Writing from a position of almost seven years symptom-free from my once old friend bulimia nervosa, and fully recovered, I read all these stories with such a tangible sadness. Everything described is so horribly familiar at the same time as feeling like a lifetime ago.
From 19 to 27 years old I actively pursued a relationship with my ED. He gave me control, relief and a blissful numbness from the sharp edges of the world. I fogged my way through most of my 20s, half-heartedly attending counselling sessions that held up a clear mirror to my behaviours and the reasons behind them, but at the first sign of trouble I would settle back into my comfortable bulimic routine. At first I was in control, happy that I really could have my cake and eat it, achieve the dress size I wanted, and receive admiration over my stamina and ability to exercise. But as time went on, I lost control, I became fearful, depressed and petrified of weight gain. My husband knew when I was at my worst. He told me later that I used to get a permanently panicked look in my eyes.
Over the years my weight fluctuated up to the top end of a normal BMI and at my lowest, in the underweight category, when people would comment on my appearance, my periods stopped and my hubby would tell me that my head looked too big for my body.
One night, at 27 years old after purging for the sixth time that day, with a sore throat, sore stomach and burst blood vessels in one of my eyes, I sat on the side of the bath and sobbed. I’d had enough. I wanted myself back. I was sick of being controlled and scared of life.
The drive that I pursued my bulimia with I now channelled into recovery. I hit it hard from every angle I knew. I got in touch with those in recovery through YouTube channels, read articles, books and got in touch with people who had made it through the other side. I met some amazing people who inspired me, particularly when it got tough and I wanted to beat myself up after a setback (of which there were many!). I am so grateful for those who gave me time to vent and encouraged me to keep going. I got in touch with a nutritionist who taught me how to eat like a normal person again without having to binge and purge to get through the day.
Two years later, I found myself a mature student at uni training to be a nurse. I was still in recovery and I won’t pretend that it was plain sailing, but when I turned 31 and two years into my course, I became pregnant with my eldest boy. I purged once at around 16 weeks, freaking out about my changing shape, but that was the last time ever. The strength I had gained in recovery, along with a newfound respect for my body and the impending arrival of our little chap, was my anchor to recovery. He’s now six years old. I’ve got an incredible job as an intensive care nurse, a happy marriage and two beautiful boys.
That’s my story. I wanted to tell it to say to anyone reading this that despite you being in the thick of this horrible disorder and you think you will die before you can ever recover, YOU CAN BEAT THIS. I promise you can. It’s a long, tough road, but you’ve got this. Hang on in there, pick yourself up when you stumble, talk to those you love and trust and let yourself believe that recovery is possible.
Because it is.
All my love,