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Eating Disorder Stories: Gretchen (Bulimia)

“Remember you’re not alone and its not your fault”

pink roseMy name is Gretchen. I have been struggling with “Body image” since 8th grade and I am now a senior in high school.

I tried starving myself, but no matter how hard I tried, I just got too hungry and I’d end up eating twice as much as I should have. Then, my 8th grade year I decided to give throwing up a chance.

Yeah!, I thought, this is something I can actually do! It was easy, I could hide it, it didn’t cost anything, and the best part about it…I could still eat food!

As with anything that seems to good to be true, it wasn’t.

I was doing pretty well in 9th and 10th grade, still obsessing with my looks of course, but not throwing up. I did binge though. That’s when I gained a few extra pounds. The summer before 11th grade I started jogging every single morning. I enjoyed it too, and it was a healthy way to lose weight. I thought this was almost as good as being able to make myself throw-up. And of course, I got compliments just because I lost 10 or 15 lbs.

Now, I live in Wisconsin where winters get really, really cold and snowy, and I just stopped walking. That’s when bulimia started becoming more and more appealing to me. In October of 1999 I made my self throw-up for the first time in years! I was so angry, how could I have done this again after it took me 3 years of counseling to get over it?

After that I tried it again, then again and again. Pretty soon I’d do it after every family meal. I just want to add that I come from a GREAT family. My parents have been married 22 years and never fight, I have two supportive sisters and a brother and still I was slowly killing myself.

That’s what made me angriest. I was hurting my family who would have never hurt me in this way. I was hurting them by making them always worried about my health.

It’s now Sept. of 2000, almost a year since I stuck my finger down my throat for the first time in years, and I’m confident that I won’t do it again. I’m making it my goal in life to figure out why people get eating disorders in the first place. I would love to someday open up a house that allows anyone with bad body image in.

ANYONE who feels that they’re not worthy of enjoying life because of how they look would be welcome in and loved by being just the way they are. This is a dream, but it’s also a goal I have and maybe it will really happen someday. If it does, everyone who reads this and feels my determination and knows why I feel they way I do is welcome.

Remember that you’re not alone, and that it’s not your fault. This is a stupid disease.

I want to add one more thing, I think what helped me get over bulimia was this. I would tell myself over and over again that everyone is given only one chance at life. That means you can either enjoy it and be proud of being yourself, or, you can take other people’s remarks seriously and start believing that you don’t deserve a good life.

It’s up to YOU, the one dealing with this disease, no one else can do it for you. Remember, you only have one chance at life and you deserve to live it the way YOU want to.

Be proud of your curves and roundness. Be proud of being natural and instead of trying to be someone on a magazine cover.

Try being someone that others envy as being the most naturally beautiful person they’ve ever seen!

[From the eating disorder stories project that was posted by UC Davis many years ago.]