I just wish I could control myself - Jessicas Bulimia Story
I have been battling bulimia for over 14 years. It controls my life. I just wish I could control it....
It all started when I was 12 years old. I was always the "chubby" kid. Not fat or obese, but "chubby." I largely blame my parents for this because they were the typical southern American Mom & Dad who often enjoyed the quick, easy luxury of fast food and ALWAYS forced my brother and I to "clean" our plates when we ate, whether the meal was a home-cooked chicken dinner or a Happy Meal. We always had to eat ALL of the food placed before us. All of my grandparents were the same way... it's like they would get offended if we didn't finish every bite.
Anyways, as I said, growing up I was the chubby kid. It never really bothered me until I started hitting puberty. I got a subscription to Teen Magazine, starting being attracted to boys, and noticed that the boys found attraction in the thinner girls, not girls like me. Furthermore, my parents and grandparents, the SAME people who always forced food down my throat growing up, now all started to hint around that I needed to lose weight. That's right, I remember my Mammaw (grandmother) sitting me down one day to tell this 12-year old that I was "fat."
Let me interject here with another key part of my personality. I was always a "pleaser." That is, I always wanted to make my parents happy, be the teacher's pet, and generally just impress other people. I played piano very well (my grandmother was a concert pianist and a music teacher), I loved to sing in church and talent shows, I was involved in ballet (yes, I was chubby, but I still danced), I would constantly enter (and win) many essay-writing contests and speech competitions, and I always strived for perfect grades. I wanted to achieve perfection, and I believe that my parents strongly encouraged that trait within me. It's understandable... I was talented, a good student, and well-behaved. What more could a parent ask for?
Well, my one major imperfection in life turned out to be my weight. My family wanted me thinner, the boys around me weren't attracted to me, and I was envious of many of my smaller girlfriends. I had to achieve perfection...
I started out purging just after some of our unusually large feasts, whether it be the family Christmas dinner, or after a covered-dish meal at church. I would eat too much and feel uncomfortably full. Vomiting some of the food made me the nausea and "bloated" feeling subside. It seemed harmless, so I continued for the bigger meals. I started losing weight, and received a lot of positive reinforcement from others around me. Everyone said that I was "looking great!"
Later in high school, I even made the varsity cheer-leading squad. While on the squad, I found out that a few of my fellow cheerleaders were bulimics as well. We actually would be "social purgers" at times; we'd feast at a great restaurant and then make a "group trip" to the bathroom. Or, we'd have slumber parties, and literally binge and purge throughout the night. It sounds disgusting, but it was a way for us to embrace each other with our familiar indiscretion.
After graduating high school with a perfect 4.0 GPA, I then headed off to the university. I had tried to convince myself that bulimia is the problem of adolescents and that I was an adult and needed to "grow out of it." Well, the bulimia definitely subsided through a large portion of college, but it still stuck its ugly face into my life intermittently throughout those four years. It helped relieve me of a lot of the stress of late hours studying, writing papers, all while eating.
I did very well in college and am now a Registered Nurse -- specifically a critical care nurse. Since I graduated college in 2007, it seems as if bulimia has slowly taken back over. After I graduated, I was living alone for the first time in my life. Growing up I lived with my parents, and throughout college I always had a roommate. Now, being on my own for the first time, I had no one else around that would judge me for my little black secret. Making very good money in my profession, I often found myself buying large amounts of very expensive, tasty food just to then purge it afterward. As I nurse, I knew that this was dangerous, but I kept telling myself that I could not and would not let it get out of hand. Still, slowly but surely, the amount and frequency of my bulimia kept increasing...
Several months after I began my work as a nurse, I met the most amazing man. He and I started dating, and, two years later, were married. He, to this day, does not know that I am bulimic (or at least he's never said anything about it.) I have told him that I used to have "some issues" with an eating disorder in high school, but that "every girl" goes through that.
My disorder has completely taken over my life. I usually purge AT LEAST once or twice every single day. If he is at work and I am off on a particular day, I will waste away the day binging and purging for hours and hours. I also now take laxatives. If I feel that I haven't gotten rid of everything before my body begins to digest and absorb the food, then I get overwhelmed with anxiety about potentially gaining weight from that bit of food that has left my stomach and entered my intestines... so I take laxatives.
Also, my husband and I run full marathons (26.2 miles) several times a year, and many smaller races in between. At these races, I see other women who seem to have the perfect body. Even though I compulsively run every day, I still cannot seem to have their physique. So I run even more, purge (even when I haven't binged), and abuse laxatives. As of November 2010 (almost 6 months ago), I stopped having menstrual cycles. I just rationalize it as many female runners stop menstruating. Of note, I weigh less now than I did when I 12 years old, when this all began. I'm also about 3 inches taller.
I am 26 and my life is out of control. As a critical care nurse, I know the dangerous implications associated with bulimia. Yet, I just can't find the strength to stop....