National Eating Disorders Association

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concernedhuman
Trying to understand bulimia

Hello, I am posting here in order to hopefully gain some understanding relative to the things that my girlfriend is going through. As I understand it, bulimia sufferers go through binge periods where they eat massive amounts of food and then afterward feel guilty or unhappy with their self image and make themselves throw up. My girlfriend has intentionally been eating massive amounts of food in order to make herself throw up instead of the other way around. She said that she felt like she needed to throw up but couldn't so she ate food that she could throw up. Is this normal behavior? Is this bulimia or actually something else? Thank you for your help and if any of this comes off as offensive I do not mean for it to be, I am just trying to understand :)

concernedhuman
birdie22

Thank you so much birdie22 for responding to my post. I am happy to hear that this is not unheard of (still a terrible thing, it's just reassuring to know that she is not alone and this is still related to the bulimia). I was just concerned that it could have been something even more serious because I could not find anything online related to intentional bingeing. Luckily my girlfriend is starting an outpatient program tomorrow which is 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. I really hope that it will help her recover from this because the pain is far too great for anyone to go through. As far as outpatient treatment programs are concerned, do you happen to know how long a typical recovery would be? I know that everyone is different and these things take time, I was just curious if the purging is something that tends to stop rather quickly or if she will still be doing it for a long time to come. She is 19 years old and has been doing it only since June so I am hopeful that treatment will not take as long as someone who has been doing it for many many years. Thank you again

concernedhuman
birdie22

My girlfriend wants to recover from this so I hope that is a step in the right direction. You mention that family support is very important. Her family is not always the most understanding but I am very loving and supportive of her, I hope it will be enough to help her recover because I don't know how helpful her family will be. I am going to attend every family therapy session they offer in order to support her. I thank you again for your advice and wishful thinking. I hope to be able to post back soon saying that everything is going well. Cheers

lovetowrite81
concernedhuman

Hi concernedhuman,

Thank you so much for posting here & expressing such concern for your girlfriend. It seems like you are such valuable support for her by wanting to understand more about what she is going through and staying by her side through this. That is so crucial and she is so blessed to have you moving towards recovery. I am so glad that she is able to start outpatient and is so motivated towards wanting to recover! Just wanted to reiterate that the timeline is very different for each individual and most likely, binging/purging will only resolve completely when she finds other ways of coping and begins dealing with the underlying factors contributing to her ED- so it is no longer a way she feels the need to navigate the world.

Mostly I just wanted to say that we are all here for you! Be sure to take care of yourself through all of this. And please keep us posted! <3

-Lovetowrite81

concernedhuman
lovetowrite81

Hello lovetowrite81, I appreciate the response and support! You mention that having me support her will be helpful so I hope that I am able to help her as much as possible. Just curious what some of these other forms of coping are that you mention, are there coping methods taught in the treatment center or are these things she will develop on her own without meaning to? What would be some examples of coping methods? Thanks again! :)

lovetowrite81
concernedhuman

Hi concernedhuman,

Of course :) I personally have not been in a treatment facility, but I have seen a therapist for many years- and have found that this has helped me to identify a different set of coping skills, while others have just naturally happened as a result of detaching from ED over time. Some examples of coping could include articulating ones emotions to someone they trust. Before therapy, I did not know how to express a feeling at all. As I developed this ability, my urge to binge eat and push down the feelings I did not want to face decreased. This is just an example. Other forms of coping could include other forms of self-care that one finds soothing- journaling, listening to music, taking a walk- any other way to soothe uncomfortable feelings instead of engaging in behaviors.

Hopefully this is somewhat helpful! Keep us posted on how ya'll are doing <3

-Lovetowrite81

concernedhuman
lovetowrite81

That is very interesting that the urges decreased as the coping mechanisms allowed you to express yourself. I never thought about it like that and you have given me a new perspective on why some of these issues arise, thank you :) I am very hopeful that the same thing will happen for my girlfriend!! Today is her first day in the actual treatment facility so I will update you as I find out how it is working for her and how she likes the program/people. Cheers -concernedhuman

lovetowrite81
Concernedhuman

Hi concernedhuman,

Yes definitely! In a way, I no longer needed the ED to mask over the complex emotions, and am now able to articulate, process them, and feel uncomfortable without behaviors. So thankful for that.

I am hopeful for your girlfriend as well! Absolutely, please keep me posted! <3

-Lovetowrite81

concernedhuman
lovetowrite81

That's so great, I look forward to my girlfriend being able to do the same thing :) We talked about how her day went at the treatment center and she said she was nervous but that it went very well. We are both very optimistic that this is the right program for her and I am so so happy that she is conquering this demon. She has been in a good mood today unlike the days prior to treatment so I am hoping that this is something that continues as a result of the facility. Cheers!

lovetowrite81
Concernedhuman

Hi concernedhuman,

I am so glad hat her day went well yesterday and she is feeling good about this program! That is so encouraging. I am glad to hear that both of your spirits are high. I am looking forward to continuing to hear how she progresses :)

-Lovetowrite81

concernedhuman
Update

Hello lovetowrite81, I thought I would give you an update considering all of the help you gave me. My girlfriend (now fiancée :D) successfully finished her treatment and it has been 6 months since then. Right now she is 9 months "sober" and she is doing very well. Her eating disorder thoughts have ceased and she goes about life as if it never happened. I want to thank you so much for your support and for helping me try to understand what was going on. Wishing you the best <3

lovetowrite81
Concernedhuman

Thank you so much for sharing! This makes my day! (more like month). I am so incredibly glad to hear that your girlfriend has made such incredible strides in recovery- that she has not only been without behaviors, but has also found peace in her thoughts. Congratulations on your engagement as well! <3 I really appreciate you updating me. Again, it's amazing that your girlfriend has found life without ED- and I know she is very grateful to have you by her side. Feel free to reach out at any time!

concernedhuman
Thank you so much! I

Thank you so much! I apologize for not updating you sooner. Also I forgot to mention this but last semester she took a leave of absence to get everything straightened out and I am happy to say that she is going back this semester! :) She is very excited to start school and I am very thankful that you were able to help me learn about what was going on so that I could help her get her life back on track.

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