Archive for the ‘Bulimia’ Category

Teeth. Yet again.

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Starting at the top right. Filled hole at the top. Filled hole at the top. Reconstructed biting surface. Interior gum swelling. Gum lesion. Porcelain veneers. Filled hole at the top. Reconstructed biting surface. Reconstructed biting surface.

Bottom left. Extraction. Root-canal filled Crown. Chronic recession (back and front). Gum graft. Fractured tooth. Lower interior filling.

I can’t stop thinking about my teeth. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and check that the fracture has not fractured, or that the teeth are still there.

They are inescapable, as is the damage. It has already been done, although it is now being compounded; one sugar coated acid blast at a time.

If they crumble I do not know what I will do –

And yet the fear is as strong a trigger as it is a disincentive, which is how an eating disorder maintains its hold. That, and the sense that you can not share what’s really going on in your head.

The elusive “last time”…

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

A few days ago, LH left this question on my blog:

“I was wondering if you could share any tips on how you just quit bulimia cold turkey? Everytime I tell myself that this b/p is going to be the LAST, but it never is. “

I was going to link her back to a post that I actually entitled ‘Cold Turkey’, and then I realised that, actually, it didn’t happen like that.

Yes, once I’d made the ‘real real’ decision to stop, I did, and I haven’t been back since then….but the ‘real real’ decision was preceded by lots of real decisions, and decisions, and new starts, and special dates when I was adamant that I wouldn’t purge or binge –

And each of those failed attempts filled me with terror – and helped me to succeed in the end. It is a paradox but one that I’ll try and explain…

Second Chances

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

On Sunday, it will be two years since I last binged and two years since I last threw up.

When I stopped, it felt as though I was wrenching out my heart. Now, it feels like I unclamped it.

I do not miss it at all. It does not cross my mind, apart from when some small, unpleasant reminder, like a shattered tooth or an unexpected flashback, make an unexpected appearance – and these certainly don’t tempt me back.

The first year was about existing through the days and the evenings; this year, it’s been about life. I do not need the film subscriptions and elaborately planned meals and scheduled phone calls to distract me any more; in fact, I rarely have enough time.

Even in my wildest imagination, I did not think it could be like this…

And so, I’m celebrating the occasion – as I did last year, and will do next year – as my unofficial birthday or the date that I allowed myself to come back to life.

It is, inevitably, tinged with sadness and a strange dusting of betrayal, though I could not say who betrayed who –

It does not matter.

The point is that I have had a second chance and I am starting, finally, to feel alive.


Friday, June 25th, 2010

I did a lot of shop-hopping when I was battling with bulimia. I’d go out, with the best of intentions – and then the desperation would take over and I would find myself spiralling out of control.

There is a financial implication to bingeing that I haven’t talked about. It didn’t seem relevant, now that I’m not living on credit – or maybe it’s just that I’m still incredibly ashamed.

You do not worry what the next bill will look like when you’re bang in the middle of a binge. Or rather you do, on occasion – but it just drives you on (because this is the big goodbye and tomorrow, I promise, I will finally stop).

Only it was never that simple.

And so I lived, for years, on credit; working crazy hours around my study – only to spend any tips or earnings on the way home. Sometimes my parents bailed me out; other times I had an unexpected windfall (like a Birthday, or an extension on my credit limit) – but all my money ended up in the same place.

I never got as far as stealing but I ate leftovers, from work and, later, off hospital trolleys and out of bins. And I maxed out credit cards – and store cards – and loans from friends.

Which doesn’t make you feel very good; in fact, I still feel slightly queasy now.

Only I’d like to write about this, because the guilt was indescribable (when people are starving or going without, and here I am, just throwing money away); and the fear of living on a financial knife-edge still brings me out in a cold sweat.

So, for anyone else who wakes up, heart racing, to the sound of sirens (because the guilt makes you think that they’re coming to get you); or emerges, post binge, feeling sick to their stomach, wondering how that could happen and knowing that it can’t keep going on –

I understand.

I understand how scary it is, and how hard it is to separate out from your sense of self; or it was, for me, anyway. How easily, also, the real problem gets lost under the one that it has caused –

But this is part of the trap.

