Every time I hear someone who is a smaller dress size than me moaning they are fat I want to scream at them, loudly! I, on the other hand, am overweight. I am overweight due to the steroids I have had to take for Crohns Disease and because the pain I am in prevents me from being all that active anymore. From the age of 8 until my early twenties it was a very different story indeed. Why? Because I was a bulimic, I am now classed as a recovering bulimic.
I have previously touched on the fact I am bulimic in earlier articles. I am going to share some things with you in this article that some may find distressing or upsetting to read.
From a young age I was taunted at school for being chubby, problem was it wasn’t just at school it was also in the home. As a result I saw myself as being incredibly fat when in fact I weighed just 5st and the only fat that was truly there was puppy fat judging by childhood photographs.
One night close to Christmas 1988 my parents went to a social function. A neighbour, young Forces wife pregnant with her first child, babysat. My sister was nearly 3 so she was in bed very early and I was allowed, as a special treat, to stay up. We sat and watched a program that explored eating disorders, I can’t recall the name of program or indeed what channel it was on but it sparked up what I call my Food Devil.
As I lay in bed that night I thought about what had been said in the program. I was 8 years old and intelligent, I knew exactly what was right and what was wrong. I made a decision that night. A decision thy would mar my life.
I had a choice – carry on eating as ‘normal’ or eat a meal per day but starve myself too or eat then throw up. I chose throwing up.
I would eat regular meals plus scoff chocolate. I would wait exactly 10 minutes then make myself sick. I shall spare you the exact details as to how I would do this!
This cycle would continue for a number of months. One day I collapsed after running the 100 metre race at Sports Day. A teacher noticed my waist was very small. She took me to the school nurse and got me weighed, I had lost almost 2 stone. A few days later I was referred to a children’s mental health team. They officially diagnosed me with bulimia.
By the same time the following year I was back up to my normal weight. My mum continued to mention weight issues but the therapist had given me the tools to block her out.
My periods were dreadful from the start. I don’t know whether this was due to the eating disorder as such diseases play havoc with young womens periods. I have both endometrosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS as it is more commonly known.
In my teenage years I was still chubby from puppy fat regained after my bulimia was diagnosed. I started secondary school, the jibes started once more. It was horrendous. Add in the death of my best friend after a brain tumour at 13 and the Food Devil began to creep back in.
My second bout of bulimia kicked in. Dying to tell someone I wrote a diary, a diary I carried everywhere I went. I could not risk my family seeing such a diary! At a sleepover my friend found my diary. The next day, the 3rd day of Summer holidays, I was taken to a mental health clinic as an inpatient. I remained there for 3 weeks. Others were told I had gone to visit a school friend who now lived elsewhere, family and friends inclusive!
In my late teens it returned. It was milder but but still there. I would eat as much as was possible then drink a lot of different alcoholic drinks so I could make myself sick or eat lots then throw up using glasses of salt water. A good friend noticed that weight was falling off and, with several others, organised a sort of intervention. By the following day I was begging my GP to section me for 28 days.
Within 2 years I had been diagnosed with Crohns. This stopped the physical need to lose weight, am not sure how. I was subsequently put on steroids which have caused me to pile on several stone.
Like all eating disorder ‘survivors’ I get the odd niggle and need to binge. I have, somehow, learnt to handle these niggles.
If someone reading this has an eating disorder then please make sure you reach out for the help you need. You can get through it. You will get through it.