My Story of 15 Years of Bulimia (A Letter to Friends & Family)
To All my Friends & Family,
I must first say how grateful I am to have you all as part of my life. Thank you for helping shape who I am and loving me and supporting me. Whether you are my parent or a distant relative, or if you are my best friend or an acquaintance I have only met once, you have helped shape my life in some way and for that I also thank you :)
I am writing this letter to come clean and be honest with not only you, but also myself, about a secret that I have kept for so long. I now wish to share my story of my personal struggles in order to release myself of the guilt, shame, and fear I have been harboring for so long.
I have been battling bulimia nervosa for nearly 15 years. I don't remember exactly how or when it began, but I can remember that from an early age I developed an obsession with being skinny and equating this to happiness as a result of many emotional, cultural, and psychological factors. My memory seems so affected by my disorder at times, but I think I first remember hearing about bulimia when I was around the age of 12 or 13. It is odd and disgusting to many, but for an insecure adolescent girl who was sensitive about her weight and appearance, forcing yourself to throw up sounded like an amazing and revolutionary way of losing weight. And still being able to eat whatever you wanted? It seemed magical.
I learned very quickly how to master the "skill" of forcing myself to throw up and engaged in purging episodes on an occasional basis throughout my adolescence, maybe a few times a month. In my eyes, it was a harmless little trick to keep the weight off, but as the years went by it quickly spiraled out of control into a seriously life threatening condition. I remembered reading stories about bulimics and how crazy and excessive their binging and purging had become, and I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I would never let it get to that point, that’s pretty extreme.” For a long time, I didn’t even truly consider myself bulimic, because I really thought I could stop at any time, but I simply chose not to. I thought I was in control of my habit and I didn’t give a single thought to the damage I was doing to my body. I simply didn’t see it as a problem.
As I got older and life became more stressful as a young adult working full-time and going to school full-time, I became much more dependent on my eating disorder. I had never learned healthy coping mechanisms to deal with my stress and anxiety; bulimia was all I ever knew. The days of purging only a few times a month had come and gone, and I was now doing it several times a week which then eventually escalated to about 4-5 times a day or more. And what started out as just throwing up a few little meals here and there ultimately led to full-out binging episodes. It became my world. If I was feeling down & depressed & lonely? Binge & purge. Feeling stressed or anxious? Binge & purge. Feeling just plain bored and wanting something “fun” to do? B&P. Binging was like a high for me, the way sugar especially made me feel was quite intoxicating. I craved sugar far more than getting drunk, doing drugs, having sex, or any other substance or physical pleasure. It’s all I ever did sometimes to just FEEL, and soon all my emotional joy, comfort, and happiness were all derived from binging. I was also highly perfectionistic and simply couldn’t allow myself to ever gain weight, so I learned how to utilize just about every coping tactic in the bulimic toolbox in order to counteract the results of my binging. You name it, I tried it: laxatives, diuretics, excessive exercise, starvation, etc. Furthermore, I've spent countless of thousands of dollars on food for my binging sprees. Literally THOUSANDS. This mounting debt further increased me anxiety and depression, but I just couldn’t stop. The addiction had firmly taken hold of me long ago.
Thankfully, I have had some periods in my life in which I did manage to eat properly and healthfully as I developed my passion, knowledge, and awareness about proper nutrition and this has helped me maintain much of the good health I do have. However, I have no doubt that many of my current health problems are a result of my bulimia. At one point I felt as if I was having heart problems due to the imbalance of electrolytes, which was the most frightening health concern of all. Sensitive teeth, dry skin and eyes, swollen salivary glands, digestive problems, and fatigue are just a few of the other physical maladies I suffer from as well. But I think the most devastating impacts of bulimia are the emotional and mental effects. I have suffered almost constant, relentless depression, anxiety, anger, poor concentration, memory problems, and low libido. My many emotional problems have at many times made me very unpleasant to be around and hard to get along with which have damaged a lot of my relationships. I struggle sometimes with social issues as well, such as the difficulties I have with opening up to people. I sometimes come across as cold or uncaring to some people until I become comfortable with them. This is mostly because I always felt like I was carrying around a dark, dirty secret all the time. I saw myself as a fake or a fraud. I realize now that I was so cautious about people getting too close to me because I was terrified of them finding out my secret. I fear that people may sometimes see me as being self-absorbed and self-centered, which is true to a very large degree. I have been self-absorbed, but not out of vanity or conceit, but because of an all-consuming addiction and obsession that I fell victim to.
It still shames me a bit to admit all of this, but I am learning that I was simply just a victim to my disorder. I was allowing it to dominate me, and with the knowledge and awareness I now have I am learning to take back control. I now refuse to allow bulimia or any destructive pattern to hijack my mind, body, and soul ever again. I take accountability and responsibility for my life now, and I am learning to love myself so much that I could never want to abuse my body in such a terrible way ever again. I choose to love myself and others so much more, and I forgive myself and others for any and all harm caused. I am letting go of this life-long disease so that I can free myself to start living my life and LOVING my life and everyone else in it!
And as tears of joy and relief stream down my face as I write this, I am thankful for everything in my life that is leading up to this moment and helping me reach a whole new level of consciousness.
There may be struggles at times, but with understanding, compassion, and love for MYSELF I know that I can conquer this.
My true path to recovery begins today.
Thank you for your love & support. :)