I didn’t find a miraculous solution. I tried cutting up credit cards – and going out with no cash – and extending my overdraft. I attempted changing the routes that I took – or sleeping at friends’ houses – and doing lots and lots of positive self talk (because it was hard to keep believing a single word that I said when I kept proving myself wrong).

I ended up, in the final years when I was strong enough to work, budgeting for bingeing, which reduced the debt, but meant that I had no money for anything else and the problem still persisted –

Because the only real solution was addressing the cause; and I spent quite a lot of time – and money – trying to avoid this.

P.s. This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for months now. I wrote it because otherwise there was a big gap in the story and a whole chunk of experiences that were unsaid -

But then, the time didn’t seem right to push ‘publish’ and I couldn’t quite see the relevance of what I was trying to say.

This link on ED Bites Sunday Smorgasbord caught my attention. It’s to an article on how hunger effects financial risk taking; and, even though I can’t quite marry up the findings and my experience, it opened up the consideration again.

The article begins “The hungrier an animal becomes, the more risks it’s prepared to take in the search for food.” That one sentence is enough to add in a new perspective.

This is what I have found in my recovery: that you don’t necessarily discover reasons and the explanations that you find are not excuses – but there’s room to fill in some gaps and build up the picture. There’s a new space for compassion, or understanding that, for me, was very absent when I was immersed in the behaviours or unable to see beyond myself.

Eating Disorders: The Bottom Line

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

I have been intellectualising and analysing my eating disorder a lot recently. Scrutinising it under my mental magnifying lens. Looking at it from this angle – and that one. Trying to order the complexity into some semblance of sense.

I have wanted to unpick each sordid secret and expose every unspoken rule. To break down the perceptions. To write myself into recovery. To say the things I shouldn’t say because maybe, together, we can help to make things change…

It is important, I think, to talk about these things.

But it is even more important to remember that eating disorders kill.

It is even more important to remember that eating disorders kill.

I am worried that I have diluted this message. That in the to-ing and fro-ing, I have blurred over this one, crucial point. That in the detail, and the dissection, I have forgotten to re-iterate the terrifying bottom line –

Eating disorders kill.

So, this is a reality check and a reminder. An acknowledgement of the cruel truth about eating disorders – but also, that recovery is possible and that there are people out there who can help.

There are people out there that can help.

It is a message that makes my eyes watery and my stomach, clench –

But it comes, along with the experience and hope of recovery, as the most important thing that I can write.

The City

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

There is a correlation, I think, between urbanisation and the rise in eating disorders.

It came up, in a presentation, and there’s probably some research; but, I seem to have created my own personal proof.

I remembered, today, as I walked down Kentish Town Road (to see how far I could go before the panic kicked in), what happened when 24 hour living – and my eating disorder – met. I was thrown back, 10 years, with a surge of pain that almost over-powered me, as the landmarks that I had been avoiding, re-appeared, again.

My Guardian Angel and the First Binge-Free Month

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

If they ever develop a way to clone humans, I’ll be recommending my brother. I’m not sure I would have got through my first binge-free night without him, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have made it through my first binge-free month.

Whilst he probably doesn’t want to repeat the experience and I don’t think he’s available on loan, I’ve been trying to identify what really made the difference – because, whether he admits it or not, he helped me turn my life around.

So, in the absence of cloning and a sibling loan provision, I’ve tried to break-down my brother and pinpoint the things that helped; because, there might be some other guardian angels flying around out there, or you might have wings yourself….

Trusting Food

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Yesterday, I brought a box of chocolate chip cookies.

This is a significant occasion: it has taken over 14 months to trust myself with food again.

After so many planned – and unplanned – food related disasters, I have been slightly wary of anything resembling temptation.

Bulimia’s as corrosive on an emotional level as it is on a physical one: bingeing steals your self control – and then it undermines your self.

A note on ’special offers’ (for bulimics)

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

My bulimia loved a bargain.

