Bulimia, like most disorders, has a lot of misconceptions attached to it. It’s important to not invalidate things we go through and to understand and deal with them as they come. Here are some common fallacies that people may often have about bulimia nervosa.
…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
Myth #1: It’s just a phase
It’s common for us to go through things that a lot of people are going through as well. Wearing black and having long bangs? That’s emo – it’s just a phase. Wanting to be part of the popular crowd? That’s just a phase. However, bulimia is not a phase.
Bulimia is often portrayed in TV and film as being obsessed with how you look. A person wanting to be skinny to fit in and be beautiful has either bulimia or anorexia nervosa. This is not true.
Bulimia is a serious eating disorder that is not a phase that everyone goes through. Keep in mind that this is a diagnosable disorder and not just a passing fad. Therefore, it is the very first myth that we should debunk.
Eating disorders are a psychological disorder that affects many people. It’s definitely a condition that should be taken seriously. Letting it pass is not a solution to this disorder. This is not something to be made fun of or worse, ignored. People will not be able to “grow out of it” by refusing to admit it is a problem.
Myth #2: It’s about looking good
For most people with bulimia or anorexia disorder, it isn’t about working towards looking good. To people who have either or both, you could reach the point where you look good but still don’t feel good about how you look. Bulimia is not attached to self-confidence or vanity.
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
People with this disorder lose a sense of reality. No matter how much they are reassured by the people around them, it isn’t enough. This is dangerous as it may lead to other problems such as depression or developing anger issues.
Myth #3: The people who have it are skinny and female
Bulimia can affect anyone. Those who appear to be fit and healthy may have the disorder. Men can also have the disorder. Most often than not, the first thought that comes in people’s minds when speaking about eating disorders is skinny females. Bulimia, like most psychological disorders, does not choose the people who will carry the cross.
As mentioned earlier, bulimia isn’t just about wanting to look good. It can affect anyone we know, whether it is visible or not. A person who appears to be healthy may be suffering from it, without us even knowing.
Myth #4: It is synonymous to purging
While purging – throwing up after binge eating – may be part of the disorder, it is not all there is to bulimia. Other ways of losing weight, such as excessive exercise, may be symptomatic of bulimia.
Another symptom is following a strict diet that allows them to stay within a specific look. The key is to keep in mind that people with the disorder are disconnected from the truth of their health and appearance.
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.
Myth #5: It is something you have to live with your entire life
The most important thing to remember when recovering is to not let bulimia define your life, much like people who suffer from depression are not defined by sadness, or those who have anger are not defined by anger issues and acting out. Bulimia should not define your life.
It is possible to overcome the disorder. But also keep in mind that it is not an immediate, linear process. There may be setbacks, but that does not mean that you cannot break yourself apart from the chains of your disorder. You are more than the ghosts that haunt you in the quiet hours of the day.
Bulimia nervosa can be overcome through the help of others that you trust. Allow yourself to get there at your own natural pace. Being comfortable with the recovery process is the most important thing to keep in mind. Allow yourself to heal from it. Do not let it hold you back.