Bulimia Unveiled: My Personal Mistake

March 17, 2009
By
Actors are not the only people susceptible to attaining an eating disorder. It happens every day, with millions of silent sufferers who deal with stress from the increasing pressure of society to become thin. Nowadays, it seems the most convenient way to achieve this portrayal of beauty is through harmful, emotionally destroying eating disorders which are becoming more common in the present day. Bulimia is one behavior that needs to be confronted and exposed to the public about the causes of this disease and how it can be prevented.

Not everyone has the same reason to encounter this threatening lifestyle choice; however once the cycle begins, the end does not seem a likely possibility. The smallest emotion can trigger this response including low self esteem, any type of criticism, or just the need to fit into the increasingly thin society. One is not always obese when toeing the line of bulimia; a self-deprecating image is the starting point, and it all depends on when the trigger is pulled until the real race begins.

For me, it all began freshman year at a swim team banquet during a slide show when a picture of me in a swim suit was displayed. It seemed as if time was even shocked by the horrifying picture and could not even progress until it felt I had suffered from the embarrassment of my body. That was the first time I had felt hostility toward what I consider now to be my temple. It was also the first time I lost control over my body.

At first, my routine was to exercise as much as I could and eat hardly anything. As a competitive swimmer however, I was always excruciatingly hungry, therefore I created a solution. This plan involved manipulating my body into the belief that I was nourishing it, and then I would deceive it by purging it all away. Food was the enemy, and there was hardly a time that I did not want to get rid of it after it entered my stomach. I had been educated about this in health class freshman year, where I learned about the fatalities and effects of the disorder, but there was no way it would control me. The mentality of bulimia hit me too late; I was already in way too deep.

Summer had sprung and I was prepared to concentrate on swimming and conditioning camp I planned to take in order to exercise and lose weight the healthy way. All I had to do was eat less and exercise more; easier said than done. My favorite thing in the world to eat was anything deemed unhealthy, and my nickname in fifth grade was “the Junk Food Queen”. I had a hard time dealing with my sweet tooth and lost many battles to it. I had no problem eating unhealthy foods, because of the enormous amount of calories I was burning each workout; however my weight had a huge problem with it. That is when I resorted to a small amount of binging and purging. Just for a while I told myself, just to compensate for my sweet tooth, no big deal. This was until the numbers on the scale started going down, and for the first time I started feeling happy, which ended up only urging me on more. I started to toy with the possibilities on how I could eat my junk food and still lose weight. The small amount I was binging soon jumped to a large amount so I could purge it easier. Toward the end of the summer, I had perfected my routine of eating hardly anything besides fruit or water during the day. The real action started at night, and I thrived on eating as much as I could, the junkiest things I could find, just to end up flushing it all away. I even felt proud of myself in a twisted way, that I had found my own way of dealing with my weight successfully. Never did I think of the long term effects bulimia would have on my body, my mind and even my friends.

The start of my sophomore year brought on many stresses, such as keeping my straight A average and concentrating on swimming. Mostly I was worried about living in the shadow of the senior football captain, homecoming prince, four sport letterman, future prom king, published and accomplished person who I love to call my brother; however it is impossible trying to fill his large shoes. How was I to compete with that? Having the most popular person in the school as my brother may have some advantages, but in no way did it improve my confidence as the little sister. Though I do not blame him in any way for my choices, I was still the shy sibling of a luminescent shining star, therefore to show how incompetent I was, I made myself suffer.

People were already noticing a difference of my new appearance and the complements only encouraged my habit. Every time I lost a pound or two, I was so proud of myself, even though in a way I knew that I had not earned my successes. I was a people pleaser, and all I wanted was attention, to be able to stand next to my brother and feel as worthy. By homecoming I had finally achieved my goal weight after losing twenty pounds and I felt great, but I did not come this far to gain all the weight back; my battle continued. It became more serious when my friends started to notice a change in my behavior and eating patterns, yet no one confronted me. In practice I became weak, tired and insufficient as I could hardly make it through a workout without feeling faint and practically passing out on the pool deck. The girls on the team noticed how passive and secretive I had become about everything, especially food. I never ate in front of them and survived off of crystal light, fruit and protein bars. Somehow I thought that being thin would make people like me, however bulimia brought on an unfriendly nature that I was unable to see, which made me even more depressed. It came to the point where binging and purging were the only things that made me happy, and unfortunately the endless cycle controlled me throughout my sophomore year. Little did I know that my secret was not so secret, and the attention I was searching for had finally arrived.

I had friends on the swim team, but I continuously felt left out of the team gatherings. They did not seem to care about me, so I tried to stay out of their way as well. Looking back, I now realize that help was there any time I needed it. My brain made me think that no one liked me when in actuality, I was the one shutting them out. Sometimes I overheard them talking about their concern for me and my strange new behavior, but this only made me more defensive. Facing a problem is very difficult, and the first step is to admit it. Overcoming something this serious takes more than googling bulimic advice, I needed to tell someone. It is difficult enough to face the battle alone, but with someone there to support me I slowly began the process of recovery.

I realized that I needed help after one scary episode in my bathroom where I almost swallowed my toothbrush, after using it as my purging tool. This moment was the deciding factor to finally approach someone; I uplifted the weight I had been bearing upon my shoulders for the entire year and told my best friend everything. I was secretly hoping that the confidential information I had revealed to her would remain between us exclusively, but it had affected her almost as much it had me. Sooner or later I knew my parents would find out; however I would rather have had the option of choosing the right occasion instead of arriving home to a confrontation. In actuality, I was relieved when my friend reached out to my parents, for it would have taken me a lot longer to tell them. It is hardest to tell the people I care for the most, in order to spare them how much their child had been silently suffering before them. Embarrassment pulsed through my veins as I unveiled to my parents the secret I had kept that year; tears clouded my eyes as they lovingly supported everything I told them, even though my dad had never heard of the disease. The truth was out and I was willing to start down the path of recovery once and for all.

The past can not forgive, nor forget; therefore one must bring the past in order to build from it. My struggle through this wretched disease seemed almost endless, and I could not have made it through alone. The help of others is more vital than one can imagine, for it is easier to make it through a difficult time if there is someone there for support along the way. Even when I felt alone through the toughest time of my adolescent life, my family and friends never left my side. Bulimia is just one of the many things teens deal with through adolescence, and through my experience it was never worth the pain or pressure I put on myself. A person should not waste precious moments that life grants to worry about silly numbers on a scale. It’s just life, live it.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Volleygirl25 said...
Oct. 4, 2009 at 11:21 am
Wow. This is a very inspiring story. It is long, but it kept me hooked thrue the whole thing. I can very much relate to your story. I hope you stay better
 
Arwen said...
Sept. 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm
Sometimes it's so hard to live life because you're focused on the things you think make life important. Thank you so much for writing this, because it's a problem I still struggle with every day.
 
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