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My Journey

January 18, 2007

My Journey

  Hello my name is Michelle, I am 26 years old and I have been bulimic since the age of 10.

  As you will see I do not refer to those of us with an Eating Disorder as "sufferers", we are Survivors. Each day that we make an attempt at overcoming this problem, whether we make it through that specific day or not, we are survivors.

  Many people think that we learn to have an eating disorder. They think that we see our thinner friends or see bodies portrayed on TV and just choose to become as in my case bulimic, that we choose to have an eating disorder. It may be true that a small percent of survivors are introduced to it in this way, however the facts show that a major traumatic event, or a drastic change brings out these eating disorders. No one chooses to have an eating disorder. This is a problem that at first we think we can control it we then learn that it controls us.

I would like to give you a glimpse into my continuing journey in the battle against bulimia.

  Until now I have never told anyone my full story. If I am going to help anyone else, I need to start by being honest with everyone including myself. It started I guess you can say even without me even realizing what it was at the time.

  Between the ages of 5 until 10 I was molested by someone whom I trusted, someone who was everything to me. It was my foster father. The only father I ever knew. It was at the age of ten that I began dealing with the fact that this had happened. I began getting flashbacks, every time I ate I would see the abuse I would see what happened, . I would see him and get "sick" I would make myself throw up to get rid of the memories, to stop the flashbacks. For a while that worked, so in my mind I figured that this was my only way of "dealing", coping and moving on.

  I continued purging even after the flashbacks went away. Every time another problem or change would occur I would purge.

I realized later it was because I felt it was the only thing that the eating disorder gave me an element of control in my life.

  Around the age of 12, the bulimia got to the point where I was doing it all the time not just because of the previous problem. By this time in my mind my body was ugly, it was diseased. In my mind the food was poison, every piece of food that passed through my mouth was putting things in my body that would kill me.

  At the age of 13 I became pregnant. I made the choice to eat for the baby whether it hurt me or not. In my life I never had anything that really belonged to me, I felt that I never had anyone who loved me for me. I felt when I got pregnant I for once in my life had everything ever wanted, everything I ever dreamed to have. My boyfriend at the time was beating me up; I was 14 years old and nine months pregnant, when he beat me one last time, he killed my son. I lost my hopes, my dreams, my everything. I once again began purging, along with much more. I attempted suicide 23 times over the next nine years. All I wanted was to be close to my son but never realized that if I had succeeded, I would be further away from him then ever before.

  I continued purging without anyone noticing (or if they did notice they didn't care or do anything to try and stop me) until the age of 16. I confided in my sister parts of what was going on. I never told anyone everything; until now. My sister told my foster mother (the only mother that ever cared). Then began the never ending pestering and guilt trips. My mother, like so many others, thought that I would stop purging if I felt bad, or if I got to the point of total disgust. Eventually my mother told my Children &Youth case worker.

  I was sent to Friends hospital in Philadelphia. I was there a week. In my week there, I realized that by purging, I was letting those who had hurt and abandon me win. I was letting the food rule my life. It was rough the first few days at the hospital; I had to eat six times a day. I had to eat 2,500 calories a day compared to my normal 200 at the most. I couldn't smoke till I ate this was torture for me. Eventually I was able to go to the cafe and pick what I wanted, under strict supervision of course. I was released a week later.

  I believe one of the major things that impacted my life that week was when my biological father said he wanted to be part of my life. He called me each day that I was there and he gave me encouragement It was the first time this had ever happened.

  I stopped purging for three years, I was out of the Psychiatric Hospital for four years.

 I began purging again at age nineteen I deteriorated to the point where I was throwing up blood.

 I had ruptured my esophagus. Bulimia is a never ending battle, I was dealing well with everything up until a few months ago then after a two year period of not even having the urge to purge the bulimia came back. I fought back and I won again but I realized that its never going to go away it will always be there and i will always have to fight.

 It took a person named Dottie, who at first didn't know me from Eve (or Adam) to believe in me. She showed me that I am someone, that I am worth fighting for. She gave me the strength to ask for help. Dottie gave me the strenght in my self to believe that I could overcome this and anything in my life. I put her through many tests and she still stood by me. Dottie is now one of the most important people in my life; she has become another mother to me, many say that she is not your mother but it takes more than giving birth to be a mother. 

  So this is my journey. It took one person to change my life. I am doing because I might be this one person to someone. It would give meaning to these events in my life if I am able to make a change in even one persons life.

Eating Disorders are a hidden problem. No one can help if they don't know problem.