July 1, 2008

Bulimic since 14

In this space, we welcome letters such as this:

I have been suffering from bulimia since I was 14. I got treatment for it but a year later it began again and has been on-going since then. I just want to be better. I hate the way I am, and I can feel my body is taking the affects. Please advise me on how can go about getting help.”

This is a letter I received some time ago. My initial reaction was, What a lost opportunity for this young person and her family. The earlier eating disorders are treated, the easier they are to treat. The flip side of that is the longer you wait, of course, the tougher they are to treat. When the gains from the original course of treatment were not maintained, her parents should have found a way to get her back into treatment. Eating disorders are tenacious; the family must keep up the pressure against them.

The second issue is her question inquiring where to get treatment in New Zealand. There are public facilities provided by the District Health Boards. There are also private programs such as the New Zealand Eating Disorder Specialists. From our perspective, treatment should involve the family: indeed the family should be welcomed and included in the therapy for maximum effectiveness.

7 Responses to “Bulimic since 14”

  1. Olwyn Owens says:

    To whom it may concern,

    My 18 year old daughter has suffered from bulimia from the age of 14. I have tried to persuade her to get help before this but she backed out. Being her mother, I have also suffered from Bulimia most of my life until recently when I took control of it and also something seemed to ‘switch off’ in my brain and I am no longer obsessed with it. It is an incredible and rather bizarre feeling as I have never felt like this as long as I can remember. I so desperately want this for my daughter and for her to lead a normal life.

    Regards

    Olwyn Lloyd

  2. Elise says:

    To Whom it may concern.

    I Have been suffering with bulimia like symptoms since I was 12. I wont say that I have bulimia as I haven’t seen a specialist about this matter and I am in no way capable of diagnosing myself. Through out this time I have had periods of anorexia like symptoms. eg. Not eating for extended amounts of time.
    I’m now 16 and realize that I could have a serious problem. I don’t know how to confront my parents about it. I know they will just brush it aside because I’m not a skeleton.
    Can you please contact me and let me know the best way to let my parents know about what I’m going through?

    Regards,
    Elise.

  3. Dear Olwyn,
    Thanks for your comments. It’s very good to hear that the bulimia need “switiched off”. Were there significant changes in your life?

    Or were your handling relationship differently?
    Regards,
    Charles Fishman

  4. sheryl says:

    Hi,
    I have had bulimia for twenty years now and it invades my thinking 24/7.Previous to this from the age of 10 I was on a binge/starve myself rollercoaster. I am 53.Im actually an intelligent person but horribly chaotic on the inside. Its like living with two people constantly battling the doing it and not doing it.I can be not doing it in my head but still actually doing it at the same time.It rules me. I now live on my own so no one is affected by it.But its the loneliest journey in all the world. Even as I write this I say to myself. Get over yourself but all the good talk in the world is always beaten down by the bad self. I had an anorexic alcoholic mum that was the unhappiest person I knew and wasted her organs literally to death and died at 62. How she lasted that long Ill never know. I actually prayed for her to die because her life was living hell to her.She had no hope. But I do. Its an intangible believe that Ill combat this thing. God only knows how but if anyone wants to chat Ill share and Ill listen.
    regards and good thoughts to whoever may be reading.

  5. Thank you for your message. Your pain certainly highlights the terrible power of this disease – and the hell it puts sufferers and their families through.

    What I would like to a add, however, is a message of optimism – even when there is chronicity such as this there is still hope. If the suffer commits to change – and has a professional who is committed to working with her and her social context (with solid back up from a GP) there can be great changes.

    Another part of the importance of your letter is its implicit message to other families and sufferers – effective treatment should be sought ASAP – the more chronic, the harder the eating disorder it is to treat.

  6. Michelle says:

    Hi Sheryl,

    You are not alone.

    I understand completely how you feel. I was anorexic at age 12 – 14 and then became bulimic and have lived with this ‘controlling’ disease for over 24 years. I like you am intelligent and energetic, once with a strong will power but completely helpless to this disease. For years and years I have wanted to overcome it and have continued down the same shameful path. My family have been aware of my situation for years, and I continue to (try) to deceive them but I am sure they know what I am still doing. I feel so ashamed of myself and any meal I have with them I feel I have to be on my best behaviour and pretend I am ‘normal’. I often think about being granted three wishes and I would use all three on turning my life around as I can’t seem to do it myself. I also feel so lonely trying to deal with a constant and obsessive battle. I just wish it was as simple as turning off a switch to change things but I realise it is a very difficult journey, especially when I have been doing it for so long. I also suffer from depression which I think was triggered by my anorexia. Like you, I also believe there will be a turning point for me. It will be like winning lotto!

    Kindest Regards
    M

  7. Victoria says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Reading your reply feels like you have the taken the words and thoughts right out of my mouth. I couldn’t have explained “it” better. It’s so frustrating because like you, I’m very strong willed and it makes me so angry to think that something has complete control over me. Pretending to be normal and putting an act on in front of friends and family is the hardest part because it’s so much easier not to eat, because then I don’t have to “get rid of it”. I just wish there was something out there that would help me “turn off the switch” and make me be able to go through at least one day in my life without this constant battle with food.
    It helps to think that I’m not going through this alone though and there are other people out there that are battling as much as I am.

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Book: Enduring Change in Eating Disorders

Enduring Change in Eating Disorders - Book Cover

Dr Fishman is the author of 'Enduring Change in Eating Disorders – Interventions with long -term results' (Brunner-Routledge 2004).

This book presents the powerful and proven effective model of Intensive Structural Family Therapy and its application to the treatment of eating disorders.