Roughly three years ago I started a diet. Nothing severe, just adding more fruit and veg and eating less sugary foods. This diet signified a lot. I thought diet's were mysterious activities, only for real women. I saw this diet as my right as a (young) women. But it was more than that. Not only did it signify me growing up, it was my reaction to these hips I'd developed, this bum, these thighs. All the things that make a women, a women. As much as I wanted to be older I was scared of growing up and all that came with it.
This harmless diet started, slowly at first, to have effects. A pound here, a pound there. It felt good. I know I wanted more. So the diet became more serious, more strict. Instead of porridge with semi skimmed milk and a banana, the milk was replaced with water, the porridge was weighed and the banana was left out. Lunch went from a sandwich with an apple, some salad, and a chocolate bar to a salad with an apple. Dinner was always a problem meal as my family are big about sit down meals.
As this new more severe diet started taking effect and I lost roughly 7lbs I started getting obsessed. Anything to make sure the number on the scale tomorrow would be less than the number today. Breakfast was cut. Lunch was an apple or a carrot. Dinner was the same.
Then is happened.
My first binge
It was only a small one, as my body hadn't hit the point where is craved food, where is screamed out for it's cravings. But it had an effect, this first binge brought guilt, unease, the feeling of dirtiness. So I tried to purge. I had tried a few times before but was always to nervous to actually go through with it properly. This time was different.
Go to parents bathroom. Close their door and the en suite door. Lean over the toilet. take a few breaths and put your two fingers down your throat. Stroke your throat. Gag...gag...and then results. Although the result was small as I was too afraid to carry on, it was a start. I didn't realise how frequent this would become.
So the first binge and purge came and went. The day after the binge I thought I should restrict more severely as I had eaten so much in that binge. Goodbye breakfast and lunch. Hello exercise. Hello purging dinner in the gym toilets. And with these ever more strict rules, these boundaries I set myself came more binges. Remembering these binges and the emotions that came with them is hard, so bear with me.
The cycle was this:
Day one: so determined to succeed I would eat below 600 cals, and attempt to exercise it all off.
Day two: The same as day one.
Day three: Attempt to do the same as day one and two, but struggle more, more effort has to be into avoiding a binge.
Day Four: God I hated day four. Day four was my weakest day. Day four is when I felt so crap, so low and tired that the inevitable happened. The binge. The severity of the last three days influenced the severity of the binges. If I had fasted three days I would binge maybe two days to a week. Or it could just be an evening binge. Here is how these extreme binges went:
After dinner I would feel cheated. The dinner didn't satisfy me. The cravings were loud and the need for more was impossible to ignore. I would wait until the family had left the kitchen and it would begin. 2 chocolate bars, a packet of crisps, yoghurt, another chocolate bar, go to freezer, get a croissant, whilst defrosting it get cereal. Coat it with golden syrup. Coat croissant with peanut butter. Another chocolate bar. Another packet of crisps. Any left over desert. Toast. yoghurt. One final chocolate bar. Upstairs. Bathroom. Purge. drink lots of water to make purge easier. Finish. Go to the mirror to inspect the damage. Red eyes, sick around mouth. Breath smelling of bile. Fingers smelling of vomit. Scrub at yours hands, clean your face, clean teeth, mouthwash. Go to room. Shut door. Sit and wait for guilt. Feel dizzy and hyper. Then the guilt, the all encompassing guilt. I am worthless, how could I let myself binge? How could I ruin myself again. How could I be so weak, so feeble, so pathetic. Pure anger directed at self.
And the cycle would begin again. The cycle would just get more and more severe until you are nothing but your bulimia. I had no time for friends, family, work, school, joy, happiness. No. Just bulimia, calories, gym and the depression that so often comes with it. Sleep was a thing of the past.
It got to a point were I could no longer hold myself together. For a week I would be hysterical every night. Unable to hold it all back. I decided I had to change, my life couldn't carry on in this way. I told my parents what had been going on. I went to the doctor. I went to counselling. But still the eating disorder would take over. For two and a half years I couldn't stay in recovery, but I could never keep up my extreme bulimic cycle. It was like the bulimia had lost it's bite. It was still there but it didn't have the same control over me. Over the years the relapses got shorter and the times of recovery got longer. Half a year ago it seemed like the eating disorder had gone for good. University started and I realised I could do and eat what I wanted. This was my most relapse, and although it was quite severe it only lasted 2 months and 8lbs long.
So how am I today? I'm good, taking each day as it comes. Slowly. Not presuming I will never relapse again, but knowing that I will always find recovery. The journey has been long and painful, but by God I am a stronger and better person for it. I feel a greater understanding and empathy with those worse of in the mental health stakes. I am more patient and accepting of myself. I know that I am a strong person and I can overcome more than I give myself credit for.