Where to begin with my story? Bear with me, this is long and most likely going to be frequently updated.
My journey through Hell (as I like to call Bulimia/eating disorders) began when I was 15. It didn’t develop into full blown Bulimia until I was probably 16. I can’t tell you how horrible it was and is to stay recovered and stop relapses. What started it? I believe it was my strong drive for success and perfection. See, why back when, I use to be this little machine that settled for nothing less than perfection; I loved (still do) making myparents and other people happy. So, this meant I had to make the best grades, be the smartest in the class, and be a good girl. I hated getting into trouble; it was horrible and really hurt my feelings. I guess I was a sensitive child (I’m now 21).
When I was 5 years old I was molested (once) by my grandmother’s husband. It only happened once, but let me tell you, it stuck with me forever. No one forgets something like that. So, I was burdened from an early age; I was never the same again. I found myself not trusting people (still to this today), becoming a silent little shadow, allowing others to be in the front while I hid behind them, and I still fought to be the best.
Fast forward some years and I’m 14, entering high school. I have always been the smartest and the smallest, but once I got to high school that all changed. I was one of the smartest, one of the smallest. I guess I couldn’t handle that. Plus, the stress of keeping up the perfect 4.0 didn’t help. My freshmen and sophmore year flew without any problems. I grew a little (I’m only 5’1-so it wasn’t alot ) so I became thin again (I was always a very thin child until around 11, I became ‘normal’). Fast forward to Junior year and all hell breaks loose. You see, when I was 15 I tried to just eat a sandwich a day. I thought I could lose some weight. Let me stress, I have never thought I was/am fat, I just always thought I could lose some weight and be tiny (later my ED became my answer for everything, no longer about weight). So, I tired the whole 1 sandwich a day and it didn’t work; I just couldn’t do it.
When I was 16, I tried to purge for the first time. I remember seeing it on a movie. Then one day it happened. I became one of those girls who throws up their food; I became that girl I always swore I’d never be, the sick one. That fateful day I tried it, got me hooked. But, that first time didn’t work. I tried and tried but just couldn’t. I gave up for a while, but then (like my addictive personality) I did it again. This time I ate more and it worked. It hurt; my eyes watered heavily, my throat hurt; but I was happy. I could then eat and lose weight. I could be the tiny one again. Little did I know, I had always been tiny. I just couldn’t see it and I was too judgemental and harsh on myself.
After that first binge and purge I quickly escalated to 1 binge and purge to several b&p’s a day. I would eat soo much, so fast and go throw it back up. It was so relieving and so relaxing, yet I knew it was wrong and I knew I was hurting myself. But I continued. I continued going to dance every day, to school everyday with an empty stomach and aching legs. See, I’m hard core and addictive. My binge and purge sessions went a little something like this: left overs, potato chips, little debbie cakes, pop tarts, plenty of soda, and then round two. I would eat until I was in pain. I loved eating until I was past the point of comfort. Then, I would secretly go to the bathroom and take a shower. I would run the water while I purged. It was a great way to drown out any sounds. So,after many months of doing this, and steadly looking more gaunt…..people noticed and I felt special.
The first to notice was my dance teacher Mrs.Shelton; one day while I was standing at her filing cabinet in baggy scrub pants and sweat shirt, she asked me if Iwas eating because I was looking very thin. Inside, I was secretly praising myself. My mind was twisted. So, then I guess my parents started to notice because my dad would question me on why I never ate with the family. See, I would wait until they ate, then sneak in the kitchen and eat viciouslt and heavily all by myself. I no longer wished for human company; I longed for blackness, stillness, and lonliness. I became a totally different person. My loved ones tell me that I became a mean,bitter shell of myself and now I can see how right they were. This eating disorder took me into this dark place I couldn’t escape. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape it. My bulimia took me over completely. It consumed my mind and created another Jackie. I literally stayed in my room for days; my mom always said “you never even know she’s home”. I stayed locked in my room thinking about my next binge and purge; the next chance was all I ever thought about. My mouth would water just thinking about the next Binge and Purge session. I was obsessed. I made this huge, abnormal, obviously obsessed and sick book. My little book was a 3inch binder filled with collages I had made. All where negative and so dark,full of horrible mean things. One was a collage of images of food, cows, and other sayings that told me I was basically nothing. I look at them now and wonder how I ever did that!
So, my parents hacked into my e-mails and saw the ones I had sent to my best friend, the ones where I confessed my bulimia. They found them and staged an intervention. Needless to say, I lied and said I’d quit. I didn’t. Instead, my ED got bigger and bigger and spiraled me into hell.
