How Could Anyone Have Bulimia & Not Know It?
Most people think they would recognize the signs of bulimia if it were to happen to them, after all the behavior is so obvious – I mean who could possibly miss going to the bathroom and throwing up what you’ve just eaten – right?
But the reality is, it is not always so obvious.
So if you’re…
- Wondering how could anyone have bulimia and not know it, or
- Saying to yourself, “I can’t be possibly be bulimic. I’m not extremely skinny and I don’t throw up like those bulimics in the movies, on TV or on YouTube”, then read on…
You see many people suffer from bulimia for years and not know it, either because they’re in denial of what’s happening or they sincerely don’t recognize the symptoms of bulimia.
Because of the way bulimia manifests itself, overtime the sufferer can end up thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with them, although this is rarely true. However the side effects of bulimia can be devastating and even kill.
The Confusing World of Bulimia.
There is a lot of information online about what bulimia is and what it isn’t – much of it conflicting, and therefore confusing. So before we go any further, it may help if we start by defining exactly what the clinical definition of bulimia is…
Bulimia has been clinically defined by the DSM -5 (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Health v5) as a disorder that manifests the following symptoms.
1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating which must be characterized by BOTH of the following:
2. Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain; known as purging; for example, self-induced vomiting, starving for long periods of time or restricting food intake, over exercising, the use of laxative and diuretics are the most common.
3. The binge eating and compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least once a week for three months.
4. Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
5. The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa.
As bulimia develops, the lines between what’s normal, non bulimic behaviour and what’s bulimic behaviour become blurred
The thing is we all ‘binge’ occasionally. We’re all influenced in some way by our body shape and weight. And we all tend to ‘compensate’ when we feel we’ve overeaten; though obviously not to the extent of someone with full blown bulimia. However when I look back, my earlier binges weren’t so big, my obsession with my body shape and weight weren’t so all consuming and my compensatory measures were not initial so fierce. . Behaviours and thinking become habitualised and normalised
So when does the behavior stop being ‘normal’ and when does it start being pathological?
How can you tell if you are slipping towards bulimia or indeed have bulimia and not know it?
Check Out The 7 Signs Below and See If Any Seem Familiar.
#1 Bulimia Sneaks Into Your Life.
Bulimia is not like catching a cold or waking up feeling ill, it develops overtime. The behaviors of a bulimic (especially in the early stages of bulimia) mirror what many people do and are not just common in todays’ society but some of the behaviors; dieting, fasting, detoxing and exercising, are admired and celebrated.
However the behaviors of bingeing and purging can become highly addictive and normalized and as the eating disorder develops, it takes over someone’s life with the ‘bulimia’ voice convincing you that everyone else is wrong and you are right.
#2 You Don’t See Yourself As Sick Enough.
Whilst the stereotypical bulimic maybe someone throwing up multiple times a day, to be clinically diagnosed with bulimia you actually only have to binge and use the compensatory behaviour(s) on average once a week for 3 months.
The dichotomy is that you may have gone to the doctor seeking help only to be told, you are not sick enough, leading to the erroneous conclusion that you don’t have bulimia.
#3 It All Starts Innocently Enough.
It’s hard to recognize when the ‘normal’, healthy behavior has slipped into something darker and more dangerous and where you are no longer in control.
The thing is we all like to believe that we have complete control over what we do: For many people in the early stages of bulimia, eating something forbidden is kind of OK and binges can be ‘planned’ because you know you can purge. Whilst it may feel like you are in control and “having your cake and eating it”, the control, if there really was any, has probably already slipped away.
# 4 “I Don’t Throw Up After Eating”.
Perhaps because you don’t throw up you think you couldn’t possibly have bulimia. This is one of the most common misconceptions surrounding bulimia. However, althoughpurging isoften thought to mean self induced vomiting, it refers to a number of of compensatory behaviors, one of which is vomiting.
If you find yourself having to run off a meal, going to the gym to burn calories, to exercise when injured or the conditions are bad or exercising has taken precedence over other areas of your life, then you are probably purging.
The thing is bulimia is sub divided into Purging and Non Purging Bulimia and Non Purging also includes over exercising, starving yourself after a binge or missing meals and restricting behaviors.
# 5 You Have To ‘Damaged’ or Mentally Ill to Have Bulimia.
There is a dangerous misconception that you have to be somehow be damaged in order to suffer bulimia or be mentally ill.
Yes, stress and trauma can make a person predisposed to an eating disorder but that doesn’t mean everyone else is immune. You maybe surprised to learn that 20-50% of women with eating disorders have a history of trauma, that means between 50 -80% don’t!
And whilst eating disorders such as bulimia are termed mental illnesses (creating a stigma) it might be fairer to say that eating disorders can make you mentally ill.
Remember as often is the case with illness there is a big spectrum and perhaps the area of eating disorders has one of the largest.
#6 You Are Holding Down a Responsible Job.
That you are holding down a responsible job and struggling with bulimia shows the resilience of your bodyand tenacity of your mind, not that you can’t possibly have bulimia.
You may think that you’re coping quite well and perhaps you are, but here’s the thing with bulimia; the struggle with it blinds you to what bulimia is actually costing you in terms of quality and experience of life and that coping and managing it, makes you forget just how great life is without it.
#7 You’re a Man or You’re Too Old to Have Bulimia.
Unfortunately today the incidence of bulimia is rising across the board, regardless of age, gender or race. And the biggest increase has been seen in women 30+ and in men.
ANYONE can have bulimia. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, or what you do.
But the question is, “Do you have bulimia?” And if you do, what are you going to do about it?
The first thing to know is that regardless of the intensity of bulimia or it’s duration, full recovery is possible for everyone. Like most eating disorders, it’s probably easier to recover from bulimia in it’s earliest stages but this doesn’t always follow.
Why You Need To Start Bulimia Recovery Now
Having suffered from bulimia myself 20+ years ago, having struggled with it for 17 years, I can tell you being without it is gazillions times better. My life, health and level of happiness now are beyond recognition from the dark days of bulimia so…
If you recognize that you may be slipping into bulimia, it would be easier to stop those bad habits NOW and start adopting healthier ones.
If you recognize that you do have bulimia, recognition is actually the first step to getting bulimia help.
But How Do You Start to Recover From Bulimia?
If you recognize yourself in the above list, get bulimia help. Don’t wait for bulimia to take over your life completely or continue to steal any more of your time, your joy, your potential. Start your bulimia recovery as soon as possible and break free from this vicious cycle.
If you want some help click HERE to find out more.
Not Ready For Bulimia Treatment or To Discuss It With Anyone Yet?
Then the best place to start would be to watch my bulimia breakthrough videos, click here to get them delivered directly to your inbox. These 4 FREE videos form an introduction to some inner resources that you already have. In fact you have already been using them, just not in the ‘right’ way. When used correctly they can set you on the path to your recovery from bulimia.
Bulimia Recovery Coach
Julie won a 15 year battle with bulimia over 30 years ago and now mentors and coaches others to bulimia freedom. She is a compassionate, caring bulimia recovery coach who brings a unique and powerful perspective on recovery that has helped people from all walks of life, not just stop bingeing and purging but learn how to love themselves and their bodies and create a life they love.