Writing this column is hard as it makes me extremely vulnerable. There are certain people I care about that I wouldn’t want to see this, and part of me hopes they never do. That is why I write this anonymously; hopefully there will come a day when I can tell my story under my own name.
I’ve suffered from bulimia nervosa for three years. This particular eating disorder gets its name from Latin and means “appetite of the ox;” its main characteristics are bingeing on large amounts of food, and then purging through forced vomiting, laxative/diuretic abuse or excessive exercise. Although I’m alright now, there were many times when my disease came close to killing me. I write this to tell you: If you have an eating disorder, you are not alone and please make the decision to fight it before it ravages your health like it’s ravaged mine.
I developed my eating disorder in high school. It started as something that didn’t seem too terrible, but it quickly spiraled out of control until all aspects of my life were affected. At my lowest weight size 00 was too big for me. The first time I fainted from malnourishment, I hit my head on my kitchen counter and nearly concussed myself. The second time I fainted I fell down a flight of stairs; I have the scar on my back to prove it.
Carbon dioxide levels in my lungs were – and still are – high, making breathing difficult (especially when navigating through Smokers’ Alley!) I have heart palpitations. I had to quit my last two waitressing jobs because the physical actions involved in working in a restaurant made me physically ill. I had to quit my soccer team. I still sometimes go jogging, but even that is hard on me.
Probably the most annoying complaint I have about bulimia is its affect on my blood iron levels. Low blood iron means I’m always cold, regardless of what the external temperature is. While the rest of you are in your spring clothes, I’m probably bundled up in a coat.
My parents, my friends, one nutritionist, two counselors, and a psychiatrist couldn’t make my illness go away. I only got better when I made the conscious decision for myself to fight back. Don’t be afraid to get better. Don’t be ashamed if you have an eating disorder, girls and guys.
A bulimia survivor and concerned Loyola student