Today I’m honored to present an inspiring and empowering guest post by Shaye Boddington, a 26-year-old woman who’s recovered from bulimia after a 12-year struggle. Below, she shares how she finally found help, overcame the shame of the disorder, and the two important steps that contributed to her recovery.
My bulimia recovery. Wow, it was a roller coaster for sure – such a learning experience! In many ways, I was learning a whole new way of living – so there is much to tell.
My bulimia recovery started off with a realization that there was no way in hell I could do it alone. I had tried that for over 5 years with promises to myself every night “Tomorrow I will not binge and purge.” The next morning by 8 a.m., I would be zoned out plowing through the pantry.
It was almost as if telling myself “This is it, no more binging” terrified me into an even more vicious cycle.
So I took the HUGE step of emailing our university counselor, Amanda. This was massive for me because I had never, in my 12 years of bulimia, whispered a word about it. The shame you feel when you’re bulimic is immense.
If you’re bulimic – you understand that right!?
I felt like a total freak! (Although now I know I wasn’t a freak at all!)
Emailing Amanda felt like something I could manage. I asked her to treat me “online” – I was too ashamed to meet her in person! However, within one week she had worked her persuasive magic and I was sitting in her office, sweat dripping from every pore of my body – telling her about my bulimia.
I walked out of the office that day feeling hopeful for the first time in so many years. I felt like maybe, just maybe I could recover! Amanda believed in me, so maybe I should try believing in myself!
I saw Amanda for around 8 months between once a week or once every two weeks. She taught me lots of really helpful cognitive behavioral therapy exercises. Perhaps even more importantly, we talked away a lot of the shame I felt about being bulimic.
Talking openly about what I was going though made me feel much more normal! In between our sessions, I practiced the exercises she taught me, read self help books and did a heck of a lot of experimenting.
One thing that Amanda wasn’t able to assist me with was the physical changes/healing that goes on in recovery. She hadn’t heard much of it, so there was a lot of crossing fingers and hoping things improved! The bloating was out of this world. And the weight gain – oh my goodness, it was scary back then!
In my first week without binge eating or purging, I exercised an hour each day and still gained 11 pounds! I almost threw in the towel with visions of myself gaining unlimited amounts of weight. But I tried to trust that my body would settle as it healed. Now I understand that so much of the weight that recovering bulimics gain is rehydration, food in your stomach and water retention.
Of course some of it is fat too – but now I understand that fat isn’t a bad thing. Having body fat is what makes us women, it’s what make us able to conceive, it’s what allows us to experience the beauty of becoming mothers. I now embrace the weight that I gained in recovery and I feel more attractive than ever before!
Recovery was a journey with so many ups and downs. So many ‘unknowns’ where I just had to have faith and go for it. Every day I am grateful that I hung onto that faith and pushed forward with my recovery.
I have now been free from bulimia for 6 years – something I never imagined I’d be able to say! And I can see so clearly now what the 2 KEY steps for my recovery were.
Firstly, it was learning how to eat and digest again. To help me do this, I used ‘structured eating’ which followed the 3-3-3 guideline to ensure I got enough food: 3 meals and 3 snacks spaced no more than 3 hours apart. Structured eating helped me so much early on in recovery because whenever I had the urge to binge I could remind myself “Food isn’t that far away.”
Working on eating regularly and holding my food down was essential because it not only nourished my body – but it nourished my mind too. When you’re throwing up everything you eat, mentally, you’re not entirely there. Eating really is the first step to recovery.
Amanda taught me this and I’ll be forever grateful to her for it! All my own recovery attempts had included restriction, fasts and crazy diets. I can now see that restricting ourselves of food and love is what causes bulimia. So restriction cannot be part of the solution!
The second and equally as important part of my recovery was learning how to love myself unconditionally. Looking back now, I can not believe the abusive self talk that constantly went on in my head! The names I’d call myself – oh my goodness, I wouldn’t even call a convicted murderer those things!
I had so many damaging negative core beliefs and tackling those helped me rediscover my self love.
I don’t claim that I had no self love (as I think we ALL have love for ourselves somewhere). It was just lost under countless layers of shame, fear and loathing. Talking about my bulimia helped release the shame that was holding me back from self love.
That’s why I always suggest opening up to somebody loving and supportive. Somebody who can understand and can be on your ‘recovery team’.
The thing that I find most incredible about bulimia recovery is its possibility to be so complete.
I have heard people in the past say that “Total recovery from an eating disorder isn’t possible. You always have some ED thoughts.” That is completely incorrect. I know and have worked with many women who have entirely recovered from bulimia.
I am astounded at the beauty of our human brains. At how we have been given the ability to change and mold them, helping us to find peace and happiness – or whatever it is we want in life.
As long as you nourish your body, heart and soul with food and love, you can completely recover from bulimia. You can – and will – find peace and happiness.
More About Shaye Boddington:
I first started having issues with bulimia when I was 8 years old. Twelve years later at the age of 20, I recovered. For the first two years of my new bulimia free life, I wanted nothing to do with bulimia. I had no interest in reading about it, watching documentaries on it or ever having it play any part in my life ever again.
But as the years of my recovered life went by I got an itch — an itch to help people discover this beautiful bulimia free life that I am so in love with! Your Bulimia Recovery was born.
Working on this website and with women in recovery has been one of the best experiences of my life. Helping others recover from bulimia gives so much meaning to all the years that I suffered from it.
If you feel alone and isolated from bulimia and want to discover a beautiful and peaceful life. Read over the stories and tips on my website – you are not alone and you can beat bulimia.