When most of the money that passed through my hands seemed to end up being flushed down the toilet pan; BOGOFs and ‘special offers’ and 50% extras felt like a godsend. A little cut priced bingeing stretched the pennies further and completely overrode any quantity control: why stop at one when the second’s free – and the third and fourth can be saved for tomorrow.

Filled Pasta (and life after an eating disorder)

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Filled pasta is my proof that there’s life after an eating disorder –

And that you can do things that you didn’t think that you would be able to do.

A Good Dentist…

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

I don’t have much of my real teeth left.

If you’ve got bulimia, get yourself a good dentist – there’s stuff that they can do.

2 am

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Sometimes, it would get me in the middle of the night.

They don’t warn you about that.

Sometimes, the addiction would penetrate through my sleep; and, I’d find myself, bleary eyed and sleep headed, standing in the kitchen trying to assemble a pile of food.

While outside was still and sleeping and time seemed suspended, I’d be retching my guts up in my own private world.


Sunday, July 5th, 2009

On Thursday, it will be 11 months since I last threw up.

In one month and 5 days, it will be a whole year since I last threw up.

At first, I counted the hours. Then hours became days and weeks and then months. After trying and failing for so long, these things are important.


Talking about bulimia

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

Secrecy is key to bulimia. It’s what the condition demands. It’s what it depends on. And it’s not difficult to go along with when you consider the amount of shame that the whole process involves.

I’m about to break the rules.

Given the depths that bulimia has taken me to and the price that I have paid, I feel that a little frankness is in order.

Even if it’s not pretty.

Even if it’s incredibly scary.

The cost of bulimia (physical)

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Reading about the effects of bulimia always seemed to result in me throwing up even more.

It seemed like the only way of managing my fear. The only way of proving that what I was reading or hearing was not true. A kind of tempting fate just to see what will happen because at the pit of your stomach you suspect it’s bad scenario.

This isn’t going to stop me from saying what happens. It just comes with a little advice. Don’t let it scare you; that’s part of the problem.


The cost of bulimia (emotional)

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

I am having to write this bit quickly. Before I lose my nerve. Before I get too caught up in worrying about what people will think. In the implications of self exposure.

This is the problem with talking about bulimia. This is why it’s such a big secret. This is why it puts a big brick wall up between you and the rest of the world.


Cold Turkey

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

My one-cigarette-less-a-day cut down method was a great act of self delusion.

Hey, it was fine to smoke right down to the burning lip line and inhale as deeply as physically possible – because those cigarettes were ‘allocated’. They were okay. And it was fine to fantasise about smoking, it was completely understandable to count down the minutes to the next cigarette – because you had your quota to go with.

The outcome’s no surprise. 10 mysteriously grows to 11. Which, following an unexpected crisis, becomes 12. Then 13 –a one off. And then the floodgates are opened.

Before I really realised what was happening, I was back to where I started, and the only lesson I’d learnt was that giving up smoking was all about deprivation and preoccupation and frustrated desire.

And that I was hooked on something that would probably kill me.

It’s just the same with bulimia.

The self delusion was identical.


Giving up bulimia

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Giving up any addiction is a challenge.

Giving up bulimia feels doubly difficult because you can’t just take food out of the equation.

I don’t think there is one hard, fast and proven-to-be-effective way out of bulimia. It is a strange and precarious mix of circumstance and determination and planning and support and being prepared to go through the uncertainty and the unknown.

It’s hard to get it right first time round.


Instant Gratification and Prolonged Disatisfaction

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

I’m familiar with instant gratification.

It’s what binging and bulimia thrive on. Strong desire; fast food; instant gratification.

Food is one form; according to the media, consumerism is another.

I agree. The parallels don’t surprise me. Having spent much of 2003 to 2005 in supermarkets, I’m familiar with the lure.

When you’re in the middle of a great gaping emotional void, shops are quite appealing. They’re a preoccupation and then a full time occupation. When nothing feels particularly great, they’re a haven of soft lighting and soothing music and promises. When you want, they provide – with the drip drip drip of addiction: the gratification may be instant, but the satisfaction doesn’t last much longer.

It wears off pretty quick – and just leaves you wanting more.