When people say the word withdrawal they think of alcohol and drugs. My withdrawal is food and purging. I am bulimic and I have decided to share a very personal, in depth view of what it is like when I binge, purge and go into withdrawals. The majority of this post was written during my most recent binges and purges. I have held on to this post because it is so hard to put it out there. Embarrassing actually. The guilt and shame follow me every single day. But they say that pushing passed our fears helps us take that first courageous step forward - and so that is what I am doing here today.
The reason I am opening up and sharing is for two reasons.
1/ To begin the process of helping and inspiring others who can relate with eating disorders.
2/ To open my own eyes to the grip this disease has on me, as every relapse I realize I am not only killing myself but finder it harder and harder to resurface and find that determination to fight.
After 33 long years of living with this disease I am finally learning to be honest with myself. Every time I binge, and every time I purge I am hurting my health. After the self-abuse all of these years, I deal with two to three weeks of symptoms and ways that it affects me. So, this blog is going to be an absolute truth to it all. It is up to you if you continue reading or not. I will give a warning now, there will be some graphic detail and if you are squeamish or easily triggered by mentions of food due to food addiction - you may want to turn yourself away.
That being said - here is my truth.
I binge and I purge. Breathing.
My last binge was less than a week ago.
My last purge was 3 weeks + 3 days ago.
Diagnosed at the age of 9, currently 42 years of age which means I have gone between BED (Binge Eating Disorder) or the combination of binges and purges (Bulimia) for exactly 33 years now.
1/ In my binges, I can consume anywhere between 5000-15,000 calories in a sitting.
2/ I have spent an enormous amount of much needed money on my binges my entire adult life which has not only impacted my financial life, but also the upbringing of my children in which I carry very much guilt about today.
3/ In my disease, I become everything I wish not to be: a liar, deviant, unkind, sneaky, moody, shut down, isolated, accusational, procrastinator, jealous, inconsiderate, self-involved, passive-aggressive, obsessive, compulsive and so much more..
4/ I not only self-abuse by bingeing and purging, but by pinching my tummy repetitively, scratching my skin until I bleed, writing derogatory names about myself over my body underneath my clothing using markers or makeup & by continuously putting myself down.
5/ When I purge, I do so using my fingers, but have also resorted to diet pills, laxatives, every diet on the market, high restriction and/or starving myself for days at a time.
6/ I fight off purging every moment I put food to my lips, but have good days with food and don't always have to fight off the need to binge.
7/ My highest binge in one sitting was 12,487 calories. That's not a daily intake, just a sitting.
My most recent "Small Binge"
Yes, this is a small binge for me.
- 2 big bags of potato chips
- package of mini chocolate bars
- package of hazelnut cookies
About my Disease:
Back in 2011, I came to terms with the fact I had an eating disorder. I was angry, REALLY angry, that it would even be suggested to me that I had a problem. Over time, I developed the thought that I was a compulsive overeater and food addict. I started working on abstaining from certain foods, attending meetings and lost 114 lbs. A therapist, looking through my old records with mental health, informed me I was diagnosed as bulimic at the age of 9. Again, anger. I stormed out and it would take me almost a year to come to terms with the idea that I was once bulimic.
Fast forward to almost 2 years ago, I was starting to come to terms with the fact that I am not a food addict at all, but acknowledging the signs of bulimia. Mental images of bulimics being thin, I didn't fit the build. I have hidden the purging like it's the most important tool in my life as the darkest secret I can keep from everyone in the world. I am a professional at what I do. Hiding the food, the purging, the sneakiness has become second nature, so much so that even I don't recognize the signs Until I am honest with myself. I protect the bulimia with everything I have in me, because it is what has protected me as a child when I felt alone, scared, unloved or any emotion at all. I felt lost in a chaotic environment, and the act of bingeing and purging became my sacred "way out".
Through the years I built on this disease, mastering the craft of secrecy and sneakiness. The guilt and shame followed me everywhere as I continued to dig my self-esteem into a deep dark hole not to be seen for a long time again. Every sneaky, deviant behavior made me more angry at myself, I was no longer trustworthy to myself or anyone else. That fed my need to binge again and take it all out on myself. A vicious cycle as I continued to put weight on and living in the miserable mindset of how useless, ugly, pathetic and terrible I was as a human being. My entire life revolved around long-term binge eating to binge eating and purging. Always desperate to take off the weight, always in a harmful , self-abusive mindset and wishing for a freakin' miracle to happen overnight. PLEASE!
