Bulimia nervosa can feel like you have control one moment and then none the next. Characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating, which is almost always followed by some form of “letting go” which can include any of the following: over exercise, isolated experiences of self- induced vomiting, cheat days, laxative use, substance use, or another behavior that helps one feel better around food. Guilt and shame are commonly experienced after such episodes. Although this is a very difficult cycle to break, there are ways to slow down the experience and find a way out of it’s gut wrenching cycle. There is hope!
Bulimia-related experiences include:
- Feeling out of control around food.
- Feeling the need to get rid of what you have consumed (via purging)
- Feeling like you have a love/hate relationship with food.
- Hiding behaviors including purging.
- Difficulty with mood regulation, including experiencing anger and/or heightened irritability
How do I know when I need help?
If you are purging through self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, laxatives, or diuretics, you need and deserve support.
Body image is an obsessive concern.
If you experience and are preoccupied by body image difficulties such as feeling too fat or too full, we can explain the biological reasons why body image becomes a problem.
Control is something you don’t want to give up.
It all feels so very confusing because it’s a relationship between food and the need to feel better, quickly. It can feel like something one “has to do.” One minute a person feels great, the next minute they are in a cycle of pain. They don’t always know how they got there or even why it is happening, and they will quickly rely on behaviors to bring them back to equilibrium.
It’s kinda like hitting the ‘reset button’ and shaking off all emotions and hardships in order to cope. People say that there is no other way to handle all the emotions that come with the experience of eating and therefor, purging is a way to quickly feel better.
Bulimia can feel like an addiction.
YES! In fact, in FMRI studies, the eating disorder goes down the same pathways in the brain (neural pathways) as addiction does! This can leave you feeling stuck, and wanting more. There’s no escape, it’s practically addictive and it only makes someone more lost, upset, angry, and disappointed. It can feel like a perpetual self-defeating cycle.
Emotions feel unpredictable and intense.
Most people develop a tolerance threshold (window of tolerance) when it comes to emotions. When there is a strong sense of dissatisfaction in their life, one may not be confident they can overcome the disorder. It’s offer a predictable safety net of release that is reliable and secret. It’s something that hits pain and pleasure points all at the same time, making it quite dangerous in the long run. Due to how repetitive and addictive the experience can be, people with bulimia also often experience low self-worth and continued discomfort with physical and mental well-being.
If this sounds familiar, contact us for a consultation. We know how to help.
Symptoms of Binge Eating include:
- Eating much more food in a single episode than in a typical meal or snack
- Feeling that eating can’t be controlled once a binge begins
- Hiding or hoarding food
- Making excuses for missing food, or money taken to pay for binge foods
- Eating until the point of physical discomfort or pain
Symptoms of Purging include:
- Habitually going to the bathroom immediately after eating or during meals
- Damaged teeth and gums
- Swollen salivary glands in the cheeks (chipmunk cheeks)
- Persistent sores in the throat and mouth
- Sores, scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands caused by self-induced vomiting
- Scratchy or raspy voice quality
- Misuse of ipecac syrup to induce vomiting