My Struggle With Bulimia- Binge and Purge

So I meant to post a week ago but it took me so long to write this post! I think it's partly because it's just so dang long but also because it was pretty hard for me to write. I had to keep editing and re-editing it and I'm still not happy with how it sounds. It's so hard to put feelings down on paper! Oh well, this was the best I could do. But the good new is that this is the last of the series and I'm sorry it's so long but at least it's done! Yay!

To read the whole story from the beginning, go to the About Me page.

I don't remember how I became bulimic. I don't remember how or why it started. Actually, pretty much most of my senior year of college is a blur to me. I think I've blocked out a lot of the memories because they are too painful. I know that I started throwing up my senior year of college. What is strange to me is that I grew up in a household with candies, cookies, and junk food easily accessible and available to us. Also, my step mom was constantly baking cakes, brownies, cookies and whatever yummy fattening treat she could think of. Growing up I was never fat, I never had an issue with food or my weight (well, no unhealthy issues). For my first three years of college I had a meal plan where I could eat whatever and however much I wanted. I never binged, I never deprived myself, I never gained any weight. I remember eating a salad, a main dish, and frozen yogurt for dinner almost every night! And thought nothing of it and never gained even a pound during those first three years! Why all of a sudden, when I lived in an apartment and had to buy and cook all my own food did I start binging and purging? Why did I suddenly feel completely out of control with anything that had any fat or calories in it? Why did I develop this eating disorder? I don't understand it, years of therapy have not helped me understand it, I may never understand it.

I think it started with the binging. I think I started binging because I wouldn't let myself buy any yummy food from the grocery store. But my roommates would and I would see it there sitting in the pantry or in the fridge and I would want it so bad. Eventually, I guess I gave in and I would start sneaking my roommates cookies or cake when they were not around. I would eat as much as I could and then feel absolutely awful about it. Somewhere during all of this sneaking around and binging, I started throwing up. Not sure how or why but I remember it was awful. I hated throwing up but it felt better than the guilt of stealing my roommates food and much better than the soreness of my overly stuffed and bloated stomach. Throwing up gave me an instant release. The problem was the the release only lasted a little bit and what came afterwards was emptiness, loneliness, depression, helplessness, and utter despair. I felt completely out of control, physically and emotionally. It's almost like I would go into a trance, binge and purge, and then a few minutes after purging suddenly snap out of it not knowing what really happened but feeling utterly rotten.

Every single time I would binge and purge I would tell myself that it was the last time. Of course it was never the last time. The urge, the craving would always hit me again. Almost like a speeding bullet train...BHAM! Although, through most of my struggle with bulimia there were many times where I honestly felt that being hit by an actual speeding bullet train would have been much less painful and easier to deal with. knowing I could make myself throw up made it easier for me to binge. I could eat anything I wanted and it wouldn't count because I could get rid of it. I also found that the more I ate, the fuller I got, the easier it was to throw it up. So whenever I got cravings for dessert or junk food I would just stuff myself with it until I got sick and then make myself throw up. Initially, my binge and purge episodes would only happen about once or twice a month. I didn't tell anyone about my "little problem" for awhile, I thought it was just a little setback that I could deal with. I was normal once, I can be normal again.

After about six months of secretly binging and purging, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to beat this by myself. My binging and purging had only gotten worse and more frequent. I thought that the only way to stop binging and purging was to stop eating dessert or junk food. So I would avoid it at all cost, of course it just made the binging and purging worse because eventually I would always give in and eat something "bad" for me. As soon as I did, I would feel awful and feel this urge to get rid of it. Since I was going to throw up anyway I figured I might as well go hog wild and would stuff myself with anything and everything in sight and then make myself purge all the food, all the guilty feelings, all the lonely feeling. I craved that feeling of emptiness so bad sometimes. After the emptiness always came the utter despair and helplessness. I was out of control and completely desperate and miserable and with everything TDH and I had been through I desperately wanted our relationship to work and I knew I had to be honest and come clean to him. So I told him about my throwing up. It was one of the hardest and most embarrassing things I have ever done, at least I think. I don't really remember it, another one of those memories that have been permanently blocked. But I'm glad I told him. He never judged me and amazingly he didn't stop loving me. He encouraged me to get help so I went to a counselor at UCLA.

This was near the end of my senior year when I was trying to figure out what the f*ck I was going to do with my life. Naturally, I ended up talking about this through all my therapy sessions instead of my bulimia. I was a microbiology major on a track to get my PhD. I has stellar grades, research experience, and was in one of the most competitive programs for bio students out there. I was set to get into any grad school I wanted. There was just one problem, I was in love, totally completely in love and the only thing I wanted in this world was to grow old with my TDH. I didn't want to keep going to school, I wanted to get a job and grow up and start my life with TDH. So I didn't apply to grad school my senior year and near the end of my senior year I was really torn about whether I even wanted to stay in research or not. Eventually, due to lack of another option, I decided to get a job doing research and took a job as a research assistant in a lab at UC Berkeley. Two days after I graduated I moved back up to Northern California and started working full time. My mom, who had a house in Danville, CA had recently moved to Texas and let my TDH and I rent out her beautiful three bedroom house. In the span of two days, I had gone from college student living with five girls with no responsibility to full time working adult living with her significant other in a huge house with a dog! Yes a dog! TDH had brought his old, misbehaved, huge Labrador Retriever with him. Don't get me wrong I love love love dogs and thought it would be fun to have a dog around the house so I encouraged him to bring the dog. But before I knew it I was getting up at 5am to workout, commuting 40 minutes to work, working 9 hours a day, making dinner from scratch every night, walking the dog, cleaning the house, and not getting to bed until 11pm or midnight every evening. I hated it! I was miserable and I resented both TDH and the dog for what I was going through.

