It’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2022 so I’ve written a few blogs about my struggles with bulimia as I want to help others to understand, reach out and not feel alone. Some of my words may seem negative, and of course come with trigger warnings, but I wanted to be honest about everything, the good and the bad. I am on a journey of recovery and I write what is in my heart.
My ED stems from constant criticism and judgment as a child. I developed body dysmorphia and still struggle with embarrassment and shame. In 2014, I received lots of compliments from people when I began to lose weight. After my youth of 24/7 criticism, these compliments were an absolute treasure to me. It led me to believe that how I looked was everything; I fixated on being slim and was terrified of gaining weight. This obsession became anorexia, which then turned to bulimia. I feared weight gain more than death. Gaining weight or just eating more than who I’m with can still bring back the feelings of shame and guilt.
Moving from anorexia to bulimia changed my body shape, which has left me very ashamed on occasions. I wish society would learn that an eating disorder doesn’t mean being underweight. I’ve had numerous people tell me that they can see I am recovered, but little do they know I take laxatives and pills, exercise in order to eat and cancel dinner plans.
My eating disorder can be as unpredictable as my epilepsy; some days I feel fine with my shape and give it no thought, but on other days I can’t stop looking in the mirror and shaking my head at myself.
I am pleased to say that I am in the process of recovery. It is such a long and hard process and I have relapsed on many occasions. I am often reminded of how comfortable I felt being underweight, which causes me to fast again. But I am getting there. I try hard these days to accept and listen to compliments about my skills and my character, a reminder that there is so much more to me than my appearance.
Cognitive behavioural therapy has been very helpful, but by far the most challenging form of therapy. It involves keeping a food diary and I often feel embarrassed when noting it all down, especially for the days I’ve binged. But it has been very useful for seeing the patterns and identifying triggers.
I’ve learnt to eat more for the amount of exercise I do, reminding myself that my body needs fuel, but only a small trigger will bring me back to square one. These triggers can be anything from a past photo, to having to buy a bigger size in trousers. I’ve taught myself to eat regularly, to help prevent evening binges. This can be a great struggle, but quite effective.
Eating disorders certainly need more awareness from society. Not only can they be life-threatening, but also life-controlling. This #EDAW2022 is about speaking up – share stories, ask for help and reach out to those in need of support.