When I Was Bulimic.

Via Darla Halyk
on Aug 26, 2015
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Two fingers and no gag reflex makes for a lot of work if you want to be bulimic.

Wait, no one wants to be bulimic, but it happens.

I spent years perfecting the quiet puke; I could do it anywhere. A crowded restaurant bathroom, an airplane lavatory, even a porta-potty if need be. If I ate it, it needed to come out.

I was twenty-ish the first time I shoved my fingers down my throat. It happened organically, having just had my heart-broken by my first love. True to the term love-sick, I found myself taking it to a literal level. I couldn’t eat, sleep or think.

I started to lose weight. The more weight I lost, the more attention I received. I needed and craved that attention. I hadn’t been in love before and was late arriving to the break-your-hymen party. (Yes, he was my first everything.) Months went by as I dropped twenty to thirty pounds. And boy oh boy this being-skinny-thing made everyone like me—just a bit more.

I ran with it; I wouldn’t eat anything. I would go days without eating anything but crackers, four of them to be exact. I found water to be an astounding filler. I could drink bottles upon bottles of it. It filled me up enough to confuse my brain with being satisfied and full. Besides, hunger became a thing of the past. A growl from my stomach meant I was doing it right. I was winning.

Within a few of months, I had perfected anorexia, or so I thought. I seemed to be able to sustain the four cracker diet and did for some time. But friends and family started to notice I wasn’t eating. I began to lie, to tell them I had just eaten or was about to go out for dinner and didn’t want to ruin my appetite. The issue is this can only go on for so long before you have to eat in front of someone. So what did my messed up brain decide to do? Eat, but make sure to get rid of it if I did.

I sat in my bathroom sobbing uncontrollably the first time. I don’t know why I was crying because I actually felt a sense of accomplishment, power. I was in control, not food; not anyone or anything could take away my power. I was in charge for the first time in my f*cked up life.

I stabbed the back of my throat with my fingers and nothing happened. I wasn’t even gagging. I was born without a gag reflex; it has its positives as I’m sure you can imagine. This moment was not one of them as far as I was concerned. I quickly learned trick after trick to bring any and all food I had consumed to hit the toilet bowl. It didn’t take long before I could vomit on command, and I was damn good at it too.

I became an addict, a junkie. My addiction was to expel anything that came close to hitting the bottom of my stomach. With each purge an overwhelming sense of relief, euphoria, pride and guilt wrapped into one remarkable emotion: power. I was in control of my body and no one could ever take that away.

It wasn’t long before my obsession became a way of life. Or was it that my way of life became my obsession? I thought of nothing else but the way my body looked. Nothing. Else. Haunted by it, I was constantly rubbing my stomach to make sure it wasn’t protruding, continually looking in the mirror to make sure I had not put on any weight. A pound on the scale meant I was a failure; I better step-up my game. I started to vomit over twenty times a day.

My disease quickly took on a life of its own. My power and control was stolen by the dysmorphic reflection in the mirror. At the lowest weight I had been since age ten, I felt fat; no, I was fat. Nothing could convince me otherwise. Bulimia reared its ugly head, whispering in my ear any chance she had. You will never be thin enough. You aren’t good enough.

She now controlled me.

For many years, every single day, bulimia and I had a love-hate relationship. She would get me to a place in which I finally felt good enough, pretty enough, thin enough. She would let me eat, but never without guilt. She owned me, and I let her. Every chance she had, she told me I was a fat disgusting pig, and I believed her. Bulimia was my drug. With every anxiety-ridden moment I found myself putting clothes on to go out. She met me there; she cooed softly in my ear. We can get you into that dress, you are in control. I will help.

It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my first child that the clutch of bulimia loosened. At this point, my body went into revolt. I hadn’t eaten properly in over five years. I had no metabolism. Everything I ate my body held onto for dear life. I ended up gaining over eighty pounds that pregnancy. The road to recovery, after my son was born, was filled with suffering but most of all with enlightenment. It took me a long time to realize that my weight does not make me who I am, nor will people like me better if I am thin.

Bulimia is a disorder that, for me, sits dormant in the far reaches of my brain. I can still hear faint whispers from time to time, but have since learned I am good enough no matter what I look like. I have thrown myself into diet and exercise and have learned a lot about eating clean. Each person who has suffered from this disorder finds his or her own way of overcoming its evil.

As a society, we have to stop shaming of any kind. I have called myself fat over and over in front of all sizes and shapes of people. I didn’t call myself fat to feel better about myself. I called myself fat because I believed it; I sometimes still do. Everyone has a story, each of us struggles with something. I make a call for no shaming, period. I don’t want to label it a certain type.

