by Colleen Baker, mental health blogger
I would usually love to take opportunities like this to end my blogging semester with a positive closing, finalizing my usual tone of “go get ’em” and “we may be crazy, but we can do it,” and I will close on that note, but not before discussing the honest truth about the life of a bulimic. There are highs and lows, months that are completely purge-free and healthy. But, there are also months when it gets a little too hard to not give in to the urges.
I’ve been dieting since a little before Halloween. Seeing my sorority family’s pictures made me realize that I may have really let myself “go.” So, I decided to simply “be healthy.” Work out when I can, eat only salads, chicken, and fruit, and watch my overall health. Dieting is clearly rough for me, but I felt strong enough to really go through with it. I went so well for awhile. It has always been my belief that for a sufferer of an eating disorder (more specifically bulimia), that if you maintain a healthy diet full of willpower and lettuce, it is possible to overcome the bulimic urges. This is true, and would have remained true if Thanksgiving never happened.
When on said diets, I operate as an alcoholic operates when trying not to drink. For them, one sip is all they need and before they know it, the entire bottle is finished and their pants are off. For me, and possibly all bulimics, one bite of cake, or pie, or stuffing is all we need and before we know it, we have eaten apple pie with ice cream, a full turkey dinner, more ice cream, and cereal. I hate to add to stereotype that bulimics are simply bingers and purgers, but when denying our bodies the joy that they’re used to, we could eat an entire cake in one sitting when given the chance. The plan was to just eat Thanksgiving dinner and then get right back on the wheel. But just like that first sip of Jack, I was hooked on my drug once again.
Sufferers of any disorder will find themselves at certain crossroads within their recovery. Some may choose to maintain their willpower and fight against the oncoming train. But others, like me, will allow the stress of finals and the holiday season’s welcoming, warm food to bring us to the dark side. A coke addict can be pulled in the wrong direction by simply the vision of flour. I can be pulled in the wrong direction by the feeling of normalcy. It feels good to be like everyone else again, not needing any special restraints or “no thank you, I’m dieting” mantras.
Binging feels dirty and cold, like everyone is watching and judging. This past Sunday, sitting in the dining hall alone, I started eating…and kept eating. Cereal, frozen yogurt, and more. I was hooked on the amazing feeling, well aware of what was to come next. Why? Because in that moment, I was normal. I tasted the delicious flavors I’d missed, and thought of nothing else. I was preparing to punish myself for being fat and not trying hard enough.
Bulimia is disgusting, there is no doubt. Anorexia may be starving yourself, but bulimia is doing the one thing that everyone hates and finds completely disgusting. I wish there was anything to say that may remove this stigma, but there is nothing. Throwing up is gross. Why, then? Instead of watching what I eat, I get rid of it; instead of thinking about my anxiety and talking it out, I get rid of it. Instead of truly feeling my emotions, I get rid of them.
This is the accumulation of everything I have discussed this semester. Mental disorders are never asked for…the first time or the hundredth. It may seem like an easy choice to make—to throw up or not to? To hurt myself internally and externally or not to? To go back on how far I have come or just get rid of it? As you can hopefully understand, bulimia is in no way a choice. Something as repulsive and looked down upon would neevr be something I would ask for, but it is what I have. I am prepared to keep truckin’, keep tryin’, and looking forward, never backward. Relapsing into old ways may be upsetting, but it is in no way a roadblock for me, just a little ice.
Maybe Santa could bring me some more confidence for Christmas?
Happy Holidays and remember that we all have our own stuff, our own battles—be thankful this holiday season for getting over them and for others who do everyday. I know I will.
Counseling Center: 315-443-4715. Help is never out of reach.
Editor’s Note: What the Health Online and What the Health magazine are not licensed to give medical advice. The tips above are simply tips from a student with experience. If you are struggling with a mental disorder, please refer to your doctors to seek options that are right for you.