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Living with Bulimia


I really want to raise awareness of eating disorders and help others know they are not alone. So I thought I’d share my experience of how bulimia impacts my life.

In a way, living with bulimia reminds me of how I felt during the court case - trapped. I sometimes feel I have no control of what and how much I eat, or how much I exercise and purge, as if bulimia dictates everything.

The first part of bulimia is binging. I often turn to food for comfort. There is much greater chance I’ll binge after a day of seizures or seizure warnings that leave me feeling scared and upset. I’d do anything to be able to rely on another source of comfort to help me when I’m down in the dumps. I’m currently trying mindfulness, which does stop me turning to the kitchen. I feel so terrible after a binge – it’s embarrassment, shame, guilt, fear and anger all in one.

The second part is purging. I turn straight to the laxatives and weight loss pills after a binge. I know large amounts of weight loss pills trigger my epileptic seizures, but on a bad day, I would rather risk my life than risk weight gain. I am pleased to say that although I still take laxatives, I am consuming far less now.

Another form of purging is restricted eating. If I have binged, I tell myself to fast for 16+ hours. The days I fast and restrict my eating certainly affect my mood. I often deny the feeling of hunger. My body is telling me I’m hungry, but then the ED voice is telling me I’m not. This leaves me confused and guilty. Who do I listen to? I get scared of food; even a raw carrot contains calories, which I have to work out if I am entitled to eat.

My biggest source of purging is exercise. After a binge, I often make a note in my diary to exercise for at least 2 hours the next day at the gym. I dream of only exercising when I want to, and not forcing myself when I don’t want to. The day after a binge, I’ll do intense cardio, even if I’d rather have a relaxing swim. I have to take a photo of the calories burnt on the machine to remind myself that I am allowed to eat for the rest of the day. Overexercising leaves me tired all day, with no energy left for socialising, volunteering and things I normally enjoy. I’ve missed out on too much because of my eating disorder.

Bulimia certainly affects my social life and hobbies. I am able to go out for meals now, but on occasions I cancel due to the fear of not knowing how many calories I’d be eating. It also depends on what time the table is booked for - I cannot eat or drink later than 7pm as the thought of going to bed with a full stomach is unbearable. I love to travel and explore, but I often find my hiking weekends very difficult because of the change in schedule. I never normally eat before exercising due to my fear of not burning as many calories with a full stomach. I think about my weight and food more than anything else , ‘what and when am I going to eat, how many calories have I eaten and have I burnt enough, have I gained weight?’, as if my plans for the day and who I’m seeing just don’t matter.

I feel that bulimia will never leave. While I believe in recovery, I know from talking to others who have recovered that I may never be quite the same in my relationship with food. But I will keep fighting it. I cannot wait for the day when I’m able to eat intuitively, decide when I want to exercise, and just enjoy my body for what it is.

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