I find it rather fascinating that there are so many woman/men out there with the same problem as me. An addiction that seems so manageable in the beginning, but eventually rises into this giant mountain that you cannot set aside nor even attempt to climb.
Yes, I’ve been there, and although it took many years, tears, frustrations, a good boyfriend and the love of God, I was strong enough to defeat what eventually has the power to eat you alive and steal from you everything that you have ever owned . I am lucky, no I am blessed – to have escaped from the cruel chains of destruction that bulimia brings.
It was easy to start, that’s the tricky thing. I’ll never forget telling myself “10kg lighter” and then I’ll stop. Once I can fit into a size 8 genes, I’ll be happy as peach and more beautiful than ever. Which was crazy.
I always loved food. My mum even told me that when I was young everything would find its way into my mouth. I grew up to become a top sportsman. I victoriously walked a path of my life as a Provincial swimmer. I was gorgeous, talented and more than ever I was a happy bubbling ray of sunshine.
No one could ever really figure out why I had chosen the road to demolition, maybe I saw it as the easier route. Why diet, exercise and train when you could simply do it the more simpler way. Life was better than ever, and all of a sudden I was looking stunning. It started off with missing supper, which eventually led to breakfast and then lunch. I was throwing up everything I ate, and I was losing weight. People began to notice and the comments began to fly.
My friends used to say to me, how can you eat so much and be so thin. This was the most popular line of the day. I’m not joking, if I say I have heard that line about 10 times a day. What came next was a web of lies. It’s funny, as a bulimic it’s not only the damage you do to your body, but also the damage you do to your own morals, standards and soul.
I was lying about everything. In order to escape peoples questions about my drastic weight loss I would tell them, “I’ve changed my eating habits, I’m training again, and oh gee! I haven’t even noticed.” The lies about going to the bathroom after a meal were even more disturbing. An excuse to go the bathroom became so unbelievably stressful that I would never enjoy a meal, but sit and worry about what I was going to say “I need to wash my hands/ pee/ check my tampon etc. My personality was changing, I was no longer the center of attention, the life of the party – I was the nervous wreck who couldn’t sit still and always felt anxious.
I didn’t know how to relax. I was tense, and one night suffered a panic attack that almost sent my world crashing to the ground. I was afraid. I knew my habit was getting out of control, yet I didn’t know how to control it. My stomach hurt permanently, and I would wake up in the middle of the night crying with fear. What was I doing to myself, how had I transformed from a beautiful happy, independent, loved and outgoing crazy girl that truly adored life into a petrified, anxious, lying bag of bones that found every excuse to fight with her family and boyfriend. I could no longer be alone. I was afraid of another panic attack and when it hit, I began to feel that my life would never be the same.
I tried to stop, but didn’t know how. I wasn’t sure of how much I could eat without picking up weight. It had been almost four years and by now my metabolism had hit rock bottom. I’ll never forget looking in the mirror, and the shame and guilt that came with my new pair of decayed/ rotting teeth was almost to much to bear. – What had happened to my beautiful smile. I had to stop. But the question came again. HOW?
I was ashamed of my problem in front of my friends. Some knew, some didn’t and I figured out who my real ones were in the end. A close friend, with whom I shared my problem revealed my personal story to everybody that knew me. Even the folks who didn’t. My name was thrown around and obviously the pain and torment that came with that put me in a negative mind frame, one that sealed me off from the pain and drove me to stop caring.
My parents had asked me a numerous amount of times whether I had an eating disorder, and by now, I had become a master at my own game, constantly reassuring them that I had stopped and was fine.
By that stage of a bulimics cycle, losing anymore weight is almost impossible, due to the amount of purging ,as your body quickly tries to absorb what it can before it has to once again be removed.
I remember the holidays, I would eat and purge the whole day. I even wondered to myself, what else would I be doing if I didn’t have this addiction? My life was spent in a bathroom, making sure that everything came up. Sometimes it wouldn’t, and that would cause further panic and anxiety. As soon as I was content, the cycle would begin all over again, as I was back to the kitchen to find something else to binge on.
Then one day, I don’t know if you could call it a sign, my boyfriends cousin committed suicide. It wasn’t clear while she was alive, but the reason for her selfish actions linked back to the one word that haunts thousands of teenage girls and boys around the world bulimia.
I broke down and prayed with all my heart for God to give me the strength to change and to fight the disease. Even though it wasn’t a disease to me, but more of a lifestyle. I had to change. This was no longer a game, this was a life or death decision. I chose life. I had to do it, I didn’t care anymore if I picked up weight. I just wanted my life back. I wanted to be the fun/outgoing girl that I once was and no matter what it took I would change.
The next day I began a healthy eating program and even though the need to purge was so overwhelming, I would breathe and count to 100. I eventually hit a 20 days addiction free point and I felt better than ever. It was as if things were looking up for the first time in a very, very long time. Until I needed to do it again, just once I promised myself.
Without realizing the power of my need, I walked into the bathroom in such a way that I had never decided to fight the disease. Once it was over the power of defeat and the incredible feeling of failure swept over me. I wouldn’t do it ever again. I promised myself once more.
This was my ongoing battle for the next year and a half. It was the same thing. I’ll start afresh tomorrow, but wait, tomorrows Saturday. So therefore I’ll start on Monday. The battle was never over, merely postponed. The promise of just one more time is the same as that of a junkies life, because no matter who you are, or how strong you are. There is never just “ONE MORE TIME.”
Today, it has been almost over a year since my last attempt, and although there are those days when I am crippled by the mighty strength of the disease, I am learning to accept me for the first time in years.
I finally understand the face of bulimia, the cruelness of its grasp and the claws that dig deep into your soul. A grasp that needs to be fought off with everything you have inside. I cannot yet tell the world that I am free, I can merely tell them that I am getting there one day at a time.
I never chose to see a physiologist which is probably the better way to go, for I felt like it was all a matter of habit. And if I could fight it on my own, I’d come out stronger and more alive than I was before. Wish me luck, I may need it along the way, but I know for sure that God is there beside me holding my hand.
To all the ladies out there suffering, If I can give you one piece of
advice…. Its not worth it! Rotting teeth, torn esophagus, damaged liver, risk of heart attack, depression, shame, guilt, anxiety, exhaustion, fatigue, DEATH.
It is not worth it for the love of a candy bar. You can fight it, you just have to know in your heart that it will take time. I’m still trying too. But the great thing is that as soon as you try, you can see a valley overhead, one that rises with hope and sets with happiness. Your journey is to get their. Don’t be afraid to take an outstretched hand of a loved one, for it just makes each step a little easier