My doctor would catch on to my purging years later. I stopped going to see her, no matter how sick or sore I was. Screw her and what she thought. For awhile I stopped purging out of fear from what felt like her threatening words, but then found my way back to what brought me comfort from such a miserable, hard life. Who knew I was bringing on my own misery though. Family and friends started worrying about me as I was pulling away and isolating. How dare everyone judge me for being so fat and ugly, and so I isolated more. I stopped cleaning my house. I stopped cleaning myself. I stopped taking my children out as a family. I stopped going to their school events and teacher meetings. I also quit my job and stopped paying the bills like a responsible adult. No one understood, everyone judged my weight and lack of mothering and inability to provide. Why did life have to be so miserable? I cried all of the time, hid myself in clothes 3x bigger and craved a life away from all of the horrible people in my life who just would never understand. Depression ensued.
People came to my door to see if I was okay. I would lie and say I was going out, then shut the door and go back in to my food. Food was my best friend, it never judged me. Everyone was being nosey, who truly gave a shit? Nobody. Food and purging was all I had. Yet why am I still feeling so miserable? Why am I making myself sick and then eating again? Why am I standing over the toilet purging with my fingers until I have nothing else to bring up? Why do I continue to turn to bingeing and purging today, when after I purge I am coughing up blood for the next week or two? My body has clearly taken a beating over the 33 years of self-abuse. My vicious cycle continues, yet nothing changes. The food and the purging doesn't relieve anything, in fact, just makes me more obsessive, depressed and hard on myself. But, the insanity of this disease is that I keep going back.
I ask myself these questions everyday in tears. I throw things, angrily at my image in the mirror because that girl in the mirror must be so weak. I pinch my tummy, write degrading words on my skin all over my body and I spew hateful words at the ugly, fat girl looking back at me. I hate her!
Why do I feel that I am weak though, right? Courage is actually facing this disease with determination everyday. Some days I can say & feel this, but when I am in my disease like now, looking in that mirror I see a weak, ugly and VERY fat girl who fails at everything she does. Worthless. She's pathetic and not worth the time of day. It is SO easy for me to see those things in myself, because I have lived a lifetime of believing those things. In trying to change this thought process today, if I have good days with food and don't purge I start feeling like supergirl. But for the amount of days it takes to even start believing that, it takes mere seconds to knock it all down, some times lower than before even. It's an every day struggle, every moment of every day. I struggle. I try. I cry. I lose hope, and then gain hope again and do it all over again. My mind feels twisted, sore and exhausted. Why must every moment be about food and purging? Why can't I break free from this?
Do I want to die?
No, of course I don't want to die. In fact, I very much want to live. I want to be free of this disease and I want to be a normal eater who eats when she feels hunger and doesn't have the desire to purge every morsel of food from her body. I wish with all of my might that it was "that" easy. I feel anger, sadness, happiness, frustration, stress or any other emotion and my thought process immediately goes to indulging. Some days I can think it through. Some days I meditate and exercise and my positive thinking soars, but one triggery thing happens (and I have many triggery "things"...) and I am having the inner battle of what can I make, where can I buy it, go to the one thing that has always had your back your whole life.. Eat the whole eff'ing batch, screw what you've worked on the last 2 weeks cause NO one understands and every one judges you. Sigh.
Not really, I know.
Has my disease really had my back?
Some Binges and Behaviors in my past:
1/ preparing foods at work, pocketing some in each pocket and running to the bathroom to eat it secretly so no one knew I was indulging.
2/ going to my parents with the children, stealing food before coming home to binge
3/ pulling someone's food freshly thrown to the garbage out quickly, then hiding and eating it
4/ eating at a restaurant small portions, pretend i'm so full, then come home and binge til' I'm sick
5/ eating and eating until I am sick because my body can't handle all of the food, but then starting all over again
6/ eating so much i go into a food coma, completely lethargic and ill feeling
7/ having utilities shut off, spending grocery or rent money on corner store binges so we'd have to beg for utility help and stand in line at the food banks each month
8/ complete isolation and shutting down from friends, family and life - quit job and lived in poverty to be a professional at what I did
9/ purging at work or other people's houses, running the taps to muffle the sounds
10/ completely obsessed with my weight, body image, numbers (calories, measurements, etc)
11/ Trying every diet, making up diets, reading every book, watching every movie, desperate to find something that would work for me. All restriction led me right back to what I did best. Binge & purge.
Some Rules of MY Binges and Purges:
1/ Always ensure that the garbage can is half full.
2/ Use the bags from the store to trash my evidence, tie it tightly and then put in the bigger garbage can filling it with other garbage the rest of the day.
3/ Ensure that the garbage is emptied to the outside garbage before anyone gets home.
4/ Have hiding places for when someone is home, so I can go to said hiding places and indulge when someone is not looking (or when children growing up I would shut myself in my bedroom and pig out.. Once the children got older I started buying more junkfood so I could share some with them but not give "my stash".)
