I was not a thin child. This led me to grow into a not-thin teenager. I tried fad diets, I tried healthy diets, I tried exercising, prayer, and dietetic counseling, but my weight yo-yoed at best. Try as I might, junk food always proved too tempting. I began purging when I was thirteen years old. I didn’t know what eating disorders were, but I did know that if you stuck your finger down your throat, it’d make the food come back up and if you didn’t digest it, you wouldn’t get fat. It felt terrible and I vowed never to do something like that again, but little did I know just how attractive purging would become to me.
At first it, was occasional. But once I’d reached high school, my vomiting had developed into a regular habit. I became a cheerleader. Our coach would encourage us to forgo eating the night before a game. This, above all else, made me push myself to throw up more and more. Health class gave me a name for it: bulimia. I wore the label proudly.
Soon enough, I was searching the internet for like-minded individuals. I found forums and chatrooms with tips on how to hide my disorder from loved ones (“Throw up with the shower running!” “Always keep mints and perfume handy!”) I followed the advice and it wasn’t until my puking caused a blood vessel in my eye to burst that my parents realized what was going on. I wish I could say that this ended it, but at this point, I was addicted. They sent me to a hospital, but I lied my way out of further counseling. Weight loss was no longer my goal. Throwing up had become the solution to any negative emotion or experience and not only did I relish the sick relief vomiting gave me, but I began to enjoy the actual feeling of food coming back up. It only became easier to practice my disease once I went off to college. By then I was avoiding dentists and scabs had formed on my pointer finger. I was constantly irritable, pale, and slept poorly. Still, like any addict, I used any means possible to justify my disorder.
Does this story have a happy ending? I like to think it does. There was no great epiphany, no grand savior. I simply realized that I deserved better. I was intelligent, talented, and beautiful and I was letting myself vomit my life away. Little by little, I learned how to be healthy (I watch everything I put into my body and exercise regularly) and to love myself. I’ve sought counseling for my disorder and to this day, I cannot thank my doctor enough for helping me overcome it. If you are like I used to be, please do the same. It’s not worth the internal damage. I still feel a vague urge to vomit whenever things go badly, but I am a stronger person now. The only thing I needed to purge was the feelings that led me to hurt myself in the first place.