If you have an eating disorder, please talk to someone. You can find information here:

~

 

Author: Darla Halyk 

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Image: Flickr


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About Darla Halyk

Darla Halyk is the mom of a teenage boy and tween Girl. She studied Business Management at Simon Fraser University. Soon after receiving her Degree, she married and quickly got pregnant with her first child. Deciding to stay home with her kids instead of returning to the workforce after the birth of her son, she become an SAHM, but not your average one. The gig lasted until the kids were school-aged, and her marriage ended in divorce. Darla has enjoyed writing since she was old enough to hold a pen to paper. Currently, she writes for her blog at NewWorldMom, bringing a fresh, honest and humorous take on parenting, women’s issues, relationships, divorce, and life, in general.

Comments

16 Responses to “When I Was Bulimic.”

  1. theheartofsassylassie says:

    My very best friend growing up was bulimic. She never hid it from me. On the outside, she appeared the most confident, in control person one could ever aspire to be. She was driven, became hugely successful in real estate, incredibly wealthy and sadly, too busy to maintain our friendship. No one ever knew but me. It was difficult at times from my side of the friendship because I loved her so much and no matter how hard I tried, could never give her the glimpse of herself through my eyes. I finally just had to accept it and love her just as she loved me with my backpack full of issues. It never ceases to amaze me how deeply we can fool ourselves, often times, just to survive. Sadly, some survival modes we adopt can literally kill us. I'm glad you made it through and also that you are able to share it so poignantly so that others might understand, not only those suffering from bulimia, but those who love them. Thank you, dear friend. Beautiful, just like you.

  2. inspiretheworld2day says:

    Wow! Just wow! I love the honesty in your words. I felt like I was walking along side of you watching it happen. I am so glad you are doing better. I have a much better understanding thanks to you for sharing this honest, difficult story. Excellent post!

  3. Gwen says:

    Right on! Fight that beast!

  4. newworldmom says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so sorry that you had to endure the secrets of your friends ED. It must have been so hard on you. I remember having a few friends that knew, and your comment really hits home. <3

  5. newworldmom says:

    Thank you sweetheart.

  6. newworldmom says:

    Thank you, fighting everyday!

  7. Chris Carter says:

    Oh what a brave and incredibly powerful voice you have, in sharing such a horrible experience and allowing us to have a much deeper understanding of how Bulimia can take control over your thoughts, your life. You have such a gift with words, describing your personal story with such vivid and poignant detail. I’m filled with heartache that you had to endure such a painful prison and be held captive by such tormenting self-hatred and yet, I’m utterly inspired by your strength to overcome and rise in true self worth and integrity. Oh, how I love that. Your authenticity is both gripping and beautiful all at once.

    Thank you, for giving us such an intimate view into this piece of your life, so that we can have more insight and awareness to support others who are going through similar struggles. What an amazing woman you are!

  8. newworldmom says:

    Oh Christine thank you so much. This piece was both difficult and easy for me to write if that makes any sense. I have a strong need to make this an important conversation especially as my daughter enters her teen years. I cannot express how much your words mean to me. Thank you so much

  9. Gary Sidley says:

    An eloquent and powerful personal story. I wish you success in keeping your eating disorder at bay.

  10. Thriller Mom says:

    Wow! I've never known anyone personally suffering from such an "evil" as this. Then again, maybe I do know people but like you, they perfected the hiding of it. This is such a hauntingly, personal piece but simultaneously inspirational! Thank you for sharing your story with us and showing others that they too can overcome this thing. I think you're beautiful and I hope that you now KNOW that you are. Love to you Darla! <3

  11. newworldmom says:

    Thank you so much, as do I.

  12. sara says:

    I was anorexic and bulimic in high school. I was working out 6 days a week, living off of dry toast and celery with mustard. Everyone commented on how toned and good I looked. I would “lose my lunch” or whatever food my mom would give me- in the shower so she wouldn’t hear it. Terrible! I met a boy who actually thought I was pretty and slowly the disease went back in the shadows. I am thankful that it has been 16 years since then, but I will struggle with body image for the rest of my life. It’s exhausting.

  13. newworldmom says:

    It is one of the most exhausting things I have ever been through. I am so happy you are keeping it at bay. Thank you for sharing, I know how difficult it is.

  14. newworldmom says:

    Thank you Tandra. I hope it helps others know it is something that we can keep at bay. Body image is still very much an issue for me, but I do my best everyday.

  15. Amy says:

    To hear my story come out of someone else’s mouth is both reassuring and scary. I thought I was the only one without a gag reflex and my fight with eating/food/body image is ongoing everyday. I write positives about myself daily on heart shaped post-its and stick them to my mirror. I talk positively to myself yet somehow that negative still wants to creep in. Thank you SO MUCH for showing me that I’m not alone in this and recovery can happen. You’ve helped me have hope

  16. newworldmom says:

    Amy I am sorry that you too have felt these emotions. Body image is still an issue with me to a point, I work hard everyday to tell myself I am good enough. Thank you as well for letting me know I am not alone. Love to you.