I’m a non-purging bulimic and have been since I was 12 years old. I use exercise as my way of purging calories after a binge. My eating disorder didn’t start as something glaringly obvious. I remember the first time I binged but to me it just seemed like I was enjoying forbidden foods that I knew weren’t acceptable to eat. I just couldn’t stop myself. I made cookies and as I continued to eat them, I couldn’t bake them fast enough. I ended up just eating the batter straight out of the container.
The binges continued in to high school and I realized that I was gaining weight because of it. I tried self-starving but apparently I wasn’t disciplined enough to do that.
In my junior year of high school, I realized that my weight gain had gone too far and that I needed some sort of motivation to curb my sweet tooth, which I’ve only recently identified as the binge part of my eating disorder. I realized that if I ran, I could burn up to 100 calories in about 10 minutes. I started to run excessively, even following a marathon training plan to increase mileage.
It all backfired last year when I became extremely sick and attempted suicide. I remember lying on the bathroom floor having binged in the morning before class and just praying to God to take away my pain and make the binging stop. I had no hope left that my life would ever return to normal.
I was admitted to an in-patient unit for eating disorders where I stayed for 3 ½ weeks. It saved my life. I still struggle with eating disorder every day but I at least am armed with the tools to fight it.
What can I say about the pain I carry with me? It hurts somewhere so deep in my soul that I would rather injure my body with food and exercise to the point of physical pain than deal with these emotions. I struggle every day with my recovery. Every bite of food that crosses my lips is an indictment, a way for my eating disorder to prove to me what a failure I am, how I will never be perfect. I remember hoping that when I went to the hospital, someone would give me a magic pill that would make everything better. And there wasn’t one.
I want to let the readers of your blog know that recovery is not easy and it is not glamorous. Our eating disorders have this allure to them that recovery does not. It’s going to take every ounce of energy and willpower that you have. It is not a quick fix solution. It takes a commitment every single day to fight that voice in your head telling you that you are disgusting and ugly and fat. You have to use those tools of discipline and stubbornness and motivation that kept you entrenched in your eating disorder and channel it to fighting it. You have to be willing to walk out in thin air and realize that no one is promising you a happy ending. Your eating disorder always did: when you weigh X amount of weight, all of your dreams will come true because you will be happy. Recovery makes no promises or guarantees, but it isn’t just the absence of your illness. It’s that life that I veered away from at 12 years old and am finally starting to realize at almost 21.
Sometimes I once again find myself on the bathroom floor crying. But this time it isn’t to pray that I die or pray that my pain will go away. I cry because I’m exhausted from fighting and I cry because my feelings seem overwhelming. It’s not pretty and it’s not glamorous but it will have to do. Because I’m not in the place I was before, sneaking food and eating it out of the trash if I had to, sending my friends to unknowingly buy binge foods for me, exercising at 4 in the morning because it was going to take me until at least 6 to finish my run, weighing myself multiple times a day in the hopes of finally reaching my magic number. I’m starting to sense this inner peace that life with an eating disorder can never give.
Above all else, please tell your readers not to give up.