Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Am... Bulimic?

Hello, my name is [blank] and I am... bulimic?  No wait.  I live with BED.  I binge.  I don't purge.   This can't be right.

But that was years ago.  Back when I led a sedentary lifestyle.  Back when I would never have thought of restricting or fasting or sticking my fingers down my throat.  Though I never did succeed in correcting a binge by purging.  I can't tell you how many times I stared down at my toilet, gagging, without being able to complete the act.  At the time, I felt like this was one more way in which I failed.  Now, I consider it a blessing that I never made it down that particular path.

Still, there are other ways to purge. Of course, this is not news to me, but I never connected the behavior to my ED.  I have  Seeking Something Else  to thank for this epiphany.  She recommend I read Brain Over Binge by Kathryn Hansen.  I couldn't put the book down.  The author managed to recover from bulimia practically overnight using nothing but modified thinking.  If she hadn't spent the first half of the book detailing her crawling decent into the madness of an ED, I'd probably have laughed the method off as a snake oil cure.

Like me, Hansen was never able to purge the "traditional" way.  Instead, she would spend the entire day after a binge in the gym.  She sweated away her transgressions.  When I read her story, something went ping in my brain.  I never connected exercise with my ED because I keep the same schedule every week, regardless of how much/often I binged.  Now, it's so glaringly obvious I want to smack myself upside the head.  I work out to control my weight and because I love what I do.  I work out like crazy to compensate for my binge sessions.  It doesn't matter how much I enjoy my fitness regiment...

I am bulimic.

A bulimic who does preemptive purging.  Is that even a thing?

Crap.  Hopefully I won't be this way for much longer.  I am very ready to leave this part of my life behind.  I'm cautiously optimistic about Hansen's approach.  I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. I think it's a very brave thing to be able to admit this to yourself. It can be a fuzzy line between enjoying exercise, and doing it as a means of compensation. They always say the first step in recovery is admitting that you have a problem, and I too hope you're able to leave this part of your life behind.
    Good luck sweetie <3 xx

    1. It came as quite the shock to me. I've NEVER viewed myself as bulimic. At least now I know, I can start a different path to recovery, eh?

      Thank you for the comment and support. You really are a bright spot in my day, Bella.

  2. You didn't sound defensive at all; in fact, I think you did remarkably well with feedback that could be very uncomfortable. Like I said, I've been there with exercise bulimia (though as I also said, not to the same degree) that morphed into BED. The thoughts have been there all along, even though I got to the point where I was too afraid (due to high weight and frequent injuries) to exercise.

    Are you saying you gain wait if you eat more because including binges, it averages out to too many calories? If not, you may be taxing your body so much your metabolism has slowed. If you can afford to work with a nutritionist, it might help you find a way to eat more without putting the weight back on. If you can't afford it, you still might be able to get some valuable information from (from an RD who works with ED people).

    Bella is right, it is incredibly brave to face this head on. I hope you really do keep us in the loop about what helps from Brain Over Binge - if it helps you I may have to check it out.

    1. My binges are usually at least 5,000 calories. I have to lower my daily intake to compensate. Though I do have a pretty slow metabolism. When I led a fairly sedentary lifestyle, and only rarely binged (once maybe every two months or so) I had to keep my intake around 1,200 - 1,500 calories to maintain. Argh. I'm sure I could eat well over 2,000 calories a day if I didn't binge several times a week.

      Brain Over Binge has already helped my mindset, though I haven't been challenged with a strong urge to binge since I read the book. We'll see.

      Thank you for the comment and support, Tempest! You always offer the most helpful advice.

  3. I've just read it too! gosh I love seeking something else for recommending it. I was thinking something similar when you posted your exercise schedule the other day but thought it was too rude to bring it up.. plus I may have been wrong (I was hoping I was wrong).

    Oh and I listened to a podcast of hers on the other day and she didn't recover overnight, it took 9 months so don't push yourself too hard if it take time to recover. I'm using her techniques too and it's all going well so far *fingers crossed* hopefully it works for us both!
    Let me know how you're going? feel free to email xxxx

    1. Isn't the book amazing! I'll have to listen to Hansen's podcast. In her book it really did sound like she recovered overnight. She only had two binges after reading the RR book.

