I’ve written articles about preventing Bulimia in an individual in the first place. But for those of you that are already deeply plagued by it, that doesn’t do a whole lot of good. Of course, therapy is your best bet for treating Bulimia, as scary and as revealing as that may sound to you. Unfortunately, statistics show that a person deeply addicted to this lifestyle will have a nearly impossible time breaking out of it by themselves.
But here are some things that you can do on your own to help yourself, until therapy becomes a notion that you are comfortable with, or something that you can afford.
1. Ask yourself if you are truly ready to work towards recovery. This disease is often characterized by halfhearted gestures at recovery, which then usually lead to relapsing. By now, you probably know that recovery isn’t something you can just wish will happen. It has to be fought for, worked hard for, and for every three steps forward, understand that one step will be taken back. It also has to be done one day at a time. The ones that have the best chance at recovery will use every asset they have if they are sincere about shaking this. Make a vow to yourself if you are ready, and remind yourself of it every day.
2. Prepare yourself for dealing with relapses. Recovery must be taken one day at a time, and the serious person will refuse to quit if something goes poorly. Start with trying to go one day without binging and purging, and then feel good if you do succeed. If you don’t, do not despair, and succumb to it entirely. Try to ask yourself what went wrong. Make small goals, and large goals. Your small goals might be eating a small meal without throwing up or laxative use, or going 48 hours without relapsing. Your large goal might be make it though the rest of the year in an active state of recovery.
3. Tell somebody. Anybody. It would be great if it were a family member, or a close friend, especially since they very well may know anyway. (People often tiptoe around this disorder, unsure how to bring it up with the loved one they see struggling with it. Try not to be resentful if they tell you they “knew already”- put yourself in their shoes, and it may be easier to understand why this is the first time it’s been discussed. Remember that you have been hiding and denying it, as well.) Talking about the secret that you’ve kept so long will seem agonizing at first, but you will feel like a weight has been lifted afterwards. The more reinforcements that you have on your side, the easier this will be to deal with.
4. Study your affliction. The Internet is a great resource. Fighting something often requires understanding it. There is way more information out there on Bulimia now than there used to be. There are also great pro-recovery websites out there, which allow other Bulimics to discuss their disease with each other. Some, like the Something-fishy website, are well monitored and have a lot of users. People struggling tend to take comfort in the fact that they are not alone, and the anonymity of web boards makes it easier to open up. This website will challenge you and comfort you, and you will have the chance to do the same for fellow sufferers. But watch out for other websites, where pro-bulimia attitudes are allowed, as this will do nothing to attain the goals that you have set for yourself.
5. Chart Yourself- The person earnestly working towards recovery will track their successes and their failures. Keep a diary, and set aside a time, or several times in the day when you WILL use it. Don’t just keep track of what you ate, and whether or not you kept it down. Dig deeper. Many bulimics start to feel numb after a time, especially while eating. But the feelings are there, and it’s your job to identify them. What were you thinking before the binge- what is going on in your life? How did you feel afterwards? Did this episode trigger several more? It’s hard to think about, but thinking about it is one way to pause the cycle. Many bulimics can continue cycles of binging and purging constantly for days if nothing halts them. Making yourself stop, think, and write will help you break out. And if you have had a successful day, write about that, too. Write about how it made you felt, if you feel joy, or what happened to get you through the day. The successes and the failures are both important in the overall picture.
6. Look for patterns. (Again, writing things down will help you here.) Many bulimics will notice patterns in their behavior, such as late night binge episodes, or bringing in front of the television. Certain foods will act as triggers, as will certain people. Identifying repeating patterns gives you an insight to the disease, and things you can avoid doing. You can set rules for yourself when you know what you can’t handle: no television on during, or right after dinner. No eating after 6:00, since it seems to trigger an episode, ect.
7. Put Yourself as Top Priority. Bulimics have to be strict and somewhat selfish, especially in the early, most vulnerable stages of recovery. If there are activities, relationships, or individual people that trigger you, then you need to avoid them, at least for awhile. Some people only talk of weight, and fat phobias, and those topics will not help you as you try to change your life. If you feel like you are offending them, you can do the best thing, and explain to them your reasons. The odds are they might have a problem themselves, or not realize that they were so vocal about the subject. Or you can say you have some personal issues going on, and have to lie low for awhile. But no matter what, you won’t be in their life at all if you incapacitate yourself, and you need to look out for your own well-being first. If they don’t understand, you need to be strong enough to do what you need to do anyway. This is your life, and it’s time that you enjoyed it.
8. Drink water, and take vitamin supplements. If you are serious about recovery, then you are serious about regaining your health. Know then that bulimia often leaves sufferers dehydrated and vitamin deficient (there are those who believe that the disease is more predominant among Vitamin deficient people in the first place.) Adding supplements and hydrating yourself will help keep your body stronger until you shake this thing altogether.
9. Read success stories. There are a lot of them out there, on the internet, or in books. Sometimes it helps to be reminded that there is light at the end of this tunnel, if you are willing to walk the distance to get there.
Remember that none of this is a substitute for therapy. Therapy will give you the individual attention that you need in order to best strategize a plan for recovery (like snowflakes, no two of us are alike.) But these are things that you can do to get yourself in the Recovery Mode. They are also a good course of action for those who can’t afford therapy at the moment. Remember to research therapy, however, as there are less expensive places and resources out there. If you are in college, there might be a student group that deals with eating disorders, Or you can always try a local Overeaters Anonymous group, where eating disorders such as compulsive binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia are welcomed. Good luck, and Stay Strong!