After a Few Days of Normal…

So I had a pretty good weekend at home.  No binging, just a normal few days of eating.  It’s good to know that I can have a couple days of normal.  I didn’t hugely restrict, just ate pretty healthy.  It’s a little easier to do that while training for my marathon – 20 miles on Saturday gave me a little cushion, knowing I’d burned quite a few calories.  But I still miss food when I’m eating healthy.  Sure, there are healthy things that are satisfying and taste pretty good.  But nothing compares to the sugary, fattening, comforting foods that I binge on.  So I admit, I do miss it when I’m not able to.  I found myself looking forward to flying out of town again on Monday (another business trip), so I could be alone in my hotel room…alone with my food and the toilet.  And since then, that’s what I’ve enjoyed.

I hit the grocery store even before I checked into the hotel last night.  It was another 2-binge night.  It was fast food (Wendy’s), a couple boxes of large soft cookies, ice cream, sugar cookie dough.  Always starting with my cottage cheese to make sure I get it all out.

Tonight is much of the same, except instead of the Wendy’s, it was Thai take-out.  I also bought a half dozen scones from a bakery next door to the Thai resteaurant.  And to follow those up, I still had a cheese coffee cake I bought last night, more cookies, more ice cream, and more cookie dough.  I’m a little tired tonight, so I’m going to get rid of this second round (already visited the toilet once tonight), and get to bed.

I wonder how long I’ll let myself stay out of control like this…?  What happened to those 5 months of freedom, the 5 recent months in recovery from this?  Didn’t I love that life?  I won’t let it last too long.  I’m just going to enjoy it for a little bit….

Little Out of Control Today…

I can’t remember the last time I binged and purged 3 times in a day.  It’s been over a year for sure, and it hasn’t been a regular occurence for years and years.  During my college days, some of my worst, I’d regularly do it that often.  But not now.  I guess I’m just a little out of control right now.  I guess I’m doing a little make-up for the 5-months of recovery recently.  Whatever it is, I don’t feel like this out-of-control stuff is going to continue.  I just need to let loose a little.  I’ll reign it back in again soon.  But I’m going to enjoy the food while I’m here.

So I flew back home today, but my husband, Jay, is still out of town until tomorrow.  It’s a rare afternoon and evening that I have the house to myself, and no chance of getting caught doing what I do.  The freedom is kind of exhilerating.  Being a little out of control this week has taken a toll on my finances – spending way more than normal on food.  It’s not that I don’t have the money, Jay and I live a pretty comfortable life.  But I’ve been in financial trouble in the past, primarily because of my eating disorder.  I made a consious choice a few years back to cut down on the amount I spend on binges.  But I’m not exactly sticking to that this week.

My flight landed in the early afternoon, so I hit a restaurant for take-out and a grocery store for some other goodies.  I’d eaten half the french fries and chicken fingers by the time I pulled into the garage – I was even dipping in ranch while controlling the wheel with my knees.  Sometimes I really hate myself for some of the safety chances I take, just for a freaking binge.  But I’ve always been lucky…knock on wood.

Thank goodness for attached garages, which shield me from having to be seen by any neighbors when I unload all the groceries.  Not that anyone would think it odd to see a bunch of grocery bags occasionally – I mean, I know that normal people buy groceries.  But over time, people might notice and suspect.  I remember when I lived in that condo after college, and there was only covered parking, but nothing that protected me from being seen carrying all that food into my condo all the time.  I tried to be careful, but I was convinced that some of my old neighbors were just watching me and gossiping about that pathetic bulimic girl they were sharing a building with….me. 

So for binge #1…it was chicken fingers, fish n chips, cake, cookies, and ice cream…followed by purge #1.  Then I weighed myself and I was happy to see an acceptable number – 2 down from before I left from my trip.

Today was supposed to be my one off-day of running this week.  But since I was home early, and ate some extra calories at the airport and on the place, in the form of a soy latte and energy bar that I didn’t need, I decided to do a few miles on my treadmill, just to burn a little bit.  I don’t generally run or work out after a binge and purge, because I just don’t think it’s healthy (I do see the irony in that statement, considering all the other “unhealthy” things I do).  But I was feeling okay today, and I only intended a little workout anyway.  I was only going to go for 25 minutes, but ended up going for 45 – a fairly short run, but not bad for an extra.

