"Today is the day," I would say to myself knowing full well that it wasn't. The number of empty promises I made to myself during those seven years was countless. I would wake up with every intention of being in control, but the moment I had my first meal, I would spiral.
I was addicted to binge eating and purging and I wanted to be left alone with my disorder. I didn't want help or sympathy, just lots of junk food and a toilet bowl.
Bulimia had a firm hold of me and it wasn't letting me go.
I would wake up in the morning and be too afraid to eat. I knew that there was a fine line between having breakfast and starting a purging frenzy. I would try and starve for most of the day -- looking back now I think that had more to do with wanting to be near a bathroom I felt safe in before I started filling the bottomless pit that was my stomach.
Of course I'd get to the point where I needed to put something in my stomach, so I would start off slow and small. I would eat a banana, a can of tuna, or half a sandwich, so very low-calorie meals. Then I would go to the mirror, stand on the side and lift up my top to reveal my stomach. What I would see standing before me was a fat, wobbly stomach (which definitely was NOT the case). The distorted image of my stomach is all it took to open the floodgates. The next few hours, anywhere between 2-6 hours was a blur. My aim? To eat as much as I possibly could.
The moment I knew I had life in me, I stopped treating my body like a garbage bin.
I would empty the cupboards at home, there was nothing I wouldn't eat. I remember a time I ate a whole loaf of bread, another time I was so desperate for food, I went through the plastic bag on the bench that my parents had been using as a rubbish bag looking for scraps because I had devoured everything else. I was like a tornado tearing through the kitchen and inhaling all the food my parents had bought for the whole family to enjoy, knowing it would be filling the toilet bowl in a couple of hours. More often than not, I would head out to the supermarket to get more food before I would purge. Licorice, sour worms, chips, ice-cream, I finally found a way to be able to eat all these delicious foods and not put on any weight. It seemed like the best diet ever.
Then, the time would come. The time I would try to avoid by procrastinating, doing anything and everything but what I 'needed' to do. Before I locked myself in the bathroom for another round of torture, tears would start falling.
I failed. Again.
Today was meant to be the day I stopped and here I am, walking towards my torture chamber. I was ashamed, embarrassed, scared and dreading the pain that was to come. The mental pain prior to purging was probably as bad as the physical pain when I had my fingers all the way down my throat, scratching at it frantically trying to remove the day's damage. The mistake I would so often make while I was bingeing was not drinking enough water. That would make the food harder to come up -- it would all just clump together in my stomach and get stuck. That's when I would really have to put a whole hand in my mouth and I would cry and make horrible noises. That's how my mum found out I was bulimic.
Years later, after I had recovered and she was finally able to approach me about my disorder without me completely losing my mind, she told me so herself. Mum recalls the moment she knew I wasn't just sick or it was a spur of the moment thing, her whole life came crashing down. The first couple of times she had heard me, she never read into it, especially because I had an intense fear of vomiting as a child. If I got sick as a little girl, I would scream the house down and cry for hours.
Looking back, it is odd to me too that I became addicted to something I loathed. After a lot of therapy and work on myself for the last four years, I've come to the conclusion it was because I was punishing myself.
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Bulimia is a very scary disease. You don't often hear of people only having bulimia short-term, it is something that gets embedded into your soul. You become an addict. The irrational way this disorder had my mind thinking was, it was better to eat a dangerously high-calorie intake and then purge then leave the low-calorie meal in my stomach. I thought leaving the low-calorie meal in my stomach would make me 'fatter' then I was. I made so many failed attempts to get better, I just kept getting thrown back into the habit. It was like an out-of-body experience every single time. The thought of taking my own life came and went throughout the years, it felt like the easier option.
When I was 24, I was blessed with the greatest gift I've ever received for two reasons. The first and most important reason was, I fell pregnant to my daughter Mila. The second reason is, from that moment on, I never purged again.
Mila will probably never know that she saved me when I couldn't even save myself. The moment I knew I had life in me, I stopped treating my body like a garbage bin and started treating it with the respect it deserved. Four years on, I can gladly say that I'm still 'sober' from bulimia. That is not to say that thoughts don't cross my mind. I still have low self-esteem and confidence issues at times, especially when it comes to my body. I don't expect that will ever go away and it doesn't need to.
I'm okay with the thoughts because I now know how to overcome them, they don't overcome me.
Read more from Katerina on her blog.
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