National Eating Disorders Association

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Purging: A Letter for You

Hi there, I hope whoever is reading this is doing well and if not, that you will feel better soon.

I wanted to start off by mentioning that I have had an eating disorder for almost 10 years. Mostly battling anorexia but also about a year of purging. I am still in the grips of anorexia getting to a scary weight this past year, the lowest I've ever been. But I am trying to adjust to recovery.

I have some things I'd like to share with whomever may be reading this. I purged for almost an entire year. Nearly every single day, sometimes multiple times a day. I was also starving myself for a majority of this time. At around the year mark I learned I had a cavity in my front tooth. Somewhere I never get cavities. I was taking care of my teeth as best I could considering what I was doing to them. But that made me decide to quit purging by vomiting.

That isn't where the story ends unfortunately. Around the time I stopped I started to notice that I was going into coughing fits a lot. Something that had never happened to me even with being an asthmatic. I also noticed things like food sitting in my esophagus, difficulties swallowing food/water without coughing violently and acid reflux. That was in 2015. Today almost 5 years later I still deal with those symptoms. Still just as bad as then. I won't say what I think I have in medical terms because I have not been diagnosed though it sounds like dysphagia.

I'm pretty sure it was caused by my time constantly purging. Either way, I have damaged my body. I do not know when it will heal, if ever. And I know if you reading this feel the way I used to, then you may not care about yourself enough to make a change or you may care and are just scared of what life would be like without purging. It is scary. It's still scary for me. Even this long after. But please understand I only saw the tip of the iceberg. Things could have gone much worse for me.

My relationship with how I operate during the day has changed completely. I must always have water, I cannot eat very dry things, I must be careful when I swallow food/drink. It is not easy. I don't want this for you. It is frightening to be alone while eating not knowing how my body will react.

No one really gave me a wake up call. I quit partially because I wanted to for my fiance (boyfriend at the time) and partially for the cavity. But I didn't have a reference point to look to. I knew vomiting was bad but I didn't understand the deeper ramifications. You may understand them and still feel unmoved to stop. I do not blame you. What we do to ourselves is sometimes illogical. Things that we let slide for the very reason that it is ourselves who are suffering. You are not alone in those feelings.

I am not here to patronize those who know the risks but to steer those who don't. You may think these and all the other horrible side effects won't effect you. Just as I did. Some things I didn't even know could happen. Please take care of yourself. I beg of you. Because someday you may be better. And stopping now could mean the difference between something that heals in a few years and something that lasts a lifetime.

And if you can't stop on your own or have a relapse it is okay. As long as you keep fighting towards a better future for yourself that is enough. You are enough. I'm not the expert here. So many have delt with purging so much more than I have. I just wanted to tell you my experience so that you may know even the shortest amount of time can effect you.

I myself am not even out of the woods yet as I am still battling anorexia. But please know that I am here with you. So many others are as well. And we can strive toward recovery together. You, your worth, are not defined by your body or by your relationships with other people. You are also not defined by your trauma or your negative self image. No matter what ED you have you are not defined by it either. You are so much more as a person and you deserve caring and happiness. Don't forget that you have the power to love yourself. It doesn't have to be in an all or nothing kind of way. It can even just be by purging less or taking a multivitamin.

It is hard to do those things when we feel our lives are not worth it. Believe me I know. But you must find a reason to fight even if not for yourself. I know I'm a stranger. I've never known you. But I do know how horrible an ED can be. I never want to think that what I experience on a day to day basis could be happening to someone else. So just know that whoever you are out there, that so many people care about you. I care about you. We are here together in this low place but that doesn't mean we are here forever. Even if we return/are returning. We have the ability to get better. And we deserve to.

Thank you!

It feels like it was sent from Heaven. I have just decided to stop binging and purging once and for all, though I made that promise million times before. But after the latest cycle, I noticed wounds on my throat and felt pain in my chest. What I find equally weird is that in the bathroom I literally said to myself "it's just the tip of the iceberg" in English, which is not even my mother tongue.

I'm Proud of You

I'm so happy my message spoke to you. I'm also happy to hear that you have decided to stop purging. I know how hard it is but I believe you can pull through. Do not beat yourself up over past relapses. Because even when you relapse there has still been a time where you've made the change. And I believe that there's a possibility that once you stop, it could be the last time you ever do it and that is something to look forward to.

I also find that very odd and interesting that you also thought of that phrase. It's strange and very cool. I'm so happy to have made a connection! Keep fighting! You have the power to overcome this! I send you much love!


As soon as I woke up I recalled what you wrote and kept my promise to stop. One of your sentences played a crucial role in my determination: "But you must find a reason to fight even if not for yourself". I was thinking of you and I wanted to show how your words of love began removing my barriers. So, I didn't go on a shopping spree, instead, I walked and enjoyed the snowfall. In the evening I tried to keep moderation, but still ate more what my body actually needed. This made me feel uncomfortable and wanted to purge. I did purge, but I didn't beat myself up over that. Now I know I have to be more careful while treating myself with some of my favourite food items, because I can easily end up in overindulgence.

Thank you again for sharing love and kindness on this forum. I have just gone through your letter again, and probably I will get back to it every time I have a bad moment.

You're Worth It

I'm beyond able to describe how much it means to me that you were touched by my post. I'll be honest I'm crying tears of joy knowing I was able to reach someone like this. You are worth recovery and no matter the hurdles you may face, never let them discourage you. There is beauty in this world you deserve to see. And one of the beautiful things about this world, is you. Never let yourself forget that there is so much to love and feel in this life. You are a part of this world just as much as anything else. And you deserve to be happy and feel comfortable in your own skin. I'm not saying this as a stranger, but as a friend in recovery. You are worth it. You matter. I wish you so much love in your journey. I hope you are well and that you know no matter who you are or where you come from that you have a life worth living.


