I think bulimia is so hard to pin down because it’s rife with misconceptions, myths and unhelpful thinking.
Just today I was having a conversation with someone about my role as a bulimia recovery coach and they instantly assumed bulimia was a condition reserved for the young, body-conscious, adolescent woman.
But this is simply not true…
In fact, given the right conditions and triggers, bulimia can afflict just about anyone. And a group of people that are often overlooked are women in their mid-life, who have one of the sharpest rises (as a percentage) in those seeking bulimia help. Aging can be a challenge for many women as their bodies change and although they feel young inside the mirror tells another story.
Perhaps YOU fall into that group…
If so, rest assured you’re NOT alone. In fact, you may be relived to know that the specific challenges of mid-life create ideal conditions for bulimia to thrive. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common triggers. Perhaps you’ll recognise some of them…
As you know, society places enormous value on its definition of beauty – and I think it’s just not fair how older women are treated.
Look at the comparison. Older men are often described as “distinguished” and “stately”. Think about Sean Connery and Robert Redford. They still have immense sex appeal and people wouldn’t turn up their nose in horror if a woman in her 20s announced she found them attractive.
But the same does not apply to women. Instead, people quietly question what a younger man could possibly see in someone older. Even worse, some people (often the media) are vocally disgusted and express their distaste and disapproval at such an unlikely match.
And there’s more…
- Think about the different associations between the terms “cougar” and “trophy wife”…
- Or how older men are celebrated for marrying younger women…
- Or the number of mature women holding top spots on the TV…
In fact, have you noticed there’s a distinct lack of positive role models for women age 40 plus? Instead our “one-size-fits-all” version of beauty “encourages” older women to resist ageing and stay youthful. If you want proof, just look at all the beauty products on the market targeted at mature skin – and consider the ridiculous claims they make.
And society’s “need” to look beautiful can place enormous pressure on a woman in her mid-life, especially if it’s coupled with some of the factors I’ll discuss shortly.
And to make the dilemma more complicated, beauty has become so commoditised its blurred the lines between self-esteem and body-esteem. In turn many women are fooled into believing they are the person they SEE in the mirror and NOT the innate wisdom and beautiful soul that’s often hiding inside.
Unfortunately the effects of this confusion and pressure can be devastating. The resulting insecurities and low confidence can lead to dieting – and when it all gets too much, the bingeing and purging associated with bulimia can be triggered.
2. Troubled relationships
Mid-life can be characterised by lots of changes.
You can start to become more aware of your own mortality, especially when you see there may be less time ahead of you than went before. Relationships with those closest to you can change. Perhaps your teenagers are causing you stress. They may even be leaving home which can leave you questioning and re-examining your role in the home. Ageing parents who need additional care can place a lot of stress on you and the relationship you have with your spouse may become difficult. After all, divorce during mid-life is not uncommon.
And if your husband leaves for a younger women, the ageing factor again comes into play and can cause havoc with your self-esteem.
The menopause can cause havoc with your emotions and affect how you look and feel physically. And it’s not a surprise when you consider deep hormonal changes are happening as your body makes a very real transition into maturity. And whilst it’s true that some women find this change a breeze, for others, the physical symptoms can be uncomfortable, stressful and difficult to manage.
In addition, many menopausal women find their body changes shape too. Unfortunately these physical changes are rarely desirable given society’s prescription of what a “good body” looks like which can add to the stress and discomfort – and if food is a source of comfort, or something to restrict, the menopause can become a triggering factor in mid-life bulimia.
4. Redundancy or unemployment
As you know the job market has changed inconceivably just of late. The challenging economy has placed considerable strain on families and individuals and many people in their mid-life have been forced to re-assess their career plans.
Perhaps you’re facing the threat of redundancy, and are concerned about what the future holds for you within the workplace. Maybe the worse has already happened and you’ve become unemployed. Without question, older people do face very specific challenges in today’s job market. What’s more, it can be difficult and stressful to face the prospect of re-training or starting out – especially if you’ve held a position for any length of time.
Finally, maybe leaving work for good is on the cards.
And whilst on the surface this can seem like an exciting prospect, if you’ve had a long-time career the identity change can be a challenge. Perhaps you’re worried about how you’ll fill your time or what you’ll do next.
Are you facing an inner struggle?
One of the biggest challenges with bulimia in mid-life, is to an on-looker everything may look OK. It may in fact be something that you’ve been struggling with for years, and although soul destroying and exhausting you’ve managed to hide it, or perhaps it has resurfaced again and bulimia is back in your life.
In comparison, bulimia in adolescent may be detected or suspected by parents. What’s more bulimia is a very secretive “condition”. Sufferers are often deeply ashamed of what they’re doing but to their friends and family they make it appear everything is as it should be.
But are you experiencing something quite different inside?
- Are you finding your mid-life years hard to cope with?
- Have you noticed your self-esteem has taken a hit?
- Has your confidence been knocked?
- And you feeling anxious when you look to the future – not excited and hopeful?
If so perhaps you’ve taken comfort in food. After all it can seem like a quick, easy fix to a problem. Momentarily food can make you feel good and can be a powerful distraction from the stresses and strains in your life. But has the bingeing become too habitual – and are you now purging to avoid gaining weight?
If so, it’s nothing to be ashamed of BUT you do need to seek help.
You see bulimia is a silent yet deadly destructive force. In the early stages it can lull you into a false sense of security and kid you into believing you’re in control. But before long it will take its hold and start to restrict your life.
Bulimia has wide-ranging side effects – physically, emotionally and mentally. And if you don’t stop, it will suck the hope and joy from your future.
I understand because I’ve been there…
I’m now in my mid-life and fortunately I’ve been bulimia free for over 20 years. But I am a woman and I’m aware of the pressures placed upon our age group from society as a whole. Fortunately I’ve developed strategies which have enabled me to ensure bulimia NEVER takes control of my life again, to stay slim without dieting or self destructive eating strategies, and I’ve also figured out how to create a future full of joy and a life that I love.
So if you’re struggling with bulimia, and you’d like to talk with someone who really gets where you’re coming from, drop me an email and let’s book a chat. In just 30 minutes I will share with you some powerful insights that will help you re-focus. That alone could be the turnaround you need to reclaim your future.
In addition, I can tell you more about how I can help YOU to become bulimia free…
You know of course that life it too short to waste another precious day to bulimia, and you owe it to yourself to say farewell to this dangerous habit and set yourself FREE.
Email me NOW – you’ve got nothing to lose…
Simply email Julie@bulimiafree.com with the subject “I want to chat” and I’ll get back to you and arrange a convenient time to Skype.
Bulimia Recovery Coach
Julie won a 15 year battle with bulimia over 20 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.