This lasted about 6 months and right before Christmas I just couldn't take it anymore. My bulimia was getting worse, I hated my job, I hated living in my mom's house and I resented TDH. My whole Senior year of college I couldn't wait to grow up and now that I was I just put way too much pressure on myself to be perfect and instead of just letting go and easing up and realizing you can't be perfect I blamed the one person who loved and cared about me. I blamed TDH. That Christmas I broke up with him and he moved back down to Southern California. For the next few months, to keep my mind off of my eating disorder and my loneliness I started working out a ton. I would get up at the crack of dawn and spin for an hour, then do an hour of Pilate's and on weekends I would spend 6 hours or more biking. I also started really limiting what I ate. I would eat every three hours but only between 100-300 calories. I lost over ten pounds in one month and was the skinniest I have ever been in my life. I got down to almost 105lbs at one point! The thing is though, I was completely miserable and still felt completely fat.

One night, after living like this for about three months I had a really bad binge episode and when I tried to purge, none of it would come out. I went to bed feeling utterly disgusted with myself and completely out of control. This is when I finally told my dad and step mom. I called them crying and told them that I couldn't stop throwing up and I needed help. So I quit my job at UC Berkeley, moved out of my mom's house and moved in with them. I feel like this is the point where I hit rock bottom and finally made the decision that my health and happiness is more important than being skinny. This was my first step to recovery.

I lived with my dad and step mom for about 5 months. I took a little bit of time off of work to try to get my head straight. I dated a little bit and still exercised incessantly. Living with my dad was OK. I hated that I didn't really have a room or a place to put my stuff but for the most part they left me alone and let me do my thing. My step mom and dad didn't really know how to handle my eating disorder though so they really kind of just ignored it. I remember one time my step-mom caught me puking in the bathroom. She knocked and asked if I was alright. I said yeah and she left me alone. She didn't even confront me afterward. I found out later she had told my sister. As much as I am glad they didn't confront me about my eating disorder as I was very self conscious about it it angered me. It made me feel like they didn't care about me. If they cared about me and my well being wouldn't they do whatever they could to stop me from throwing up? Eventually I got a job in San Francisco. Another research job, this time at a start-up bio tech company. I wasn't sure if I wanted to research or something else but again I couldn't think of what else to do so got stuck doing research again. My dad also gave me money to see a therapist. So I moved to the city, into an apartment in the Lower Haight with a girl and two boys for roommates and started seeing a therapist regularly.

During this time, although TDH lived six hours away and we were both dating other people, we still remained really close. We both still loved each other very much. In about November of that year after I had been in San Francisco for about four months I went down to visit him. Although I had been dating other people during our year apart I never felt that close to anyone and I missed him terribly. After visiting him we realized that we were both still madly in love with each other and decided to try to get back together. So in January, TDH quit his job and moved to San Francisco to be with me. We got an apartment together and he found a great job in the city.

That year without TDH was one of the hardest, most miserable years of my life, but I needed it. I really found myself that year, and really started to be able to accept myself. It is because of that year that I can say I am finally recovering from Bulimia.

It has been two years since TDH moved to San Francisco to be with me. During those two years we completely fell in love again and I worked very hard at recovering from my Bulimia. I went to individual therapy, group therapy, read books, wrote journals, and finally started this blog. TDH has been a huge factor in my recovery. He has really taught me how to love and accept myself for who I am and most importantly he has shown me that he loves and accepts me for who I am not what I look like. Although I am not completely recovered and maybe won't ever be, I can now say that I eat anything and everything, I don't watch calories or fat, I can have dessert at home without binging, and I'm completely happy. I've even found a love for cooking that I had suppressed for so many years. I love food and am finally enjoying it the way it is supposed to be enjoyed...for the taste! I have learned that food is a nurturing thing that you feed your body because you love yourself, not something to be avoided! And I have learned that to enjoy food I have to eat what tastes good not what is healthy!


Megan said...

Wow - what an inspirational story. You have really come a long way in your life, and should congratulate yourself on who you are and what you've become. It takes a lot of courage to write everything down for other people to see.

Every woman struggles with body image, and I'm glad for you that you've learned how to control it for your own benefit.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Beth said...

Wow, thank you so much for sharing all of that. I am so glad that you have been getting better and getting help. I have a friend who is anorexic and while she acknowledges that this is a problem, she doesn't want to get better...getting better = getting fat (to her). Thank you for providing some insight.