So, anyone that knows me, knows that I have suffered with eating disorders, from around age 15 up until this year- around 7 years in full. I’m quite vocal about it. I’ve always thought that you can help people by sharing your stories- you never know who could be reading. If someone who has an eating disorder reads this, and it strikes a cord, or if a relative of someone who has Bulimia reads this and they have the realisation that things can get better, then I will be exponentially happy. Even if my friends just start to understand me a little better by reading this, then that’s still a big personal accomplishment.
This is not Oprah, so I wont give you a run down of every dysfunctional neuron in my brain, or take you through a step by step of each day of my life, because let’s be honest- your almost asleep already…
So, here we go…
My Bulimia started with, what I look back on, as the onset of depression in my mid teens, I did not really have a lot of control in my life at that time. I was a big kid too- I mean I would eat every fucking thing I could get my hands on- I was a Chanel 4 Documentary waiting to happen. But in all seriousness, because I was big, I got bullied a lot. I was not particularly good looking, bright or intelligent- or if I was, I never really saw it in myself. But I’ve always had one ability which I think helps me through most of the shitty times in my life: humour, Being funny has always allowed me to mask most of my feelings, I’m quite happy-go-lucky and a bit of a twat- I like to make an idiot of myself, I like making people laugh, I like talking to people. I think in my past life I was shipwrecked with no fucker to talk to because I literally cannot stand being on my own.
So yeah- a little bit of a backstory for ya…
So, my eating, it first started off cutting down when I was around 15- like I said, I was big and I didn’t want to be ‘the funny fat guy’. I wanted to be liked for me, I didn’t want the ‘fat’ label, and yeah- vanity is a bitch too so I wanted to look skinny like most of my peers. I must have been eating around 3,000 calories a day, and then one day I just stopped and cut it to 400 calories a day- literally just a packet of super-noodles or 2 bags of crisps or something ridiculous. The weight literally dropped off me and after around 8 months, I’d lost a ton of weight but my parent were shitting bricks- I’d gone from a chunky lil’ monkey to painfully thin- I think I went down to around just under 10 stone, and I was around 6 foot 5 then- the whole ribs and bones sticking out didn’t suit me but I thought I looked good. Months passed and I felt like absolute shit every day, went down to eating nothing for 5 days out of the week, and would consequently loose around 8/9lbs in 5 days and then binge for 2 days and eat everything. For some reason that seemed sensible to me at the time…
Then, in those two days, I must have been eating around 10,000 calories and nothing for the other 5 so my weight fluctuated heavily depending on the day- and weight has always clung to me, so it was a bit of a bastard to be honest. Then as this became the norm for me, this cycle, I just lived with it for around 4 years. Then I came out as Gay, which was another shit storm to deal with, and moved in with my Boyfriend (at the time). I thought I was getting better: finally being myself, my own house, uni, boyfriend- I felt like really fucking good. But looking back, it was probably one of the worst times for me- I found out my boyfriend had been cheating on me for around 8 months (so- the whole relationship. A keeper, right?) and from then on I felt like shit about myself- we would get into explosive rows, and I’m quite a placid person but I just couldn’t cope with him cheating on me, and from the day I found out about that, I went from binging and purging (being sick) maybe twice a week to around 12-15 times a day. I stayed though, because my self-esteem was absolutely obliterated, and I never thought I could do any better (my confidence still isn’t that great). And this is the thing with Bulimia- if something upsets you, you become unable to cope without binging and purging and it ruins your confidence, you don’t think your worthy of even being alive.
An average day for me would be: waking up, going to Uni, getting home and going to the shop. I would buy buckets of fried chicken, family bags of crisps, cakes, pasty’s, pastries, burgers etc.- like a fuck ton of food. I would go home, put a movie on, sit on my own and literally binge for a good hour. When I ate that much food, I used to have to drink around 4 litres of coke with it to keep it a fluid consistency. If I just binged and didn’t drink in between, the food would be so dry that when I was sick it would get stuck in my throat and I felt like I was choking or it would rip the back of my throat (which happened a lot at the beginning).
That was at my worst, and that lasted for a long, long time. I also became unable to make myself sick with my fingers because my gag reflex was just gone so I had to use a toothbrush from then on- that was pretty terrifying, It almost slipped right down my throat many times but it didn’t deter me from doing it. I also used to self-harm quite a lot. I would go into my old work with plasters and bandages on my wrists all the time. I would get razors and carve words into my arm like “fat” or when I was really mad I’d just hack at them and when people asked what the bandage was, I’d say I’d burned myself on the cooker, spilled boiling water on myself etc. I was just in a really bad way- I think my eating made my depression and anxiety worse and that just made me want to hurt myself. Then, one night, (Advanced warning: this is where it gets pretty deep) like half way through my 2nd year at Uni, me and my BF had one of our rows, like a fucking huge one and I was just done with everything, I literally felt exhausted, (Being sick 12-15 times a day really fucking takes it out of you) so I locked myself in the bathroom and slit my wrists with a razor blade. I really don’t know what the fuck I was doing but I think it was a combination of things but mainly the Bulimia. I actually have a picture of my wrists cut open from that night, I said to my BF; take this picture of me now because I don’t ever want to be in this state again. I was going to post the picture, so you can see how far this illness pushed me, but I don’t think your even allowed to post stuff like that nowadays, and plus its pretty graphic… Anyways, yeah I remember just sitting on the floor and watching the blood slowly pool out onto the tiles, it was really, really weird, I felt like I was high, like watching myself doing it—but yeah that was the no. 1 worst day for me.
So, I think that was the point where I realised things had to change, obviously, my health was rapidly deteriorating, my hair was falling out, I felt awful all the time, I would get sick constantly, I would throw up tons of blood when I was being sick, my teeth were showing signs of the bulimia (they are trashed now so I’ve got to get them fixed… and rather ironic that something I did to try and make myself look better ended up making me so much worse) obviously I was still thin but I thought I looked fat- there was just too much going on in my head.
So, I broke up with my boyfriend, had a few weeks feeling like shit and literally just decided to get my shit together and take back control. I just woke up, on my own one morning and said, “You give up and die, or fight it and enjoy your life just like everyone else”. I decided to slowly wean myself off being sick- I allowed myself one day a week to binge and purge (although I would not recommend this for someone in recovery). And then I met this other guy- he really helped me, the guy I’m with now- well the guy I’m engaged too. He really boosted my confidence; he would sit up and talk to me all the time. He was honest with me but harsh, he said, “if you’re sick once in my house then you leave and don’t come back”, and from that day, I haven’t been sick again.
So that really did fix me- a guy who supports me through everything, amazing friends, great family- I just made myself be grateful and not throw away what I was taking for granted. Don’t get me wrong, there is not one day I wake up and don’t feel fat- but I think that an eating disorder is something, which you manage. Now I can balance, I can eat junk food but then the next day, balance it out with healthy food. Its give and take I guess, and I’m still not an expert in how to eat right but I’ve been recovered for 8 months, which is pretty awesome, and I can honestly say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
I don’t know why it took me so long to get it, but in the end, I did…
So if nothing else, I am an example that if you surround yourself with people who support you and you believe in yourself, you can overcome anything- literally, if I can spend 7 years in a world of eating disorders and counting calories, cutting into my arm each time I ate, and come out the other side- than anyone can do it.
You just have to accept the problem for what it is and fight it. I kinda use that approach for most things in my life now.
Anyways, thanks for reading what is essentially a pile of waffle,