Mental Health

My slow recovery from bulimia

Let me start this post by saying that I’m fucking proud of myself. I’m proud because the last two days, I resisted the urge to binge and purge – something that I’ve not yet managed in the past.

Normally, I would allow myself one sick ‘cheat day’ and then start over again, trying to let more and more days pass between each episode. And even though I have come a long way from pretty much not keeping any meal down to just purging every one to two weeks, I haven’t yet been able not to binge. Until this week.

Imagine me being pretty emotional while I’m writing this down. I reached a milestone, despite everything else I have going on right now. It’s weird because I really don’t have the feeling that my depression is getting any better.

Just this morning, I thought of the sleeping pills I was taking for a while back in Paris and how I could have easily overdosed. But I’m a coward, and I wouldn’t want to end up as a vegetable, or leave earth leaving a disfigured body. And so I find comfort in looking at very dark-humored memes on r/depression_memes like this one here 👉

But maybe the good thing about depression is that I give significantly fewer fucks about anything, including my weight.

Actually this week, I hit the 60 kg (130 lbs) mark. A couple of years or even months ago, I would have been devastated. Since I was a teenager, I knew that I definitely wanted to keep my weight below 60 kg. At first, I was happy with 59,5 kg. But then of course, I started thinking less was better. And in just a year, I reached around 46 kg (102 lbs). For reference, I’m 1,79 m (5’11”) tall. I remember back then, at the age of 16, I kept thinking that it was impossible to keep this going until I’d be 60. I thought that only once I got old, I could allow myself to gain weight, or “get fat” how I’d call it. As it soon turned out, I didn’t have to maintain this low weight for long after all, since of course, my doctor and family got more and more alarmed. My supportive family compared me several times to the victims of the Holocaust.

And even though I never received proper treatment, I managed to gain weight. It was a relief that I was given the permission to, since I didn’t give it to myself, and I also thought that I could lose any extra weight just as fast. The only problem was that, as soon as I had stopped only eating 800 kcal a day, I couldn’t go back to it. It was too hard. (Btw, even back then, I never understood how some people could restrict themselves to only 400 kcal a day. 800 was already super difficult for me. But I was also scared of eating cotton balls.)

However, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. At age 17 until 19, I had my highest weight so far, which was 63 kg (139 lbs). I felt horrible. Even worse was when people still told me I was skinny when I felt the exact opposite. And then I moved to Paris.

The first couple of months were really hard. I didn’t have my friends around me and, of course, didn’t know the city. It was the first time I lived alone. And without anyone watching me, I started purging every time I thought I’d eaten too much. Quickly, my weight was down to 48 kg (105 lbs) again. During that time, I also started smoking. Mostly because I (still) love the aesthetic of Old Hollywood actors with their quellazaires, but also because I’d read somewhere that smoking can burn up to 300 kcal. So I smoked a pack per day.

In addition to throwing up multiple times a day, it’s not surprising that it took a big toll on my teeth. They’re now paper-thin and so, the only part of my body I’m truly worried about. I never cared about what binging and purging would do to my organs, honestly, I still don’t care that much. But as I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t want to be an ugly corpse. Nor would I like to lose my teeth while still being alive.

Besides, buying tons of foods to binge on is fucking expensive. All the money I could have saved literally went down the drain. As a “solution”, I started stealing my food, which was super easy. And so, even after a while where my episodes were spaced a little, I quickly was back on purging three times a day.

Eventually, I was caught stealing, fortunately. Who knows how long I would have continued with that lifestyle. But still without proper treatment, I still struggled. The only thing I managed was to reduce the number of episodes. And depending on the circumstances, I was more or less successful with that. During that time, my average weight was around 53 kg (116 lbs), the weight I also have in the two first photos left in the image above. The two photos on the right show how I look now. Funnily, not as drastic of a difference as I would have thought in my teens or early twenties.

Unfortunately, I can’t even tell you exactly what I did to be able to accept myself more. Sure, I’ve seen a few therapists, but I found that talking about my past didn’t do shit to change any toxic behaviors of the present. Besides, none of them were specialized in treating eating disorders. One thing that was very helpful though was that I deleted all the calorie-tracking apps I had on my phone. And yes, at one point, I used more than one. I guess by deleting them, I also unlearned to count them, even though I’ve pretty much known the number of calories of every single food since my teens.

Another thing that helps a lot is that fashion manufacturers have started using stretchy materials. I remember the stiff skinny jeans that would cut off your circulation I used to wear as a teen. You don’t see those around anymore, and it makes being comfortable in my body much easier for me, even though I’m still not thrilled to see my flabby ass in the harsh neon light of a fitting room. But I learned that I have to build muscle to achieve the look I want. And since I’m just not very athletic, I’m already proud when I’m somewhat consistent with my workouts. That probably shifted my perspective from feeling guilty to valuing my achievements more.

Nevertheless, I’m obviously still far away from a full recovery, if that’s even possible. (In my opinion, you carry an eating disorder for life, you just learn to manage it.) I’m still scared of weighing myself or taking my measurements. I’m still not happy about how my body looks. But now, I’m rather focused on getting toned than on being thin, which I still want to be, but not at any cost.

Now, every day I look in the mirror, I see what the drastic weight loss and weight gain have done to my connective tissue and muscles. I feel like I have barely any muscle strength left, I can’t even do one push-up, and my breasts are probably the body part I’m most self-conscious about. They’re very, very relaxed. Yet, I’m aware that recovery takes lots of time, and I’m happy about the smallest step I can take to better health. For now, I’ll celebrate reaching a massive milestone.

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6 thoughts on “My slow recovery from bulimia

  1. Wow.
    Reading this is exactly me right now. Your lowest weight was me (I got to 44kg) however I am like a full foot smaller than you. Right now though I’m in the same boat and proud. Exactly 2 days as well without binging or purging and it is a real accomplishment. And you have every reason to be proud cause I know for damn sure it’s sooooooooooooooooooooooooo fucking hard to not do it even when you think « man.. this is so dumb » or « I’m literally puking money down the toilet ».
    But yeah. Definitely an accomplishment. It’s great to read someone out there is on the same path as me and doing it.
    The struggle is real but the benefits outweigh it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your comment, it means a lot! I’m so glad that this post resonates with you and I wish you all the strength to overcome this ugly disease. You can be super proud of your achievement! Keep going and stay strong! Lots of love 🤗🤗

      Liked by 1 person

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