My Struggle with Bulimia | Teen Ink

My Struggle with Bulimia MAG

By Anonymous

Being supervised by my 13-year-old sister is weird. It’s even weirder that she’s watching me go to the bathroom. Well, okay, she’s actually just waiting outside the stall. But I knew she would follow me, I knew she would wash her hands, and I knew she would linger. When I open the door, she’s just standing there casually. “What are you doing?” I ask, even though I know.

“Just waiting for you.”

“Oh, okay.” And I’m not supposed to be mad, even though the situation is awkward and I can’t get any privacy when I’m using the bathroom. Of course, this only happens when I go after lunch.

Rewind to late May: I’m so near death that I can brush it with my eyelashes. My boyfriend, Jon, and I are competing to lose weight and I can’t shake off his saying, “It’s okay if you don’t lose as much weight as me, Lindsay. After all, I’m a guy.” I don’t like losing anything except weight, 20 pounds of which disappears in a month and a half. But 10 pounds is all it took for me to forget about beating Jon and winning the $200 bet.

Hey, I look good; I look damn good. I should keep this up. I’m convinced, though, that it isn’t enough to just keep exercising and scraping by on water, hard-boiled egg whites, and salad (which is actually just lettuce and tomatoes – no dressing, croutons, or even corn because of the carbs). If I want to be tinier with every glance in the mirror, I’ll need a better strategy. So I become a double-barreled bulimic; I’m the purging type and the non-purging type. Purging is just a nicer way of saying “self-induced vomiting.” It isn’t pleasant but people are convinced that I eat. Non-purging, also called exercise bulimia, is when I sweat off what little I’ve eaten and more. One website calls it “secretly vomiting,” but I think of it as added insurance.

I recommend bulimia for anyone self-deluded enough to ignore feeling terrible all the time: “This bottle of aspirin must be full of placebos because my headaches won’t go away. The doctor is insane; I’m not running too much, and my knee and hip pains can’t be early signs of arthritis. My esophagus isn’t corroded. My voice isn’t raspy. I can keep getting away with this. It’ll be worth it. I feel fine. I’m not bulimic.”

Then I’m wailing my confession to Jon about having bulimia and how much work it is to hide and how scared I am about not getting my period this month, and I hate myself for developing bulimia in the first place, and I’m sorry but I need to back out of our competition. He says that’s fine. We’ll fix it together. Plus, he misses pizza.

For the next month, I eat only with Jon so he can be sure I relearn to eat healthfully. At first I feel like a criminal exercising only once a day and eating food I can taste, but my complaints are short-lived.

It’s the end of July and I’m driving with my friend Kelli. She knows I helped stuff that guy’s mailbox with defective donuts from the Krispy Kreme dumpster. I’m the only person she told when she backed into a car. Secrets are only fun if you have a best friend to share them with.

There’s a lull in the conversation before she says, “You never told me who won that thing between you and Jon.”

The saltiness of my fingertips floods my tongue and tickles my throat. “I called it off.”

“Really? Why?”

Lie, don’t lie, lie, don’t lie, lie, don’t lie, lie, don’t lie, don’t lie. Why would you lie to your best friend? “Because I became bulimic.”

“Oh, Lindsay.” She turns her head from the road and looks at me. I’ve never heard Kelli say my name in that disappointed tone before.

“I’m okay now. Really. Jon and I worked through it and I’m fine.”

“Do you mean that?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. I believe you.” Good. There are times when you should be honest. This wasn’t one of them.

Kelli comes by the next afternoon. She starts sobbing when she sees me. She says that she cried all day yesterday while researching bulimia and calling eating disorder hotlines. She doesn’t understand why I have a negative body image. She insists that I don’t need to lose weight. She is scared for me.

Didn’t I tell her that I was fine? Why didn’t she believe me?

“Lindsay, you have to tell your parents.”

WHAT? “What? Why?! It isn’t a problem anymore. I don’t want them to worry over something that’s in the past.”

“I know, but they need to know.”

“No. No, they don’t, actually.”

“Lindsay, if you don’t tell them, I will. If something happens to you and they find out I knew, I won’t be able to live with that.” Since when is this about you, Kelli? “I’ll give you time to tell them. If you don’t do it within that time frame, I’ll tell them. But, I’ll warn you before I do it.”

You’ll warn me? Are you trying to strike a deal with me? I knew I should have lied.

“I’m doing this for your own good, Lindsay. You’re my best friend and I care about you.” I don’t feel myself hug her back. If you really cared, you’d let it go.

Kelli never brings up the subject again. I forget about this incident and figure she has too. The “your time is up so I’m telling on you” ultimatum disintegrates into an empty threat. I go back to school in September and don’t come home until October ends. I lost a few pounds by eating healthier and my family is happy for me. On the way to the airport, my dad says, “You look great, honey, really, you do. This probably isn’t the best time to bring it up … but you didn’t lose weight by being bulimic, did you?”

Oh my God. “She TOLD you?!”

