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When I Stop Fighting the Bulimia Label

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Nowadays, I seem to often forget about my bulimia nervosa diagnosis, at least until I see it in writing. That is when it feels like my world is caving in. Initially, I deny it. I’m not bulimic, no, no, no. I have “eating disorder – not otherwise specificed” (ED NOS). I had seen that diagnosis hundreds of times. For years, that was what I carried with me. ED NOS, which of course brought its own challenges. However, being diagnosed as bulimic feels so real. I used to brush off my NOS diagnosis. I used to tell myself, it’s not “full blown” anorexia or bulimia, I’m fine. When I first tried to state why I thought I wasn’t bulimic, all I could come up with was “But, I don’t overeat,” but I looked back onto my life with the monster I call “Ed” and realized just how many of my behaviors pointed to bulimia.

It still shakes me when I remember I have bulimia, and there are days I wonder when I won’t carry it behind me. Nonetheless, there are also days when I will stand in the diet pill aisle in a store, stare and lose track of time inside my own mind. There are still days where I have to resist sticking my finger down my throat. I still cannot have a gym membership because I know how severe the risk is that I will abuse it. For all intents and purposes, I am still bulimic; I am just in a place where I am not necessarily engaging in the physical behavior. I am lucky in that sense. However, my safety has nothing to do with luck. Despite being a year free of most behaviors, I still maintain a strict treatment plan. I have therapy weekly, meet with my nutritionist biweekly, see my psychiatrist monthly and am medication compliant.

The times I forget about my diagnosis are hard. I see my restrictive dieting as a part of daily life; I see my impulses as normal, ordinary even. When I am reminded, it destroys me, and eventually empowers me. I still try to deny it, but on a deeper level, I understand. When I stop fighting the label of bulimia, I give myself more power to fight my behaviors and impulses.

I follow an eating disorder recovery page and saw a picture that really spoke to me. It was an image of a dog with a “Recovery Is” sign that reads, “She has the energy to play with me.” I also have a dog who I love with my whole heart. Seeing this reminded me that when I am not trying to deny my diagnosis of bulimia and when I am actually fighting the disorder, I do have more energy to play with my dog. I have more energy to see my friends. When I take the energy out of fighting the label and direct it to fighting the disorder, I am stronger, I am healthier and most of all, I am happier.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: September 8, 2016
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