If you’ve ever thought about having an eating disorder (and I know that sounds silly -“thinking about it”), specifically bulimia, I am happy to answer any of your questions.
I am happy to tell you I lost a ton of weight very quickly. I am happy to tell you I went down multiple pants and dress sizes, and for once I didn’t hate the way my arms looked. I am happy to tell you that people were constantly – pleasantly – surprised by how I looked in comparison to healthy me. I am happy to tell you that I looked better than ever in our family’s Christmas cards.
I’m also happy to tell you that my hair fell out, my teeth weakened and my nails grew out clear. I am happy to tell you about how every morning I would get up, immediately black out and vomit, then have to go back to sleep. I’m happy to tell you I viscerally panicked at the thought of going out to eat with friends, or visiting my family at home. I’m happy to tell you how I used to be a varsity athlete and suddenly I couldn’t run over ten minutes without fainting. I’m happy to tell you about the depression, anxiety and stress nightmares about my teeth falling out and people finding out. I’m happy to tell you how bad vomit smells (REALLY bad) and how hard it is for a colon to recover after it’s been put through hell for over a year. I’m happy to tell you I needed to take Adderall or Ritalin sometimes to stay awake, and that I couldn’t stand outside if the weather was under 70 degrees without freezing. I’m happy to tell you about the mood swings and the crying and feeling pathetic. I’m happy to tell you what thinking you’re having a heart attack at 18 feels like – and happier to tell you that all night I thought, “My parents can’t have THIS be how I die!”
But I’m really happy to tell you it’s been five months since I decided to stop and I haven’t thrown up since. I’m happy to tell you I can run five miles again without vomiting. I’m happy to tell you I can do yoga without every muscle in my body shaking under the strain. I’m happy to tell you that I love seeing my family now. I’m happy to tell you that even though I’m a little out of shape (due to the holidays) and have gained some weight (due to a certain medication…and the holidays) I don’t care, and only notice it when I have to take a run a little slower or a shirt is a little tighter (I still look damn good in it).
I’m happy to joke about it and talk about it and know that it’s just something that happened and I lived through it and learned from it, but it doesn’t have to be a big part of my life if I don’t let it.
I’m happy to tell you that for the first time in a long time I’m consistently, steadily happy. But oof, my bulimia arms, I mean, they were WOW.
Image via Library of Congress