Next, I hit another grocery store right around the corner – for some chicken salad, a pasta-ziti dish, another package of large soft cookies, a few other desserts, and a 12-pack of fresca.  I made sure to pack my cart with a bunch of other healthy stuff (bananas, etc), just in case I ran into anyone I knew.  But I’m always afraid of that – what would I say if I ran into a friend who saw me with all that binge food?  Thankfully, today I didn’t have to find out.

After returning home and stuffing myself again, I realized that I had bought too much food – I’d either have to binge again, or get rid of it.  Either way, I’d have to dispose of everything before Jay came home around noon tomorrow.  I love my husband and can’t wait to see him, but it would work out better for my bulimia if he had a little later flight….oh, god, I know I’m thinking crazy now.  Why would I ever want to binge and purge more than I want to spend time with Jay?  I don’t…not really. 

Anyhow, I decided to throw up and binge again – a thrid time today.  I had bought a caramel cinnamon roll cake thing that was pretty amazing.  But other than that, the food was so-so.  I hate throwing up at home.  I once read a article years ago about how this college dorm that had pipe problems, and it turned out that they were corroding because of all the acid from all the girls throwing up.  Now that I own a house, I do worry about causing damage to the pipes and stuff – hopefully since the house is only 10 years old, the pipes are newer?  I don’t know.  I also just hate having to clean up to a better degree than I do in hotels.  I mean, I’m respectful in hotels, and don’t leave any messes.  But I make sure that I don’t leave even a spot on any of the walls or floors at home – spots from the throw up splatter.  I don’t want Jay to suspect.

Aside from the clean-up in the bathrooms, I still have to figure out what to do with all this garbage.  I bought too much today, and those cookie and take-out packages are so bulky.  I’ll just have to compact it, and hopefully there are some bags in the garbage outside that I can hide it all under.  I don’t think I’ll have another 3-binge day again for a while.  I’m pretty tired and drained.

A Good Night For a Binge or Two…

So I wasn’t able to binge last night, which was somewhat of a disappointment. I hate having to be so careful to hide my bulimia, and traveling with coworkers always makes me extra nervous. I’m not about to take crazy risks of getting caught in anything that looks like it could be what it actually is. But tonight, my colleagues left the hotel to drive into the city, leaving me the time and privacy I need for a really good binge. I had already done my hard interval workout on the treadmill right after work, so I was hungry and ready, just waiting to watch their car drive out of the parking lot below. Once I saw them finally pull away, I rolled my empty laptop bag outside to my rental car and headed to the grocery store down the road. Since the three of us have been driving my rental into the office each morning, I knew that hitting a drive through for greasy fare wouldn’t be an option – the smell might still be there in the morning, and I couldn’t risk that. So I would need to get an assortment of food that would satisfy both my fattening and sugary fixes, and also fit inside my laptop bag so I could discretely wheel it back in the hotel without raising any eyebrows. I am somewhat paranoid, even of strangers seeing me with crazy amounts of food.

I spent a little more than I would have liked to on this grocery trip – total bill $36. For a one-night binge, that’s actually quite a bit. I try and keep my binges to $20-25 at the most. But tonight, I didn’t pay too much attention to the prices as I piled the boxes and packages in my basket. I started off in the hot food section – the one that has the fried chicken and burritos and potato wedges. Tonight I opted for 8 regular and 8 spicy buffalo chicken tenders, 4 cups of ranch dressing, and a large container of gooey mac and cheese. I opted for the ones that were already packaged and priced, so I didn’t have to order from the guy behind the counter. They might not be as fresh, but I didn’t care. Then I moved to the bakery and spent a little time considering the options. I eventually grabbed a gourmet pecan cream coffee cakes – the kind that are round with a hold in the middle, a mini cheesecake, a mini brownie cake, and 3 tubes of these awesome looking gourmet cookies, 2 were soft heath bar (I’m a sucker for toffee) and one was soft coconut pecan oatmeal. The tubes of cookies were $5.99 each, which is a little pricey for 10 cookies, but they looked so incredible that I couldn’t resist (they ended up being so amazing – I’m glad I went for them). I also swung by the produce for a microwavable sweet potato, and then the dairy case for a few strawberry cottage cheese cups. I also grabbed four 32-oz Powerade Zeros, and a last-minute bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that were up front with all the Easter candy.

