June 28, 2009

From M on “Bulimic since 14” to Sheryl

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 willpower 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

12 Responses to “From M on “Bulimic since 14” to Sheryl”

  1. Erica says:

    Wow.. I am twenty two years old and have been suffering from the same obsessive behaviour for only four years but I am trapped! I want to help myself but I am completely powerless. I saw a documentary about people who wake up in the middle of the night and gorge them selves in their sleep- I feel I have the same but I am awake and cannot help myself anymore than if I was completely asleep. It makes me so sad that I am wasting my life away. I wish everyone who’s mind itches at them with insecurity and delusional thoughts the power to just be happy, smile and look forward.

  2. Cara says:

    Hi there. I can truly sympathize with you girls and although I have been only suffering from bulimia for about 6 years, anyone that suffers at all knows that no matter what period of time one has to deal with an eating disorder, there is no lessening of the pain.
    I guess what I am hoping is that someone out there who has recovered, or is in remission could maybe post us a little hope and let us know what worked for them, or how it feels to have come out the otherside. I to have severe depression and I know it’s often hard to distinguish which came first, the depression or the eating disorder.. as both can fuel one another, but if someone has any suggestions whatsoever that could help at least one of us to turn a corner that would be wonderful


    • Dear Cara,
      Thanks for your heart felt letter. Everyone who works with this problems is sensitive and aware of the pain it engenders.

      As noted in my website, I see these problems as very treatable. I see them based in relationships which can be modified.

      In Jan, I plan to introduce an educational–networking approach to aid suffers to connect with their supports to help them identify and address relationships that exacerbate the eating disorder.

      Kind regards,
      Dr. Charles Fishman

  3. Lou Lou says:

    Hi there. I am on a mission to recover from my ED. It has been years now and I have started a blog which I find quite helpful, its great because it is the first time i have look at Pro-recovery sites instead of the opposite.
    my life has become totally unmanageable. I am no longer working and my inner dialogue is the loudest, meanest and most frequent thinking it has ever been.
    when i see that one step in recovery is to bring significant people to therapy sessions this idea scares me as i dont really want to tell everyone i have an ED.
    some of the most significant people in my life dont know about my eating problem.

  4. Angela says:

    Dear M. I was bulimic from 19 to 30 years (ish) and want to say it is possible to stop the cycle. I am about to turn 40 and only now do I feel that I am truly nice to my body. For me, it was a case of tiny steps, every week. I tried counsellors and group therapy but nothing seemed to really work. So then I bought a diary. And I made myself write down what I was doing every day. That diary became my secret companion and motivator. I would promise my diary that I would try to not binge on one day of the week (Fridays). That grew to two days and three days over a couple of years. Eventually I chose one day where it was OK (Mondays) to binge, then I just kept moving it out and out, to once a fortnight and once a month. Until finally I stopped purging. I still had binges whenever anything stressful happened as my way of coping (my bottle of sherry) throughout my early thirties. And now I don’t even do that anymore. I did talk to a counsellor when I was 35, for about a year, as I really wanted to develop a better relationship with myself, and stop being so mean in my head. I can still eat too much in a meal but it never turns into the frantic cupboard scouring that it used to be. It’s taken a long time to develop a good relationship with food and I’m outrageously fussy. I’m careful of certain foods that used to always trigger a binge, but my family understand I’m a little quirky with my meals. I was petrified about ever getting pregnant – and getting really fat – but I’ve been pregnant twice now and I think in that process it helped me realize what amazing bodies we have. They can grow children! Learning to love somebody, my children and most importantly myself has been the biggest challenge. I have had to find other ways to deal with stress and force myself to just have a bloody good shout sometimes. And stop internalizing everything. There is certainly hope. Just start with small steps and don’t beat yourself up when you have a bad day/week. Allowing myself a binge day really helped for a while as I would look forward to it. And then eventually I didn’t like it. Remember to be kind to yourself too. You are amazing for coping with this for such a long time. And you do have strong willpower, it’s what has kept your bulimia a secret for such a long time. That takes determination and strenth. And balls! All the best.

  5. Brierly says:

    Hi everyone,

    It has been 2 years since I can say I have recovered from both bulimia and anorexia. I struggled with it through my senior high school years and until my second year at university. It was partly self-punishment for bad things I couldn’t control happening in my life. I have always been a reasonably high achiever and people were willing to believe me when I told them I had hyperthyroidism (super fast metabolism) as the reason for my extreme skinny-ness. This trapped me for a long time as even when I became aware of how ill and ugly I had made myself, the image I had projected made it near impossible to change. Then I only weighed in over 30 kgs, now I weigh close to 50. It took alot to turn things around as I can honestly say when I was going through it I didn’t think I could ever get out. I would starve myself for a week then binge in reaction to the starvation, purge everything and start the cycle over again. This meant that I lived on absolutely nothing and was so ashamed of my antics that I often wouldn’t come out of my room for whole days. My mum eventually forced me to take a look at what I was doing to my body with all the health problems I was facing and my inability to socialise with anyone. I still haven’t told everyone in my life but I did and do talk to close friends, and especially my mum. By facing up to the fact I had an illness that I could no longer hide, and that I was losing friends and couldn’t have a proper relationship I started eating normally and doing regular but not excessive exercise. I can’t imagine how it is for sufferers who have been trapped for so many years, but it is possible to change things no matter how late you think it is!!

