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From one eating disorder to the next... another college victim

by Taylor
(Virginia, USA)

I'm a college student, and it seems like everywhere I turn someone has an eating disorder. My best friend/room mate has had one since the beginning of high school, and my other room mate has also suffered with anorexia and bingeing for years. I NEVER thought I would be that girl.

I was raised in New England by a great family. What my immediate family lacked was made up for by my excellent extended family. However, I was always kind of closed off, and my mom and dad had a bad relationship. My mother is an alcoholic and my dad is extremely controlling and often absent because he obsesses over work. I'm closest with my mom, love her more than anything, and am almost even closer now after seeing how addictions can be (although I know alcoholism and food addiction are not the same thing.)

Freshman year of college I started seeing a guy on my hall - we were not dating, and he kept going back to his ex-girlfriend while still trying to keep things going with me. Even in hindsight, I know we really had feelings for each other, but his immaturity and dishonesty ruined me. I had no respect for myself. I started not eating because the whole situation made me so anxious. I actually felt nauseous all the time because I was hanging on every word he said - or didnt say - to me. I lost weight that winter break, and when I came back, we were over. However, the on and off hooking up continued again and drove me even more crazy - trying to trick myself into thinking we could work out together. Now, whenever I got nervous, I would purge. I wasn't necessarily bingeing, but I didn't like what I was eating. Soon the bingeing came along with it.

Somehow, I didn't even realize this was full on bulimia. I thought I just made myself throw up sometimes because I didn't feel well. I finally looked it up that summer and cried as I read the symptoms, causes, and terrifying effects of bulimia, and admitted to myself that I had a problem. I quit for four months that summer. I educated myself about food, and tried to be as healthy as I could. Unfortunately... this ended up being eating too little instead of eating well. Yes, I was eating healthy things, but nowhere near enough of them. I came back to school at X pounds, and while I'm a naturally tiny girl and usually around X, I knew I was too skinny. I started bingeing and purging again midway through sophomore fall, and the stress of other relationship things didn't help. When I moved in with my best friend in the spring, she was dumped by her boyfriend, and began sinking into extreme anorexia. This drove me even more insane. I would try to get her to eat - taking her to meals, buying her food - but this also made me eat more, which got me nervous, and led me to purge more.

This past summer I quit again for four months. I gained weight abroad, but refused to purge, and was proud of myself for that. I was letting myself be "normal." I lost weight "healthily" (I thought) with a few detoxes later in the summer, and got to a pretty happy place for the beginning of this year. Unfortunately, come fall, I started bingeing and purgeing again. My room mate was always back and forth, and I got dragged in to it too.

SO. I've now reached a point where I will occasionally purge... but I can't even make myself do it anymore. I dread it, it makes my throat hurt, my body hurt... and I'm a voice major so that's not good. Also I have to hide it from friends. Furthermore, I've developed horrible digestion and acid reflux, and I'm sure this is the reason. My health is suffering, my mental health is at an all time low (anxiety and depression, untreated), and I don't know what to do. Now my main problem is BINGEING. Every day I binge. I will eat non-stop. I've gained a lot of weight (relatively), and have never seen my body look like this. Not just size, but condition - my skin, my strength, my breathing... it's bad. I have no control over how I eat. I just had a granola bar, smoothie, four pieces of fudge, a piece of pound cake, and a bag of chips, and I still feel like I could eat a whole pizza.

Now that I've written a whole essay... I'm basically at a dead end it feels like, because I know all the solutions but can't do any of them, or they don't work. My doctor told me "eat filling foods, do yoga" etc. etc. I eat more fiber than anyone I know, I've tried the food diaries, I've tried to work out more but simply don't have the time at school, Trying to book out time makes me even more stressed, and I just eat more. I'm hoping that taking time off and staying at home this summer will help me re-start, but I can't help feeling that (1) stress from my parents will inhibit this (2) I'll relapse anyway when I come back to school in the fall. I don't want to destroy my health at the prime time in my life. Help?

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

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