I hover over the toilet bowl. My knees are bright red from kneeling on the tile floor. Blood is rushing to my head so fast that my brain starts pounding. Meanwhile, the tiny devil knocks on the inside of my skull screaming, “You aren’t good enough. You don’t deserve to eat. You aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, kind enough.” Even though I can hear my esophagus sob for mercy, I continue to shove my right index and middle finger down my throat and wipe the acid from the corners of my mouth. All of this for that two and half seconds after I’ve thrown up where I actually feel skinny. It became a way of life for me.
I call the problem an obsessive desire to impress others. I was never formally diagnosed with bulimia, but I memorized this definition from dictionary.com in seventh grade: “an emotional disorder that involves the distortion of body image with the obsessive desire to lose weight – bulimia.” My condition was a cycle of depression, overeating and self-induced vomiting. I didn’t know what other disease would make me want to kneel over the toilet until my knees started throbbing. If not bulimia, then surely something similar.
For two and half years, the only thought constantly streaming through my brain was ‘why can’t I be skinny?’ My brain was wired this way. For some people, good and bad feelings about themselves shuffle back and forth. The only thought in my mind that consistently stuck was that doing this to myself was the only way I could lose weight. Every time I looked in the mirror, I would stare at every inch of my body that I hated, and I just wanted to take scissors and cut off all of those places.
This issue started as me dissecting my body in the mirror, but later evolved into a dissection of my personality. Whenever I felt like I wasn’t doing something well, whether it was a school project or even eating, I wanted to make myself throw up. Everything I did wasn’t good enough, even my high A on my test or my advice to my sister was all sub par.
Whenever my brain would flood with vicious thoughts, I would burst into any nearby bathroom with tears rolling down my cheeks, lock the door and continuously cram my fingers in my mouth. I wouldn’t stop until there wasn’t anything left to fall into the toilet.
When I told my parents about how I was inflicting this pain upon myself, they were silent. They were so grief-stricken by the fact I was doing this to myself they couldn’t believe it. However, they started to realize that what I was going through was real, and quickly became my biggest advocates in making myself healthy. The first thing my dad told me was, “I don’t have to completely understand, but I’m going to help you in anyway I can, and we are going to get through this together.”
After that, he made me call him every time I thought I was going to throw up. But I never called him because I thought if he heard me throwing up over the phone, it would make him feel worse. He is my inspiration and everything I aspire to be, so I didn’t want him to suffer just because I was. After weeks of not being able to go to the bathroom alone, whenever I was over the toilet I would imagine my friends and family outside of the bathroom door, and I would stop. Moving forward I wasn’t going to make them suffer, and this was only a fraction of my motivation stop doing this to myself.
Inspiration doesn’t have to come from yourself, it can come from an outside source. I learned this from one of my best friends. She is the most confident, amazing person I know. When she wears cheetah print booties and Barbie and Ken earrings to school, she teaches me to be confident in myself. My other friend told me I was pretty every day, and he never forgot. I thought the reason he was telling me was because my situation depressed him and made him say those things. I never believed him when he told me he meant it, but it still meant the world to me. I would tell my friends every emotion I was feeling about myself, and each response was, “we are going to help and get through this with you.”
I never went to a therapist because my parents wanted me to conquer this by finding my own inner strength, seeking motivation and learning how to cope with all stresses in my life. I’ve found that when I write, the high I get is my own personal therapy because I feel like I’m accomplishing something incredible. It’s a different high than throwing up is. It’s better. The only time I felt good about myself was when I was writing something that I could be proud of.
I’m not perfect. I still have those moments where I want to cry over the toilet, but I work through that every day. What keeps me from crying after I leave the bathroom every day is thinking about coming home to my parents and being able to truthfully tell them that I didn’t force my fingers down my throat. This disease is chronic; you can never kill it, but you can stifle it. When I walk away from the stall, it’s like I put duct tape over the little devil’s mouth and I’m reminding myself that this is my life, and I call the shots.