Most in the eating disorder professional community agree that to some extent, nature, and indeed nurture and environment are significant contributors and all together they provide a more well rounded opportunity to figuring out causation. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder, a mental illness, and a worldwide epidemic. It is easily the first resort of people who are dying to lose weight abruptly or those who have a broken sense of self.
About one out of one hundred people suffer from bulimia – approximately 30 million in America and a whopping 70 million people worldwide.
This miserable disease is difficult to recover from, but some do get out of it alive, well and successful. They tell their story because they wouldn’t wish this to happen even to their worst enemy.
Laura the Bulimic Over-achiever
For someone who graduated with honors and a very active member of the church and the community, you would never think that Laura was bulimic. She looked happy and accomplished. Even her parents who lived with her didn’t see what she was going through.
For some reason (which we seem to understand because we sometimes do go through it), Laura had a lot of insecurities and she found food to be very comforting. It kept her together and it is what fed her anxieties.
…people who restrict will obviously begin to lose weight, wear baggier clothing to hide it, move their food around on the plate but not eat it, chew food and spit it out. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
She was gaining too much weight when one day she met a friend who told her that she could get away with gaining weight despite eating a lot. And that was the start of Laura’s horrific bulimia journey.
Throwing up the whole day and more than 40 laxatives in one sitting was the worst thing that she did. It made her realize that it was the lowest she could go, but she was wrong. She committed suicide – three times – before she finally decided to get help.
Her parents spent so much for therapy and she was recovering and relapsing many times. Finally, she sought spiritual help by staying in a girl’s room and reading the Bible, where she said she got all the counseling she needed.
“There were two keys to my healing and recovery. The first was choice, when I took the first step of deciding not to throw up again. The second one was Christ.”
Claire The Seasoned Bulimic
I refer to her as a seasoned bulimic because she started really young – at the age of 7 – and struggled with bulimia for more than a decade!
Claire didn’t really throw up to lose weight before, as she was already skinny. She just simply wanted to eat whatever she wanted but she can’t because, after much eating, her stomach would be full, and of course, she didn’t want that. What started as a one-time puke turned into a spree for every party and every casual dinner she ever had.
She felt that what triggered her bulimia to worsen was when her family moved to another country. She felt alone and out of place. This pushed her to nurture feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and depression.
When we shift our focus away from the numbers on the scales and towards a more global sense of health, we can achieve genuine wellbeing by nurturing—not fighting against—our body. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.
When she was in college, she almost became an Olympian. She was a great diver. But in the middle of the practice season, she lost 10 pounds and became so weak she couldn’t continue on. She lost that opportunity forever.
“It was not until I suffered from irregular heartbeats and my mother had a bout of depression when I realized that if I didn’t stop, I would just die and break my mother’s heart.”
The first step Claire took was an email to a counsellor. After sending that email, it was the last time that she ever threw up. The counsellor guided her towards the initial phases of online therapy, which she found very comforting because she couldn’t gather her guts to face a psychiatrist in a clinic. It felt so overwhelming.
It started with just the therapist asking Claire how she felt and her telling the therapist to be in touch with herself and really express how she felt with herself. She spilled everything and she cried for days, couldn’t imagine that she could feel that bad about herself.
Then came the healing. She slowly talked about her struggle with bulimia. Each moment empowering her, giving her the strength to beat it by opening up about it and finding ways to overcome it. And yes, Claire did. She is bulimia-free – it’s been eight years now.
Bulimia Is Real – and so is Recovery
The effects of bulimia not only involve your own life but the lives of those you love as well. If you are suffering from this devastating condition and these stories are familiar to you, then there is hope for you. Bulimia is real, and so is recovery.
Come out. Be heard. Share your burden and be healed. It’s time to make peace with food.