Recently I had to come to terms with my diagnosis of bulimia. While I was aware that I had an eating disorder, I had no idea that I would be classified as bulimic. This is because I shared the same understanding of bulimia nervosa as about 99% of the world. Unfortunately, bulimia is a misunderstood illness.
When most people think of bulimia, the automatic assumption is self-induced vomiting. And while this is true is a large portion of the cases of bulimia, it is not necessarily the defining feature. For example, I have never been able to self-induce vomiting. I will admit that I have tried, but I have never been successful.
Instead, I restrict calories, overexercise, and abuse laxatives in order to control my weight. While many people assume that my symptoms are characteristic of anorexia, this is not the case. I do not fit the criteria for anorexia because I am not underweight. In fact, I am what doctors call an “average” weight. Therefore, while I have never forced myself to vomit, I fit the criteria for bulimia nervosa because I suffer from a binge-purge cycle that is characteristic of the illness.
When I was initially diagnosed with bulimia I was in shock. I never would have thought that I would be diagnosed with the disorder. However, now that I understand that bulimia is a disorder which involves purging of all forms (not just vomiting), I have been able to come to terms with my diagnosis and even notice it when the binge-purge urges come on.
What has been particularly frustrating for me is the fact that most people don’t know that someone can be bulimic without ever forcing themselves to vomit. Bulimia is clearly a severely misunderstood illness.
I hope that after reading this people will have a better understanding of what it really means to be bulimic. It is more than vomiting. It is a continuous cycle of binge and purge behavior. I hope that one day this will be a widely understood concept.