Sunday, April 29, 2012

The First Step

In my opinion the first step in recovery from bulimia is making yourself see a counselor. It is not: admitting you have a problem, swearing to yourself that you’ll stop, or wanting to get better. Admitting you have a problem is very good, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. I knew I had a problem the first time I stuck my fingers down my throat. That wasn’t enough to make me stop. I was too ashamed of myself to tell anyone and even though I knew I had a problem I didn’t want to bring it to light. I thought I could handle it on my own.
Of course I was wrong, and I don’t think anyone has ever been right about that. Trying to control the urge to throw up and binge on your own doesn’t work because the disease is like an addiction. It might work for a while, but eventually there will be a relapse.
Wanting the illness to be gone is not enough on its own either. It doesn’t give you the tools to stop throwing up.
All these things added together might make you seek help, which is what I think catalyzes the recovery process. Telling someone you have a problem makes you feel less along, or at least it did for me. It also gave me the responsibility of throwing up. Before, I could engage in whatever behaviors I wanted and no one would judge me or think less of me. When I had to tell someone about what I was doing, I had much more incentive to stop myself from throwing up. Also, just having someone know made me want to prove to that person that I could get better. So I tried harder to stop myself from binging and throwing up.
The person I told about my problem was a counselor who I’d never met before in my life. None of my friends knew, my parents didn’t know, so in my regular life I wasn’t really being held accountable for my actions. However, even though I knew the counselor didn’t judge me, I still had more incentive to stop throwing up. If for no other reason than this, I urge anyone with this disease to seek help.
The best way to do this is probably to just force yourself to do it. When I called the counseling office, I was shaking and I almost hung up. But I reminded myself that I could always back out at a later date- which made me feel less anxious about continuing during that moment.
No one has to know you saw a counselor. No one has to know why you saw a counselor. No one has to know when you saw a counselor.
The secret can still be contained. No damage.
Just get help. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Trigger Foods

Everyone has trigger foods. Foods that you could just eat a thousand pounds of if you really felt like it. Foods that you absolutely love and will scarf down faster than the fork can rise to your lips. One aspect of bulimia is that trigger foods make me want to eat them and then everything else. If possible when I go home I want to get rid of the trigger foods at my house, but there’s a reason they’re trigger foods. My family loves to eat them, so they were around when the illness started and I could gorge on them.
My trigger foods:
1.     Pasta- any kind
2.     Chocolate, especially chocolate cake
3.     Icing- on chocolate cake usually
4.     Dessert items of any kind
5.     Starchy foods like potatoes with cheese
So I developed (unintentionally) a menu of counter-trigger foods, which include:
1.     Yoplait light
2.     Cereal
3.     Oatmeal
4.     Fiber-y things
5.     Vegetables
The counter-trigger foods allowed me to eat a lot without feeling like I was taking in a lot of calories. This in turn quelled my anxiety enough to make me not want to throw up. However, at my house, dessert seems like a constant presence. Starches are often the main features of the meal, with vegetables on the side. Whenever I go home this meal structure makes me feel like I’ve eaten entirely too much. I inevitably throw it up as often as I can.
My goal is to not let that happen when I go home this time, because this time I’m there to stay for 4 months. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why do I Binge?

I think I binge for two reasons: emotion, and hunger. The second one is a no-brainer. When I’m not binging I’m usually trying to diet in order to keep my weight at a reasonable level. This means that eventually the low caloric intake will have an impact on my body. It’ll make me ravenous, so everything looks delicious, and when I start to eat I won’t be able to stop. In my opinion, this is the easiest kind of binge to stop. The only thing you have to do is start eating more. Of course, that’s harder than it sounds, because the mindset is that if you eat more you’ll gain a whole bunch of weight. I felt this way because whenever I binged (ate whatever and however much I wanted) for a few days straight, I would immediately gain about five pounds. However, the trick is to eat until you’re full and then stop, even if you want to try other things. This will NOT make someone gain a lot of weight. In fact, it will probably make someone lose weight because his metabolism will start working properly again.
The other side of stopping this kind of binge is to stop counting calories. Counting calories will mean that you’ll stop eating because of your caloric intake and not because you’re full. This will just allow the cycle to continue.
Emotional binges are more difficult to stop. I’m not entirely sure how I’ve been handling them lately. Something to do might be to be around people when you want to binge, away from a food source. Also reminding myself that I’m not hungry and recognizing the fact that I want to binge because I feel stressed or anxious makes the desire easier to overcome. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why do I Purge?

Easy. Because I binge. And the binge makes me feel overly full, which makes me anxious, because being overly full means that I’m going to gain weight. If I purge it takes away the anxiousness. It’s more like an OCD type thing than a weight control thing, although weight control is supposed to be the outcome. When I binge I feel an incredibly strong urge to purge right afterwards. If I don’t the anxiety builds and builds and takes me on a conveyor belt to the bathroom.
This is where being a psych major comes in handy. The way OCD compulsions are treated is through flooding. The therapist throws the patient right into the situation they dread and makes them sit out the anxiety. Of course, this is usually done in steps, but in my situation steps won’t really help.
Since I’m bulimic and I inevitably binge at times, I’m thrust into the anxious situation. Recently, I’ve been waiting it out, keeping myself around people I love right after I eat. Even though I know after I binge that I probably gained some weight, the anxiety goes away after about a half hour to an hour. This actually helps with binging too, because I don’t feel as hungry anymore, which means I’m less likely to binge.
So far I’ve been binge-purge free for 4 days.
I was free for about 2 weeks before that, but then I went out to eat with a friend and my self-control went to hell.
Things are looking up though! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why am I Afraid to Tell my Parents?

I’m not exactly sure. I think I worry about ruining my parents’ vision of my as their perfect daughter. I’m successful, smart, I work hard, I go to all my classes, and I have a lot of opportunities ahead of me.
I can picture my parents’ reactions in my head. My mom would look very scared and worried and freak out. She would act all calm, but I would know that her heart is beating as fast as mine. She would be shocked, completely taken aback, and then the next thought that would pop into her head would be “why?”
And I wouldn’t be able to tell her.
She would ask what she could do to help me and I would say “I’d like to enter treatment at such and such program.” (because I’ve looked up treatment programs, believe it or not.)
She’d nod, and maybe there would be a conversation after that but I wouldn’t have anything else to say.
I feel like my mom would blame herself for not recognizing the signs. And I feel like once I got home she would view me as a balloon about to pop- like at any moment I could turn from a smiling teenager into some crazed monster addicted to sticking her fingers down her throat. To prevent this from happening, my mom would probably always want to be near me, and hover over me. She would push food on me even if I wasn’t hungry, under the assumption that eating more will help when it really won’t, or maybe she’ll eye my plate and question whether the amount of food on it is the right amount. I’ll get annoyed because it will remind me that I have an illness, and I’ll lash out.
My dad I feel like would have a calmer reaction, but he would also not understand at all. He would never try to understand, and he would be disappointed that I have an illness and hope that I get better. I can picture him five years from now making fun of me in his fatherly way because of this, even if I’ve been cured for 4 years.
It’s not that I don’t trust them, I just don’t think I could do it.