One month ago, I celebrated my 30th birthday. For many people, this is no call for joy. But for me, it's the beginning of a new life and a new way to live. I have Bulimia, and I have had it since I was 16 years old. I never knew then exactly what I was getting into when I began purging. All I knew was that I just wanted to be thin. I felt that if I could just be thin then everything else would be all right. I tried starving myself at first, but that only worked for a short while. Food, and eventually exercise, became my obsession and my life.
As far as I can remember, it happened very slowly. I always believed I could stop whenever I wanted. I only wanted to lose a few pounds, so what could that hurt? When the pounds started dropping, compliments started flying my way, and I really liked it. Now that I look back, messages that "skinnier is better" were flying at me from all directions—pop culture, movies, media, parents, teachers, idols, peers, and even doctors.
I really thought that purging was the best secret in the world. In my first year of college, I was so oblivious to my eating disorder that I even told my roommate that it was the best way to lose weight. She ended up telling other girls in my dorm, and that's when I received my first intervention. Yet, Bulimia continued to be my best friend for several years.
I ignored the stomach pains, the heartburn, the dizziness and lightheadedness, the dentist's comments about my teeth, the reflux, the sore throats. For me, Bulimia was just something I did for strictly for weight control. It never occurred to me that the binges and purges correlated with events in my life that were hard, painful, scary, and seemingly inconsolable. As the time passed, it became harder and harder to hide the truth. I was moody, mean, lying and undependable. My family did not like me. I did not like me.
I talked with a few psychologists at different times in my life, but it wasn't until I was 27 that I began to see my life was a wreck. I was calling in sick to work all the time so I could stay home and binge and purge. The funny thing was, I wanted to blame my job (it was the first job I had out of college), I wanted to blame my family, and I even wanted to blame the city I lived in for all the unhappiness and depression that I seemed to have accumulated in the past 10 years. I even changed jobs, only to find out that the depression and Bulimia only got worse. I understand that now and it's something I wish I had known when I was 16.
With the help of timing, good professionals, a loving boyfriend (now husband), faith, and a little luck, I've gotten off the path of self-destruction. I've gone from bingeing and purging daily to two years of recovery. I mean total recovery, and it only keeps getting better. As my brother says, I've done a "total 180."
There was no magic therapy, no magic pill, or no perfect treatment center. It was sheer faith and the steadfast ambition to recover that taste for life and freedom from obsession. I will never say that it was easy and there are still times when the disease tries to test me. That won't change anytime soon, because half my life I lived in my Bulimia. Not anymore, I have the best years of my life still ahead of me.