Disclaimer: Not an easy subject matter and could trigger some individuals.
The last few days have been rough. I don’t know what to write about because my head is groggy from a cold. I have mentioned my struggles with bulimia in the past, but most people assume once you stop purging, that you’re good to go. I’ve also been told I don’t “look like I had an eating disorder” because of my curves.
I guess I’ve been having a rough time with my body since my surgery. This cold hasn’t helped. It sort of makes everything hurt all over again. I tried some chicken corn soup to make me feel better. I ended up throwing up.
Getting sick when you have no control is awful and so different than making yourself purge. Usually, with a cold or the flu, I stay in bed and hope I can keep my food down. There are moments after throwing up that I feel relief. I hate being so honest, but it’s still an obstacle I have to overcome. Be prepared for my lengthy tale about an eating disorder.
My battle started in 9th grade, 2005-2006. I had a boyfriend that wanted me to be smaller. I was already fairly small I thought. I try not to rely on numbers, but I was under 120lbs. I told my mom about what was going on. She bought me diet foods and said she would help me feel good about my body. She has always been very petite, so I figured she knew what she was doing. She always said I was curvy and thick. I never took it as an insult until I got older.
That boyfriend didn’t last long. He was awful. I tried surrounding myself with friends, but I was trying to cover up that I was skippig meals. Before summer, I started to date my lab partner from biology. He had no clue that I had been avoiding food whenever I could.
He was meant to be a fun summer boyfriend, but it turned into more. We ended up dating off and on for a little over 7 years. It started out decent. We had a lot of mutual friends. It took about 2 years to realize that guy was bad news. He was explosive and toxic. He made comments about other girls and their bodies. I really hated myself. I started throwing up once a day. I thought that wouod be enough.
As the years went on, my eating would yo-yo. Some days, I would eat. Some days, I would eat and throw up everything. Some days, I would run until I passed out. I just couldn’t figure out how to keep my weight low and consistent. My dad’s side of the family is all very large. They are big and tall. My mom’s family is full of tall women with hourglass bodies, my mother being the exception. I was so afraid I was going to be fat.
All throughout high school, I would go back and forth with myself about whether or not I was okay. I didn’t think I had an eating disorder because I wasn’t throwing up all day everyday, just sometimes. I tried telling a friend, but she said I was just watching my weight.
Once college hit, I was still off and on with the toxic boyfriend. He was expelled our senior year of high school for some very serious things. I ignored the red flags. I also cut ties with my family right before my high school graduation. I had a very tumultuous relationship with my mother. She made me hate myself almost as much as my boyfriend, whether it was intentional or not.
I had my own apartment, but my boyfriend had stuff there too. He was back and forth from his mom’s place and mine. As much as I thought about leaving him, there were circumstances that made me scared, and I didn’t want to lose his family. I also needed our mutual group of friends. Some of my oldest friends were apart of that group. My best friend, affectionately called Ginger for his red hair, was a part of that group.
I had too much to lose, so I kept up my happy charade and faux dream life. College was my escape though. I loved school of any kind. I could submerge any doubt or fear into a book and let it all disappear, and I was a great student.
I had 6 classes a week and was active in a few clubs, but I still found the time to throw up after some meals and hit the treadmill for 2 hours a day. There were weeks where the running felt enough and the purging slowed down. Then, it would get so frequent I couldn’t think. I ended up with my first and only D. It was in a writing class, and I couldn’t have that. My major was English with a concentration in writing. I had two minors- women and gender studies and professional/technical writing.
My entire college career was centered around writing, so I went to the counselig center. I sat down and nervously discussed my OCD and anxiety, which was diagnosed in junior high. When I said what I was doing to lose weight, the counselor told me it was anxiety and stress from school. I even brought up a serious incident with my boyfriend that ended up getting physical.
She sighed and gave me a prescription for Xanex. I told her I was bulimic, over exercising, and in an abusive relationship, but she just gave me Xanex as a fix all. I felt like there was no way out at that point. The pills only partially silenced the voice in my head that kept pushing me to lose weight.
I thought about running away a lot. The main thing that kept me around was late night drives with Ginger. I almost confessed everything to him so many times. Our group of friends saw the multiple bathroom trips and some fights with the boyfriend. I thought they knew and like the therapist, didn’t care. I also thought it was my fault and they all blamed me for the fights.
After making it out of college with a degree and a job, I thought I could do anything. I was sick a lot, but what I was doing didn’t seem like it was hurting anything but my focus from time to time. After all, I made it this far.
