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Treatment for bulimia comes in all shapes and forms. It varies from the common treatments such as bulimia counseling to alternative treatments, like acupuncture...
In this article, I'll go through the treatments I used to recover from bulimia. I'll also go through treatments my friends used and found to be helpful.
Getting treatment for bulimia is often a scary step in the bulimia recovery journey. It is an essential step though. A step that I urge you to take - Life is so beautiful beyond the dark walls of bulimia!
I suffered from bulimia for over a decade. I suffered alone and in silence - nobody knew about the demons I carried.
Towards the end of my bulimia days I was very ill... but still, nobody knew. I was throwing up 15+ times a day and my heartbeat had become irregular. I knew that if I did not recover from bulimia - it would kill me.
I was 21 and after years of trying to give up bulimia on my own, I decided it was time to get help. It was time to find a bulimia cure...
I was tossing up between emailing a bulimia treatment center, or emailing the counselor at my university. I decided to email the uni counselor as this was a free service (I was broke after spending $6000 on my bulimia teeth!)
After a few emails back and forth - she convinced me to come in and see her.
I remember sitting in the waiting room feeling like a pathetic excuse for a human being. 'What on earth was this lady going to think of me? She was going to think I was disgusting, wasteful, mad!'
But I had to recover - so I walked into her office and sat down opposite her.
I must admit, at first I found bulimia counseling strange... The lady, whose name was Amanda, seemed hippy-ish and I wasn't sure that this was going to help!
But I needed to recover - so I persevered.
I continued visiting Amanda for about a year and during this time we explored all areas of my life. What made me binge eat, what caused my dissatisfaction with my body, why did I never feel good enough, thin enough, popular enough...? She didn't ask the questions directly like that... But she asked questions which helped me figure out those answers for myself.
Going to bulimia counseling was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was a key factor in my bulimia recovery.
Amanda used Psychodynamic Therapy in our sessions. This is when you focus on coming to terms with experiences from your past. It also addresses any deep psychological issues that you might have... (Sometimes you don't even know you have them!)
I found this therapy enlightening... I had always thought that I had bulimia because I was pathetic and lacked self control... The reality was so different.
I was bulimic because I hated having any free time... Free time that would allow me to think... Remember traumas from my past.
The experience which triggered off many of my eating problems was living in an unstable country - Zimbabwe. I loved my country deeply - but even as a young child I knew that its problems were dangerous...
I knew that at any time we might have to pack up and leave...
Eventually we did have to leave. My family moved across the world, to New Zealand when I was 14. Immigration was one of the traumas which came up over and over again during psychodynamic therapy.
Working through past traumas and experiences is an essential part of therapy. But, it isn't always enough to break the strong sub-conscious bulimia cycle. A cycle that has been wired into your brain...
This is when Amanda and I used Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (I'll call it CBT).
In my opinion, CBT is an essential treatment for bulimia. It focuses on your thoughts and behaviors regarding food, eating and weight.
CBT helped me notice feelings and emotions that triggered bulimic behavior. It also helped me to become a 'conscious eater' and to no longer 'switch off' and consume endlessly.
Amanda noticed that I had built a wall around me and found it hard to develop relationships. I had only made one close friend in New Zealand (My boyfriend Tom) and I was desperately lonely. This is when we used Interpersonal therapy to help treat my bulimia.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on difficulties in relationships. It works on existing relationships and helps you to develop new relationships.
Recovering from bulimia is so much easier when you have strong relationships with people you love and trust.
I still have a few difficulties allowing people to get close to me. But I am so much better! Life is awesome now that my heart isn't so cautious.
I recovered - You can Too!
I used a combination of all the things above to recover from bulimia. I wasn't totally expecting them to work, but they did. When you open yourself up to options in therapy, you realize that counselors aren't a bunch of loonies... They actually know what they're doing!
I urge you to find a good counselor. One that specializes in eating disorders. It helped me to recover - and it will help you too. Counseling is an excellent first step in your treatment for bulimia.
A great friend of mine used prozac as a treatment for bulimia. She said that it did seem to help her binge/purge symptoms.
Studies show that around 50% of bulimics who take prozac have thought that it helped. Although, alone, it is not normally enough to cure bulimia.
You would need to talk to a psychiatrist to help find out if Prozac is right for you.
Medications such as Topamax, Meridia, Zyprexa and Prozac are all linked with eating disorder treatment...
But, some of these medicines can have nasty side effects, so you'll need to ask your therapist about them. Consider the side effects carefully.
One problem with bulimia medication is that what works for one person, might not work for another. Our bodies are all so different - and we all react differently to what's put inside them.
Often medication and therapy are used together as a treatment for bulimia. It's vital you don't ignore the deeper psychological causes of your illness. Heal these and your entire life will appear more beautiful!
My total bulimia recovery took about 1 year. I was happy and proud of this... But, I truly believe that if I had gone to a bulimia treatment center, it would have been much quicker.
I would have been surrounded by people who understood me. People suffering, like I was. People who were trained to help me - available 24 hours a day. Treatment for bulimia is so effective when everyone around you understands...
There are a variety of treatment centers specifically designed for eating disorders. Some programs meet during the day and you can go home in the evenings. Others take place in beautiful locations... Sort of like a 'bulimia recovery holiday'.
In all bulimia treatment centers, there is hard (but rewarding) work involved.
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community