“Lindsay, don’t be mad. She was really scared to tell.”

I’m not mad at Kelli, I’m furious. “When?”

“Right before you guys left for school. She called and said she had something important to tell us. Your mom and I went to her house. She was sitting in the living room with her parents and crying because she wasn’t sure if she was doing the right thing. She didn’t want to lose your friendship.”

I’m thankful when they let me walk through security with sunglasses on. I’m not looking forward to Thanksgiving anymore.

*
*
*


My parents have argued in the garage for years because they don’t think my sister and I can hear them in there. They forget that my bedroom is directly above the garage.

“It’s your fault Lindsay turned bulimic! You always pushed her too hard! It didn’t matter if she was valedictorian or tennis team captain or a concert pianist, she was never good enough for you.” “At least I wasn’t babying her all the time! I just wanted my daughter to grow up strong. It was your coddling that made her cave in like that!”

*
*
*


Even though I’m finished with bulimia, it isn’t finished with me. A common side effect is gastroesophageal reflux, where my gag reflex fires involuntarily and my stomach contents come up. This looks incredibly suspicious to people who know I have a history with bulimia.

I’m looking at Christmas ornaments with my dad and sister a few days later. I can’t decide if this one is a gingerbread man or a really tan starfish when my stomach tightens. This is the worst, because my stomach is empty of anything except acid. I imagine this is what it would be like to iron the inside of my throat with a pair of flaming soccer cleats.

I’m bent over like I’m trying to cough my throat out onto the floor (which I wouldn’t have minded) as the scorching gets worse. I’m pretty sure everyone in the store is staring so I scramble outside. I’m trying to calm down by taking deep breaths but the frozen air ironically makes the burning worse, so I attempt to casually stroll into a nearby restaurant and ask in a horribly raw voice for a glass of water. The girl smiles because she thinks I’m a chain smoker and fills a cup and I thank her while trying to control myself because I’d gladly drink all 32 ounces in one gulp. My throat cools but is still itchy.

My dad and sister are asking what happened and I say I coughed up acid, so we get ice cream to neutralize it. I claw maniacally at a frozen cylinder of Phish Food with a flimsy plastic spork the whole way home, where I finally microwave the block into submission. I’m halfway done when my stomach protests the unexpected influx of food by sending the ice cream back up (at least it doesn’t burn) and I’m running again, this time to the nearest toilet.

Winter break becomes a laborious game of avoiding anything that could make me look like I’m still bulimic. I don’t eat too much because I’ll vomit. I don’t eat too little because I’ll seem anorexic. I’m afraid of soda because burping can trigger refluxes. I snack on Tums between meals. My workouts are light so I won’t lose weight. You’d think even if my parents didn’t know I used to be bulimic, they would still be suspicious.

Kelli and I exchange Christmas gifts one night. I haven’t told her I know she snitched on me, but she probably has figured it out since I’ve barely spoken to her for the past two months. As she turns to leave, she asks, “Are we okay?”

No. “Yeah.” I want to tell her I’ve lost my parents’ trust, that she’s lost mine. That I will never believe anything she says again.

*
*
*


I’m more frustrated than grateful that everyone is too concerned to trust me. I ask my dad why no one believes me when I say I’m not bulimic. He says they do – they’re just making sure I’m okay. So no one believes me.



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This article has 186 comments.


on Apr. 20 2010 at 7:44 pm
LostAngel DIAMOND, Jersey, New Jersey
65 articles 0 photos 89 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Just live your life, if people don't like the way you are doing it then they can get out of it" "if you can't stand me at my worst you dont deserve me at my best"

Great yet sad story. Thank you so much for sharing your story :)

liger211 said...
on Apr. 20 2010 at 6:04 pm
i used to cut myself, and i wish someone would have told an adult for me. i believe you did the right thing! and i know someday she will forgive you. and thank you for caring enough to tell someone for help=)

ClaireMarie said...
on Apr. 20 2010 at 5:55 pm
I've been thinking lately about becoming bulimic. I'm scared slightly about it. Even after reading this I'm slightly partial. I hate the way I look. I always complain about it. But I was in Bible class today, and my teacher was saying that when we criticize our bodies, we criticize God's beautiful and perfect creation. Oh, I believe you.

on Apr. 20 2010 at 4:19 pm
my friend was... a cutter. and i told on her. she will never forgive me. but i thought i was doing somthing benificial for her sake. but it wasnt. she got worse. and i still blame my self for it. it will get better i hope, with time. but for now all i can do is help her anyway. its an aweful thing. and i know it first hand. all u can hope for is time, and that the time will heal every little cut.

on Apr. 20 2010 at 4:00 pm
not all people will turn bulimic if they think they are fat. although she might think she is fat... help her self confidence buy reminding her every day that she is beautiful every day and that she doesnt need to do that to her self to believe that she is. It is a very scary thing and if you REAlLY believe she will hurt her self in ANY way. TELL some one. a parent. a teacher. another friend. SOMEONE. 

