Introspection

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The smell of wood and bug spray permeated my nose. Hot tears were spilling down my cold cheeks, bringing out the contrast in temperature, and ending with a salty tingle on my tongue. My mouth seemed to move of its own accord, nothing to stop the words from spilling out, not even me. But none of these sensations were as vivid as the words “I think I’m bulimic,” which, though whispered, seemed to sound like the clash of cymbals at the end of chaotic symphony as they cascaded from my lips. But the words had been spoken, and I knew there was no turning back.

Growing up all my life in one town, I had the privilege of maintaining friendships with those I met as a toddler, four of my friends in particular. Growing up together, they became like my sisters, and, like sisters, their disappointments could be harsh. All the TV shows and diet commercials swirling around our lives like an eagle hovering before the kill was something my friends eschewed, often believing that caring for being thin meant caring about what others thought. Though this was not the case for me, their words cut through me and I began to purge secretly after gaining nearly ten pounds my sophomore year in high school. By the summer after sophomore year, I knew my condition had gotten out of control, and I could not go back on my own.

As cliché as the whole “my parents don’t understand me” routine teenagers take to their lives is, for me, this truly was the case due to the fact that I had a language barrier with my parents. Coming clean to them about bulimia would just cause confusion in translations and an overwhelming amount of excess emotions dealing with those frustrations that I would not be able to handle in my unstable state. Telling my older sister, who does everything right and never does so much as misplacing car keys, would have burst open a whole other category of disappointment and sadness that would also make my recovery close to impossible, even if she would support me all the way through. One of my friends that I have known for over fifteen years could think with a clear head in times of crises, dealing with the facts more than the emotions. She would be my port in the storm.
On the last night of summer camp, I took her aside while the rest of the campers went to the campfire and I told her the truth, the truth about the lies. Just like I predicted, she was disappointed but dove right into a way to help me pull myself together. She made me promise that I would stay strong and never revert back to my old habits. Although the promise seemed simple enough, I still struggled to not put myself in a situation where I wanted to purge. Even when I had not eaten, temptation spread through my mind and body like poison. On several occasions, I even ended up sitting on the floor of the bathroom, sitting on my hands, a battle forming and intensifying in my head, only to end with a stalemate and tears instead of bloodshed. However, my promise never became a casualty but a veteran with the occasional limp of indigestion. Today, although the struggle of accepting my body shape is still there, I no longer have urges to act on my bulimic impulses. I eat mostly healthy food in moderate amounts to avoid any more temptations, and, if I do get the slightest inkling of bulimia, I exercise to clear my head.
Undeniably, overcoming bulimia was a major part in my life, but the actual hurdle was dealing with situations where I felt trapped. Though I never felt that accepting help was a weakness, I always felt that asking for help goes along with causing inconvenience or unnecessary stress to others. I finally jumped over the hurdle upon realizing that asking for help for my weakness was actually strength. Now, I recognize when I am overwhelmed before my cry for help can turn destructive, and I am more comfortable asking people I know and love to help me instead of shutting them out and ignoring my own needs. Due to this turning point in my life, I believe that no one should feel as I did, the loneliness, helplessness, and low self-esteem. Everyone needs someone to talk to, to lean on, to comfort. Becoming a psychiatrist would be my way of making sure at least one more person has someone else to talk to, to lean on, and to find comfort in for whatever reason when they feel they have no where else to turn.





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