As had become my custom, I had just thrown up into a plastic bag. That’s the problem with flat sharing, you can’t disappear into the bathroom after every meal and claim you’re having a bath, using the thundering of the taps to hide the sound of your retching – People get suspicious and/or irritated that you’re using all of their hot water.
I don’t know who writes television programmes, but I can tell you they have never suffered from bulimia. On TV people throw up and emerge from the experience pristine and perfectly made up. Well, I’d been bulimic for nearly ten years and I’d never mastered that particular art.
Mascara cascaded down my cheeks, my nose and eyes streamed and sweat glistened on my forehead as I lay next to my bag of vomit, trying not to hyperventilate and to slow the frantic beating of my heart. This was the same thing I’d done every single night for a decade – Ram my protesting body full of every food I could lay my hands on and then force myself to vomit until I was dry retching and my vision went blurry. Every waking thought concerned how I’d orchestrate my next binge and how I could purge it without the people around me finding out.
The irony was that of course my friends and family knew. They might not have known I was bulimic, specifically (unlike anorexia, the signs aren’t immediately obvious unless you know what you are looking for), but they certainly knew something was “up”. I was maniacally happy one minute and withdrawn and tearful the next. My behaviour was erratic and unpredictable and I said things I didn’t mean to the people I cared about most. I’d lost some of my dearest friends and frightened the ones that chose to stick by me.
At work, I’d often fall asleep at my desk, exhausted with the momentous amounts of effort it required to maintain this miserable, monotonous cycle. I was in debt. All my cash spent on food – Literally “money down the toilet”.
I’d become a recluse – bulimia was my obsession, my hobby, my only constant companion and I’d accepted it as my identity. I’d sacrificed my career, my potential, my social life, my looks, my personality and ten years of my life to it and now here I was – Laying on my bedroom floor next to a bag of sick. And that is when the thought struck me. I tried to dismiss it but it wouldn’t go away – “I’m going to have to kill myself”.-
You can’t endure these sorts of things without realising that you need help. My first trip to my GP had been 7 years previously. He’d looked slightly perplexed when I’d confessed to being bulimic – Almost as if he didn’t really understand what the word meant. He’d weighed me and said “well, you’re not underweight” ……So that was alright then, apparently. As long as he could tick me off on his little “BMI” chart that meant that I must be healthy, I couldn’t be playing dangerous games with my physical and mental health like I’d claimed.
I’d seem councillor after councillor, who wanted me to recount every experience I’d ever had from the moment I’d appeared out of my mother’s womb.
Now, I’m an intelligent girl. I knew exactly what had bought me to this point. We all have traumatic experiences and I’d chosen to express my pain with this peculiar sort of self-harm. What I didn’t know was how to stop what I’d started.
So my current GP had settled on merely prescribing me huge dosages of antidepressants and signing me off work for two weeks every time I asked for help. I spent those two weeks being sick, taking laxatives, exercising compulsively and sinking deeper into my depression.
And now I’d come to the conclusion that the only way out of the subtle daily torture was to end my life.
That was the wake up call I needed to look further a-field than the NHS and really get proactive about helping myself. I was not the person I had become and there had to be a way to claim the real me back.
I don’t believe in coincidences. A few weeks after I made the decision to get well by whatever means possible, I heard about Mark Newey and Winning Minds. I went with no clue what to expect and thinking this would be the first of many alternatives I would try to get myself better but at least I was doing something.
2 x 2 hour sessions later and my whole World had changed. It was like that bit in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy opens the door of her house and discovers that outside is in glorious Technicolor after a life of black and white.
The last time I made myself sick was in July 2008. I lost my eating disorder and I found myself. I am free. I am me.
To find out how I was treated go to http://www.winningminds.co.uk/eating-disorders/bulimia-treatment/