I pondered for weeks and months as to whether I should write about this. More than the time and the effort, it takes courage to admit on paper that you have an eating disorder! The biggest question I had to answer was, “Why should I share this story on the internet for everyone to read and mock me?” And then I thought that this would help hundreds of people like me, and if it can motivate even one person to change for the better, the effort is worth it! I say I suffer from Bulimia nervosa, and I use the word “suffer” because it is a constant battle within myself even today. I do not binge and purge like I used to before but I would be lying if I say the thought does not cross my mind sometimes as a quick fix for my problems.
How did my binging start?
It all began about 15 years ago when at a tender age of 14 all I ever wanted to do was be ‘popular’. At that point in my life, I felt, like many young girls, that the only way to be popular was being a non-base cheerleader. In hindsight, I can safely say that being a cheerleader or being popular when you are young barely affects anything in your later life. I was slightly plump, which was ‘cute’ to my parents, ‘adorable’ to my relatives and family friends, but ‘heavy’ for my school friends. After a lot of struggle trying to befriend the popular girls (i.e. the cheerleaders), I ended up being friends with Joanna who was a ‘base cheerleader.’ Everytime Joanna spoke about her after-school practice and personal coach, I could feel a sense of being left out in my own mind until one day when she finally popped up the question, “Why don’t you try a diet pill?” My unfulfilled dreams of being ’non-heavy’ and the deep desire to not lose out on a new ‘cool friend’ led me to succumb. And if I look back into time then that is the only thing I would like to go back in time and change.
It was in a matter of days that these pills started showing results. I had began to lose a substantial amount of weight and was no longer ‘adorable’.
Recommended Read: Non-clinical Management of Bulimia Nervosa
What did a typical binge episode look like?
There were days when I could only imagine food all day and not concentrate, but I would refrain from eating anything at all. I would satisfactorily survive on a healthy diet through the day and typically at the end of the day, I would tell myself, “It’s time for a healthy dessert reward. You deserve it for the hard work!” The problem would begin when I could not stop. What would start as a healthy treat of a handful of raisins would end with 3 bowls of raisins ending. Sometimes I would freeze grapes to slowly enjoy the frozen dessert. However, in minutes I would eat the entire bag of grapes. If I decided to have an after-dinner snack in the form of some cereal, I would find myself in tears, but unable to control myself after about 4-5 bowls of cereal. I would eat the healthy dessert in proportions that would take away every bit of healthy out. Another habit that I had picked up along my diet journey was to chew bubblegum. Sounds harmless right? But do not be deceived by the food item because the quantity matters too! I began popping a bubble gum to satisfy my sugar craving but not increase my calorie intake substantially. But the problem began when I kept having bubblegum after bubblegum to keep my mind off food, and after about 6 packets in a day (Yes! You read that right!), my stomach would be full of gas, my jaws would ache and I would feel even more depressed. My binge would leave my stomach bloated, my heart satisfied and my brain filled with guilt. Thoughts of being left alone in this figure-conscious world would make me go and throw up and leave me depressed for days. Until I would decide this depression is not worth it and that I needed to work out and be positive. This would put a new diet regimen for me, until it was time to reward myself again!
Recommended Read: Signs & Causes of Bulimia Nervosa
My journey of recovery
I identified my cycle as restricting-binging-purging. With a lot of support from friends, family, one-on-one counselling and few anti-depressants, I was able to limit the cycle to restricting-binging (not purging) initially. My counsellor helped me understand that not eating what I crave because of my rigorous diet plans, puts me mentally under stress and then it makes me eat what I DON’T crave in proportions that are not satisfying mentally, even though they are overeating physiologically. So if my body craved for a granola bar, I would get only one and mix it with greek yogurt to make a parfait for myself and chew slowly and satisfy my craving rather than binging on healthy foods. One thing that immensely helped me was being positive and keeping at it. Binging is a habit and it does not change overnight. There are moments when you slip, but getting back on track after you have faltered is all that matters! There are moments even today when the urge to binge is so strong that I have to tell myself sternly “NO!” Hence, I call it a continuous journey; but then again, what long-term thing in life is not! So stay positive and keep at it!