I tried to look very nonchalant going through the checkout line, mostly scrolling through my iphone, so I could avoid any odd glances from anyone that might look at my basket and suspect I was heading for a binge. Sometimes when I’m just on a normal grocery run at home or something, I’ll catch myself scanning the purchases of other people, especially those young women who seem to be purchasing the kinds of foods that I’d only eat for a binge. I wonder how many share my disorder and take their groceries home, only to stuff themselves and throw up a short time later. I’ll never know, and I guess that’s the point – they don’t want me to know anymore than I want others to know.

Volume-wise, once I’d gotten out to my car and started stuffing the food into my empty laptop bag, I realized I went a little overboard. I kept the Powerades Zeros in a bag to carry separately, and had to stuff the bag of Reese’s, the 2 mini cakes, and 2 of the tubes of cookies in my purse. The rest of it barely fit in my bag, but I somehow got it zipped. Home free.

Once back in my hotel room, I heated my healthy Amy Kitchen veggie lasagna that I’d bought yesterday when my coworkers and I hit the store after work. Today was a fairly restrictive food day, and I’d burned a good amount of calories during my 9 miles on the treadmill a bit ago, so the lasagna was my real dinner. I was starving and wanted to at least have something healthy in my stomach before I fed it the grease and junk that I would eventually throw up. On top of the lasagna, I also ate a container of the strawberry cottage cheese. During my 5-months recently in recovery, that’s where I would have stopped for the night – a balanced healthy meal. But not tonight.

At this point, the real binge began. The chicken fingers were first – I’m not sure what tasted better, the salty greasy buffalo chicken, or the cups of spicy ranch that came with it. Heaven. The mac and cheese was pretty good too – not the best, but a good compliment to the chicken. In between bites, I downed some of the Powerade Zero. Then I started with one of the tubes of Heath Bar cookies – oh my god, they were absolutely amazing. They were chewy, and had the perfect amount of Heath Bar, which had been melted perfectly into each one. I was so glad I bought them, despite the hefty price. I was getting full, but wasn’t ready to stop yet. I ate a few of the soft coconut pecan cookies – again, they weren’t a disappointed at all. And finally, I heated the mini brownie cake in the microwave, and enjoyed every bit of it. Now I was really full, but I wasn’t ready to throw up quite yet. I opened the coffee cake, cut off about a third of it, and heated it up in the empty mini-brownie container. The warm coffee cake was decent, covered with a sweet cream frosting, and lots of brown sugar. I couldn’t finish the whole third – I’d reached my limit.

I leaned back on the sofa, staring at the food containers laid out on the ottoman in front of me. My stomach was stretched and I wasn’t going to be able to sit there for long before I had to get rid of all of it. Years ago, I’d sometimes wait an hour or two before throwing up after a binge. I’m not sure why, except I think I was just dreading and avoiding the throwing up process. Now, I’m much more concerned about getting rid of the food fast. A couple minutes later, I was in the bathroom, tying the end of my pony tail back so it didn’t swing in my face when I leaned over the toilet. I stared at my reflection, feeling pathetic, like I always do at these moments. But I knew a few minutes from then, the food would be gone, and I’d feel skinny and happy again.

Throwing up comes fairly easy to me these days. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but I’m pretty good at it. I just push a tiny bit on my stomach, stick my finger down my throat, and heave it all out. For a big binge like this, with thick cookies and cake, I knew it would take about 8-12 heaves. After about 6, I flush the toilet, rinse off my fingers, and swallow some warm water. I wait a minute or so, and finish with a few more heaves to get the rest of the food up. I am always relieved when I start to see that first layer – the cottage cheese, and a little of the veggie lasagna. I’m okay if a little bit of that stuff stays down, but I like to make sure I get the rest of everything up. Once I’m satisfied and think it’s all out, I wipe off the toilet, flush again, and wash my hands, mouth, and face with soap and warm water. I also brush my teeth.

