I’ve been serious about my recovery from bulimia since 2008.
I hate change. I hate the feeling that I am losing control of myself and my life. These things are triggers for me. I crave stability and security. This is likely why I was happy to get married at 22, and why I chose to go into a career that promises employment.
In the past 6 months, I got married, moved 6 hours away from most of my friends, got a new job, graduated from college, gained weight and spent more time away from my husband than I ever have. Is it any wonder my life feels out of control?
I used to get this sickening feeling that things were “spiraling out of control” (as I told my councellor) if I gained 5 lbs. It was paralyzing. Sometimes I isolated myself. I wasn’t able to bring myself to go to class, do my readings, etc. I have spent a week straight in my room, doing nothing except read course notes online so that I wouldn’t fail. It was like I was trying to catch my breath, and regain some semblance of control. Like I was afraid that if I left my room and interacted with the world, things would just get worse. If I left my room, I would eat in the cafeteria, gain more weight, my teachers would stress me out, I would binge, all my classmates would hate me for getting so fat, etc etc. This was my first year of university. Sometimes I ate nothing but hot dog wieners and mustard for two days because that’s all I had in my mini-fridge. I was scared to go to the grocery store and buy “binge food”. Eventually, hunger would get the best of me, and my body would somehow find it’s way to the forbidden foods. Repeat cycle.
I often have to remind myself that I’m proud of my accomplishments. I am so isolated out here that I know I will slip back into my old ways if I’m not diligent.
When I really decided to start the recovery process – not like those other times where I sort of half-assed it for a a few months so I could tell B I was “trying”. I went to a group counseling session my therapist suggested. I went once. The girls were nice, the therapist was nice – but at the end of the day, we all had the same story. I have read pretty much every memoir written on eating disorders that you can find at Chapters. I’ve watched documentaries – and at the end of the day – it’s the same story. What did I gain from these? Why was I so obsessed with these stories for such a long time? They thought me how to be bulimic. ThereIsaidit.
I didn’t know what ipecac syrup was until I started reading memoirs. I read these stories, watched these shows, and I became more efficient. I am grateful for the people who told their stories, and I do think they have their place, but not for someone who is not yet recovered.
So I went to the group session, and I met these girls. In a way it was a breath of fresh air because I felt like “they get it”. They don’t think I’m lazy, they probably think I’m fat, but they know how hard I’m trying – they get me. Unfortunately, listening to their stories, I found myself learning from them in the same way I learned from memoirs. Putting some crumbs on a plate so your boyfriend thinks you actually ate a sandwich when all you had were some grapes…
I was taking mental notes.
I told my therapist why I wouldn’t go back.
I am not knocking group therapy. I think it is wonderful, and it works for many. It just was not for me.
Even after I had been diagnosed with an ED, and had accepted the diagnosis, I clung to it. It become part of my identity. I am so terrified of failure, I think I sort of used my ED identity to justify areas where I didn’t feel successful. She didn’t do well on the test – but she’s sick. People’s expectations of me were so much more manageable. My parents just expected a passing grade, my boyfriend just expected me to “try”. I was scared to push myself, only to fail or let them down.
Around the time my recovery really took off, my counselor began to suspect I had ADD and she started the screening process. I was finally diagnosed with ADHD last year. That was a terrifying experience. I actually found myself HOPING that I had ADD. When I went to my finaly appointment, I was shaking… what if she told me I was fine, I was just lazy?
I think in some ways the process of getting a diagnosis for my learning disability helped my recovery. It allowed me to forgive myself for talking too much, too loudly, being distracted, working so hard for grades, making careless mistakes, and it generally took away this feeling I had that I wasn’t good enough. Now I know why I am this way, and I know that there is help. What a relief.
I also found a book about eating disorders that didn’t focus on the ED itself – but on research and recovery. Gaining, by Aimee Liu. What a breath of fresh air. It is the only book I have read three times.
I continued with my weekly therapy sessions, and gradually, the binging and purging stopped. First the purging, then the dieting, then the binging.
I often wonder what recovery is like for others? I’m sure it’s different for everyone.
If any of you have a story of recovery, or are in the process of recovery, please share the story with me. I would love to hear it.
I need something to get me through this period of change.