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Food- My Only Friend/My Worst Enemy

Everyone says how me and my Mum were so close. I was the youngest of the 4 of us, the baby, and she could get very protective of me. Until her new boyfriend came along.

Richard seemed like such a nice guy and although some might think I got jealous of him for takings Mum's attention away, I was actually really pleased to have him around. He used to be playful with me, a bit too playful though.

I can't quite remember how old I was the first time Richard touched me, either 7 or 8 but I know my Mum had been diagnosed with breast cancer not long before. It was weird how easy and automatic it was for me to just lock it up and not think or deal with the incidents with him.

One day I finally told my brothers who then told my Mum who then did nothing... nothing. What?!

A year passed and Richard still lived with us... the incidents still occurred and I wouldn't dare bother to rip my guts out about it to anybody until my sister, who was the oldest and was off travelling at the time I came out about it before, asked me one day when I burst into tears about it. From that, my aunt then found out which then put pressure on my Mum to do something about it. So Richard moved out but was still together with my Mum. Hurtful? Yes!

Me and my Mum had a more difficult relationship by now... but there was never a good time to be angry with someone battling cancer and losing so I spent more time living with my grandparents and I continued to suppress my feelings and binge on food at every spare moment. Feeding people was also a way of showing love for my grandparents, who were morbidly obese.

Coming into puberty, I began to gain weight quickly from bingeing making me feel worthless, ugly and ashamed of myself. Feelings I already had from the incidents and the rejection from my family. So food became my go to when I needed love and support, but then made me feel reminded of those awful feelings I had from Richard and my families reaction.

At the age of 12 I was told my Mum was going to pass away over night. She didn't, she lived for another 4 months before I watched her take her final breath.

It was sometime around then that I first forced myself to throw up. I told my friend Hannah but she was so disgusted by it (and if she couldn't accept something about me, no one would) that I knew it was something I would have to hide if I ever did it again. Bulimia had sunk it's claws in.

The years at secondary school and living with my grandparents (BIG eaters) that followed was probably the worst my bulimia ever was. I had been so isolated from my family emotionally for so long and now my friends were hard to reach out to as well. Eating was the only escape from all my misery and so I did it as much as I could. Purging myself after was the only way to stop myself from feeling the terrible shame, guilt and self loathing.

Moving away 4 years later to live with my aunt, I was much happier and began to like who I was much more. I still had very bad phases of bingeing and purging but slowly I was healing for all those things that had happened and gradually coming to terms with it.

2 years after that I moved to australia and went on a crazy diet with my health and beauty lover of a sister. This helped in a way but it depends how you look at it. I lost a lot of weight and loved it but of course bulimia came along and bulldozed all my hard work so I then became obsessive about food and health which made me super analyse my eating habits and look at the way I emotionally ate. Not long after I began to do this I found out someone whom I cared deeply for back home and was something of a father figure to me have lung cancer and 6 to 12 months.

Up until this point, not once in the past 6 years had I ever recognised myself as being bulimic. But when I went back to the Uk for a visit to see my ill friend, it hit me and scared me for my life. It became clear to me how little control I had and how these eating behaviours where so ingrained into me.. I had no idea how to deal with it. So I spoke to my aunt. I told her everything and promised myself I would get help when I got back to australia. Telling people is the hardest part and believing that you can beat it. But when you do its like everything just lifts off your shoulders and you can see yourself healthy again.

Im now back in australia, seen a GP and am waiting for my first meeting with a psychologist. My aunt remains the personal relationship whom I've told. I've had some ups and downs since being back but with help I'm confident I can beat this.

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

The Bulimia Recovery Program