Living with Bulimia – It was not ‘fine’

I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything is going to be fine.

That is all I have ever been told; don’t worry everything is fine. Everything is going to be just fine. Whenever I was disappointed or upset, all anyone ever said to me was that it’s fine. There was the day I came home from school upset because I didn’t do as well in an exam as I had hoped. “It’s fine” was the response I received. The day my dog died “Everything is going to be fine” I was told once again. When I cried, my mum would put her hand on my shoulder and say that everything will be fine.

What I failed to understand was, why no one else could see what I could see – everything was not fine. I wanted to scream and cry, but I couldn’t because I kept telling myself that I will be fine. I wasn’t fine, things were not fine, no-one noticed. It felt like I was fighting a battle in my head, the constant pain and frustration fighting my everlasting belief that things will be fine.

So it was fine.

Living with Bulimia - it was not 'fine'I had been a perfectionist for as long as I could remember. I tried everything I could, to be the perfect student, the perfect friend, the perfect sister and the perfect daughter. All the time this strive for perfection was killing me on the inside. I can’t remember the exact day my food became my reward, I think it was a gradual process. But I do remember that by the time I reached my teenage years I was rewarding myself with food for being at the top of my classes, and punishing myself by restricting the food I liked when I didn’t achieve the results I wanted, or if anyone commented on how I’d let them down. I was continuously analysing people’s remarks and reading so much into them that I was constantly in the negative with my food rewards.

But I was fine.

I set myself challenges and punishments every day; every mark I didn’t get in a test meant 100 less calories I would eat that day. I kept a diary to log every time I had been “weak” and hadn’t achieved perfection. And for each log there was a punishment that was allocated to each moment of “weakness”. During the day, I gave off the image of the perfect life but at night when I was alone and no one could see, I would cry myself to sleep.

But everything was fine.

I didn’t really understand or notice that everything wasn’t fine. My life started to be concentrated around my bulimia but no one could tell just by looking at me. To be honest I don’t think I noticed it myself to begin with.

It was my parents who were the first ones to take action. They found me on the floor of our family bathroom. For the first time my mask of perfection had slipped. I was in a frenzied state as I had got 95% in a test (only 100% was acceptable), I hadn’t managed to run for the hour and half that was my punishment for failing the test. Concerned they took me to the hospital where I spent the next couple of weeks. I was being fed through a drip and refused to eat so the doctors were unable to examine my stomach

I got moved to an eating disorder unit. I looked around and didn’t believe I “belonged” there. The girls there were far thinner than I was. They were the ones that needed help, not me. Because I couldn’t accept being there, I couldn’t accept any forms of treatment they suggested. I made no recovery as I didn’t feel I had anything to recover from.

But everything was fine.

Living with Bulimia - it was not 'fine'Now back at home, my parents would watch over me like hawks to make sure I ate. Little did they know, I would sneak off at the first available opportunity and make myself sick till my stomach was empty. I didn’t “look” ill, so they thought I was fine.

It didn’t take long for me to start writing in my diary again. This time even a cup of tea or a mint was taken to be a “weakness” and would need to be punished accordingly. I was taken back to the eating disorder unit. This time I complied. This time I knew I had an eating disorder. This time I did belong there.

But it was fine.

I was fine the day the police found me wandering the park in my nightdress. I was taken to the hospital and released shortly after, as I was fine. I was still getting good grades and running around 15miles a day but I no longer felt like I was in control. It was all fine until I woke up in the hospital gain after overdosing on antidepressants. It was fine even when I found myself accepting that being in a violent and abusive relationship was OK – I didn’t deserve any better.

It was all fine.

After two further stays in hospital and two further attempts at killing myself, I realised that there is some truth in those words that I had heard all my life. Everything is fine……until one day it is not. It was fine to worry about my weight, until I was found passed out on the bathroom floor. It was fine, until I was forcing myself to be sick for the umpteenth time that day. It was fine, if I didn’t look down and see the red flow of blood from my wrists from where I had cut myself.

I wish I could tell you that I have recovered. It is not something I can honestly say. But what I can say is that one day I will recover, as I know I am on the right path. I know that I am not the only person travelling this road, fighting this battle, use whichever analogy you wish but I know I am not alone.

Every day is still a battle and I don’t win every day, but as the saying goes “you can lose a battle, but still win the war.”

The first step for me was to admit everything wasn’t going to be fine, it wasn’t fine and most importantly that I wasn’t fine. But I can write this today knowing that one day I will be.

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