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Running Out of Time

by Lilly
(San Francisco)

It shocks me when I say out loud (or here in writing) that I have been bulimic for 37 years. At 17, it seemed like a wonderful solution to weight gain without giving up my binging. Now, it is just a weight around my neck. There are reasons how I ended up here. Growing up I was subjected to eight or so years of incest. Bulimia was one of many ways I avoided the pain related to that abuse. Drugs (opiates) and alcohol were another. I am grateful to say that I am in recovery from these addictions. I worked hard for that and for a life not defined by my childhood trauma. I hope that sometime soon I can say the same thing about my bulimia but I worry that I am running out of time.

Like many of us, I was a binge eater before I was bulimic. My bulimia was most severe during my 20s—I am amazed that I survived (all-day binging and purging). Since then it has waxed and waned. I had my only significant period of remission (six months) after a three-month residential treatment program. Over the course of time, the number of times I purge has consistently decreased, from multiple times per day, to once a day, to multiple times per week. Sometimes now, I can go a week though it is painful and exhausting when I do it. I wonder whether this is the most recovery I will have.

I categorize restaurants by whether its bathrooms are “purge-friendly.” When I drive down the main street where I live, I identify buildings and businesses by the type of restroom and whether I have used it to purge. It sounds like a Jeff Foxworthy joke: “you know you're a bulimic when . . .” One of my most shameful secrets from bulimia is the four-month period when I did not have access to a “purge-friendly” bathroom. To accommodate my bulimia, I vomited into a garbage bag and hid it under my bed in my room. I had 5-6 garbage bags to drag out and secretly dump into the trash bin. Disgusting for normal people, but understandable for bulimics. The lengths we go to . . . I am grateful not to be driven to those extremes anymore.

I am working at meaningful recovery from this insidious disease one day at a time, staying in the moment. Thank you for letting me share and I hope my story helps others know they are not alone.


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

The Bulimia Recovery Program