I have first hand experience with this not-so-rare phenomenon. It is difficult enough to want to look good to others and feel good about yourself and feel appealing enough to attract a partner, but throw in the scrutiny of the camera and the five to ten pounds it adds to your frame and it is a sure path to disaster if you have an eating disorder.
I started binging and purging when I was in high school. It was not only a way to deal with my “baby fat,” it was a coping mechanism. I thought I had it all under control. Six months later I was still doing it. Six years later, I realized I really had a problem. Twelve years later I finally found help. Today, I am bulimia free.
There is no one-way to become free of an eating disorder, each person has his or her own path. I never thought I would see the end of my very dark tunnel of hell that was my eating disorder. I want to let others know that there is hope. If I can do it, you can too.
I found a therapist who gently guided me back to myself. I was a lost soul. I could not look myself in the eye in the mirror because I was so disgusted with myself. I would be so nervous and stressed before an acting job that I would numb myself by binging and purging all the while, trying to be careful that my eyes did not get too puffy for the next days work in front of the camera. I wanted to do a good job for the director and the other actors. I wanted to look good in front of the camera. I never felt thin enough. I look back at the films I did and I just shake my head in disbelief. I was not fat. I had a totally different perspective, a totally distorted perspective of what I thought I looked like and what was reality.
I will tell you what worked for me. My therapist gently requested that I call him when I felt that I was going to binge and purge. I could not do that. It was too invasive for me. I was not strong enough. He then requested that I call and leave him a message when I was going to binge and purge. I could not do that either. So he requested that I write and send it in an email when I was going to binge and purge. It took me a while, but finally I was able to do that. This is what I wrote:
OK I may go into it. I may not. I am battling in between. I have been really good today… according to my standards of caloric intake and exercise.
I am munching on Baked Lays and those are usually OK, however I have some other stuff here to munch on and if I go there then I do not think that I will like myself for eating it. Right now it feels like a calorie thing… it is sometimes like this, sometimes not. I have been around a lot of people lately. Sometimes that is so stressful that I turn to binging and purging. I do not know yet if it is about not having done it in a couple days or trying to escape being around people and being so affected by them. Now I am eating some of the ham and cheese sandwich that I got at Circle K. I took off the bread to feel better but I do not think that will last… now I feel even worse because I am eating the other half, sans most of the bread. But, I am almost challenging me to do this just so I can do this (Write about it and dig deeper into it)… before I was thinking that I wanted to eat and not think about it and escape… me… then I thought better, that I was afraid that I did not want to have to write about it. Now I am sad because I am writing about it… as I take another bite… this sucks. I want more. I do not want to want more. This has been a vague click over. (I call it a “click over” because that is what it felt like to me, as if a switch was suddenly flipped and there was no turning back from binging and purging.) More thought processes going on… not such a sudden click only because that cannot happen if I am writing about it. I do not feel good about it and it slows me down but I do not think it is bad enough to stop me yet. I hate this though. I hate this. Another couple Baked Lays… it is adding up. I hate this. Now I feel I need to do a full on go-out-and-get- something-cheap-to-binge-on… I hate sharing this. I feel exposed. I have said that before. I feel like I have disappointed… me/you/the world. I am such a good person without this… I know that is not true but I felt it just now. I feel bad. Tears stream down my face without my even crying. I hate this. My throat feels like it will explode with the pressure. I do not want to go there but I feel that I already have… I eat another chip just to check. Hand to mouth. Comfort in crunching. That sounds so silly. It is 10:49PM. I think logically that I have until 4PM tomorrow for my next call time for this film I am working on and I can sleep in and be OK to be a little puffy eyed because I have time for it to get un puffy.
Three more Baked Lays… I do not even feel so guilty about the Baked Lays… I feel guilty about my life. Now that just kind of came out of no where but I do not know exactly what I mean by it but I had to write it down just in case I found later to understand it… why should I ever feel guilty about my life? Logically and even spiritually I can grasp some of that but I do not get it. I do not exactly want to ignore it but I do not know what it means, if it means anything. It just popped in my head. Well, now that I have attempted to think that all out so logically and pretty… let us get back to this… I do not want to get back to this. So much easier not to… ham and cheese, Baked Lays. I have got egg whites and… what else… I do not want to think of it… I want to go to a fast food place and order a lot of bad, bad food and bring it back and eat it all. That makes me cry. I do not want to taste it and feel the process of taking it out of me. GOD I HATE THIS. I am doing it so it will help me. I hate it. I still do not want to look at it. I do not want to leave from here because then I will go do this and I will feel so disgusting that I did this and that I am not such a good person because I am doing this… I do not want to look at this.
Now that I am looking at myself I so do not want to look at myself going to a fast food place and getting food. I feel stuck. Stuck with food inside me… stuck. I am counting… I am counting can I not purge and feel OK. Can I not purge and not weigh 150 pounds tomorrow morning. I know that is unreal, however I want to LOSE weight for this upcoming film. I feel that I am failing at that. I do not know how to get there. I do not know. I only know that I would have to have help and that does not feel too good to know because I do not have anyone to help me. It would be a 24/7 kind of job and I do not know anyone with that kind of time, let alone… me. What do I do? I do not know. I do not know. I want get rid of what is inside me. That makes me cry really badly. I want it to be not a part of me. It is separate from me… food, even cannot be a part of me. I hate digestion. It means that food has become a part of me. During the day this is not a factor in my life… I eat healthy and I know that I need nutrition in my life and food to nourish… protein every three hours, carbs, proteins, fats, exercise etc. etc… in the night I want them to feel separate from me. The food. Leave me alone. Go away. I eat the food and I do not want to go to bed without having something in my stomach however I want so badly to be separate from it. I want it to leave my body. I do not want to have to throw up. I just want it gone. I do not know any other way to get rid of it.
I am going to send this now so I do not go over it too much and think about it. These are my thoughts, organically now.
Writing about my episode shifted something in me. It gently guided me to have to feel what I was so badly trying to escape. It is like I got to have a camera in my head recording what was going on so I could later discover what might help me stop my behavior. I started writing more and more and it helped, like a sort of therapy of its own. I turned what I wrote into a book, which in itself was also very therapeutic. I want to help others find their way out of their own eating disorder hell. My book is: “Wasted, From The Inside, Not Just Another Wactress With Bulimia.”