Can warnings from a former bulimia sufferer help vulnerable people to avoid going down the eating disorder route? Bonita Norris, who has climbed Mount Everest both literally and in her experience of bulimia wants to tell her story in schools to help people who have the illness feel supported and hopefully to prevent others from going through the hell and misery that has come with her illness. And I would like to help her.
The discomfort that leads to bulimia doesnt hit quickly. It creeps up on you like cats paws until one day you are on a diet and the next day your control has broken down. Then, not only are you going to get fat all over again, you experience yourself as weak and pathetic to have given in to your most desired and feared foods. You dont know that binge eating is a normal response to dieting - you just blame yourself and you will do anything to stop yourself from gaining weight.
And if somone were to tell you not to go on a diet and you are just 15 and feeling just awful about your appearance; what will you do? Will you listen with your heart as well as with your ears to the warnings of people who have been there too?
This is the dilemma that faces me in my eating disorder prevention work. The desire to be in control is normal and people who get into eating disorders have serious issues with control, coping, and living up to their own enormous expectations. They look at other people and they are sure that they just don't measure up. When you are just 15, you dont know about issues like boundaries, eating disorder thinking, you have no idea that feeling fat is really being full of feelings that cannot be expressed. You don't know how to deal with constant assaults on your fragile self esteem and you don't know how to look in the mirror with a compassionate gaze.
Therapists need to read the stories of people who are coming out on the other side of their eating disorder and can see it for what it really is. This helps us to understand. Telling the story is also the way that the sufferer can start to heal. I wonder how the story can help a 15 year old who hates her thighs and who wants to be the thinnest girl in the room. I would like to know if the story can help a 20 year old who is in the throes of her illness and who feels that she cannot survive without her disorder.
I would like to share Bonita's blog with you and help her to raise money to help her dream. One message I have for Bonita is that bulimia can be cured in such a way that it will never come back. It doesn't have to lurk in the dark corners of your world.
We all need to live a dream that is not dictated by the demands of an eating disorder. There is no space for eating disorders when you follow a dream. Healing lies here too.