The shocking truth about bulimia
Did you know that eating disorders affect 1.6 million people in the UK? And did you know that they claim more lives than any other mental illness? Sadly, not only are there a huge amount of stigmas and stereotypes still attached to eating disorders, but lack of awareness is one of the main factors standing in the way of treating and often full recoveries from these serious mental illnesses. Eating disorders charity Beat is campaigning for more awareness when it comes to these terrible diseases, and in light of Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2014 we wanted to share Karen’s sad yet inspiring story with you…
Living with bulimia
My bulimia was partly triggered by something a teacher said to me when I was 14. She told me I’d never be a gymnast, because I “wasn’t the right shape.” After that, I tried every wacky diet going; the boiled egg diet, the cabbage soup diet, you name it. Then one day, I hit on the idea of making myself sick. That way, I thought, I could keep eating and lose weight. Back then, I didn’t even know it had a name!
I carried on making myself sick for years. Food was something to feel guilty about. I starved myself, then I binged, then I made myself sick.
By the age of 31, I had a serious eating disorder and I weighed six stone. My blood sugar levels were terrible, I had heart murmurs and I was really weak. I even had to give up my job and move back in with my parents.
So when I was offered hospital treatment for my bulimia, I took it. While I was in there, a lovely nurse said to me, ‘I don’t think you really want to be like this, do you?’ She was right, I didn’t. After that, I accepted psychiatric help and saw a nutritionist. They helped me see food as a fuel, to make my body healthy and beautiful. I also learned to eat when I was hungry, and stop when I was full.
On bad days, I still got the urge to make myself sick. But I stuck at it, and now I can honestly say I’m cured of my bulimia. I haven’t weighed myself in years, I’m happy with how I look, and I enjoy going out for meals.
I’d advise anyone suffering from bulimia, or any eating disorder, to seek help immediately, and to lean on your family and friends for support. Life really is too short and precious to spend it obsessing about food.
Karen Phair, 36, Surrey
For more help and information on eating disorders, please visit Beat’s website