      Please never feel like you need to hold back comments or suggestions because they might be considered rude. I'd much rather people be blunt than polite. Sometimes that's what it takes for me to realize something. I'm WAY too good at denial, haha.

      Good luck using Hansen's techniques! I'll keep you updated on my progress if you'll do the same with yours :)

      I feel like I have a partner in crime (partner in recovery?). So excited!

  4. I think a lot of us fit in to a couple of ED diagnosis
    I started out as anorexic 12 years ago but over time it has morphed in to bulimia
    It's incredibly brave of you to admit this
    I remember when I first told I had an ED, I refused to believe it and was in denial for a long time
    Now I have accepted it and am ok with it
    Although for me being labelled can be dangerous
    I found that I felt I had to live up to the title I was given

    Keep fighting the good fight x

    1. I've noticed that people with EDs tend to blur the line between diagnoses. It's a real weak point in the DSM-IV. I'm hoping they'll fix a lot of those problems in DSM-V. I know they're completely overhauling the ED section.

      I actually feel a sense of relief admitting I'm bulimic. I haven't felt right about the BED diagnosis in a long time.

      Thanks for the support!

  5. I agree with you on blurring the line between diagnoses. From what I've read the DSM-V does do a better job of coming up with some new terminology for behavior that doesn't fall clearly on either of two sides but lands somewhere on the road between. I've traveled from anorexia to purging bulimia/anorexia to purging bulimia, to where I am now which is still a package of addictive behavior that I struggle to chip away at in a body that's on the low end of my recommended weight range. My exercise schedule is similar to yours (different mix of activities and less total time because of time constraints). I find that I need (have) to work out before work, even if that means getting up at 4:30 just about every day of the work week and sacrificing sleep. Days I give in to my exhaustion and sleep through my a.m. workout are a struggle because working out really helps with feeling anxious with work stress/deadlines. I feel almost like I am white knuckling it to get through the day and I think all day about getting in a workout at night (usually difficult and means I have to take something off the evenings' commitments and feel guilty about it). So yeah, I hate feeling like I can never take a day off and just let it go.

    Foodwise, I do eat enough to fuel my workouts, which are usually about 2 hours of high intensity stuff. One of the things I found with me is that I can adjust to low calorie intake (500-1000 daily) for short periods if my activity level is sedentary or no more than 200-300 calories extra burned daily in exercise. When my exercise level goes above that, up to where I work out now, I can only go under my daily intake by about 300 calories. Dropping intake to 500 or 1000 calories less than what I am actually burning makes overwhelming food cravings start up (like super binge). I'm guessing it's something chemical/neurological going on rather than something I can "willpower" my way out of. Annoying if I want to drop 5 pounds because I can't just fast for a few days because, heck, I can't stop working out (!) Gotta laugh.

    Sorry this is so long, but I just wanted to connect and say that you're not alone with the exercise. I've kind of come to the conclusion that even though it feels like it traps me sometimes, it does help me walk a middle ground with some of the other things that I might abuse to help reduce anxiety and feeling sad or lousy. I try to imagine myself with no behaviors at all (no eating 6 to 10 caramels a day, no after-work beer, no 3-5 cups of coffee). Somehow I think I am never going to be that perfectly balanced moderate person because maybe I just have a brain that likes to get addicted to things. The new DSM-V has added terminology that might be helpful for me when thinking about where I'd fall on the spectrum. Rather than trying to decide if I have an exercise addiction or an exercise dependence, I can now say I have an "exercise use disorder".

    Best wishes,

    1. Thank you for the comment. It's always nice to know you're not the only person suffering from a particular kind of crazy. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of the DSM-V.

  6. I'm glad the book is proving useful, though, I'm sorry if it's made you feel bad in any way. Though, I guess better know so it can be dealt with.

    I think the key to Hansen's techniques working is to WANT to do them, to WANT to recover. In that sense I think traditional therapy is kind of correct. Sometimes we do "get something out of" our ED. And we have to be ready to give up whatever that is.

    I really, really hope it works for you!

    1. The thing that I worry about is her definition of compensatory binging (overeating because of food deprivation) vs habit binging. Sounds like her method is more effective on habit binging, and I'm not sure I'm there.

      Either way, I really DO want to recover. We'll see.

      Thank you for the comment :)


Thank you for the comment! Your input is always appreciated :)