After that little intervention, I just became more careful and suspicious. As anyone with an ED knows, the longer you practice it, the more and more frightening and more controlling it gets. My mind was literally controlled by the disease. I had to be perfect; I had to make straight A’s; I had to be a great dancer; I had to be tiny. All these things plus the tension in my house had me going and going. Let me say, my binges and purges were always big. Like I said, I have a very addicting personality so I always do things to the extreme; my eating disorder was no different. So, now I’m up to alteast 2-3 binges and purges a day! The only food Iallowed to stay in my body was rice cakes or special K bars; I basically bled diet dr.pepper. I sucked on sugar free candies when hunger hit (which was bascially all day); I wore over sized clothing and exercised every night for an hour or so on the treadmill in sweat pants and swear shirt. I avoided everyone and everything. I woke in the mornings with aching legs and sore eyes. My ribs hurt and I was forever tired, but I didn’t stop, no sir. This bulimia had me and it had me good!
So, then one fateful day, I was watching a HBO little special about a girl who was bulimic; she purged in containers and hid them in her closet; then she would dispose of them secretly. Guess what? I was so crazed and dominated by the disease I started to do it too. How could I not? It was the best solution to keep my secret hidden, no more flushing toliets. So, I would sneak food into my dance bag (when my family was home, bc when I was alone I would go nuts!) and go to my room. I would then, lay out a towel on my floor, in front of the TV. Next, I would remove the gallon sized ziploc bag and open in infront of me. Next, the binging began! I would sit infront of that damn TV like I was normal, and eat until I felt pain. Then, I would watch tv while I purged it all back into the bag. Sign, sealed, and delivered- I was MIA’s. Next, I would hide the bags in a seperate closet that was attached to my room. At the end of the week, I would gather them and dispose of them in a public dumpster. I know what you’re thinking “This girl is F’in nuts” and yes, you would be correct. I was. My mind was not in reality. I was looking and acting with distorted perceptions! I thought my abnormal behavior was compleltly normal and rational. It got so bad that I questioned how people could eat and NOT throw up their food! I couldn’t understand it!
I also took Dexatrim diet pills; which did nothing but make me sick to my stomach and Holy Mother did they smell bad. You know, the memories we keep are so weird and so few. Like when I was just typing about the Dexatrim I remembered the time when I was at my losest weight-99 pds. I was at work with my cousin (a livestock feed store), I even remember what I wore: white knee length, bohemian skirt, aqua tight fitting shirt, sandals, and my hair was pulled back. I rememeber walking to me car to take the diet pills; I had forgotten and was freaking out. I thought for sure I’d gain weight if I didn’t take them. So, I came back and the whole day I was floating on air. Of course, this was because I was empty and light headed. I swear, sometimes I am just amazed at how much the human body can take! I mean, for almost a solid year I did complete destruction to my body and danced! I danced every day (5 days) and never once fainted! This ED proved to me how strong the human body is.
Another memory that sticks with me is one of a dark shade. As with most ED’s, I was in a state of sadness. No matter how hard I tried (or tried to hide it) I was always sad. Of course, now I know it was due to a starving brain! When your neurons loose glucose (which comes only from food) then the first thing to happen in depression! Anyway, it was a Monday, I had dance. Before dance, I was starving. I had nothing all day and knew I needed soem source of fuel for the next 4 hours. So, I got a bag of potato chips ( I know, horrible choice for someone who can’t control thier hunger impulses) and I ate them all. I wanted to purge before dance, but I couldn’t. So, i went to dance with a full belly; I remember feeling disgusting, absolutely fat and sick. After we warmed up, my dance teacher (who is probably the closest person to me; I love her more than probably anyone-besides parents) told me to take off my shirt. We weren’t allowed to wear shirts, just proper dance attire. So, I hesitated but didn’t tak it off. Instead, I walked to her (thankfully almost everyone was talking and goofing around) and whispered I couldn’t. She asked me why, and holding back tears I said because I had ate too many chips. She took my hands and gave me a huge hug. She then whispered in my ear that I was beautiful and I needed to take the shirt off. I did, but I was full of shame and disgust. After my classes, I was walking across the street to my car; i thought “A car hitting me right now would be perfect; then I wouldn’t have to deal with this.” I scared the crap out of myself. I really thought death was better than the life I was living. Well, that ended but I had thoughts like that at least 2 other times, only then I thought about running my car off of a curb or a ditch. Wow, was I trapped. I also started to chew and spit. I also learned this little method from TV. I would chew my food and spit it back out. I got the taste but none of the calories. I remember, I would drive to several fast food places, order tons of food, and chew and spit it back in the bag while driving! I wonder what anyone thought when they saw me doing that down the interstate! Also, my relationship with my parents was very strained, especially with my daddy. Him and I are the same (well, use to be-I’ve change alot). We would get in these knock down arguments and stay mad at each other for days at a time. It was horrible; I’ve apologized to him for this millions of times. Him and I were more like enemies than father and daughter. I still feel guilt over this, but I remind myself that my brain was not working properly. I was starved and distorted.
