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The Long Road Of Bulimia Recovery

Bulimia gave me a big scar. I try to forget that I had it and most of the time it seems to be just like one bad nightmare... But the memory of it is always there, lingering in the deep confines of my head. Haunting me. The fear of relapse, of who I was when the illness consumed me is always there.

While I had it, I would feel as if I were an empty shell. I would feel as if I were in a dream - that what I was doing wasn't really real. It was just a bad dream from which I would wake up from. I think that that was the worst part of the illness. That I wouldn't admit to reality.

It started about two and a half years ago while I was in year nine. I just stood on the scales one day and decided that I weighed too much and needed to lose some weight. I never realised that it would get out of control.

At first, I guess one could say that I suffered from a form of anorexia. I became obsessed with my weight - I would weigh myself constantly and I began dieting severely. Most of the time I would never eat any more that one thousand calories. No, doing so made me feel horrible. It reached a point when I was even afraid of chewing gum. Can you believe what those four extra calories would do to me! I look back at myself then and cringe...

At some point weighing myself became a sort of ritual. When I stood on those scales and saw that they tipped down I felt a sense of elation (I think that's the best way to describe it). After a while my parents noticed my dramatic weight loss. I lost around six kilograms over the course of one or two months and I stopped having my periods. They made me eat and every time I tipped the 'limit' I had set myself I felt guilty.

One day while we were out on a picnic I lost control. I quite literally binged on the food that was there and I felt guiltier than ever. It was around this very time that we were learning about mental illnesses at school. I remember how my teacher told us about bulimia and I thought who would ever do that to themselves. The idea disgusted me. I could not comprehend it. The seed however, was already planted.

I cannot really remember how my bulimia actually started, or even when. I think it was somewhere during the January of 2009. Very soon, it grew out of control. Initially I would vomit once or twice a fortnight; soon this became numerous times a day. I got this silly idea - I could eat as much as I wanted and not gain a pound of weight. It got to such a stage that I couldn't make myself vomit. I would stick my fingers in and nothing would come out. My face was swollen; my eyes red. I began to wrap tissues around my fingers to induce some response - to get something out. Many times had I wanted to stop, I started making myself promises, that I would not purge for a month, a week, a day. I made myself promises that I broke. I started lying to my family whenever they asked where the large amounts of food went.

This went on for almost a year before my mum discovered what I was doing. It was then that I made my first true attempt to stop. And I did - for two weeks, the longest I had gone since I started. I broke my resolve on the day I got my first maths test of the year back. It was the test that determined whether I move up to the highest class or not and I 'failed' miserably. It was the worst I had ever done in a maths test - to get only 84%.

Soon, I fell back into the cycle of binging and purging. Whenever my mum asked my how I was doing I pretended that everything was fine. I think that I even believed it for a while. After all, it was all but a dream for me.

There where times when I wanted to tell my mum about what was really happening. But I wouldn't allow that. I was always particularly delicate as to what my family thought of me. For me, there was no greater shame than having my family know that I was so weak in my resolve that I couldn't even go two weeks without vomiting. It was then that we also hit a rough patch in the road and I didn't want to make this any harder for my mum. It was my battle to fight - one which I was loosing horribly.

After a while, I think that I stopped caring for my health. I was in this semi-reality. It reached a stage when I just felt like unnecessary baggage - completely worthless; as if I could not accomplish anything. I felt like throwing all my dreams away; throwing my life away.

I knew that my parents would suspect it if I spent too long in the toilet, so I started vomiting while I was taking a shower or into a bag in my room of which I would then secretly dispose of. It was not until the beginning of this year before my mum once again discovered what I was still doing. I then talked to her and realised the severity of what I was doing.

I have always had problems opening up to people. It's like this barrier that exists which I just cannot step over. I find it so much easier to lie than to tell the complete truth. I told her of what I was doing but I extenuated the truth. I know that that is still an issue I will have to resolve to reach full recovery.

After that I developed a plan for myself. I started keeping a calendar and counted every day that I did not vomit. I kept a food diary and wrote what I ate every day. In this way, I found it easier to control myself. It has now been just over 7 weeks since I last vomited. This may not seem like much, but it is the longest I have gone in two years...

I find it easier every week to keep my urge at bay. I can't say it is not hard. Sure, some days I find it quite simple, but others are much, much harder. The hardest days are when I am at home by myself and I know that there is no one but my own consciousness that will know of what I did. But I endure. Whenever I get an urge, I stop myself and think of all the things that will follow - the guilt, the physical effects, who I become when I do it. Those thoughts help me get through the days.

Every day I feel stronger. I don't think that I have or ever will fully recover. The scar of my 'injury' will always be there. Lingering. A shadow in a deep crevasse in my mind. But it gets easier. And every day, I feel stronger, braver. I know that I can do this. I can recover. I will.

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

The Bulimia Recovery Program