There’s a secret I’ve been keeping since my twenties. A particular time when my ED voice was at its loudest. It’s this time I go back to whenever I question whether having an ED was really so bad, or whether I was ever really ill at all. In this blog, I am sharing it for the first time.
It was a bad time for me. My marriage had ended, I’d gone down the “revenge body” route. Started a very restrictive diet. Hired a personal trainer. My body rebelled, of course, and I started bingeing again. Then the purging kicked in, too, and became a regular thing.
I was getting so many compliments. Interest from men. My career was going from strength to strength. I was sticking two fingers up at my ex. Look how well I was doing without him! In public. Behind closed doors was a different story. Looking back, I was very far from well.
After a couple of years, I had a virus of some kind. I remember I developed jaundice. I thought: I’ll see the doctor tomorrow if I’m no better. But the next day I felt OK, so I thought nothing more of it.
Then I started getting really bad stomach ache late at night, particularly if I’d eaten anything rich or binged. The pain was so bad it would wake me up. I would lie awake in agony. The only thing that helped was making myself sick, then I was able to get a few more hours of sleep.
I looked up my symptoms online. They pointed to a stomach ulcer, caused by the virus I had had. It didn’t seem too bad. It was helping me manage my weight. The pain seemed like a reasonable price to pay for being at my thinnest. It was just the universe punishing me for being so greedy.
And there we have it: I believed this internal dialogue. I chose what I thought was a stomach ulcer and the risk of all the potential medical complications over weight gain. I put my fear of getting fat again ahead of seeing a doctor and making sure there was nothing sinister going on. And I truly didn’t realise that there was anything wrong with that decision. Of course the pain was worth it, everyone would make the same choice…
Some time later I was prescribed antibiotics for another issue. They cleared up my stomach pain, too. I was devastated.
Looking back, what I feel is relief and gratitude. I had a lucky escape. It marked the beginning of the end of my regular purging. I would continue to binge, and occasionally purge, for many more years, but I never knowingly risked my life in this way again.
And yet, a few months back, my father mentioned that time when I was so fit and healthy. He had no way of knowing what was really going on.
The world needs to stop worshipping thinness, prizing it above all else, equating it to health. Because it’s not always healthy. Sometimes it’s very unhealthy indeed.