Emmy13329 GOLD said...
on Apr. 20 2010 at 3:40 pm
Emmy13329 GOLD, Middletown, Delaware
10 articles 0 photos 26 comments
I love your article but you really scared me because my friend is really thin and stuff and she thinks she's fat and she might turn bulimic,I"M REALLY SCARED :(

on Apr. 16 2010 at 8:47 pm
SerenityMine BRONZE, Not Saying, California
2 articles 0 photos 156 comments
I really like this article.  It's so well written.  Thanks for writing it! :)

on Apr. 16 2010 at 8:46 pm
SerenityMine BRONZE, Not Saying, California
2 articles 0 photos 156 comments
It's not selfish.  It could save a life.  I'm not trying to judge, sorry if it sounded like it!! :)  

hot57 BRONZE said...
on Apr. 15 2010 at 10:11 am
hot57 BRONZE, Eddy, Texas
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
tis not the cards you're dealt but how you play them

well i feel bad that tha thappened to you

on Mar. 31 2010 at 11:07 pm
horsie_luver SILVER, Tigard, Oregon
5 articles 1 photo 56 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I cannot live without books."-Thomas Jefferson

That is such an amazing piece. I feel for you. I hope that never happens to anyone who reads this article.

BoingBoing33 said...
on Mar. 31 2010 at 1:37 pm
BoingBoing33, Bushnell, Nebraska
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
When you become an old woman, you don't want to regret all the things you didn't do, you want to celebrate what you did.

Wow.

This is dang real life! There are so many out there who actually feel this way, and it's so awful. Sometimes I am even afraid that I will get it one day, because I really want to become a model, but sometimes see myself with something extra on the sides. Your story is so well written, and everybody should read it. I am really sorry, and I hope that everything will be better for you!


on Mar. 23 2010 at 10:15 pm
um.. she was done with her problem, her and her boyfriend worked it out together. you get over the uncontroling vomiting, i have experienced this problem that she had. but sence it was all over with, totally worked out and gone her friend goes and tell anyway?? she should of respected her friends word because now know one trusts her to even go to the bathroom, now how would that make you feel when you knew you wernt sick anymore?

on Mar. 20 2010 at 8:12 am
LihuaEmily SILVER, North Kingstown, Rhode Island
7 articles 3 photos 196 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It is said that there's no such thing as a free lunch. But the universe is the ultimate free lunch." -Alan Guth

A strong piece - it's torture, isn't it? I hope things get better for you, because it's absolutely horrible to go through this.

on Mar. 9 2010 at 8:23 pm
polyprincess16 SILVER, Tracy, California
7 articles 0 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

i can relate with Kelli, bc my friend used to be bulimic, and i was so scared for her. i think its hard for both parties bc you don't know what to do or how to really and truely help.

Carriemcdoog said...
on Mar. 9 2010 at 7:57 pm
Carriemcdoog, Oshawa, Other
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
I pitty the fool

This piece is AH-MAH-ZING!!!! You need to publish this! OMG!!!

on Mar. 9 2010 at 7:28 pm
musiclover114 SILVER, Woodstock, Georgia
7 articles 0 photos 82 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

born an original, why die a copy?

omg my ex-bestfriend came to me last year and said she was bulemic and she was scared abd wanted help.i told my mom (shes a nurse) and we went to the counselor about it,they got her help and within a couple of months she was much much better.im glad ur better and i know how Kelli felt.i also respect u for submitting this piece that probably took alot.God bless you.

on Mar. 9 2010 at 6:40 pm
absentmindedwriter BRONZE, Chicago, Illinois
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Know thyself; the unexamined life is not worth living. (Socrates)

It's really amazing of you to share your story with the world...a family member was recently diagnosed with anorexia, and no one knows what it's like to see someone go through that. I really respect you. :)

on Mar. 9 2010 at 11:22 am
jules16 PLATINUM, Fredericksburg, Virginia
32 articles 5 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
" if your living, but do not act as one should when they are alive, then you are simply dead inside, and filling in empty space. So take risks, be reckless, the world will scorn you anyways so why not it be by your own causing "

this is really good. I have struggled with the same things and i know how it feels. My bestfriend knows not to tell anyone, because you should be able to admit things like that on your own terms. Im sure she was just trying to help, but that seems selfish.

Stay healthy.

on Mar. 7 2010 at 8:27 pm
TryingToB BRONZE, Chicago, Illinois
3 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
\"He pokes your ribs and says your thin beyond repair. You poke yourself in the ribs-all you feel is fat.\"

This story is inspiring. I understand how you feel when you say no one believes that you are not what they think you are. :) It's going to be okay.

on Feb. 15 2010 at 5:25 pm
adristar96 SILVER, Miami, Florida
9 articles 4 photos 77 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is like a box of chocolate, You'll never know what your gonna get. :) Forest Gump

this is a very inspiring story. I also believe that your friend shouldn't be penalized for what she did. I believe you when you say your not bulimic anymore and your a great writer. good luck!!