Anorexia. And Bulimia. And Stalemate.

My diagnosis was anorexia bulimia.

I stopped eating. Lost lots of weight. Started throwing up what I did eat. And then added in some hardcore bingeing for good measure.

I am more aware, now, of the different diagnostic criteria, and how they’re all subtyped and divided. I don’t think they were so defined, when I started out, so I mistakenly assumed I was unique…

Or I simply wasn’t prepared to listen.

And so, instead, I seemed to inhabit a lonely kind of middle land, where the one – cancelled the other one – out. I am not anorexic because I binge and purge – and I am not just bulimic, because if you take away the bingeing and purging, there’s certainly no other eating going on under there.

Neither behaviour would admit to the other – and the denial certainly wasn’t challenged by me.

Over the years, the layers built up, like concrete, with one behaviour solidifying on top of the other. The longer I starved, the more my body craved food; and, the more I reacted to the craving, the harder it was to remember that my body was starving.

I would focus, when I had the energy, on a particular dimension, like trying to reduce the bingeing – only to realise that I was too damn scared to eat. Then, I’d swap to trying, slowly, to edge the food intake up; but I’d panic and find myself purging or crashing into yet another binge.

Each side would negate the existence of the other; so, more often than not, I’d end up convincing myself that both diagnoses must be wrong.


And so I got stuck.

I didn’t rocket from one extreme to another. They just came together and exploded, daily, in the same space; and, instead of dealing with the root of the explosion, I spun around trying to work out which symptom to hit first.

The bulimia always won out, in theory. It was expensive, and messy, and shameful, and degrading – but the anorexia, underneath, and the wasted body that I clung on to, kept triggering it back in. Round and round and round.

Eventually, I stopped fighting and agreed to a stalemate. No food during the day – and bingeing from 7 to 11. Split down the middle: a lethal truce.

You can stay there for a long time, though it feels like death and treads frighteningly close.

The world moves on, around you, while you’re pinned between two brick walls, screaming to break free

Until the prospects become so frustrating that any progress, however imperfect, is better than the hopeless to-ing and fro-ing -

And, the focus shifts, almost imperceptibly, from a battle against the different behaviours, to a war against the illness, as a whole.

I think that this was where my recovery begun.

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5 Responses to “Anorexia. And Bulimia. And Stalemate.”

  1. Nicola says:

    Hi Melissa, i just found your blog after one of my friends at my self esteem classes told me about your blog, i just want to say thankyou, i have never read a more thought provoking and brilliantly written blog that actually taps into how I, as a person with an ED, feels, its so nice to find someone with whom i can relate without feeling ashamed of the fact that i am trying to recover, albeit with step backs most days.

    So thankyou, i’m going to continue reading your blog and maybe we can recover together.

  2. Melissa says:

    I am deeply touched by this comment – Thank you so much for your kind words. This blog has really helped me to concentrate on the positives of recovery and see it as an acheivement, rather than a failure, so I really hope that it helps other people who are making this difficult journey.

    It is bumpy and full of twists – but far better than the alternative. Wishing you all the very best.

  3. Wow, another incredibly powerful and eloquent post!

  4. Allison says:

    This, is exactly it. exactly. Not to mention being exceedingly well written and poignant. On the eve of my admission to residential treatment, for the first time, I have found exactly what i’ve been trying to explain for months. THANK YOU!

  5. afterglow05 says:

    I have been diagnosed EDNOS. I don’t think that it’s because I’m not what you’re describing, it’s because I haven’t told anyone the complete and total truth. I believe that I allude to it sometimes but have never come out and actually said it. You’re absolutely right – they both fight each other until we/I have found a way to merely exist with the pain of both of them. You’re quote: ‘The world moves on, around you, while you’re pinned between two brick walls, screaming to break free –’ is spot on. Now where to go from here…

    Thank you soooo much for this post, my truth.