    Please contact me if you want to ask any questions, I would love to be of help and believe you guys can get through it because you deserve to love yourself and have a fulfilling life. I am planning on writing a book about my experiences so that eating disorders don’t have to be perceived as a shameful self-infiicted illness in society. You just have to remember that it is a disease that is ALMOST impossible to control and that you shouldn’t be ashamed or blame yourselves ( I did this too). The best thing you can do to overcome this is to talk to people who are close to you (and others too); let them in as you should not be judged for suffering from a psychological disorder. This is why I nearly didn’t recover because I was too ashamed to tell people that I did this to myself. It is incredibly difficult to open this personal part of you up but it is the only way to recovery, especially those closest to you and hardest to tell. Even though my weight still fluctuates from time to time it is only ever insignificant and I just remind myself that putting on a little weight is nothing to the hell I put myself through. Sometimes I am vulnerable to being too image conscious, but it no longer controls my life and I never ever find it justified now to starve myself or purge myself of food. Even if I overeat I remember that I’m still healthy and that once in while it doesn’t really matter, and with my dancing and running (usually 3 times in a week) I only ever want to be good to my body. I have never felt so beautiful and am now in a longterm relationship with someone I can actually trust and talk to about these things. Surround yourself with people as much as you possibly can. I get involved in dance groups and many kinds of group activities at university on a regular basis. Hobbies that force you to interact with people are one of the best ways to stop constantly self-analysing yourself in a negative way and remember what you enjoy doing and are good at. Life does get fun and meaningful again.

    My heart goes out to all you guys because I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have escaped so early. Just believe in your self-worth and remember that you deserve love and care just as much as anybody else.

  6. Teresa says:

    HI Im sitting here crying at the moment reading these letters. Iv been bulimic for 16 years now. wow Iv never added up the years before. Im a mother of three boys and am in a loving marage I wont to stop but dont know how Iv tried lots of times and Im too ashamed to tell my husband or friend or ask for help.

  7. Dear Teresa
    Thank you for your note. I can’t encourage you enough to share the information of what you are battling with people who love you. Also, it is essential to involve your GP to assess and monitor your medical status. Bulimia Nervosa is a compulsion that is a disease like any other such as asthma. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Let them help, you will all benefit greatly.

    Isolation makes this problem worse. You are welcome to register as a member of our social network to gain support from others.


  8. Amo says:

    Hi there,

    I need help with my weight. I have been underweight practically most of my life. I am 173cms tall and weigh only 54kgs. I am looking for ways to gain weight healthly and get some advice on eating plans and exercise I may need to do.


  9. Your question is broad but important and I will do my best to address it.

    The issue, to my way of thinking, is do you have an eating disorder or do you have a tendency to be tall and thin, or ‘ectomorphic”? And are you someone who doesn’t eat when you get stressed? Since you have been this way most of your life, I would suggest that this is maybe less of an eating disorder and more of a result of the factors mentioned earlier.

    The first step is to go to your GP and see where you are on the expected weight charts, and to have a full medical exam to see if there is anything medically wrong. Following that, it would seem to me that there are a number of avenues that you might follow. Depending on the doctor’s advice you could see a dietician, go to a gym, or begin various kinds of training to help you eat the right foods when your body needs them.

    My expertise is in severe eating disorders. From what you have told me, you probably don’t fall into that group and psychiatric input may not be necessary. However, the first step is to see the GP .
    Best of luck.

  10. Jane says:

    Is it actually possible to completely recover from eating disorders? I ask this, as I’ve been fighting bulimia on and off for the last 10 years, but today I have broken a 3 month no-vomiting no-binging no-restricting and no-self harm record, and am honestly at my wits end: One stressful event and I am back staring at the toilet with a tourniquet around my arm to stop the bleeding.
    I am intelligent and have the job of my dreams, as a paramedic ironically. I’ve been through counseling, and the full spectrum of antidepressant meds. I just cant see a way out of this.

    • Yes Jane, this problem is definitely controllable and curable. I have many years of follow-up from former patients.

      In my book Enduring Change in Eating Disoders I tracked people I had treated as long as 20 yrs before.

      It is essential as we discuss in this site – avoid isolation, address realtonship problems – try to use the tools on the site. Remember eating disorders are not about food, they are about relationships.

      This is not in lieu of professional help of course. Also, it’s important to have a GP to oversee your condition with regard to potassium for example.

      Best regards, Charles

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Endorsements from Clients

  • Hello Charles! I am unsure if you will even remember who I am haha, but this is [name withheld] – I saw you in (I think) 2017 with anorexia.

  • My wife and I felt quite emotional last Monday after our short Zoom session. All three of us hugged. It felt like the end of a relatively short but profoundly enriching journey with you which started in June at your home office on Waiheke Island.

  • Dear Dr Fishman Thank you so much for this website. I have a long history of swinging between bulimia and compulsive over-eating. I am currently a compulsive over-eater.