Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bulimia, Non-Purging Type

I've said this before, but I will say it again; I have an eating disorder. Now, after many years of not knowing, I finally found a name for what I do: bulimia, non-purging type.

It's a small subgroup of bulimia, with most people falling into the purging type and what most people think of when they hear the word bulimia. With non-purging, we don't vomit or use laxatives or diuretics. Instead we excessively exercise and/or fast. I do both of those things, but tend more towards fasting.

When I exercise, I will regularly go for two, three, or even four hours at a time, until I can no longer do anymore because I am shaking. One time I went to the point of complete exhaustion and couldn't lift myself from the floor. For me it always feels... good, actually, which is why I keep doing it. It's some kind of sick satisfaction in damaging my body. I know that it's wrong and yet I don't care. I must force myself to leave after an hour. I have now started "padding" my time by enjoying the sauna and Jacuzzi so I don't hurt myself so much.

Not quite, but I wish.
When I fast, however, that's when the wrench is thrown in. It starts off sometimes by me being late one day and then going the rest of the day without food. Of course, when I get home, I am exhausted and so go to bed. Then when I wake up again I am late. Who cares if I don't eat, I think. It's not like going hungry for a bit will kill me... and then I become angry with my body for constantly bugging me with its requests for substance. I think, why can't you wait? Why can't you take from the vast sources of energy you have stored? Why do you keep bothering me?? My anger piques and it bleeds into my interactions with others; I become short and intolerant to stupidity and irritable. I get angry with my roommates for asking me to cook dinner. I get pissed when told to eat. All I want to do is anything else but eat. I become so sick of food. There is a kind of disturbing happiness at the pang of hunger going unfed. As it were, I sit here feeling the pangs and I know that my thoughts are wrong and disordered, but I think that I am happy to feel it because it means I'm a "good girl."

After a while of not eating, something breaks my fast and then the floods happen. I binge and binge and binge, spending most of my money on food until my stomach screams both in agony and ravenous hunger. I can feel the pain of my stomach stretching to try and fit the plates upon plates but nothing quells the raging hunger. Truly and honestly, it's as if a thousand people were screaming, crying, begging to be fed and nothing you can ever give them will be enough.

 And then comes the guilt and shame. It is devastating and all consuming. It's as if someone threw me into a dark hole and it has crippled me, suffocating me. I can't breathe, I can't eat, I can't sleep. All I do is beat myself up for "losing control." How can I do that to myself? What a slob! If you just had better self control.... and so the fasting starts again.

Other times it starts because of triggering. Someone, like my doctor or a peer or TV or anything, will say something and my dark thoughts grip me. For instance, when I went to the doctor recently, I was telling her that I have this eating disorder, but then the doctor turns around and talks about how "counting calories" are sooooo important and if I just didn't eat so much I wouldn't be fat. So, I don't eat at all. Or it might be that I have so naively weighed myself and found that I have gained (a lot) of weight. Or it might be that I need new cloths and I try to go buy some but I can't fit into something I want or don't have the money for it and so I think "if only..." Sometimes it's just by touching my body, feeling my belly or my legs or my arms. It doesn't sicken me anymore, but I do still have the longings.

Many times I think, "I wish I had a healthy relationship with food and my body." It's just a very, very long road...


  1. This was painful to read as I can personally relate so much. I suffered from anorexia nervosa but in recovery my emaciated body became ravenous (as you described) - it is such an alien feeling to most of the western world. An ED is an addiction and recovery is a state of constantly telling yourself No to these impulses. I still haven't and won't ever recover - sometimes I succeed in refusing to starve or binge. Just like you, I binge and sometimes starve. I wish you the best of luck in recovery, EDs are hard to overcome but it is possible - yes there are chemical imbalances but the mind is more powerful. There is something I have been doing that is actually helping quite a bit: coffee, fruit, oatmeal for breakfast, hearty sandwich for lunch, tea and fruit as a snack, and a massive salad or soup for dinner. It's boring, it's a little light (just add more nuts or avocadoes for more cals). I'm starting to get on the schedule above and it is helping. But it's taken months. There have been setbacks and failures, but I try to work through that. However, the time invested for health is worth it! I hope that you find healing, health and freedom from your ED.

  2. This is an amazingly honest account of a disordered relationship with food and with oneself. I would encourage you to be selfish and bossy with your own life. Tell anyone who isn't helping to f**k off! Start with a new doctor! Take care of yourself, make YOU a priority. From reading your writing you are obviously brilliant. Not many can be so succinct and candid about a subject that is so close to their own soul. If you have a label, I hope that this means you have a professional in your life that you can consult with on how to live more peacefully. A support group of people who are walking a similar path might help too... or it may not. You have to give yourself time to figure it out. The person who responded before me has some good info about how ED is much like addiction. There are biochemical issues, but there are also behavioral patterns and self talk and spiritual issues that all come into play for your recovery. I would definitely get some professionals that can help you find answers about things like your biochemistry (certain minerals being too low can make a huge difference in mood, appetite, etc.) and health. I have been feeling much better since treating my stomach issue that causes hunger like pain and so really messes me up for being able to listen to my body. Thank you for your courage. chris

  3. Having diabetes, I don't really allow myself to binge any more, but occasionally it does happen. Trying to starve myself into sainthood? That happens more often than I care to admit.