In order to move forward, I think it is first important to acknowledge where you come from. So this post will be a brief (numberless) account of my history with eating disorders.
My eating disorder began quite atypical to the media portrayed eating disorders. I wasn't trying to make myself smaller or control my body. In fact, I wanted to do the opposite. I started as a binge eater. My first memory of binge eating is around the age of 8, which coincided with the onset of puberty. I was living in an abusive environment and after being told I was becoming "too fat to love" I began to binge and gain weight. I believed that if I was fat then nobody would hurt me or want to touch me. I would be safe.
This lasted until I was 15. Naturally, the daily binges increased my weight and I became clinically obese. I had realised that the extra weight did nothing to keep me safe. But my mother's decreasing weight had 'protected' her from my father. My mind put two and two together and decided that getting thin would protect me. I would make myself so thin that I would be repulsive and thus safe.
But the binges were so ingrained as a coping strategy and I couldn't just let it go. So I alternated between binging wildly through the night and refusing food during the day. Enter Bulimia. Though I didn't lose much weight this way, I felt a sense of control. I was containing the binges to the night time and complete control of my intake during the day.
During this time I had also started self-harming to cope with the depression and trauma related to my past (something I'm not that comfortable sharing just yet). I stopped sleeping and became obsessive; staying up for 3 consecutive nights writing and re-writing my year 12 history esssay. My mum and the school were concerned so I was taken to our GP. And this began my relationship with anti-depressant medication. My dr assured me that this plus his advice of "losing weight and getting a boyfriend" would make me 'better'. He got the dosage wrong and I was so drowsy from being medicated I couldn't present my history oral I had worked so hard for.
The depression increased and I felt myself falling deeper into the black abyss that was my mind. From age 17-21 I had attempted suicide in various forms and severity. It is an amazement that this alone didn't kill me.
After a particularly large binge I was full to the point of throwing up. It was like a light bulb moment. I could stuff my fears with food and halt the weight gain. The binging and purging became my life. I'd wake up to go binge shopping, have my rituals around ridding myself of the food and doing the same again. I stopped eating outside of the binges and they became smaller.
I began to lose weight. I also became hypokalemic and was unable to work. My life was nothing but bulimia. I studied at university but often had to drop out because I was unable to concentrate on the material. I also struggled to walk to the shops to fuel my binges - a 10min walk became a 1hr fiasco. The financial strain of buying food and reduced work hours has left its mark and I ended up filing for bankruptcy at age 21. I lost my unit and had to move back in with my mum.
This became both my lowest point and the turning point in my life. I relished the role of sick child. "Mummy will look after me." I had no responsibilities, nothing to take up my time except bulimia. I was still fasting between the binges along with the purging so I got very sick from malnutrition. My weight plummetted into anorexic and emaciated levels. But I still believed I was fat. My thighs were too big, my bum wobbled, my fingers were chubby.
The doctors became worried to. I had (and still do) see a registrar at my (now) local hospital. She was starting to thing inpatient would be necessary. This is were both me and my mum discovered the lack of resources for the mental health sector. In my state there are 5 designated eating disorder beds; all located at my registrar's hospital. I was no longer in the catchment area so I had to be seen at my local mental health ward first. General mental health wards are reluctant to take on an eating disordered patient. We waited 7hrs in emergency with referrals from three of my drs (a gp, registrar and private psychiatrist) to be told a) no beds, and b) I just needed to stick with my private psychiatrist and drink resource (a suppliment).
Also while this was happening, I was seeing a cardiologist up at the hospital (with the ed beds). My cardiac health was failing as a direct result of my eating disorder. My dr rang and coerced the ed team into taking me...
I spent 3 weeks in hospital with a ng tube... Since then I have made a real effort to recover. There have been lapses and bad times in between. I have gained the weight I needed to then lost it again and had to regain it once again.
But I never want to get to that point again. I thought I was going to be another anorexia/bulimia statistic - another one that couldn't be saved. But I am still here...
And even as I write it down it is still hard to believe that I put my body through such torture. But if I can put so much energy into self-destruction then I can put just as much into self-nurturing.