Stephanie's Story UCSB, California Bulimia

The first time I forced myself to vomit was halfway through my first semester of college. I had restricted my eating and binged through out high school. I went through all four years feeling completely miserable in my body. I never acted on my feelings in a recognizable way until I left home and was able to without anyone noticing.

My roommate and I had ordered pizza that night, having planned to avoid the cafeteria and treat ourselves to something edible. I ate the pizza we ordered until I was uncomfortable. I had done this before and, as usual, was consumed by feelings of guilt, fear and revulsion. I felt like I had to do something, I resolved to not eat again, to exercise twice as hard the next day and of course spent the evening berating myself.

My roommate who I'm sure was fed up with my complaining told me to just throw up if I felt that bad. At that time I had never considered myself as someone with and eating disorder. I thought that every girl secretly hated her body and that I was just honest enough to admit it. When she suggested it, I knew it was a bad idea but it seemed like such a good solution. It was not something that I thought about becoming a habit. Just had to do something to get that feeling out of me.

I took a tongue depressor from a first aid kit I had. I went into the bathroom and shoved the tongue depressor to the back of my throat. I was finally successful. My eyes were burning and teary, My throat hurt, my head hurt and my stomach felt crampy, but I felt better. I felt empty and I confused that emptiness with calm. At that point I really had given up on myself and I don't think that I was really feeling anything.

I began to exercise twice a day. Running in the afternoon alone and in my room at night with my roommate. We would run barefoot in our underwear in front of a mirror so that we could see how our bodies looked. I was sore all the time, knees ached, hips were tight but I liked it. I enjoyed the pain. It seemed normal, I felt athletic.

I would skip lunch and wait all day for dinner and then gorge myself. I would make sure that I made it back to m;y room in time to throw up before my roommates made it back. I had begun to use a toothbrush to gag myself with. It was easier than using my fingers and no one would notice if I took my toothbrush with me anywhere.

I was always rushing around, hiding from people. The few friends that I made when I first got to school stopped trying after I began acting to strange. The one girl from home who went to the same school was suspicious. I was so tired and grumpy and thin, I knew that she knew something and so I stopped hanging out with her.

When I went home for winter break everything fell apart. I was exhausted. My roommate had dropped out and went home. I was sad that she was leaving, she was really my only friend at school. It was also scary because she was as bad off as I was and I felt OK if she was there. Now I was going to have to do it alone. When I got home I was pretty unbearable. I was so stressed because I couldn't throw up at home and that was how I had been dealing with stress for the past three months. I was so sensitive and irritated with my friends. We wend out for New Years Eve and got into a huge fight. I was so lost, I had no idea how harsh I was being with them. I had to have my mom come pick me up and I didn't talk to two of my friends for months. There is still one girl that I'm not friends with anymore.

When I got back to school I knew I had to change things. My friends from home all knew and had told the girl from home that went to school with me, so she was occasionally checking up on me. I think that even though I hated that, I needed it. I also was lucky in that my roommate was recovering from bulimia and she encouraged me to get help. It was in her best interest as well, so she really helped and was supportive. I saw a counselor at the service on campus. She helped me to get out a lot of the bad feelings I was having and to find better ways to deal with them. When I left school in June I was not throwing up any more. I have seen counselors off and over these past four years and it has been two since I threw up last. I still struggle with body image but as I get older I am more able to see that it is not that important and I know now that if I will not be able to keep weight off that I've lost, I should not even begin to try to lose it. I had a lot of support and still do.