I'm 24, in bulimia recovery for 9 years, starting over...
(New York, NY)
I first decided to throw up on my 15th birthday. After 6 months of violent daily purging, I started throwing up blood and was taken to a treatment center.
Youth (and my parent's quick response) helped my body bounce back from the damage. I stayed in inpatient treatment for 10 months, and outpatient treatment for 5 years. Gradually, I decided I'd overcome the food issues and didn't need support anymore. Besides, who wants to go to an OA meeting or talk to a mentor, when I can be out partying and making art and spending time with my boyfriend?
So at 21 I relapsed, a few months shy of my 6 year anniversary. It started with a three-day-old muffin.
The relapse dulled my spirit, dulled my sense of humor, I didn't want to be with friends and had no passion to make art. I was really needy with my boyfriend, which drove him away. Alone and wretching in the fetal position on my bed, I continued to binge and purge daily for 10 more months.
At the end of the year, I asked my parents to send me to treatment again. Begged them, really. The amount of money they'd spent on my recovery thus far was staggering, so to ask for $20,000 more... was risky... But of course they love me very intensely, so they agreed and sent me back to rehab. It was an unspoken agreement though that this would be the last time.
Three weeks later, I was out and determined to stay well, and I did. I powered through really difficult nights, relied heavily on support and meditation, and slowly it became easier and easier. My mind was relieved again from the burden of bulimic thinking. A damn MIRACLE.
The problem remained, though, that I couldn't really sit still without feeling restless and hungry for something. I followed my nutritionist's meal plan, but became really sexually promiscuous. I mention this because it's an easy trap to fall into. I couldn't feel in control of my weight, but if enough guys thought I was hot, that made me feel better about it. Problem was, I started getting desperate for their attention and was losing respect around the community. So it ultimately ends the same way the food addiction ends, in embarrassment and powerlessness--though it's even worse because it's a very public shame.
Anyway, I moved up to NYC after graduating college (partly to get away from the rumors about who I had and hadn't slept with), and cleaned up my act. Food was healthy, relationships moved slower. BUT, I was met with a very intense and stressful job. Worked to the bone, verbally abused by my boss, and underpaid. Life got knocked off balance in yet another way, and I wasn't getting enough emotional support at ALL.
So at 24, I relapsed again. It started with an extra glass of milk.
That day, I was pissed off about work and felt very full from lunch. I remembered in college some frat boys talking about milk-drinking contests that made you throw up. The idea occurred to me that if I drank an extra glass of milk, and then another, and another, that I could "accidentally" purge and it wouldn't be a "relapse."
Problem was, after that episode, I said fuck it and went to the grocery store to start a bender. I fought off my instincts to resist the compulsion (instincts I'd worked really really hard to get, by the way), and decided I "deserved" a break from reality for a few days.
That was 3 months ago, and the relapse is still going strong. I have 4 days without binging/purging, but I've often made it 2+ weeks of abstaining before being driven back to the toilet, like a slave to its master. So I'm hopeful, but not naive about the power of the addiction.
I've since left the unhealthy job, and am starting a new one next week, so I hope that will help reduce the triggers. I've found some good OA meetings and started going, though still conveniently find reasons why I "can't" go today. (It should be mentioned that days I attend 12 step meetings are days I do not binge or purge... Coincidence?)
I've spent almost half my life in recovery, and have a deep appreciation for what abstaining can bring: a clear head, a sharp wit, a good sense of humor, and beauty! I've never once been overweight while abstaining, sometimes I've even lost weight because I'm not binging anymore. My skin clears up, my hair and nails are healthy, and I actually smile.
The disease needs to be respected. The disease is our siren song, that whenever things feel overwhelming or hopeless, it will lure us closer singing "this will make you feel better... Just one time won't hurt." -- Never has a filthier lie brought so many men and women to their knees.
Thank you for accepting my long long long entry. I don't know if anyone will take the time to read this, but I'm writing it so I don't purge today, because lord knows I really want to.
I feel relieved to put this all out there, and hope if someone relates to it that they won't ever say "I give up, it's impossible." It's very possible, I know it because I've done it, and intend to do it again. the instant we say "I give up", the disease wins. I don't know about you, but I want to be the one who wins today.