Life After Dealing With An Eating Disorder – Anonymous

Share this post:


    “Life After Dealing With An Eating Disorder” was written by a contributor who prefers to remain anonymous, and who wanted to say thank-you after being treated by our own Patti Perry 35 years ago.


    Many years ago, in the early 1980’s, I realized that I had a serious problem and that I needed help.

    When all of this began, it was the mid- 1960’s. I thought I had discovered a unique way to keep my weight down.
    Being chubby for most of my childhood, I was told that I was fine. But being called fatso when you’re around 9 years old lead me to self-image issues.

    When a mother dies, a father who adores and is overly protective are not horrible issues but an aunt who signs you up to a chubby pen pal club could throw a wrench into how you view yourself. These are circumstances in my life.

    As a young teenager, I could get away with eating very little for breakfast and lunch – then a small but healthy dinner. I lost weight and people started to tell me I looked skinny. I liked that.

    However, moving to a new city-in the last high school year- brought some social adjustment problems. Eating too much ice cream after school led to an unwanted weight gain. But also, the too full feeling that led to some binge eating and then purging. I thought I invented something new to keep my weight down and that I could get away with it.

    I also believe that the bingeing and purging affected my ability to concentrate in school and my university grades were not particularly good. Prior to this behaviour pattern, I had been an honour student in high school.

    This pattern went on for several more years and even after university and 2 pregnancies. After purging I experienced light headedness and began to realize that this behaviour could impact my health. But I still did not know that what I was doing had a name. I had known about anorexia, but I did not know that there might be other kinds of eating disorders. Not until I saw a television program that described my behaviour to a ‘T’. Only then did I realize that I ought to seek help.

    Finding the right help in the 1980’s was not easy. A colleague at work mentioned a therapist she went to about her weight. I asked for a referral. The rest is history. But not a brief history.

    Going to a therapist means not only to acknowledge a problem but also to face it full on. Discussing something like this with a stranger, was awkward. I wanted to hide. I couldn’t tell anyone. Only my spouse knew. And I’m extremely lucky that he has been most supportive and encouraging.

    Therapy is a slow process. It was crucial in my recovery. I could not have done this on my own. Patience is a virtue…but who wants to be virtuous. Changing one’s behaviour, particularly around food is a challenge. Perseverance as well as patience are most important. But even more, is the need to forgive yourself and not permit setbacks to throw you off track. This, I learned from my excellent therapist. Life is full of setbacks. Baseball players who hit homeruns also strike out a lot. (Of course the old baseball cliché works, eh!)

    Now approaching my 70th birthday, I can be philosophical about this. It is no wonder that more and more people get enmeshed in poor eating habits and value the outward appearance more than
    focussing on health and nutrition, especially when I see how body image in our society surrounds us with unhealthy looking models.

    When caught up in bulimia, I was hiding, secretive and felt ashamed about what I did. But also, I did not know how to stop. It’s a vicious circle because you want to eat and enjoy in great abundance because it feel so good. It’s a behavioural addiction – with no end in sight.

    But there is an end if there is a will to admit that this behaviour is a problem and also a willingness to work hard to become healthy again. Imagine learning how to eat when you’re in your mid- thirties?

    It took me many years to relearn how to eat and not to overeat. It was always the overeating that led to purging. Sometimes purging felt good. Almost as if you’re in control. Hah, a myth. Actually, it’s the total opposite. It is controlling you.
    In the many years of therapy, I learned how to approach food and not to be afraid to appreciate the wonderful abundance of food around us. We don’t have to eat all of it. A taste of something delicious does no harm and leads to a much healthier sense of wellbeing.

    It is only in recent years that I have been able to tell anyone other than special people in my life about my experience. There is still a small fear that someone will not understand or will look down on me. But this feeling has faded tremendously as I realize my good fortune in being healthy.


    Share this post:

      Leave a Reply

      Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *