The Blessings of Bulimia

April 25, 2008 at 4:14 pm 2 comments

You think I’m kidding, right? Well, I’m not. There are blessings to be found, if one is willing to look. First of all, right at the start, bulimia is a loud warning signal. Something is very wrong and we are trying to cope. It is a call for help, and some are fortunate enough to have it heard early on. Deep inside, you know something isn’t right. You are looking out for yourself, but you’re not in a position to do it all alone. You’re doing the best you can.

Often enough, the signal is overlooked. As in my dysfunctional family with the parents in the middle of a nasty divorce, nobody really had the time or energy to notice. Anyway, I couldn’t just fall apart, because I was supposed to be perfect. Eventually it became impossible to oversee, but by then I was pretty far along. More and longer help would have been necessary.

Beyond this warning signal, it was a coping mechanism. My life had become horrible and was totally out of control. I felt lost and helpless, but focussing on the food and weight loss gave me the sense that I had power over something. Don’t get me wrong! By no means do I think this is good in itself, but it was the best I could do at the time.

Eventually, it became an addiction. There is no blessing about this chapter. I’m not sure what was more addictive – the eating or the vomiting. There was a lot of anger and fear I needed to get rid of, and that certainly gave me the feeling of emptying myself.

Oh! Actually, even then there were blessings. I began to talk about it a little, and people listened. Someone told me about Overeaters Anonymous. At those meetings, and through group therapy, I met other sufferers. Soon I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Well, at least not all the time!

The most memorable blessings occurred during the process of recovery. Where do I begin? I learned to eat normally and to accept my body, because it was a matter of life and death. Who knows? Otherwise I might be stuck in the yo-yo effect today and permanently dissatisfied, or dead. So much for the cosmetic side. Wait a minute! That’s not true. Accepting my body is more than cosmetic. It has become my partner in crime – carrying me from one adventure to the next. The regular meals give me the energy to keep going. There’s something cosmic about that.

During therapy I learned that I am entitled to seek help when I need it. I don’t have to figure everything out all by myself. I also learned that I don’t have to stop therapy when the symptoms stop. In fact, once the symptoms stopped, I was in better shape to work on the emotional side of the illness and deal with the underlying problems.

The actual process of recovery taught me: One step at a time. This knowledge I use on a daily basis. I learned to be patient, and that projects can be broken down into smaller components. Thus I am no longer easily overwhelmed and tempted to give up before I even get started.

During the early years of recovery, the occasional slip into a binge or even vomiting served again as a warning signal or stress indicator – just like in the beginning. Wake up! Something needs attention! At this point, I was in a position to take action myself. Sometimes it just meant I needed more sleep, or more fun. I needed to take better care of myself.

The occasional slips had an additional benefit: I learned to accept the truth of two steps forward, one step back. They emphasized that I don’t need to be perfect. My recovery didn’t have to be perfect. I could fall down and stand up again as many times as necessary. Just because I stumbled didn’t mean I’d blown it or all was lost. I kept going.

Through the acceptance of eating as a long-term project, and that there is no quick fix, I learned diligence and perseverance. I can keep at it, and plod along on the days when things seem to be excruciatingly de-accelerated. I learned to simply sit and wait, as that is occasionally necessary.

Last but not least, if I’m in a slump, the memory of my recovery gives me something to hold on to. Every once in a while it does good to remind myself that I survived and got over it.

Thirteen years of slow suicide while not really wanting to die was a high price to pay, but since that includes these learning experiences as well, it wasn’t all lost time.


Entry filed under: About Recovery, Coping. Tags: , , .

Bulimia, Stress and Starting Over Making Changes

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. vive42  |  April 27, 2008 at 2:03 am

    good to read this. hard for me to imagine coming out the other side right now, but it’s nice to hear from people who have made it that it is possible. it’s so easy for me to doubt that it is.

    That’s why I’m writing, and I’m glad you liked it. We all need to reach out and help each other, since everyone has something to offer that someone else might really need at the moment.
    Wish you all the best! Martha

  • 2. R  |  April 29, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Oh my goodness. Finding your blog has been a godsend to me. I want to email you but I am afraid to do it. Because it means I have a problem.

    God/Higher Power works in mysterious ways, and I’m glad he brought you here! If you have a problem, that doesn’t mean there is something bad-wrong with you. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to grow and learn, and help is out there waiting for you. We’re all in this together! 🙂


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