I had some work to do, so I answered a few e-mails, and about 30 minutes later, I started the second binge of the night. I generally don’t do two in a night, but I guess I was making up for last night, and for the fact that I was flying home tomorrow and might not be able to do it again for a few days, at least not with the freedom I have now. I’d consciously bought enough food for 2 binges.

The second binge started with the microwaved sweet potato, and another container of strawberry cottage cheese – the safe layer. Then I proceeded to finish off the chicken and ranch, the bag of Reece’s, the mini cheesecake, remaining section of coffee cake, and the rest of the cookies. I kept drinking the Powerade Zero along with it all, hoping that it would de-thicken the gooey mess in my stomach. Sometimes that works, but sometimes the liquid just seems to sit on top, and then it’s almost painful to get the thick cakey glob out of my stomach. A little while later, I was back on the sofa, leaning back as I’d done 90 minutes ago, ready to throw it all up – again. Before heading into the bathroom, I cleaned up the mess I made – I compacted all the garbage, stuffed it all into a single plastic bag, tied the handles tightly, and placed on top of the trash can by the sink. I’m even embarrassed by the thought that housekeeping will see all the food I ate.

The second round of throwing up went about the same as the first. Now I’m about to crawl into bed, feeling a little tired and drained, but satisfied. I enjoyed tonight’s binges. Maybe it’s because I’ve been extra restrictive with food lately, trying to stick between 1200-1500 calories. Not all binges are as satisfying as the ones tonight. But tonight’s was worth the $36 grocery bill, and the hour sleep it probably cost me. I’m dreading the dry mouth I’ll wake up with, and I’m hoping my eyes aren’t too bloodshot in the morning. But I’ve dealt with those for years, and they are just some of the price I pay for this bulimic life. I’ll guzzle 24 oz of water now, another in the morning, and hopefully no one will notice or wonder or suspect what I did tonight.

My First Post – About this Bulimic…

I have a love-hate relationship with my bulimia.  I know that I should hate it, for all the bad things it does to me – the health and teeth issues, the money it drains from my accounts, the time and energy it wastes, the toll it takes on my relationships.  The list goes on and on, of what it has cost me over the years.  But I cannot deny that I also love it.  It’s been in my life for almost 2 decades, since I was 16 years old.  I’m not really sure if it will ever be gone from my life, or even that I really want it gone.  I think I do, but I’m just not sure some days.

I have had periods of recovery.  Most notably, the 8 months after a stint in treatment during a break from college; and most recently, a 5-month stint that ended with a relapse about a month ago.  Over the years, there have been other periods too.  But it always comes back, always.  And every time it returns, there’s a part of me that is so glad and relieved to have it back.  Of course, there is always some disappointment and depression that comes with a relapse.  But there is also joy, maybe even love – whatever it is, it’s that wonderful feeling that can only come from being able to eat those things that I want to eat so badly, and not have to pay the consequences for those calories. I love being able to eat more than a half cup of light ice cream, or more than 27 whole grain crackers, or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.  The serving sizes of the healthy balanced diet are so unsatisfying!  I love to binge.  I love being able to eat an entire cake, or a whole basket of fried chicken strips with lots and lots of ranch, or a whole box of sugary cereal, or a large pizza.  Sometimes I think it’s the people who have never been bulimic that are missing out.  What more can you ask for, besides being able to eat whatever you want, however much you want – and never actually gaining weight?!  Okay, I know, I know.  This is not a healthy attitude (way understatement, I know).  I get it.  And trust me – I would never, ever encourage anyone to start bulimia.  God, I wish I could go back to that very first time I ever stuck my finger down my throat.  I wish I could make it so I never started.  But I did, and it became my drug.  And even though I know it’s a bad thing, I like getting my fix.

