Posted by StormyJade
on September 21, 2000 at 15:19:43:
I ran across this on a diet website. Thought it would be of interest here.
Bulimia Made My Life Hell, But Here's How I Beat This Beast!
- September 21, 2000
by Ellen DeLalla
Registered Nurse & Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Over the years I've discovered people who suffer with eating disorders have been so defended regarding their illness, they often discount the negatives and actually tend to glamorize the illness. Often the behavior begins as a way to control weight -- perhaps for a special occasion -- but it may plague the person for many years.
While in treatment for her eating disorder, a client was given an assignment to write a letter TO her illness. The assignment involved exploration of the positive things (secondary gains) that the person experienced as a result of the illness, as well as the negative consequences.
The following is that letter written by the 34-year-old female suffering with bulimia nervosa.
"To the Beast: I guess I should begin by thanking you. When I was lonely, you were there. When I was dumped once again, you were there. When the old memories surfaced and made life unbearable, you were there. You were there through it all, inviting me to spend another night with you.
"I no longer need drugs to cope -- we had each other and you were legal. No chance of getting into trouble, at least not with the law. You allowed me to be myself... the disgusting pig I really am. You allowed me to stay alone and not have to depend on another person.
"It was you and me, what a pair. You were my best friend. You helped me survive for many years and for that reason, I thank you. If only things could have stayed that way, but just like everything else in my life, the peace did not last.
"Somewhere along the line you became the enemy. Taunting me with all kinds of junk, I would eat until I was so stuffed I couldn't breathe. All that was handled easily, I would simply vomit up all the sins of my gluttony.
"Soon you started to really affect my life. You hurt me and I wonder why I wanted to keep you in my life. People tried to talk to me about my behavior but they had no idea what I had been doing for such a long time. I guess they cared, but I did not trust them enough to listen. I would defend myself and in that way, I defended you.
"My friends gave up on me. I seldom joined them for normal activities -- they might find out my secret. Once in a while we would get together and it was usually around food. I always had to plan things out so I could eat normally in front of others, and be home in time to make sure I could get rid of everything I ate. What would anyone say if they knew about my repulsive behavior? They already thought I was acting strange, but surely they would never be able to handle the gorging and vomiting.
"Physically, my relationship with you began to take a toll. Vomiting up to 10 times a day, I always had a sore throat. When I vomited blood the first time I was really scared and tried to stop but even that fear was transient. I just changed the kind of food I ate so the vomiting would not tear my esophagus. I knew what could happen, being the intelligent bulimic, I read everything there is to read about the beast within.
"My body stopped functioning correctly, I was always constipated and then was treated for ulcers, but I never told the doctor what I was doing. He thought my body was reacting to stress in my life. It was, but not the kind of stress he thought.
"There was a time I cared about my appearance, but because I was so often bloated, I could not wear regular clothes and began to dress like a slob. Some days my eyes looked like two slits and my swollen glands just made me feel fatter and more disgusting.
"I started to fear all foods, not just junk, but I could not stop abusing it. I would lie in bed, sweating profusely until I gave into you beckoning me. While I was shoving food down my sore throat and then vomiting everything seemed manageable, thanks to you. You always came to my rescue. Minutes after the purge I would spiral downward into the pits of self-hate and depression. I would imagine myself choking or vomiting in my food-induced sleep and dying. Death seemed such a comfort.
"Because of you I have lost a job that had potential. Too many absences from my binge/purge “hangovers.” Because of you I have ruined a long relationship with a very decent person. Because of you I was too afraid to reach out for help before it was too late to save anything that would be good for me. Because of you I hurt so much sometimes I really believe I cannot go on.
"I look in the mirror and want to be anyone else but me. I hate myself for being too weak to fight you. I wish I could get angry, but I don't have that kind of energy anymore. I wish I could be reborn, with the same loving parents, with the same intelligence, but without you as my partner. If I have any positive qualities, you refuse to allow me to see them or improve them. You have controlled my life, you have turned me into a liar and a thief. Yes, I even stole to keep you satisfied.
"You have taken my integrity and my honor. You have made me insane. Please leave me alone...."
The consequences of an eating disorder devastate a person physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is epidemic in our society where anything less than perfection is considered a failure. Eating disorders are a conflict between the mind and the soul. The body serves as the battleground.
Ellen DeLalla is a registered nurse and licensed mental health counselor, specializing in eating disorders. She is owner and administrator of The Family Behavioral Center in Delray Beach, Florida. She can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.