Help, I’m Bulimic.
Coach Sam: Last week after lunch felt so full that I put my finger down my throat and forced myself to vomit. I felt this rush afterward, so I knew I got control back! I’m normally not a “purge person” (I know a couple friends who are routinely bulimic and it’s no big deal). I was wondering if their behavior is rubbing off on me? The worst part is that while I was doing this I know a co-worker heard me in the bathroom and knocked to ask if I was okay. I don’t want anyone to know. I’m scared they will judge me. You know, rumors! Kyle, Hollywood
In 1987, at 13 years old, I owned a candy store in my home town of Bountiful, Utah. Needless to say, I “ate a lot of the profits” and was significantly overweight for a kid my age. One weekend I saw “Kate’s Secret,” a film about bulimia starring Meredith Baxter-Birney. The film tells the story of a beautiful woman married to a successful lawyer (and the perfect suburban mother) who turns out to be a closeted bulimic. A light went on in my head.
Do you know the 12 telltale signs of bulimia?
That next week, I surreptitiously bought a big bag of sweets from the JC Penney candy counter— and gobbled it all down while mom shopped. I felt ashamed and gross. “What’s the real harm in throwing it up?” I asked myself. So I walked to the men’s room, sat down, and locked the stall door. I even put my finger down my throat, but just before I gagged — something inside me said — “NO!” and I stopped. “Kate’s Secret” had made an impact on me. While I continued a battle with my weight throughout high school, I never considered “binging and purging” again.
I want to acknowledge you for coming out of the closet about your behavior. But let’s be honest here: bulimia isn’t “routine” or “no big deal” as you say— it’s a serious medical and psychological condition. Are you aware of the physical costs you’re paying for this behavior? Aside from vitamin deficiencies, hyponatremia, malnutrition and dehydration, bulimia can lead to all the conditions on the right. Including death. You say you’re “normally” not a binge and purger, so what does every “once in a while” mean: Once a month? Once a week? Just because you think you’re getting away with something, doesn’t mean you are. Perhaps you’re only fooling yourself.
Stop worrying about rumors or what other people are thinking about. The first step in getting control back is by knowing how out of control it got. You need to be witnessed, so find a meeting or call your three closest friends—RIGHT NOW—and tell them about your struggle. Ask them for support and help. If you’re too embarrassed to ask your friends for help, then go to your doctor, the hospital, or online.
Do it now. It’s never too late to enjoy your life.