Please note- this post might be a trigger for a lot of people, so consider this a TRIGGER WARNING. It is not my intention to upset anyone. Please do not read ahead if you find eating disorders a sensitive issue.
I think I had just turned nineteen, the first time I ‘discovered’ Bulimia.
I had started seeing someone the year before, and the honeymoon phase had melted through, as fast as a snowflake on the beach. I was suddenly under a lot of pressure to lose weight, because Le Boyfriend didn’t think his parents or his sisters would be approving of anyone who packed on the pounds. In his words, “if you weigh this much now, you’re inevitably going to put on so much more after marriage.” Which should really have been my first warning sign, but, oh to be a fool in ‘love’.
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with food. I’ve written before how much father always force fed/ force feeds me, because in his head, as long as I’m fat and bloated, I’m safe from the prying eyes of the entire male population. To the extent that if I start working out regularly or start a decent planned diet, he goes out of his way to sabotage it. I kid you not, he starts banging on the door during cardio hour for stupid things like come-and-do-your-laundry-right-now or come-and-do-the-dishes or come-and-read-the-newspaper-out-for-me. It’s really that ridiculous a situation. When that’s not happening, he’s making these ginormous smoothies with say,two bananas and an entire glass of full fat cream and mountains of sugar, or random fruit and full cream and sugar, or buckets of repulsive KFC wings, or plates and plates of steamed rice, or entire bowls full of walnuts and pecans and apricots that he expects me to eat drowned in cream. I’m getting a little nauseated just writing all these down, because I know what it feels like, having to shovel all of it down under his watchful eye. Yergh.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy good food. I like eating out, exploring new cuisines, it’s all fun but within limits. I’m obviously not a fan of eating myself into resembling a beached whale, at every meal time. That’s what was happening though. Backed into this corner of Lose Weight vs No Losing Weight, I turned to Bulimia.
It really seemed like the simplest thing at the time. I would eat as much as I had to, wait for everyone to get distracted by random things after lunch/dinner, and go throw up. Throwing up is really not that difficult, for the record. All you need to do is stick a couple of fingers down your throat to get you started, that’s all. It was so uncomplicated, really. I’d go from what I thought of as ‘Tank Full’ to ‘Tank Empty’ in less than five minutes, and could be back out to eat the pile of dessert Dad would keep ready. And of course, repeat.
I was smart about it too. Had the whole ‘scientific’ approach to throwing up so that I would do as minimal damage to my GI system as possible.For example, drink a glass of water before throwing up and it all comes out easier, without bringing up any of the stomach’s mucus lining that keeps it protected. I wanted to get thin, I didn’t want to give myself an ulcer. I even used a bit of chocolate to ‘mark’ between the healthy meal and non healthy meal. Felt like common sense back then.
But it doesn’t work like that. It’s never that simple.
It worked fine for a few months. I dropped three dress sizes and my boyfriend though I looked good enough to point me out to his sisters. Their reaction was, “Are you kidding? That short, fat, dark girl?”. Which got him upset, so he came and told me all about it. That upped the ante, so I started throwing up more frequently, going from just after meals to after I ate anything at all. In fact, some times I would drink half a bottle of water on an freshly emptied stomach and throw it up again, to ‘rinse’ everything out. And I was still being smart, in my head. Drinking electrolyte solution from time to time to make sure my serum electrolytes didn’t go out of whack. My mum found it odd that I was getting my electrolytes checked out every other month or so, but the results were normal, so she didn’t think much of it.
That was still in the first year. I was down five dress sizes, looking thinner every day, garnering compliments from all around. My dad couldn’t figure out what the heck was happening. He thought it was my busy schedule and all the running around that was making me lose weight, so he started piling on the food. I started throwing it up even more often. to the point where I started spending half my time at home either in the bathroom or hunched over the kitchen sink if no one was around. Getting it all out, rinsing it all out. I was vaguely dizzy half the time, from the sustained low blood sugar from eating barely anything (I was still drinking plenty of water, I didn’t want my kidneys shutting down lol). But for the rest part,well.. I had fine tremors in my hands. I blacked out for the first time in my life. I was exhausted constantly, running on black coffee that blessedly has no calories. I didn’t care about any of it, I was thin. My boyfriend was even hopeful that his parents might not have a problem with me after all. I was gloriously thin. And then the arrhythmia started.
I started having these attacks where my heart rate would speed up, to an insanely rapid gallop. My throat would close, I would cough uncontrollably, trying to breathe, My pulse would be between 140-180, twice the normal rate. I would just sit or lie down wherever I was, and wait for the attack to pass. It often felt as though my heart would simply burst, like a feeling of constriction in my chest, and my ribs feeling like iron bands around it. All my veins would be popping out, you could always see each of them throb, visibly so in my neck and my throat. The wave would slowly recede, leaving me exhausted, barely able to get off the bed. My heart had just sprinted a couple of miles, even if the rest of me hadn’t. Just for a few painful minutes, though. Nothing I couldn’t handle. It only happened once in a week or so. I could take it. Till it started happening every day. Sometimes, more than once in a day. Even my mostly-oblivious-to-everything-wrong-with-me parents had started to notice that I was having a problem. My dad was inclined to dismiss it as attention seeking behavior (drama, to use his words), but even he couldn’t deny the fact that something was wrong with me, when he could see it. They took me to a couple of doctors, and then forgot about it. I didn’t though. I was waking up.
It had finally dawned upon me that no one was worth putting myself to such extremes for. Especially when the ‘someone’ I was doing it all for, had started harping about other things wrong with me. I’d stopped writing, to appease him. I’d stopped going out with the girls, talking to any of my online friends, talking to most of my real life friends. I’d basically stopped going out at all, so as to stay out of the sun. I wore a hoodie all day to minimize sun exposure, even. All through the summer too. Through his eyes, I suppose, everything was wrong with me. Everything about me needed to be changed. Well, he was fixing them, and I was getting tired of being fixed. I have no freaking idea why I was so obtuse, so blind to the fact that I was wasting my time, wasting myself for this person. But I’d started to see it, and once you start opening your eyes to the truth, there’s no going back to the illusion.
I stopped throwing up, that year. I stopped cutting myself because of him. I stopped doing everything I was being pressured into doing. I never got professional help of any sort. I doubt my parents would’ve gotten me any help even if I asked them for it anyway, so I figured it out myself. It took me almost two years to figure out the rest of it, but I did. No one who doesn’t love you for who you are, should be allowed inside your head. So I locked all the worthless people out.
The road to being thin is just a finger away, but I’m not taking that way anymore. I’m much happier taking the long, meandering road, with healthy food and minor accomplishments that I have to earn. The one with portion sizes and pound by pound weight loss that doesn’t even show yet, but that’s okay, I know it’s there. I’m much happier, period.
I’m still figuring things out, but that’s okay too. I’m doing it for myself. No one’s allowed to bully me anymore, yeah.
Hugs and cuddles (and supersize ‘em!)