I don’t know how to begin this so you’ll just have to bear with me while I write through my blocks. And I’ll warn you now, this will be long. Very long. I’ll probably be breaking it up into parts, so grab a coffee or a wine - whatever you want to drink for whatever time of day it is you’re reading this - and get comfy. Also, you should know I’ve had therapy for all I’m about to write about and I’m okay with doing this. It took a long time to get to this place, but I’m here.
And in case I don’t get to it tonight, one of the biggest heroes in this story is my husband.
So what say you? In the words of Pink, let's get this party started...
I’m 5’ 3” and 130 pounds.
Take about 40 pounds off my frame and that’s where I was during the height of my eating disorder.
From the time I was 16 until I was 28, I was bulimic and anorexic, alternating between the two. For twelve years, I obsessed about food. What I ate, what I didn’t eat, would someone notice I wasn’t eating, calorie counts, where I could throw up, what I couldn’t throw up, where to throw up, what was easiest to throw up, how far away the nearest bathroom was, would people hear. During the darkest point, I also worried about the heart problem I had developed, how long I could keep lying to the specialists before they realized I was a liar, and dying. I worried about dying. Because when you’re having 800 irregular heartbeats in an hour, it’s hard not to think about it. And there were the panic attacks too.
But first and foremost, above everything else, I worried about my weight.
Even after the night an ambulance was called because I had taken too many diuretics and passed out. I refused their help, signed a release and passed out two other times after that.
I got up the next morning and was excited. I had lost two pounds and broken the three digit mark again.
If you’re addicted to alcohol or drugs, you stay away from them. Complete abstinence your only recourse, one exposure leading you down the path to addiction once again. But what if your drug of choice is food? What if you use food to stuff down your feelings then vomit them into a toilet with a faucet running so nobody will hear, hiding your hands in your shirt sleeves because you’ve scarred your knuckles from jamming your fingers so far down your throat?
You can’t simply walk away from your addiction then, can you?
I was sixteen when I first made myself throw up. I was also in my first relationship - he was abusive. He called me stupid. He called me ugly. He called me fat.
If he broke up with me, nobody would ever want me.
I believed him.
So one night I ate dinner, walked to the bathroom, shut the door and made myself throw up. I didn’t want to be fat and I could vomit. The simplicity of it was intoxicating.
After that it became a daily habit. My bulimia may have started out as weight management but it stayed for other reasons. You can talk to 100 different people as to why they have an eating disorder and you’ll receive 100 difference responses – I would speculate underneath it all, none of them have to do with weight.
It was such a confusing part of my life. Eventually after a few false break ups, one of them finally took and I was rid of my boyfriend but by that time I was already on a downward spiral. Along with the eating disorder, I got into drugs and alcohol, my parents split up, I dropped out of school, ran away from home, then got kicked out of the house. I got mixed up with the wrong people and was eventually arrested. The RCMP officer who arrested me quite literally changed my life. At first my parents didn’t want me back, but they finally relented (in their defence I wouldn’t have wanted me back either) and lastly, there was a stint in rehab.
Before you go and leave comments about OMG and Poor you....don’t. I brought all that shit on myself and put my family through hell while doing it. Fucked-upedness has serious consequences for those who love you and if I have one regret, it's how my behaviour hurt my family.
During all of this, my eating disorder took a back seat to the drugs and alcohol. I suppose when you’re trying to stuff your feelings to a place where you can’t feel them, it doesn’t matter the vessel you choose, only the end results.
When I returned home after my arrest, I was 132 pounds. The drinking and eating junk food had caught up with me and I had developed stretch marks on my thighs.
Bulimia became a regular part of my life again. But this time so did restricting my calorie intake. I would always eat breakfast but there would be no lunch and dinner would be eaten then thrown up. Sometimes after my dinner vomiting my hands would shake so badly I couldn’t control them so I’d sit on them while watching t.v with my mom.
She never knew.
Bulimia’s a funny thing. Your best friend could be bulimic and you would never know. Nobody in my life did because you don’t necessarily drop a dramatic amount of weight. And bulimics are very good at hiding what they’re doing. It wasn’t until I started restricting my calories that my weight began to plummet. When I was 23, I had hit the 103 pound mark and ran into a high school friend. During the conversation he told me I was too skinny.
I felt proud and also that he was so very wrong.
His comment made me want to be smaller.
I didn't always restrict my food, there were times I binged as well – a quarter pounder with cheese, large fries and a diet coke could be eaten and vomited in 20 minutes. Some days I would binge and purge four or five times, each time leaving me shaking. Over time, I developed strategies to control the shaking. Never underestimate the mindset of a bulimic who doesn't want to get caught.
At this point there was no rhyme or reason to my calorie restrictions and/or binging or maybe there was and I just never saw it.
It was when I moved to Toronto that I it spiralled out of control and my health problems started.
And that's kind of all I can write tonight. Bear with me.