Wednesday, November 08, 2006
A guide to living in recovery with (or without) bulimia
This post is going to be a bit self indulgent - but isn't all blogging self-indulgent?

I’ve been living with an eating disorder for a good 18+ years now.

I would consider my recovery in its infancy – this doesn’t give me much expertise but after 5 complete months without my drugs of choice (flour in any of its forms and refined sugar), I’m getting to the point where I’m learning a little bit about how people live who have no compulsion to puke up their In N’ Out. (Though I am having nightmares about accidentally eating a sandwich.)

Here’s some of what I’ve learned so far:

1. Perhaps I am, actually, hungry. When was the last time I ate – and I don’t mean 3 grapes – if it was more than 4 hours ago, it’s possible that I actually need food – and I don’t mean 3 more grapes.

2. Perhaps I am not hungry. When was the last time I ate? If it was less than 3 hours ago and I am annoyed, bored, anxious or trying desperately to numb out some dreaded emotion, it’s possible that I’m not hungry.

3. It’s time to stop noticing public bathrooms that are soundproof and/or single occupancy.

4. Starving actually makes me cranky and unbearable to be around.

5. Binging makes me even more cranky and unbearable to be around.

6. Puking gives me a headache, makes my breath smell and my teeth rot, which makes me, if not unbearable, then definitely unpleasant to be around.

7. "They" are right, breakfast is really the most important meal of the day.

8. Just because I’m home alone does not mean that I have to throw up. I know it feels that way but actually, being home alone means that I can do things that I don’t usually do when Michael’s home – like watch CSI on the big TV or craft all over the living room.

9. Throwing up sometimes does make me feel better – however, other things may make me feel better too – like knitting or skimming the pages of Martha Stewart Living.

10. Eating a real meal is, in fact, going to impair my ability for future binging, and that’s a good thing

11. Obsessing over pictures of 16 year olds in couture in Vogue is far less satisfying as punishment for my failures/motivation than it used to be.

12. In fact, all forms of punishment are less satisfying than they used to be.

13. A sore throat might be the flu, or a cold, or a sore throat.

14. Being in traffic is not the same thing as being starving.

15. Eventually I’m going to have to go back to the dentist. Turn around, face it like someone in recovery and make the damn appointment. Then don’t cancel it.

16. Passing out due to lack of nutrition isn’t proof of my willpower it’s causing my brain to be deprived of oxygen.

17. Cut the damn size tag out and forget about it.

18. Hating what I am doesn’t actually get me any closer to changing what I am.

19. Dreaming that I ate a sandwich is not the same thing as actually eating one. Therefore, no reason to be so angry at myself when I wake up in the morning.

20. Keeping secrets stresses me out and my first impulse when I’m stressed out is…well, you know.


If you’ve never had an eating disorder – feel free to post how you eat as a normal human being.

If you’re eating disordered, please feel free to add your own tricks of the recovery trade – so to speak.

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27 Comments:

Blogger kristinwesta said...

OK, it is not the same... but my addiction and I have a lot of similarities. If I am home alone (twice a year, maybe)I still think, "wow, I could smoke!" I also continue to dream that I am smoking and freak out both during the dream and when I wake up. I still have total fear that I will be "found out" even though I have nothing left to hide. I think this is the good stuff.

Blogger Sachi said...

I was a well developed teen. Looking back on pics, I see that I looked like a lovely young woman. As a teen, I looked at the bean poles around me and wanted to look like them. I tried purging at that age. It didn't suit me.

I recently learned what it felt like to be hungry and to be full. I'd always eaten past capacity before. My family is full of big eaters. Encouraged by a friend, I ate only raw, vegan foods for 6 months (it's far more savory than it sounds). I lost 30 pounds and I learned what true hunger feels like. Hint: It's not that unpleasant growly feeling you get. I only ate when my body told me to eat. The trick was only giving it healthful foods so that I could listen to what it was trying to tell me.

When we eat poorly, the body shuts down, becoming numb against the effects of something like french fry grease. When we eat well, our bodys speak quite loudly indeed.

