How the Bulimic Can Learn to Eat Again.

The title of this blog post may be slightly misleading. Perhaps what I write here isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. I do hope, however, that it is somewhat useful for you regardless. This blog post isn’t a set of instructions which you can follow and then just begin eating normally again. It’s not a step by step guide on how to stop purging. This time last year, I was heavily bulimic. I was regularly overdosing on laxatives. I was purging 3 or 4 times a day. I was stuck in a restrict/binge/purge cycle. I was doing so much exercise and the thought of doing that much exercise now makes me literally cringe. It was ridiculously out of control. I was an outpatient at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney and after being there for a while, started a day program in Glebe. Basically you were there, 4 days a week from 10 – 4 and had to eat morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea there. Weigh days were Monday. We were blind weighed. If we lost weight, there were consequences; discussions to be had, stern words to be spoken. Food had to be consumed. We had half an hour for lunch, 20 minutes for snacks. The bathroom door was locked after meals.

It was exhausting.

Why did I go? Because I knew I needed to change. I wasn’t necessarily 100% sure I could, but I had to try, right? I had purged the day before. I had nervously  measured and consumed 1/2 cup of yoghurt earlier in the morning before going, and drank some coffee on the way there. I was only there three days before I was hit with a nasty flu before eventually backing out of the program the following week, but the hardest thing for me was challenging some of those scary foods that I hadn’t eaten in a long while. Day 1: potatoes. I just sat there and stared at them and cried. I couldn’t eat potatoes. I didn’t do potatoes. I would become huge if I consumed potatoes. It sounds so illogical and unreasonable to me now but at the time it was a very REAL and big fear. Day 2: tim tams at afternoon tea time. The worst part is when everyone else has managed to eat their food and you’re still sitting there crying onto your plate which has 2 arnott’s biscuits and a tim tam on it. And then everyone has to wait until you struggle your way through them all, counting the bites because you’re not supposed to be eating this food. Day 3: ice cream. We went down to Broadway and ate ice cream. In a cone. It had been 2 years since I’d eaten ice cream. I just sat there jiggling my left foot and wondering if I could run away.

Walked from Glebe to Central Station that third afternoon. Needed to get rid of the food. Wondered if it was too late to purge. Knew it was. Walked faster, talked to A on the phone and told him I was proud I’d eaten ice cream. I was. But I was still stressed about gaining weight.

In those first three days, I challenged so, so much. And I realised this: I actually have the potential to overcome this eating disorder. I can physically eat this food. I can actually gain some real control here. Like I said, came down with the most disgusting flu. Didn’t go on the Thursday. Worked all weekend. Didn’t eat. Purged on the Sunday. Lost weight by the Monday and got in a bit of trouble for that one. So they gave me an ultimatum: move to Sydney, or perhaps just ditch the program until  was willing to move to Sydney. I wasn’t willing to move to Sydney. So I ditched the program.

One of the hardest things for me in early recovery days was putting up with the constant fullness and heaviness in my stomach. Because I hadn’t eaten properly in so long, my stomach had shrunk. Physically, eating a meal was a difficult thing. I felt bloated all of the time. So it’s a good fact to be aware of when you’re recovering – and know that the feeling passes.

When I rang the day program the following week and told them I wouldn’t be returning, I had this very determined feeling to be able to do this – to be able to eat well, and properly To eventually stop purging. To kep challenging those scary foods. And I knew I really could get to that place and I have! Perhaps that courage and knowledge came from God Himself. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Enough rambling; enough with this small part of my recovery story: the bulimic can learn to eat again when the bulimic decides they want to learn to eat again, and starts making changes to their current pattern. No matter how much you’re force-fed, no matter how often someone tries to tell you that you’re not fat, that you’re actually UNDERWEIGHT and need to gain some weight – nothing will change unless YOU do something about it.

You really can, if you like. You aren’t stuck. And the eating disorders grip is nowhere near as strong as your mind is. Or as strong as our God is.

Bek X

3 thoughts on “How the Bulimic Can Learn to Eat Again.

  1. Hey rebekah:)
    Umm not sure exactly what to right but Im really enjoying reading about your recovery, I case you hadn’t noticed we have the same name:) even spelt the same and I may not be struggling with bulimia but I’m certainly battling anorexia. I’ve just come out of hospital a week ago where I spent a month in in-patient care. My heart was too weak and I had collapsed at work so my parents took me to hospital and that’s where I finally started setting again and looking towards recovery. Im deadly afraid! I want to get well again but I’m so scared of facing school, and all my friends and im sooo deathly afraid to gain weight. I’m on a meal plan and it requires full cream milk but I keep swapping the full cream for skim – I shouldn’t be doing this because I obviously need full cream to get my weight up and my heart strong but I can’t seem to ignore the anorexic voice and I hate it but I don’t know what to do. Wondering if you had any thoughts or tips on how to stop yourself hiding food or swapping it for low cal alternatives. If not don’t worry, it’s nice just to know you made it through. I’d love some tips on how to deal with weight gain. But as I said if your busy etc that’s understandable:) good luck in the future, it’s very inspiring to see that you’ve gotten through this!:) and also I love that your faith helped you through, god is wonderful and I believe I can eventually get better though him as you have – in just scared and finding it difficult at the moment. Sorry to blab on, that’s all I had to say:) your incredibly strong and inspiring – I wish you all the best!:D
    By the way

  2. Hey! May I call you Bek? That’s what my friends call me anyway so you can call me that if you like 🙂

    I neither struggle with bulimia or anorexia anymore, but have dealt with both – anorexia before the bulimia. I’m really sorry to hear about your anorexia, and being inpatient and about your heart – but I’m glad that you were well looked after and are still here too. I can understand your fear of weight gain, but why do you think it’s overwhelming you so much? If you really think about it logically – what’s really that scary about it? Do you think something will physically happen to you or that you will not be well liked?
    Tell me what you think is most scary about weight gain.

    I myself have only just started having full cream milk too, lite milk didn’t scare me as much. But you know what? I decided that I actually LIKED the taste of full cream much more – and realised that my body still used that energy up regardless. I’ve gained 16 kilos overall (over a year or so) and I promise you that it doesn’t happen in just a few months or a few weeks – it happens slowly so you’re able to adjust to your new body and become comfortable in it again.

    Re tips or anything for stopping hiding food and that sort of thing – is there anyone who is close to you who you feel may be able to keep you accountable for that? The other thing I really, really want to encourage you to remind yourself of is what you want for yourself in the long-term. Do you really want to be doing that forever? Is it in line with your values? I know know know how hard it is to eat when you have the ED screaming at you in your head, but it is NOTHING. It has nothing on you. You are so much stronger than it is. Your life will be so much better without it. And I know that you will find the strength to fight back and not let it win anymore.

    Good luck with your recovery! I know I probably haven’t been a lot of help, but if you ever want to talk – always here to listen xoxo.

  3. i’ve been suffering from bulimia and anorexia for nearly 5-6 years now…at this point i’m so tired, and i spend all my money on food for binges. i cry every time i do this because i know it’s literally money and sustenance going down a drain. i’m stuck in this cycle and trying to break out of it on my own has just become arduous and taxing. what struck me in this post is the fact that you know that over full feeling. trying to fight the urge to purge, while telling myself i’m not stuffed to the brim is hard as hell. when i’ve barely eaten anything ( i guess my stomach is so shrunken down it’s hard to not feel stuffed) i look bloated and feel super full and can’t stand it and end up caving. i’ve tried everything from broths, to protein shakes to help along. knowing that this is something that happens to all of us who suffer through it helps me a lot. now i know it’ll pass and i just have to muscle through. thanks!

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