The true story of a former bulimic.
It started when I was 13.
I had always been socially awkward and a bit of an outsider. However, until then I had somehow gotten away with it. I would hide in the corner with a book and most people left me alone.
That was Primary school.
Then came that awful stage of life called ‘growing up’.
I became more confident and outgoing and boys suddenly seemed to like me. Puberty arrived without warning and nobody had prepared me for it.
I had always been ‘well made’ (as my Mum would say), but now I started gaining weight and my breasts filled out.
So I did what most girls do at my age.
I went on a diet!
Little did I realize that the innocent diet that I started on that wintery day in 1995 would be the start of my 25 year battle with bulimia.
I lost weight, a lot of weight and had my first encounter with anorexia. However, for me, the gnawing hunger pangs were too hard to bear.
I had powerful food cravings, so I ate and ate and purged and purged - for years and years.
During those years I became an incredibly good actress. Life was bright and sparkly on the outside BUT on the inside was the secret, dark, lonely life of me and my bulimia.
Looking back I marvel at the incredible strength of my body. I lived a relatively normal life (on the outside) for 7 years.
Then my hair started falling out. In clumps. I was going bald.
Some quick research told me that when a person's body is malnourished, such as during an eating disorder, the protein stores in their body become depleted. When this occurs, the body has to make sure that it takes care of essential functions such as organ function and retaining muscle tissue above all else. Basically my starved body had entered crisis mode and was concentrating all of its energy on staying alive. Luxuries like maintaining a full head of hair were quickly cut from my body’s energy budget.
I was 19 years old and practically bald.
Looking back this was the best thing that ever happened to me and it was the start of my recovery. My secret was becoming visible and I was terrified.
So I reluctantly started seeing a therapist, joined Overeaters Anonymous and bought a wig.
I bought a human hair wig and it cost me almost all of my savings. I needed to look good and the wig was natural looking and cute.
I threw myself into recovery and slowly, very slowly I started to heal. It has been a long journey, to say the least, but at least I am here to tell the tale. I am now a normal eater and a normal weight.
After about a year of normal eating, my hair started to grow back.
I am writing my story because I want to urge everyone who feels out of control around food, or simply wants to stop eating but can’t, to contact overeaters anonymous. They have a solution for eating disorders and a wonderful support group. They may be able to help you. https://oa.org/
A book that really helped me get over the first few months after I stopped binging was called ‘Brain Over Binge’ by Kathryn Hansen. You can find out more about it here: https://brainoverbinge.com/
I have since got married to a wonderful, loving husband and three months ago I was blessed with an adorable baby girl. As I look down at her innocent face I think to myself, If only she knew how close I was never turning my life around, to never being a happy, healthy mother. If only she knew how real the chances were for her never to have come into existence.
But here I am today, rocking Amy in my arms whilst my husband is in the kitchen making dinner. Yes, I will be eating a plate or two of his dinner with a smile. No, I will not be calculating the calories or how I will efficiently get rid of them.
I will sit down to eat with my husband in a cheerful, brightly lit dining room. Instead of being in our dark basement bathroom in shame and anguish.
Today my brain thinks differently, my stomach digests differently and my mouth chews differently.
I have recovered from my eating disorder and you can too!