I have hopes of recovering for good.  Like I said, I had 5 bulimia-free months just recently.  And last year, I also had a 2-month and 3-month period as well.  So I’m getting close.  I can’t say exactly where the motivation for these recent mini-recoveries has come from, but I’ve done it on my own without treatment or therapy.  I’m not against getting help, and in fact, I have had great experiences with therapy in the past.  I just haven’t reached out in that direction in a few years.  I’m definitely not the same depressed little girl I was in my teens and 20’s, with a horrible body image and an out-of-control obsession with bulimia.  I am happier now, and although I can find just as many flaws as any other female, I don’t actually hate my body most days.  And my bulimia doesn’t consume me like it used to – I’ve just found a way to fit it in my life, while still leading a fairly normal and happy life otherwise.  So I’m not sure what I’d tell a therapist right now – is there such thing as a happy, healthy bulimic?  Okay, probably not.  And I guess I know that.  And I guess that’s a big reason I’m starting this blog.  I know there’s more to my bulimia than just loving the good food I can eat.  Maybe through writing my way through this, I’ll figure something out.

For the record, today was actually a bulimia-free day, although it wasn’t supposed to be.  I don’t binge and purge every day these days.  Right now I am in a hotel room, traveling for work this week, which I do 2-3 weeks per month.  Business trips are one of the best times to get my bulimia fix – no friends or family to hide it from, no neighbors to avoid in the grocery store.  And I was actually looking forward to a good binge tonight.  But this week I’m traveling with colleagues, and they didn’t make it easy for me tonight.  So I’m being safe, for I cannot bear the thought of having to explain why I’m carrying enough food for a family of 6 into my room.  There will be other nights, though, maybe even tomorrow. 

I feel like I can’t end my first blog entry without a mention of 3 other important things that make up me, and my life.  After all, I am more than just a happy bulimic.

The first is my husband, Jay, who is my best friend in the whole world.  I’m a healthier person because of him.  He makes me happy, makes me laugh, and he loves me.  We are opposite in a lot of ways, but that’s what makes us so great together.  He does not know I still struggle with bulimia, or at least I don’t think he does.  He knew it as a thing of the past, and he is actually one of the main reasons why it got better over the years.  If he suspects at all, then I’m sure he has no idea how bad it can really be at times.  Jay and I have been married for 5 years.  We are in a great place with our marriage.  No kids yet, but we do want them within the next couple of years.

The second other important thing about me is that I am a runner.  I love running, and often compete in races, anywhere from 5K’s to marathons.  I run 5-6 days a week.  Currently, I’m training for my 9th marathon in less than 5 weeks.  Running is such a healthy contradiction to my bulimia.  Some people might think it’s just another form of bulimia, but I believe it is one of the things that keeps me balanced and healthy and generally happy.  Somehow, my running and my bulimia co-exist pretty peacefully.  I don’t do anything stupid like binge and purge and then go out for a 20-miler.  I fuel properly and take care of what my body needs to run.  I’m not saying that I believe my bulimia has no impact on my running or health, but I try to be as smart as I can in a life where they both exist.  Liz is my best friend, my favorite running partner, and the only person in my life that I confide in about my bulimia – often discussed on runs together.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to break the news to her that I relapsed this past month.  She thinks I’m still going on 6 months, when it really ended at 5.  I will tell her, I’m just not sure when.

The third important thing is that I am from a large family of 9 kids – all from the same parents (yes, we are Catholic).  I have 2 brothers, 7 sisters, and 17 nieces and nephews.  Growing up in a large family definitely helped shape who I am.  Through my teens and some of the darkest years of my bulimia, my therapy sessions explored a lot about how getting “lost” in all the kids, and how the influence of my older sisters’ constant dieting, may have helped lead to my eating disorder.  I’m not sure what I think about all that now, and how it might or might not play into my struggles today.  Something to explore on another day, perhaps.

So that’s a little about me.  I look forward to writing more.  And maybe some day I’ll be writing this as a fully recovered bulimic, and not just one that keeps relapsing.  Wherever this blog ends up going, I’m glad it’s out there.  Thanks for reading.