I learned that many people turn to raw foods to recover from eating disorders. Many succeed. Please let me know if you have an interest in learning about it. I'll give you some links and info to investigate. Eating raw doesn't mean giving up take-out. Whole Foods carries a complete line of raw food take out and supplies. :-)

Blogger Faith said...

I totally have fear that I'm going to be found out Kris. It's scary!

Blogger Sara said...

I'm so glad that you feel like you're making progress. You're a beautiful person. I hope that someday, you'll be able to see yourself as others see you: an intelligent, witty, loving, and beautiful woman.

Blogger Allison said...

When I was in my teens, I constantly starved myself to be thin, but I did manage to get over it with time and behavior modification. Here are a few things I did.

I don't read or subscribe to fashion magazines, period. Why torture myself?

If I want to eat something, I figure I may as well enjoy it or it's not worth putting in my mouth and beating myself up about it later. This doesn't work 100% of the time, but it helps.

Eliminating your personal bad/toxic foods (e.g. meat, caffeine, flour, sugar, etc.) from your diet as you have done has really helped me as well.

Eating 5-6 small meals rather than 3 large ones.

Having a large breakfast.

Weight Watchers. It doesn't work for everyone, but for me it's a godsend.

Blogger goodmamajama said...

I'm with Sara.

Overcoming bulimia has to be one of the hardest addictions...you have to eat, so the relationship is in your face ALL THE TIME.

You are courageous and honest and exceptional and incredibly normal.

I adore you.

Blogger Allison said...

Oops, I hit publish too soon.

I don't see anything that you see about yourself. I see a kind, thoughtful, funny, intelligent and beautiful woman and friend.

I know it's probably easy for me to say, but if people are going to judge you solely on appearance, they are not worth the time of day!

Blogger miss kendra said...

i don't know that i have a definable disorder, but i certainly have a strange relationship with food.

and am very proud of you for this progress, and the sharing.

and a million other things. :)

Blogger K8 said...

Talking about it is good - for me it's when I hide things that I feel most guilty and it all snowballs. Honest conversations have always been the most helpful - once you start to trust what others see about you over what you see about yourself. Friends are more perceptive than we give them credit for :) And we really are our toughest critics.

I also think what Allison said is good - it helps to identify what's torturing you and take it out of your life. It's a step towards control, and there's nothing more relieving than making a good decision.

I'm proud of you, and very glad to have met you when I first showed up at SnB.

Blogger Faith said...

Thanks for all the support everyone! I know that sharing, which was once really really scary, is now so helpful.

Also, part of that post was supposed to be funny...I hope I got a few laughs, though some dark ones.

Blogger goodmamajama said...

I got the laughs and enjoyed everyone of them.

adore you...

Blogger Gwen said...

My big thing is this... I try to remember that one mistake is just that, ONE mistake. It doesn't mean I'm a failure. It doesn't mean I'm going to gain 10 pounds overnight. And it definitely doesn't mean I should just give up now because I've already ruined everything. One cheeseburger or cookie or even one bad day, it will be okay, as long as I don't use it as an excuse to give up altogether.

I still remember so clearly freaking out at the age of six -- six! -- because I ate an apple turnover and then saw on the box that it had 400 calories. I'm trying to not be that girl anymore. It's still hard, but sharing and knowing I'm not alone does make it easier. :)

Blogger Brianne said...

When I started my 'metabolic cleanse' through a weight loss service called the "Healthy Way"
I had dreams of "cheat-eating" sandwiches every night for the first week.
Even now when I eat something "off-plan" (i.e. anything with sugar or flour, or high glycemic foods like bananas or carrots) I have to consciously stop beating myself up about it. Usually by focusing on the amazing changes I HAVE made - regardless of how perfect they are. You are most definitely not alone on this post.

Blogger Sentinel 47 said...

Faith,

I am SO moved by this post. Thank you for sharing; it inspires me to embrace my sisterhood of imperfection with other women.

I have never had an eating disorder, but I've definitely had body image issues. I have filled out to a full-bodied size ten or twelve in my adulthood (no babies, late twenties). However, I had a breast reduction when I was fourteen: small frame, 105-ish pounds, cup size D plus. I'm glad for the reduction, but my point is that I still had to come to terms with most of the issues I had before the surgery, and it's been a long road.

