How it all started - Lauras Bulimia Story
When I was fourteen years old, my mum brought home a set of scales. We hadn't had one in the house before, so it was kind of a novelty for me. More than a novelty; I quickly became obsessed with it. I decided that I should lose weight, and fast. I had no target weight in mind, just the belief (pretty common among teenage girls) that the less I weighed the better.
I began to pay more attention to what I put into my body. All unhealthy foods had to go. I even stopped buttering my toast! I became a health and fitness freak. On top of PE at school, inter-school sports, volleyball and netball, I tried to walk at least four hours a week, usually two hours in one go. I also restricted what I ate. Most days, I ate only two pieces of fruit and a meagre dinner.
My efforts weren't in vain. Over the next year and a half, I lost almost fifteen kilos. And I hadn't been overweight to begin with. Now I was underweight, and family and friends were beginning to worry. My school even contacted my parents to ask if everything was alright. Me, I loved the feeling of losing weight. Watching the numbers go down on the scale was positive reinforcement for me, motivating me to keep going. And with something to strive towards, I felt as if my life finally had purpose and direction. I was taking charge. I was in control. MY life, MY body, MY rules.
When I stopped menstruating, my mum organised for me to go and see a specialist. The specialist gave me an ultimatum: gain five kilos before your next visit in two months time, or we'll need to take further action. I didn't know what 'further action' meant exactly, but I didn't like the sound of it! Anyway, I was, by this time, ready to gain weight (or so I thought). The amenorrhoea, muscle cramps and chilblains I'd been suffering had made me realise that what I was doing was unhealthy. Plus, we'd recently been overseas on a family holiday, and due to my obsession with my weight, I hadn't been able to enjoy myself at all. I wanted to be happy again, and NORMAL.
I didn't plan my weight gain very well. I didn't know how. I thought that if I just ate more, it'd all work itself out in the end. Well, it didn't. Within a few days, I was already feeling sick with myself. I realised that I didn't want to gain weight at all; in fact, I was terrified of weight gain! It made me feel like a failure. As the numbers on the scale rose, the guilt and self-hatred that rose with them became unbearable, excruciating. I had never felt so unhappy, so trapped and frustrated. It felt like I was being forced into doing something that I didn't want to do. My parents were constantly scrutinising me. My friends were watching me, too. Everybody became my enemy.
I was trapped. I didn't want to gain weight, but neither did I want to get into trouble with my specialist. I also wanted my period to return. I saw that the advantages of weight gain outweighed the advantages of not gaining weight, and so I forced myself to do it.
I was two kilos shy of my target weight when I started to seriously freak out. I hated my body!! Disgusting, fat, ugly, fat, FAT! Then, out of the blue, my mum asked me if I was making myself throw up. I was stumped. Making myself throw up? Why would I want to do that? The idea stayed with me. One day, after an unpleasant dinner scene, I locked myself into the toilet, still fuming. It's my body, I thought, as I stuck my fingers down my throat. That was the beginning of my bulimia.
It's been two years now. I reached the target weight - exceeded it, even - and though my body image has improved (marginally), I still suffer periods of intense self-loathing. What's more, these days I find myself trapped in a vicious cycle: severe dieting, overeating, vomiting; severe dieting, overeating, vomiting... It's disgusting and dangerous and stupid and it's made me despise myself more than ever.
I'm FIGHTING, though! I'm eighteen years old. I've just finished high school. I could be enjoying my summer holidays. I can't have bulimia eating up all of my health, time and energy.
I have to, have to, have to beat this ugly disorder!!!!