The following is the story of Jessica, who is now in her
early twenties, and on the road to a balanced recovery.
When I was bulimic, I was really at war with myself. It wasn’t just that I
wanted to eat and purge. It was that in my mind, everything that went wrong had
to do with my appearance. My whole life was being turned into an eating
disorder. Like if a test at school didn’t go well, if I couldn’t come up with
enough money for college, if a guy I liked didn’t ask me out, I somehow blamed
it all on my appearance. I wasn’t perfect enough, pretty enough, thin enough.
Deep down I had the feeling no one loved me because I wasn’t perfect enough. I
figured that had to be why my mom got depressed so often, because I wasn’t good
enough, and why my dad left us when I was little.
So I was tearing myself apart trying to become perfect, but all the while I was
becoming less perfect.
My life was wild, crazy, dangerous, scary. It was like I was in a car out of
control, and I couldn’t put on the brakes.
But then one day in my senior year, I finally agreed to check into the hospital
for a treatment program. It was like I slid over into the passenger seat and
let somebody else- the hospital staff, my doctor- get in the driver’s seat for
a while. And we just sat there with the car idling, letting traffic pass by,
not going anyplace- just stopping the craziness for a while until I was ready
to get back in the driver’s seat.
When I left the hospital after a couple of months, it was like pulling out
slowly into traffic and driving along carefully. I was able to drive all by
myself, and I took the car off to college. And now I know how to use the brakes
real well and how to steer the car so it doesn’t get out of control. I know how
to have self-restraint- not just with eating but with lots of things- which is
what I need if I’m going to be able to set goals for myself and a direction for
my life. Like I’m really excited about writing poetry. Now I have the energy to
focus on that and develop my writing. I gave a couple of poetry readings this
year, and one of my professors thinks I can get my poetry published!
In the treatment program I was in, I learned that what I was trying to do with
the purging was, like, to get rid of all the bad in me that made me not
perfect, unlovable. I found out that I can never be perfect. But I can
be whole if I accept the parts of me that I don’t like as part of who I
am. And I learned that there really are people out there who love me for
the way I am, for me, with all my faults, not for my appearance- like my
grandma. She’s been so important to me.