Hi!!! Thank you for this raw and may I say compelling testimony about the truth of how eating disorders or any for that matter can take our lives and cause serious damage. You really are not a stranger as you are a fellow warrior on the path fighting for a better life. I am sorry for your suffering and pain. As you said, one day at a time. Changing the way we think helps to change what we feel and then do, but not so easy or simplistic.

Thank you for sharing. I am doing very well after thirty years of suffering and hospitals. I had a small setback but got back up and am doing well again. Close to two years of recovery. Again, minus a small setback. I need to know that I didn't lose all that time for two weeks of trying to lose weight when I don't need to. I am back to eating well again.

As painful as your story is, I believe it will help many and even yourself as you go back and read what you wrote as a reminder when you want to purge or restrict. God bless you on your journey.


Thank you

Thank you for your encouragement. That's wonderful you are in the recovery stage. 30 years is such a long time to struggle with something like this and I'm truly sorry that it lasted so long. Sometimes these things never really go away completely as far as what our brains tell us but we can eventually move forward. I'm very proud of you for your steps towards taking your life back. It is inspiring.

Also thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to know that there are others who could see my message and maybe not feel so alone. And as you said it really does act as a reminder to myself. Again I'm so thrilled about your two years. It is a tough thing but you are doing great. No matter the setback, that is truly wonderful that you've moved in that direction. I send you much love on your journey as well!

I'm amazed

Thanks for really saying that. I have been purging my food for a while but, when I stopped for some time, I found myself vomiting my food without even wanting to. Till now, no one knows about my eating disorder habits and when my unintentional vomiting happens, I just tell the ones around me that I need to go to the bathroom. I think there's a problem with my stomach, and I'm worried about more troubles happening if I don't stop. Your message made me feel like I can tell someone about it. Thanks!

Sending Love and Support

I'm happy what I shared spoke to you. I know how lonely it can be to feel like you can't talk about it. The secrecy of my own experience with purging made me very upset. I have only told a small few of my purging story. It is never easy but I'm so proud that you've acknowledged your feelings towards it. I know it's hard to see when your in it. Even telling a small amount can be healing.

I'm sorry to hear that you're going through those negative effects. It is difficult I know. I hope you are able to feel better and start healing from this. Do not be afraid to seek medical help if it continues and causes serious problems. I know it can be difficult emotionally and financially to see a doctor. I've definitely been there before. But just know whatever you decide that you are strong enough to get through this. And remember that even just talking to people in this forum can be therapeutic and helpful for the emotional side of things. I wish you the best on your path to recovery.


Dear RightHereWithYou - since you mentioned some concerning symptoms in your post, we wanted to make sure to provide information about signs for which you may want to seek medical care. The following are just some of the signs of a serious problem that demands immediate medical attention: •accidentally or deliberately caused themselves a physical injury •become suicidal •confused thinking and is not making any sense •delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there) •disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are •vomiting several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea •experiencing dizziness or fainting spells •too weak to walk or collapses •painful muscle spasms •complaining of chest pain or having trouble breathing •blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit •a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16 •an irregular heartbeat, and fast heartbeat, or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute) •cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit. If you experience any of the above, we highly recommend that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Another option is 911. Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if you: •have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating •have other gastrointestinal concerns •have high blood pressure •struggle with significant joint or muscle pain •have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep) •struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss •have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst •have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly •have gained significant weight in a short period of time •struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation. Please do not hesitate to call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (Monday-Thursday 9:00am-9:00pm, Friday 9:00am-5:00pm EST) if you need help finding resources and support. Please take care.


Your post was incredibly hard to read. I struggle with that and have for many many years. I want to stop and I don't know how. Your post was deeply upsetting, but it's only because of where I am. I couldn't even read it all--just skimmed parts. I am so ashamed of my ED and I feel tremendous guilt for how I've negatively impacted the lives of my family. I don't think I need to step back and process a bit...Thank you for posting.


Hi HeroCat,we want to make sure you know the NEDA Helpline is an option to talk about finding support and resources. It can be reached at 800.931.2237 or chat with them online ( M-TH 9-9 EST and F 9-5 EST. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, and take care.

New to this

Hi, I just wanted to say how much your post has meant to me. Until I came here and read your post, I'd honestly never felt more alone in my life.
I've been in a binge/starve cycle for 9/10 years now without realising it was a problem. I figured as I was eating large quantities sometimes, that it wasn't an ED and I was fine. This also meant that until I met my (now) husband and started spending lots of my time with him, nobody knew there was a problem as they sometimes saw me binging and assumed I just had a really high metabolism.
Although I admitted to having a problem a few months ago, it only really hit me in the new year that I actually need to put weight on. I'm still struggling with this thought, it's pretty scary.
I also feel like now I know there's a problem, that everyone knows, like there's a big sign above my head or something, and yet I can't talk about it, so I just feel constantly paranoid about what to wear and what people around me are thinking.
I've never met anyone who's had (or admitted to having) and ED before and although my husband has been unbelievably patient and supportive, he doesn't understand how it's gone on for so long or why I see something completely different in the mirror to what everyone else sees.
Apart from my husband and councillor, I've never talked about it properly before to anyone else, but hearing about your experience and road to recovery has really opened my eyes and given me more confidence to continue my own journey. I'm literally crying with relief that I'm no longer alone in this and I can never thank you enough for that.
Thank you so much for being so brave, kind and honest, you've changed my life X

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