Today I told someone.
After living almost half of my life with a very secretive eating disorder, I came clean about it to my GP and for the first time, I asked for help.
I can’t really pinpoint a moment or incident when the purging began. It was probably some flippant, 20-something desire to be thinner than I was, although, when I look back at photos now, I can see that although I was curvy, I certainly wasn’t as big as I remember myself being. I remember congratulating myself on ‘cheating the system’ and being able to eat what I want without paying the price for it in my dress size. Lately, I have found the desire to purge large meals, or to deliberately binge then purge almost insurmountable.
I am 40 years old, well educated, financially stable, I have a great job, a lovely two year old son and a husband that I adore. I don’t suffer any huge emotional baggage, past trauma or difficulties in life. I am slightly above normal weight but have never been extremely under or over weight. I am probably not the textbook candidate for this behaviour and I have no idea why I do this, or why the need to do it is stronger than ever.
Jana Pittman opens up about having bulimia at the height of her career. Post continues.
But I have hit threshold. The thought of telling someone, even a fairly unacquainted GP, was out of the question up until a few months ago, but this is no longer something I control. I want someone to help me to see the reasons why I do this, or why after 18 years of the same behaviour, why is it getting worse and not better?
My husband works away half of the time as a FIFO so I have two weeks at a time at home with our son. He is usually in bed by 7pm so my routine has become to head straight to the fridge once he is down and gorge on whatever I have bought in preparation for that evenings ‘session’. Usually soft foods like ice cream, cake or breakfast cereal. I eat until I feel like bursting and then go and regurgitate the lot.
I have asked myself, do I get some pleasure from this? Not really. The food, while it tastes ok, is a burden. It becomes almost an awful task to remove whatever food I have brought home from the pantry and go through the motions until it is in the toilet. More times than I can count, I have asked ‘what the fuck is wrong with me??’ as I put mountains of quickly eaten food into the bowl.
I can’t go on doing this anymore. I have had two teeth capped from long-term acid exposure and I have burst blood vessels in my eyes. I’ve had a few close calls of nearly getting caught and I’ve had to put it in the bin on more than a few occasions where the smell of it is hugely risky. When we go out to eat, I can’t bear the feeling of a stomach full of lunch and having no public toilet nearby where I can rid myself of it. My greatest fear is that I am still doing this when my son is old enough to catch me in the act one day.
Next week at my follow up appointment with the GP, it is our task to make a mental health plan, the first time I have ever associated the term ‘mental health’ in reference to my own state of health. It’s almost more frightening to have those words on my medical record, but the thought of going past 41 this year with this ugly monkey on my back is the scariest thought of all.