symptoms of bulimia and signs of bulimia

symptoms of bulimia and signs of bulimia

 

What was it like having bulimia in college?

It wasn’t like my eating disorder came totally out of the blue. There had been the high school guidance counselor who pulled me aside and asked if everything was OK with my eating. She perhaps had seen me running around the school’s lengthy perimeter – over and over and over again. Or perhaps she noticed that I never went to lunch – something I deemed indulgent and a waste of time (also then I didn’t have to worry about there not being friends to sit with). But I was clueless at the time and told her earnestly that I was fine. Then there was the summer of standing for many long minutes in the bathroom stall after a meal that felt too big – trying to gear myself up to get rid of it.

But somehow when that first care package arrived my freshman year it seemed like a really good idea to eat the whole thing at once, and since I was so weight conscious it seemed that there was no choice but to do what I had heard other women do – go to the bathroom and get rid of it. It was a terrible experience! I was scared…this was what people called eating disorders. I promptly made an appointment at the counseling office at the school the very next day. A kind woman met with me for the requisite eight sessions. She did not understand eating disorders and looked at me with compassion and confusion. Her counsel did not help. Despite my intense fear of the behavior – I couldn’t seem to stop. I always did it reluctantly, always dreading the whole thing. But there was a lot going on at home – my parents were headed for divorce, my mom was recovering from breast cancer, and I was ill equipped to deal with my feelings. Bulimia became my tormentor and my friend at the same time.

Life in college was a pretty narrow experience for me. I was passionately dedicated to a sport that empowered me and also colluded with my eating disorder, as exercise became a large part of how I managed my binges and my weight. Looking back I gave up opportunities to join clubs, go abroad, involve myself with new activities. People I am still friends with tell me I was hard to get to know, friendly but stand off-ish. I focused on managing my sport, my shame, my secret, my weight, my anxiety, my sadness, and my loneliness. I kept thinking I would stop – but I never could. I thought people wouldn’t like me or trust me if they knew about it, and so I hid my disorder. And when I graduated – despite the million attempts to stop – I took my disorder along with it’s shame, anxiety, and depression.

To the college students who are still struggling:
Bulimia was for me a terrible way to go through life and it lasted for almost two decades. It was not a solution. I was trying so hard to feel OK and to feel pretty in my body, and I never did. I always felt like my tightly wrapped exterior was about to unravel. And it only got worse. The sense of secrecy and shame compounded over time and really altered and took away from my relationships, dreams and ambitions, and daily happiness. And from what I have seen and experienced, it is really hard to get better without outside help. If there are people out there who have done it, I haven’t met them. To a young person struggling in college today, I would say seek help. If you think bulimia is not a big deal – if you think it is something you can do casually and not have it affect your mental, emotional, physical health – you are not correct. Bulimia is not OK and you deserve to be free of it. I would say seek help and don’t stop until you get the right help. Talk to folks at your school, talk to your parents if you can. There are many resources available today, and there is a difference between help and the right help. Keep looking until you find what you need and let others assist you. You are worth it.

symptoms of bulimia and signs of bulimia

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