Monday, March 12, 2012

My Battle With Bulimia

Header credits go to Ashley @ After Nine To Five
(I will warn you right now, this post is quite long.  If you're not up for 10+ minutes of reading I suggest you skip this post.)

When I was in my late teens, early 20s, I thought that the opinions other people had about me were important.  I wasn't secure in who I was or my appearance.  At that time I was 5'9" and weighed 260 lbs.  I didn't consider myself attractive because I'd been told by a lot of people that I wasn't.  I was so naive, and so impressionable, that I decided the easiest way to make myself look "beautiful" was to loose weight.

It started harmlessly.  I worked on watching what I ate, getting out of the house more to at least walk a little each day, and taking vitamins to keep myself healthy.  I suppose it was working but not fast enough for me.  I researched quick weight loss online and came across some miracle diet pills.  They were supposed to help you lose 10 lbs a week, or maybe it was more, as long as you took them 3 times a day.  They were expensive but I was looking for a quick way out of my "fat" situation.  I fell for it and bought a couple bottles.  After a month or so I knew nothing was working.  I hadn't lost a single pound and my pants didn't fit any looser.  Desperate times called for desperate measures.  I didn't take into account how desperate I was and the lengths that I'd go to to become skinny.

I can't tell you exactly how it started, and most people say that you can't make a decision like that over night, but I did.  It didn't take long for me to realize that this was working.  I think a week into purging all of my food I'd already lost somewhere around 15+ lbs.  I know now it's not healthy but back then I didn't care.  People started to notice that I was losing weight about a month in.  Remember those miracle diet pills?  They got all the credit.  I also noticed that people, especially those of my close friends at work, were paying attention.  I devised a plan.  I'd eat a lot of food, purge, and then eat a little more without purging.  This way they'd think I was just going to the bathroom in the middle of my lunch hour.  It didn't work.  My co-workers still noticed.  Somehow, though, I thought my family clueless.  How did I ever think they didn't know when I'd gone from this ...

(2000) My Senior Picture.  I still looked like this until 2002.
to this ...

Mid 2002
in just over 6 months.  (I really wish I had a better photo but I don't.)  With the poor quality of the second photo I'm not sure if you can tell how much skinnier I was.  My double chin was gone.  I could actually see my clavicle (collar bone) because it wasn't hidden behind fat.  I didn't have giant puffy cheeks anymore.  It was working, and working perfectly.  Then, the pain started.

It was chatting online with some "friends" when suddenly I felt like every organ in my entire body was being squeezed in a vice.  No, that doesn't even explain the pain, it was so much worse than that.  I doubled over onto the floor and started to cry.  All I could think was thank goodness no one was home to hear me.  I wasn't worried about the pain, I was worried about what my family would say to me if they found me in this position.  This would be when they found out and I wasn't ready for that.  I was curled up, on the floor, for over 2 hours before the pain stopped.  It stopped as abruptly as it had come on.  To prove how willing I was to hide my secret, I never said anything to anyone about it.  I didn't even talk to a doctor.  I knew what they were going to tell me.

These pains happened weekly for the next 3 months or so.  I was still loosing weight.  I think, after 9 months, I'd lost somewhere around 140lbs.  At my lowest, which thankfully wasn't long after this 9 month period, I weighed 120lbs.  I'd gone from a size 24 waist to a size 10.  I was so satisfied with my progress but I wasn't ready to stop.  I figured I could lose more weight and be as skinny as I wanted.  That's when I realized that I'd plateaued.  No matter how much I ate, or how much I purged, I wasn't loosing any more weight.  I guess, in retrospect, this was a good thing.  This did not, however, stop me from trying.

Everything finally came to a head in late 2002.  I was working 2 jobs and going to night school.  I think I was in a music appreciation class when I realized that I was having one of my attacks.  I quietly excused myself from class and called my mom, sobbing.  I was in so much pain that I couldn't even drive myself home from class.  She came to pick me up and told me we were going to the hospital.  I demanded that she take me home.  If she took me to the hospital I was walking away.  I didn't want to hear it.  I wasn't ready to be verbally chastised.  She, being the woman that she is, took me home.  I sat on the edge of the tub, in my bathroom, for 45 minutes before she demanded we go to the hospital.  I told her it wasn't happening, and it didn't.  We never went to the hospital.  I suffered through it like I had been doing for the past 3 or 4 months.  It was then that I realized that I was killing myself and for what.  To be someone I wasn't?  It wasn't worth it.  No matter what it took, I had to stop.

By the end of 2002, and I don't want to make it sound like I don't struggle anymore, I was more in control.  I'd started eating more regularly, albeit less than before this started, and I didn't constantly feel the need to purge.  I was making serious, positive, progress.  I did notice that I was gaining back some weight but I was determined not to let it get to me.  It wasn't until early 2003, when I met my husband, that I realized that my opinion was the only one that mattered.  It took finding someone to love me, no matter my size, for me to realize how stupid I'd been.

It took until mid 2006 for me to accept who I am, fat or skinny, and love myself.  I still have those days, although few and far between, that I feel like I've eaten too much and I want to purge.  I won't lie and say that I don't but I'll be honest and say that 99 times out of 100 I resist the urge.  I also won't lie and say that I feel guilty for doing it.  If you've never battled with an eating disorder you won't understand the rush you get.  You'd never get why I feel so good after purging, even now, and I don't think I can explain it to you.  

2010?
Today I have a double chin and puffy cheeks.  I have thin brittle hair, flimsy nails, and horrible teeth because of what I did to myself.  I also suffered with Acid Reflux Disease, although at this point in my life it's under control.  Today, I love myself and am so thankful I didn't give up.

9 comments:

  1. I'm glad you didn't give up too! I don't know why anyone would tell you that you were unattractive, I've always thought that you were pretty! You have such a strong sense of self now, I admire that! I wish I were like that!

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    1. Thanks Amberdawn. It's so nice to have people like you in my life!! I miss you all the time!!

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  2. I've never battled an eating disorder, but I cannot imagine it being easy. You seem like you have grown so much from it which is such an amazing thing in itself. I am so happy that you decided to participate in this week and share even some of the more personal pieces of your life.

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    1. I can't believe how rewarding it feels to share this secret. I'm really glad you came up with this!!

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  3. thank you for sharing your story, it helped me to understand eating disorders better. I never had one, but I did have some irrational problems with eating and preparing food. I try to have a nutritional diet now (a lot of raw foods and veggies) and I never felt more energized. it also does wonders to skin, hair and nails. :)

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    1. Thanks for all your wonderful comments. I guess I should try more veggies because my hair and nails, as I think I said in my post, are horrible because of this.

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  4. Wow Alicia, I would have never imagined. I am so glad you were able to pull yourself through. I'm wondering though, since I don't know that much about eating disorders, did you ever find out what that intense pain was?

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    1. I never did found out what the pain was. I didn't want to hear the "You need to stop doing this, it's killing you" speech. I'd imagine it was just the pain of not having food in my stomach but, again, I'm not sure.

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  5. I’m glad that everything is fine with you now, Alicia! And thank you for sharing your incredible story. Your experience will definitely inspire people who are in the same situation. Dealing with this kind of disorder is really tough, as this problem is coupled by other issues, such as lack of self-confidence. But by loving and believing in yourself, you can overcome this battle. As Lucille Ball says, “Love yourself first, and everything falls into the line.”

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