Monday, 25 April 2016

Bulimia as an Addiction

Today's post is by Polly Mertens (pictured below) who talks about her experience with bulimia, and her recovery. Polly's website is Get Busy Thriving.


I started binging and purging when I was 14 after I had been restricting food to lose weight. I felt like I was missing out on foods I enjoyed. When I tried to stop my binging and purging cycles a year later, I couldn’t control the urges. I later learned I had bulimia.

Over the next 20 years I could manage stopping the binging for a few weeks or months, but the urges always came back and I felt helpless to stop them. At my worst I would binge and purge 10 times a day.

On the outside I seemed like a healthy and normal person. I went to the gym, ate pretty healthy and had an average body weight. With friends I only ate normally, but alone I was completely out of control around food. I felt ashamed and extremely frustrated with my addiction.

Bulimia is a hidden habit and most people wouldn’t know someone was bulimic because they are good at keeping their secret. Bulimics are usually very normal on the outside and often high achievers so they can appear to have it all together. Yet on the inside they are struggling with inner urges that drive them to overeat.

When I was 34 I was resigned to living my life as a bulimic. I stopped trying to overcome my bad habit. Thankfully the urges weren’t as frequent or out of control as they were at my worst period. That year I attended a personal transformation workshop (The Landmark Forum) and it changed the course of my future. I regained my power. I became more conscious and responsible for my thoughts. I decided to stop that day and haven’t binged or purged since 2005.

Today I eat normally and all of the patterns surrounding my bulimia habits are gone. I’ve done a lot of study since my first workshop including introducing spiritual practices, learning more about mindfulness, willpower, goal setting and much more. Recovering from bulimia was the start of my journey to learn how to create a great life.

Having been through bulimia I know it is not a disease. I see it as an addiction. My hope is in the near future the neurological habit patterns that are a part of bulimia will be better understood so those with it can be taught how to stop more quickly and easily.

As a recovery and life coach I work with clients so they see their own habituated patterns so they can make the changes to stop, too. I struggled for a long, long time because I misunderstood how to stop my addictive behavior. Once I understood things better I regained my power and took responsibility for what happens in my life.

I know it’s possible for a person who’s had bulimia for 20, 30, 40 or more years to stop for good. I’m glad there are videos, books and blogs talking about how to overcome bulimia in new ways. My hope is more counselors and centers will learn about and embrace new methods of helping people understand what causes the addictive behavior and empower people to choose their recovery.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say first that I am so very grateful to you for showing the courage and the strength to share your story and your struggle online. I am sure it was not easy for you to do. You should know that it was comforting to read because I too have suffered from an eating disorder and its nice to know you are not alone.

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