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Understanding Bulimia

Understanding bulimia can be a very difficult process... For bulimics and non-bulimics alike. Bulimia is an illness full of sadness, despair, anger and most of all... confusion.

Many bulimics don't know why they do what they do. And they struggle to understand bulimia any more than a healthy individual.

It is only in the journey of bulimia recovery that you truly begin understanding bulimia and why you became bulimic in the the first place.

For years my life was ruled by bulimia. Each day was a struggle. Every meal a challenge. At every mouthful I was defeated and promised myself that tomorrow I would do better. Tomorrow I wouldn't overeat - tomorrow I wouldn't throw up - tomorrow I would be good.

The tomorrows came and went and almost a decade passed. Finally, 4 years ago, I found the strength to begin my bulimia recovery. It has only been in the last 4 years that I have truly begun understanding bulimia.

It is through my experiences of bulimia and recovery that I hope to help you understand bulimia. Hopefully your understanding will lead to a sooner recovery for you or for a loved one.

Please feel free to read this page or click on the quick links below to jump to that answer (you will remain on this page).


What is Bulimia?

Bulimia is a mental illness that causes extreme psychological and physical damage.

Bulimia nervosa is often linked to anorexia. The difference is that people who suffer from bulimia generally don't starve themselves...

Bulimics eat huge amounts of food in a very short space of time. In an effort to get rid of the food they just ate... they either throw up, take laxatives or exercise like crazy...

This is also called a binge and purge cycle.


Why do bulimics hide their illness?

Part of understanding bulimia is understanding the shame that bulimics feel.

Bulimics are so disgusted by their actions that they go to all lengths to hide their illness. They're ashamed of themselves feel dirty and worthless.

I can't explain the self-disgust I know bulimics feel. You feel powerless... Hating so desperately what you do - but feeling like you have a constant compulsion to do it.

Now that I have recovered from bulimia, I realize that there was no need for me to feel such shame. Judging myself the way I did was not fair. I would never have judged an anorexic, or somebody with OCD, or manic depression in that way... However, bulimics judge themselves every second of every day.


Why do people become Bulimic?

There are many reasons why people may become bulimic. I cover this thoroughly on my causes of bulimia page. One underlying factor that I think all causes of bulimia have in common is this: They all result in a diminished self-image and leave you feeling insecure and even worthless.

Bulimics try to lose weight in an effort to feel more accepted. But, because of their fragile psychological state they also have a compulsion to comfort eat. This need to eat and desperation to lose weight manifests itself as bulimia.


The 3 stages of the bulimia cycle: Binge, Guilt, Purge

Understanding bulimia requires a knowledge of what's going on in a bulimics head during binge-purge cycle.

The binging stage in a bulimics cycle is the comforting stage. Your mind can go blank and you can just focus on consuming... Temporarily you can forget the worries you're facing in life. When you eat, not much is going through your head. Often, you're so focused on consuming that you can't even taste the food.

Following the consuming stage comes extreme guilt. You feel disgusted at the amount of food you have just consumed.

To relieve this guilt you then purge. You might throw up, take laxatives or exercise excessively. During the purge stage you are subconsciously trying to regain control of your life.

Following a purge, you feel relief that you managed to rid your body of all that food! But.. You also feel extreme shame at what you have just done.


What are the Dangers in Bulimia?

Bulimia is a deadly illness. Every year I hear of young people dying from sudden heart attacks related to eating disorders. It was my own irregular and sometimes painful heartbeat that finally drove me to get help.

Understanding bulimia requires you to understand the risks and dangers involved with this illness. It's important to know that bulimia can kill... To read more about it, please visit my death from bulimia page.


How can you recover from bulimia?

Recovering from bulimia is a magnificent but difficult journey.

I have no doubt in my mind that if I recovered from bulimia - then anybody can. You just need the right support, guidance and advice. You also need to be ready to change. You need to truly want it. Learn how I recovered from bulimia here.





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

The Bulimia Recovery Program