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Life with bulimia

by Del
(New York)

I'm 14 years old and I am bulimic.
I remember the first time I made myself throw up. It was Thanksgiving 2010, so just about seven or eight months ago now. I had stuffed myself, eating tons of turkeys, heaping spoonfuls of mashed potatoes, and helping myself to every kind of pie that was set on the table. But this wasn't unusual, I knew that I would eat a bunch that day just like I had every single year before, simply because it was Thanksgiving. After I had practically licked my plate clean, although we had company over, I ran upstairs to my bathroom. I had no clue what I was doing or why I wasn't still downstairs chatting with everyone. I shoved my fingers down my throat and just a little bit of food came up. That was it. Back then it seemed like a huge deal to be able to get a couple forkfuls of turkey back up, but now I'm getting thousands of calories up at once.
The day after Thanksgiving, we left for a three day vacation. As I was sitting in the hotel room, I noticed a huge bag of Golfish, which I then proceeded to binge on. My mom saw me shoving Golfish into my mouth and just kind of told me to slow down because we'd be eating dinner soon. Once I was satisfied, I ran to the bathroom. I really couldn't get much at all up but my mom had heard me vomiting. She asked me what was going on and I told her the truth - that I had eaten too many Golfish. She scolded me and said "I told you so," and that was it.
In December we took another vacation to visit family. During the day, I wouldn't eat anything at all. I'd tell people I wasn't hungry at lunch and I would feel skinny sipping my water while everyone ate burgers and fries. Sometimes, once dinner rolled around, I could continue to control myself and eat a normal meal. Other days of that 9-day long vacation were a bit more stressful. There were times where I would go back for seconds and thirds and then quickly rush to the bathroom to vomit. I don't know how nobody noticed, or if they did, they didn't say anything.
I started to weigh myself more often. I noticed that instead of being 5'4 and X pounds, I was X pounds. This made me feel like puking was worth it. I had no symptoms yet ~ I didn't feel weak, my teeth weren't discolored, my throat didn't burn etc. etc.
From December to now, my bulimia has gotten much worse. I binge and purge almost every single day. Some days are worse than others. I have had binges where I eat a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, two sandwiches, cookie dough, peanut butter, pasta, granola bars, ice cream and whatever else I can find. But then there are also times where I make myself throw up after just having two sandwiches and some soup (which may still be a lot for a person with normal eating habits, but is not much for a bulimic.) Having bulimia affects so many parts of my life. My friends became extremely worried about me, because I didn't eat at school. I felt like there was no way I could eat lunch without throwing up so I would starve myself until I got home that day. Some days after school I would binge for about an hour and a half. After I was done binging I was supposed to go to soccer but I couldn't because of how full and ashamed I felt. So I would make up an excuse, skip soccer, and spend my evening in the bathroom shoving a toothbrush down my throat to make everything come up. Unfortunately, while my teammates were working on new things at practice, I was left behind. I didn't fully know what was going on when it came to game time and my coach played me for less than half the time the other girls got because I was less committed. It has been hard to get along with my younger siblings too. They don't understand why I spend hours in the bathroom. When I turn the water on in the shower, they ask me why I come out and I'm still dry. I began to start weighing myself compulsively. On days when I would binge, I'd weigh myself up to 20 times. I would step on the scale right after I vomited anything up to see how close I was to my pre-binge weight. When I weighed a pound or two more than I wanted to, I would fast that whole day. I'm now down to X pounds, and it's very hard to maintain. When i was ten pounds heavier, I knew that I could have dessert after dinner and the next morning I would still weigh the same. Now I can't eat anything I want without throwing up because my body stores every bit of food it can. My hair falls out all the time now. It used to be so thick and pretty I would get compliments from strangers on it. Now, I still like my hair, but I wish it looked like it used to. My nails are so brittle, I have stabbing pains in my chest a lot, my teeth are discolored and look almost see through, sometimes my eyes look really red, and I am not as good of an athlete anymore.
Luckily for me, I had a friend who was going through the same thing. Together, we decided it was time to recover. Although many bulimics struggle with the disease for years and years, we thought that recovery would be best early. We went down to a guidance counselor we trusted and she assured us that we could get through this. It was only the second time we met with her that she suggested we get our parents involved. Considering that it was almost summer and that we wanted our normal lives back again so badly, we reluctantly agreed. We were both so nervous to be having our moms come in and having to tell them about the secret lives we had been living for months. Admitting to my mom that I was bulimic was embarrassing. My mom told me she actually already knew that I had been throwing up which surprisingly made me feel better. My eating disorder is bringing my mom and I closer. She helps me out when I'm feeling overwhelmed and I know I can always talk to her when I need a little extra help. Since I have admitted to having bulimia, I don't think my bad habits have actually decreased. If anything, they've gotten worse. Now that school's out, I binge and purge almost daily because I have easy access to food all day long. Still, I am so much happier now. When I binge and purge, I know I can tell my mom and she won't judge me. I don't have to constantly worry about my mom finding splattered vomit by the toilet. I don't feel like I'm living two lives anymore and I know I have people who will support me through this journey all over the place.
Recovery is tough and long, but I will continue working hard at it until I succeed and I feel like just admitting you have a problem is a huge step to get better.

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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community


The Bulimia Recovery Program