An RD Confesses: "I Had Bulimia"
Several months later, the week before I began graduate school, I finally hit bottom that fateful night in my mother's bathroom. It dawned on me that I was about to embark on a career where others would listen to my advice about food. Out loud I said, "I don't want to live like this anymore."
The hard part was actually following through -- eating a meal and resisting the urge to regurgitate it, even if I had slipped and eaten too much. After purging for four years, I quit cold turkey, on my own, through a combination of willpower and faith. Sometimes I had to drive around the block instead of going home, because I knew where I would go as soon as I walked in the door. It took years to learn how to eat the right amount, which helped lessen the temptation to vomit.
I was shocked, however, to realize that sometimes I wanted to vomit even when I ate nothing at all. Throwing up seemed to be a way of expressing bad feelings and trying to make them go away. Only six years after quitting, when I was 28, did I start seeing a therapist. My cousin had just died, and the temptation to vomit was the strongest it had been in a long time. This process helped me understand that bulimia isn't just about food; often, it's a dysfunctional defense mechanism against life's difficulties.
I now understand why I needed my eating disorder, and also what I needed to let it go. I'm grateful that it led me to my calling: counseling others who are fighting the same battle. Originally, I thought that becoming a dietitian would give me the answers to my food and weight problems, but it turns out that overcoming my food and weight problems made me a better dietitian.
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