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living with a bulimic

by Hockey99
(Vancouver, Canada)

One of the hardest thing for me as a health student was to watch with empathy and sadness as my roommate would be in the bathroom purging or taking laxatives. I am a guy and i do not have this eating disorder, but i know how seriously damaging it is for the person with this illness and the closest ones around them. When we first started living together, we were both very young, we didn't spend too much time in the kitchen and often ate out for dinner. I didn't notice her disease then it was not until we moved from the basement suite into another i saw her during one of her acts.

"What are you doing? Don't you know this is bad for you"
"I only do this once in a while, it is not too bad"

I was scared i would say something wrong so i let it slide. I don't want her to do this in my mind, and at the same time i want her to be safe. I could see the tears in her eyes, her face red and moist and as she wiped off the last drool she assured me that she doesn't do this often just "once in a while." It almost brought me into tears when even though there was so much pain she still smiled.

"You do laxatives too ? Isn't that for old people ? I heard that if you take laxatives often your body develops a tolerance and you can't have a natural bowel movement without it."
"But my friend Ken used to be X pounds and he drank laxative tea and now he is just under X pounds. This stuff really works."

After realizing how unhealthy and expensive fast food really I started cooking dinner rice, veggie curry and a meat. This really helped her i think she wasn't purging much, but then again she would always take baths at night and that is when i had caught her. I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she knows better- that this is a phase and it will pass.

During this time we used to eat 3 meals a day : a simple breakfast, fast food lunch and home cooked dinner. Food was always a topic of conversation, sometimes it was too much or sometimes it was never enough. There was always a shortages of food in the house. I worked so i can eat, i would buy more food and the cupboards just couldn't get anymore empty. I felt insecure to eat my self, i felt that if i don't eat in front of her, i would help her somehow. However, I did notice that the episodes increased when there was excessive amount of stress and decreased when there was hardly any stress.

Her body image was so flawed she would call a hamster a hippo or a Jeremy Lin a Sumo. Once a whole tub of Walmart chocolate ce-cream was finished in two days.

"My dad used to call me tubby as a kid." This made me chuckle inside my head- boy do i have a good poker face.
" THat is not good, no one should make a kid feel that poorly about themselves"
"Hahaha you should look at one of his pictures in collage!! He was the tubby one. If it wasn't for marathons he would still be fat."
"maybe that is what you should do, exercise instead of purging, laxatives or CELEN (c).
"Yeah i could do that, but everyone just stares at me in the gym. I want something where i will lose weight and i won't have to do anything."

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

The Bulimia Recovery Program