The boyfriend and I rented a cabin that belonged to Ginger’s foster parents. I was throwing up everyday. He was drinking when he wasn’t working. He slipped up and put his hands on me at a party. The secret was out, but a few days later, it seemed like it was swept under the rug.
I was spiraling. Every purge felt like a relief. I finally snapped. I thought I was going to do this until I died. I called Ginger over while my boyfriend was at work. I told him I had been in love him, and that was the only reason I was still around. I had very little connection with family, so he was my reason to stay. I felt awful saying it all out loud. Even though my relationship was toxic, I was afraid to leave or have other feelings. To be honest, I had feelings for Ginger since high school. I thought he viewed me as a sister, but the feelings turned out to be shared between us.
A few days after being honest with Ginger, I told my boyfriend. Then, I told him I had an eating disorder. He said I “looked like shit.” He didn’t accept that I said we were done. He threw a clothes basket at my head and a fight ensued. After picking myself up off the cold, wood floor, I knew it was time.
The next morning, the boyfriend went to work, and I called Ginger. I had a loaded .45 in my hand. I was going to solve everything. Then, I heard his car pull up. He ran in because he could feel something was off. He helped me into his car and I explained everything. He drove me to my family doctor’s office. I cried and told my doctor the tale of the last few years. He said that if I didn’t go admit myself to the psychiatric wing of the hospital, he would call an ambulance.
I called my boyfriend’s mother. I told her what was going on. She was the closest thing I had to a mom up until that moment. She told me she was too stressed to handle my mess. I knew. I knew she could never take sides between her own son and me. I sent him a text saying it was over again since he didn’t accept it last time, and I was going to get help.
Ginger held onto me as I went into the hospital. I was ready to collapse. It had been almost two weeks since I allowed any food to stay in my system. They put me in a room with no windows and ran tests. My kidneys were shutting down. My organs weren’t healthy. That entire time I thought I was fine and just getting sick a lot, my body was slowly dying.
I had to tell my story to about 4 nurses and 3 doctors. They wanted me to talk to cops about my relationship, but I refused. I just wanted it to be over. Once they told me I would be admitted on the psychiatric floor, I knew I had to say goodbye to Ginger. He kissed my forehead and said he loved me.
I was in a room without a roomate until they could get me stable. I was in and out of consciousness all night and hooked to a bunch of machines. I didn’t want to look at food, and I was on suicide watch. I had a nurse at my door every 15 minutes, and I couldn’t go to the bathroom alone. Ginger called me and visited when he could. The hospital helped me so much.
Once I was released, I had to do out-patient treatment twice a week. I was able to avoid my ex and get some of my things when he was at work. He still burned a lot of it, and I received awful emails and texts from his family. They all thought I had been cheating with our mutual friend for years. That wasn’t the case. I could have, but I waited. I know that doesn’t make it right, but I don’t care.
I moved into our friend, Tim’s house where Ginger and another buddy were staying already. Technically, it was Tim’s mom’s house. She let a few of us stay there since she was staying with family and doing in-home care for elderly. We paid the bills and had a good support group. My ex started threatening the guys in the house and saying I was sleeping with all of them. I knew them since before my battle with bulimia. We were friends from childhood, except Ginger. I was in love with him. Surprisingly, the guys in the house ultimately chose my side. The friends that saw how my ex really was picked me and the others picked him. I felt like I destroyed the group.
Even living in a house with a great support system, I was going through periods of relapse and was in an out of treatment for a year after my hospital stay. It took a month before getting pregnant with my son until my purging stopped. Having babies saved me. Ginger helped to save me. I knew to have a successful family, I needed to be healthy so the babies were healthy too.
My, now small group, of friends and Ginger helped me repair my family ties. Ginger was this olive branch. He has always been my best friend before anything else, and the people around me supported us. We will have our 4 year wedding anniversary November 16th.
I knew purging could hurt me and not having me would hurt my kids and husband. I still have weak moments. I still have days where I cry and sit surrounded by clothes on the floor. I still catch myself counting calories and focusing on numbers. I see other women and envy their bodies. I try to not let the kids see these moments.
I try to find a balance in working out and being an active mom. I focus on moderation. That doesn’t mean those thoughts aren’t still there. Throwing up during this cold scared me. I just had a hysterectomy and want to work on my belly. Not working out for weeks has sucked out my confidence, and it would be easy to fall back into purging to lose weight. I could cover it up with being sick.
I’m not going to relapse. I just have to get past those feelings one day at a time. I guess that’s why I chose to write this. I’m going to keep beating bulimia. For my kids, for my husband, and for myself.
I’m going to capture the moments where I feel beautiful and use them as a reminder that I’m great the way I am.