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Recovery was never an option, until it was the only option.

by girl with a name
(United States)

I am a 22-year-old female from the US who has fully recovered from an eating disorder (bulimia). My bulimia began when I was nearly 13 due to self esteem issues, and my parents separating/divorcing. It was the worst mistake I will ever make. By the end of high-school I was still binging and purging. It did help me lose weight, but my skin was sagging and stomach was always in pain from either being too full or from purging. And I was tired ALL OF THE TIME. The only thing I seemed to pay attention to by that point was how small my waist was getting and how thin my face was.

My parents never knew, at least I never told them. But sometimes I wish I had. The part that wishes I had told them wishes it could change the past. But I know I can't, so I still hide this secret from them to this day. I did tell a very carefully chosen few of my friends, who continually urged me to stop purging. They were very supportive through my battles.

For years, I managed to keep about 30 pounds of weight off, though it always went up and down. X to X by the end of the week, and back to X by the next week. I never really was able to get to a lower weight unless I simply starved myself. My weight plummeted to X (I am 5'3") only once after starving myself. (And that is (usually) not even considered underweight for my height!) Within a few days, around this time, I fainted in my own kitchen and had to ask my father to take me to the hospital. This was perhaps the beginning of my recovery.

After this hospital visit I started to feel overwhelmed. "Am I really going to be one of those girls with a feeding tube, and 24 hour monitoring by some jack-wagon doctor or worse, my own parents??!"

Recovery started off slow. Very slow. So slow in fact I had a few slip ups, most of which were not even intended!! I think this was mainly due to my stomach feeling out of routine. Suddenly I'm not stuffing myself (so I feel extra hungry mentally) and I'm not purging what I've eaten. (so I feel extra full physically) I would become sick involuntarily after just a normal sized meal. I just wanted to be able to stomach my meals! Fortunately, I had some good friends who let me smoke some Marijuana and it was the best medication for my stomach. Now some of you may be against it's use but let me tell you it gave me one hell of an appetite and relieved me of ALL of my pain. It enabled me to enjoy meals, and I wasn't experiencing pain from my peptic ulcers (due to acid reflux). Marijuana played a large role in the physical aspect of my recovery. Being able to eat a normal sized meal with friends and not even once think about how horrible I am feeling was like...well, it was like being normal.

Another big part of my recovery was, of course, the mental re-wiring. A reality check. Finally, one day, I just looked in the mirror without an agenda, and I saw.. a very sick person, with very bad skin, and bad teeth. Just terrible teeth. Terrible because there I was, for years, vomitting food up through my mouth, against my teeth. And I was lucky to have worn braces! My parents had spent nearly 5000 dollars to give me perfection and I was throwing it all away, literally. I was acid-washing the ever-so-strong and beautiful enamel right off of my own teeth, right off of their own nerve stems. I stared at myself. I felt incredibly saddened. Not like the times I cried myself to sleep because "I'll never look that way." but like something entirely new. I was crying because I finally felt that I had woken up from some horrible sleep-walking. What had I done to myself! And what was I going to do to make it better? What COULD I do? It was such a powerful feeling, I had everything to lose at that moment. And it was rough on me for a while, that reality. I was almost afraid to show my face to people, to see people, because I felt like a stranger in my own body. Still I had to continue on and do everything I could to ignore the part of me that wanted to feel like shit. I reminded myself that that road of self destruction was closed off for eternity from me and I was never looking back.

To bring more light to this story, my recovery soon became less a thought about how well I was taking care of myself, and it became more of me just being happy and forgetting that I had ever even had such a problem. My relationship with my mother improved greatly. I felt more inclined to actually have dinner at home, and to cook, and help cook. And be around more to hang with the family. My younger brother and I grew closer and my even younger brother was growing up into the most awesome little kid!, he was just a toddler! I was in a good way, finally. I was thinking about my future. I also met someone wonderful and we've been together for almost 2 years now.

And on top of all of this, ironically, my weight has been exactly the same for months and months. All of those years only to end up at the same weight I started with. haha I did at first gain weight back quickly, but it was healthy for me. It is pretty amazing that I have made these changes, and I am thankful to myself for working through it. And thankful to everyone who helped me, whether they know it or not.

My advice for anyone still suffering from bulimia is to find some peace within yourself that convinces you that you don't need bulimia anymore. Step back into the light and things will brighten up.

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

The Bulimia Recovery Program