I applaud your steps toward recomposing personal rhetoric. I've been reading here for a couple months and I love your writing voice!! Thanks for sharing, sister. ~tg

Blogger Uccellina said...

I wish I had tricks to share. Looking back, I'm not sure how I got from starving myself and puking several times a day to where I am now, which is relatively healthy eating habits. Life stress is a big factor for me - the happier things are in general, the less I want to self-destruct.

Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I'm with Ucc - it's been a slow process (2 steps forward, 3 steps back). I think what really solved things for me was getting pregnant (I know, not always an issue). All the literature said how being bulimic was far more dangerous to the baby than being anorexic. Makes sense. So I gave it up for the 9 months. Afterward, I was too tired to puke all the time. Plus, having a wee one around limits your privacy.

Now, it is less of an issue for me. My whole concept of myself doesn't depend solely on my appearance, and I feel more in control of my life (getting out of abusive relationships helps, too).

But I still make a mental note of the public bathrooms. :) Laughed my arse off at that one!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The blog is beautiful, and I'm proud of you for being so cognizant of your issues. Me? I just eat and cry.

Blogger Faith said...

You all are so great! I love each of you!

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

If you really loved us, you would update your blog.

Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger mehitabel said...

"Mindful eating" seems to be the key to a lot of food issues. Mine are different from yours, but still have given me grief over the years. When I had kids to feed, the necessity of giving them balanced, nutritious meals and NOT passing on my food issues helped me a lot; now that they've grown up and moved out, I'm having to deal again, and it's not fun.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not plagued my an eating disorder- not to say that I don't have other issues, or that my life is perfect. But my relationship to food is healthy. I enjoy eating. Faith, reading your honest and amzing post made me stop and think about my attitude to food. I try to eat balanced meals. Have healthy snacks in my desk. Currently I have Larabars- low calorie and yummy. I choose foods that taste good. I go to the farmer's market every week and buy fresh vegetables. I have gotten to know some the the farmers that grow the food I eat. I love it. And fresh vegetables grown locally are delish!! Much more flavor than veggies from the supermarket, even if organic. I cook often, not every night. Not an elaborate meal, just something simple. I use herbs, and even look for ones I don't ususally use to change the flavor. recently I started using culinary lavender. It is wonderful with chicken!

I try to be mindful when I eat. Mindfulness in the Buddhist sense. Present in the moment.

Anyway, darling Faith, I admire you in this struggle- you are a beautiful woman!! I am so grateful for you are back in my life.

Blogger Abby Hansen said...

You knit, crochet, and have been exposed to sewing, I'm sure, so you know that size tags are bullshit.

You're smart, funny, intelligent, and talented, and I'm sorry that you continue to struggle.

As a girl who used to "fast" but doesn't anymore, I'm proud of you.

Just think for a moment about women with small children who have massive coke habits and date junkies (K.M.) and others who use cell phones as battering rams (N.C.) - and remember that being beautiful ain't always so pretty.

Blogger WhatWouldBetseyDo said...

Wow, Faith. This was such a Small World moment. Thank you for being so brutally open with this post. After getting over my own bad perfect self and the whole eating/food thing, I've decided to start hanging out with the real world. Missing the Stitch N Bitch gals (like you), I began lurking only to find this amongst my first lurk. This is why we need to just be here, for each other and not get all caught up in the whole judgmental trap. You're definitely beautiful beautiful beautiful. The weird thing is that, as I look back at my younger photos, when I thought I was gross or fat, I see how pretty I truly was - just being so nitpicky and comparison shopping in hell all those years. Now I'm enjoying a nostalgic form of narcissm and enjoying so many spotted moments of just being and not trying to be. Woah, reality's a little surreal right now. ~Hilda

Blogger Lynn said...

When I sit down to a meal, I think of how the food will nourish my body. Nutrition keeps me strong and powerful and I am giving it to myself. THAT'S control. I excercise control by choosing to properly nourish myself.

Blogger dfadf said...

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