Hi, my name is Chandra (yeah, that’s my first name) and I’m bulimic. I binge and purge. Not always, but there was a time I did it for years.
It began simply, as most things do—a poor historic relationship with food as a child (meat, potatoes, and gravy at most meals) which only worsened when I gave up figure skating and the intense calorie burning exercise it provided. When that stopped, my caloric intake did not. I gained weight steadily after that.
I lost 50-something pounds for my wedding in 2008 through Jenny Craig, but it was expensive and didn’t teach healthy eating anyway. The weight stayed off for the honeymoon period, but slowly began to rise again when I went to work near a bakery. It was torturous.
That was the first time I experienced eating so much I felt like exploding. I forced myself to puke.
I found out I was pregnant in March 2010, and intended to eat healthy, I swear I did. But then there were cheeseburgers (2 at lunch and a large McD’s fries, a sweet tea, a McFlurry, and chicken McNuggets if my eyes were really bigger than my stomach). I just hopped over to McD’s “nutrition” website and did some calculations. I was consuming, on most days JUST at lunch, about 2700 calories. That wasn’t even including dipping sauces and that crap.
As soon as I stuffed all of that in my belly—and, believe me, I don’t have any idea how Scarlett fit in there—I would casually walk into the bathroom, shut the stall, and shove my finger down my throat. After a while, one finger wasn’t enough to make me gag, so I’d have to use two. When that wasn’t enough, I had to wiggle them around as far down as I could reach into my throat to make anything come up.
It wasn’t pretty.
I was often fatigued and bloated. My head ached for days on end, but it was never enough.
Why? Because I lived in fear of my body image and what I would be denied at home. My husband is very health conscious. He’s slim and healthy and would choose salad over cake if given the option—I swear I found him wandering outside Area 51. Unfortunately, his love and concern was misinterpreted in my mind as control. And I used binging and purging as rebellion.
I told him about it some time after Scarlett was born, and there was a long hard struggle. I couldn’t go to the bathroom with the door closed after eating, and restrictions were put on me by both him and myself that proved to be just as unhealthy and not at all beneficial.
It took time, but I ended up going for a good two years without purging. My problem? I still binged. Nowhere near as heavily as I did before, but I binged, nonetheless.
Early in 2013, I made the important decision to undergo an easy procedure, gastric bypass surgery. Not only have I lost 78 lbs, I’ve learned how to control binging. One problem: a simple bite too many can cause extreme pain and discomfort and nausea, so I find myself back in the cycle. I purge. I believe I purged four times today.
I don’t want this to be a pity party, and I don’t want this to cause a scandal. I just want other girls and guys out there to know that they aren’t alone, and there will never be a true fix for it. It’s much deeper than being a strong person and overcoming some obstacle. It has to do with depression, anxiety, mental health, relationships, happiness, pride, self-image, self-worth, and a million other factors.
Seek help—a counselor or a friend—because everyone knows someone with a problem, and you may help save a life.
Thanks for listening.