step backwards... If you learn from it and move forward - it's actually a massive positive step in the right direction!

I'd love to know how you get on - please keep in touch!


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

The Bulimia Recovery Program