So, fastfoward to my Senior year of highschool and I decide I need a change. I was tired of the life full of lies, sadness, angriness, and hungriness. I told myself I would get better and I would beat this monster. So, slowly I did. I wanted to seek help, but I couldn’t. My parents thought I was over my little “phase and attention seeking” (oh, how sad that is, to think that-but they didn’t know), so I couldn’t exactly tell them I needed to talk to someone, plus my family isn’t very open about things and we don’t really talk about anything personal. We just keep everything to ourselves and don’t speak of akward things, because if we’re silent and overlook them, then maybe they’ll go away (HA). So, I talked to my dance teacher and my best friend. Iwrote in a journal and I never weighed myself. I was sad the day I couldn’t wear my kids, size 14 Old Navy school pants, or my 00’s. But, you know what? I eventually came to be okay with it. I told myself I was pretty; I reminded myself of those horrible days of hunger and tiredness. I reminded myself of how horrible I treated my body; and oh yeah, I mentally reviewed all the dangers and the deaths eating disorders had caused. I certainly wanted live long enough to fall in love, have children, be successful, and cure the world. So, I stayed healthy and I didn’t purge at all during my senior year (07).
Now, here comes the rain on my parade. The year I started college, was the year my bingeing and purging came back. Well, I guess that’s only natural right? I just repressed the bulimia and my thoughts/feelings about it. So, when the stressful new enviroment and challenge of college came about, I relapsed. I didn’t relapse until Istared to become someone I wasn’t. I had a roommate and she was great, but she was different than me in that she loved to party. See, I was a good little girl! I stayed in my dorm, did homework every night, studied every night, I didn’t drink or anything. So, after the first month or so, I decided I wanted to try to ‘go out’ with her. We were great friends and got along amazingly! So, I went out with her and tried my first alcoholic beverage and hit the party scene. I was hooked. I loved it; I loved being someone else. Now, I wasn’t some wild party girl, but for me, I was different. I would drink and go out on Thursdays and Saturdays. My grades fell to B’s and C’s. Wow,after that freshmen year I really felt that different Jackie. This is when I started to binge and purge again. With this new Jackie came pressures and secrets. So, I started to B &P as a way to cope. I think I was really doing it because I had lost myself.
Skip to the beginning of 09, I’m in my second semester of Sophmore year and I realize that the new Jackie is a hazard to my health. I dropped out of my soroity (I am sooooo not one of those girls-I was so faking myself out) and dyed my hair back to it’s natural dark color and decided to let it grow again. you see, I chopped all my beautiful hair off and got blonde highlights! Those were 2 things I swore I’d never do and I did them! So, I got back on the health track with minimal relapses. I was howevever restricting my caloric intake badly! I basically ate nothing again, but I told myself it was okay because I wasn’t bingeing and purging any longer. Memory flash: I bought a navy blue, silk dress to wear to my boyfriend’s, aunt’s retirement ceremony. Well, I was trying it on and my best friend said “your legs look liek sticks. You need to eat more than a special K bar.” So, that lifestyle of barely eating lasted until my Junior year of college.
This past year of college, my Junior year, I lived at home and promised myself I’d be the best possible me. I hardly had energy to dance, work, or go to school. My disordered eating still had me. I had also started teaching dance, well it was going on my 3rd year of teaching, and I couldn’t be a role model adn tell my kids to love themselves if I didn’t. So, I made a plan to eat only when I was hungry, eat until I was full, no diet sodas, and and no special k bars. This worked, but it failed and Istarted just consuming caffeine and energy drinks. UGH, off the wagon I fell again.
I don’t know when or how long I have been successful at living healthy, but I can tell you that since (a guess here) the end of 09′ I have basically lived the happiest and healthiest life that I can remember. What works for me is eating every 4 hours, and only eating natural, non-processed foods. I eat until I get full (my biggest problem). While I’m eating I ask myself are you full? are you full? If I am I get up and dispose of the food. I’ve also had to learn to throw away food! If it’s infront of me I’ll eat it because I don’t want to waste it. I also run and workout atleast 4-5 times a week. I’ve always worked out and ran on top of dancing, but you see, before it was all for the sake of losing weight or not gaining any. The secret was changing my mind set.
The biggest key was this: re-educate myself and remotivate myself about life and health. I now eat to fuel my body and my mind. I want to live the healthiest life I can live! I want to make my body a well-oiled machine that will age gracefully. I also stared to enjoy my running and my working out because I was doing it to strengthen myself and my body. The eating every 4 hours and never skipping a meal helped with my biggest problem. AT first, I was always hungry after the 3rd hour, but after a while my body got use to eating every 4 hours and I wouldn’t get hungry until it was time! The natrual foods helped too! I never feel guilty about the things I eat because they’re nutritious and all natural!!!!
I’m not saying my method will work for everyone, but it worked for me. I hope and wish for anyone with an eating disorder recovery and full self acceptance. I believe it’s important to know that you’re special and unique. It’s important to know that perfection doesn’t exist and sometimes we need to learn to accept our best. The celebrities and models are airbrushed and photoshopped, and that God created only one you! There will never be another you so don’t deystroy yourself! Embrace that unique spirit that is you! Give yourself a hug, educate yourself on what you’re putting into your body. Learn, learn, learn!