5/ "Sneak food in your pockets and head to the bathroom. No one ever suspects you are eating in there because it's disgusting, so you'll get it away with it! "
6/ You can eat anything and as much as you want since you can purge every single time.
7/ Purge until no more food comes out, give yourself exactly 2 minutes after the last bite to start purging.
8/ This will be the last binge and last purge. Tomorrow I'll do better. Always tomorrow.
9/ When you look down and see that fat disgusting tummy, pinch it really hard, you deserve it.
10/ At the store, tell clerk ringing in my food that I am babysitting and need a variety of "children type junk foods" so they can choose what they want and the clerk won't suspect it's for me.
11/ Shop at the Dollar Store for the cheapest things so it doesn't seem as noticeable moneywise when hiding my binges. One small binge will cost me under $5. (pictured above)
When it boils down to it, I am trying to fill my heart with food.
I am protecting myself from people's hurts, the stresses in life, the harsh realities by comforting with food.
I am curing boredom by turning to food.
If I am tired, lonely, sad or feeling any emotion, I am turning to food.
If I am happy and celebrating an accomplishment, or happy for someone else, I turn to food.
It's how I am wired today and changing the wiring is a tedious process of hard work.
But what feels frustrating is that I do the hard work every single day, and it feels like I take 1 step forward and 3 steps back. Yes, I learn a lot with each stumble. I am sure that is a positive thing which helps me work on the inner process.. But then I turn to food and purging and suffer for weeks trying to crawl out of my mental funk and heal physically because of the pain, the blood I am bringing up and the sheer exhaustion of what I do to myself.
But I keep trying. I keep trying because I am so desperate to live.
I follow my spiritual path and it gives me comfort. I meditate and set some goals.
I am learning to reach out, but admit I am still not a talker. Give me a pen or let me type and I get it all out (the emotions).. But get me to talk and I shut down and just can't seem to do it. I have internalized my entire life, so I guess writing is my *way* right now.
I am trying to teach myself through the power of meditation and self-love that:
- I am not a bad human being
- I am not a bad partner/wife
- I am not a bad mother
- I am not a bad niece, cousin, daughter, grand-daughter
- I am not a bad friend, online or real time
I am worthy. I am flawed. I am determined, but it's okay when I'm not.
I need to stop being a self-bully, hurting myself and tearing myself down bit by bit.
Life is worth living, and I can find ways to seek joy and enjoy the moments without guilt.
I need to be easier with myself, learn to let go and not have so many high expectations of myself that are unrealistic and only set me up.
I am not a victim. I am not an attention seeker, and this disease does not bring out the best of me.
Letting go is hard to do. Letting go of the stinkin' thinkin' I have, the thought process I have carried throughout most of my life and come to depend on. It's like putting myself in a really unsafe place and feeling fragile with all eyes on me.
Lastly, some things:
I need to work on abandonment issues.
I need to work on expressing my feelings, vocally.
I need to fight for my health, and rely on others - and learn to reach out.
I need to be passionate about my well-being overall.
And I am ever so grateful to all of you for standing by me through thick and thin.
Many of you, I have isolated from. Family, friends, past acquaintances. For that I am sorry.
Hurting anyone has never been my intention, ever. I am hoping some or any of my words above can bring a slight understanding to the mindset I was in and am in today. This is still the fight of my lifetime. The insanity of this disease will always be a part of me, and have just recently learned that I won't heal that. Instead, I am learning to live with it and make better choices, but that underlying urge to binge, purge and turn to self-abuse will always be within. That felt like a blow to learn. I knew this would be a lifetime adjustment, but always had hope that I could heal bulimia. I have lived with it and the behaviors for 33 years, so I need to be more realistic.
But truth is, I can be appreciative of how far I have come, and grateful I am in a space where I can share this publicly today. Today, I have rid this house of all of my secret stashes. I have collected all of my hidden change for meltdown moments and laxatives are also out the door. I hang on to things, in case.. In case what? That's not healing, that's hanging on to everything for one more day, so I can make an easy choice to relapse again. That's not what I need.
I need to love me first. I need to push all negativity away.
I need to do what I need, as i am so sensitive and triggered by mere little spurts of drama.
I have to take the best care of me that I know how, so that I can learn to love and live like you all do, from that sacred wonderful place within. Not the self-centered, needy place within like I have done for 33 years.
I am blessed with the love and support of my Honey. We were married 6-1/2 weeks ago, and we have a lifetime of happiness ahead of us. But, what I do to myself affects her and our lives together, because she worries and picks up the pieces of my emotional meltdowns when I feel I've failed or gotten fatter or am sad from guilt and shame of what I have done secretly.
Enough for today. I have shared a lot.
Thank you for reading y'all. Love and light. <3