Bulimia.

It is possible to recover from bulimia

Bulimia is a complex mental illness, but with the right treatment, recovery is possible.

It can be incredibly daunting to recognise that you have a problem, but recognition is the first step towards a positive change.

It takes a lot of courage to admit that something isn’t quite right, particularly if it’s something you’ve held onto for a while.

Be proud of that courage, and hold fast to the knowledge that you deserve better than bulimia

What is bulimia?

Bulimia is an eating disorder where people tend to eat large quantities of food – called bingeing – and then purge the food or calories from their system.

Despite how it may seem, bulimia – like other eating disorders – is not just about food.

Rather, there are often complex emotional underlying causes that prompt an individual to look outside of themselves to cope.

There’s no ‘one way’ to have a problem

There’s no “one way” to have bulimia, however, there are shared characteristics and behavioural patterns that help in the diagnosis of the illness.

Often, people suffering with bulimia binge eat large quantities of food and then purge the calories from their system.

Purging doesn’t always take the form of self-induced vomiting. Sometimes, someone might rid their system of calories by fasting, exercising compulsively, or taking laxatives or diuretics.

 

Eating becomes a means of emotional release

Eating provides relief in times of stress but the subsequent purging, which satisfies their overwhelming urge to remove the calories, often leaves the individual feeling guilty and ashamed.

People can feel a complete loss of control in a binge/purge episode – sometimes akin to blacking out – and feel a significant amount of stress as a result.

The symbolic acts of bingeing and purging can typically be seen in other areas of someone’s life. For instance, someone may restrict and binge on alcohol, drugs or sex.

Despite this, people who suffer with bulimia are often high-functioning individuals who maintain a weight deemed “normal” and conceal their symptoms so the illness goes undetected. 

Young people sitting

Do any of these feel familiar?

Eating uncontrollably (binging) and/or fear of eating uncontrollably

Alcohol or drug abuse

Petty theft to get hold of food to binge on

Secretive eating and isolation

Social erraticism —sometimes withdrawn, sometimes seeking approval

Acts of self-disgust and self-harm

Perfectionism

Depression and other co-occurring conditions such as OCD

Low self-esteem

Preoccupation with body image and appearance

Masking true feelings with promiscuity

It is possible to recover from bulimia.

Bulimia is often characterised by denial and resistance, so when a person comes to treatment, they have already taken steps towards their recovery which is important to recognise.

Often, people with bulimia struggle to manage their emotions in an appropriate and healthy way. As such, our team works with the individual to forge new pathways and healthy coping mechanisms, whilst addressing any co-occurring conditions which may fuel or exacerbate the eating disorder behaviours.

Like with other eating disorder diagnoses, Orri believes that recovery is possible and that treatment should heal the individual as a whole, embracing their complexity and unique history.

Smiling woman

What we understand about bulimia

Only 6% of people with eating disorders are underweight. Unhelpful stereotypes persist and lead many to dismiss or minimize their experience
Bulimia can affect anyone of any age, gender or background. Eating disorders do not discriminate
Approximately 19% of all eating disorders are bulimia
Hay et al, 2017

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