National Eating Disorders Association

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Severe Bulimia Recovery- A Shock to The System

Hello, there!

I am a bulimic in recovery for the first time in 10 years. These first months of recovery have been a complete shock to my system. I often feel sicker than when I was active in my disorder.

I always knew it would take something drastic and out of my control to break out of the cycle of my decade-long eating disorder. That day came when I left my job 3 months ago.

I had worked there for 11 years and broken heartedly decided to exit when I realized they were grossly abusing my work ethic and truly did not appreciate my value.

Such a big life change shocked the desire to maintain my eating disorder right out of me. I don’t think I realized how much my work stress was fueling my behaviors. My career was the basis of my identity and I felt lost without it after I left- recovery wasn’t even a thought and I did not feel so much as the temptation to binge or purge past the moment I left my job.

The course of my life changed in an instant, it only felt natural that the disordered part of my life vanished as well.

In the beginning, I began eating small healthy meals once or twice a day, not enough to shock my system as this drastic life change made me anxious and depressed for quite some time. Eating normal or large amounts wasn’t an option at such a vulnerable time. I didn’t have much of an appetite for a month or so.

It has now been 3 months and I am finally eating normally for the first time since I was 18. I eat as I like, healthy food or not, and am trying not to let my mind even go to a place where I could feel regret for anything I choose to fuel my body with.

I may even be eating too much junk day-to-day. But I’m reveling in the fact that my mind isn’t telling me no or causing guilt. I’m trying to feed myself whenever I feel like it just because it’s such a joy to finally be free.

But this willingness to return to completely free, thoughtless eating has certainly taken a toll on my vulnerable body. Now that my intake has increased so significantly I’m finding my body’s desperation to repair and sudden influx of guilt-free food of all kinds has it breaking down.

I’ve started retaining water and salt like crazy- typically above my knees down to my ankles. As well as the to-be-expected constant gas.

Aside from that, I’ve started having daily anxiety/panic attacks over the state of my health and am constantly over analyzing symptoms with the fear that my ED already went too far and I’m surely dying.

Before, my life was about ignoring any negative symptoms because I didn’t want to confront the impact of my Bulimia. But now it’s the opposite. I’m obsessed with finding and healing every potential effect of my long term ED as quickly as possible. It’s exhausting and terrifying- I find something new every day that scares me into overthinking that it’s surely a sign of something irreversible or life threatening.

I have a very active new job where I am on my feet or lifting heavy boxes all day. At the end of the day my legs become weak and shaky, mostly from the swelling above my knees as I retain water and salt while suddenly building new muscle I haven’t worked out in years.

I can tell my poor circulation is changing as I eat more food, and even feeling my blood flow go to new places can send me into panic that it’s a sign that I’ve irreparably damaged something.

As a person with a long term ED to go through a recovery this swift and severe with no real medical observation or intervention is truly scary. Though I’m no longer experiencing any anxiety over my weight or food intake, it’s quickly shifted to uncontrollable panic over my health as I face the impacts of my bulimia and freely refeeding myself so very quickly.

I just needed to reach out to those who can relate to this. I know my situation is strange having had my ED shut off like a light switch. But maybe someone can relate and confirm the severe changes I’m facing are to be expected recovering this quickly and recklessly so I feel less afraid.

Thanks so much.

First of all, I want to give

First of all, I want to give you a huge congratulations on the steps you’ve taken toward recovery! You are amazing! That takes so much courage and so much strength. I can definitely resonate with the fears - each twinge can sometimes send us into an anxiety spiral like “did I do something wrong? Have I done permanent damage?” Know that our bodies are so much smarter than we sometimes give them credit for! Yes, it may take them a while to heal, and it may not always look or feel like what we expect. But they are working FOR us. They are prioritizing our needs. That being said, I truly do recommend getting in touch with a doctor/dietician who specializes in eating disorders. If nothing else, they can help assuage the fears during the healing process. There is a lot of repair work that bodies need to do after the havoc eating disorders wreak. Maybe just having someone walking with you along the way might ease the anxiety. I know I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without my team
Keep nourishing yourself and taking care. Sending love and strength!

Bulimic Recoverer

I just wanted to say thank you. And I’m over beyond proud and inspired. You got this!