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 by Anika
 Age 17

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Photo of Anika
     Anika, Age 17
  Bulimia is an act of disgust and an act of need. The disgust and the need are about the body and the emotions.

-Wasted, Marya Hornbacher (p. 93)


spacer If one were to consult a dictionary, they would find that bulimia nervosa is an "eating disorder in which a person repeatedly overeats, then uses self-induced vomiting, diuretics, laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercising to prevent weight gain." If one were to address inquiries to the parents, relatives, or friends of a victim of bulimia, responses would include adjectives such as gross, secretive, confusing, painful. If an actual bulimic were questioned, they would reply, quite simply, that bulimia is hell. It is an out-of-control, emotionally shattering, body screwing, mental hell that wreaks havoc on one's sense of reality, self-esteem, and ultimately, one's life. This web site attempts to educate those not familiar with the seriousness of bulimia about the physical, and especially emotional torture involved. It also aspires to advise those who have a friend or sibling suffering from bulimia on how to help. Most importantly, the purpose of this web site is to provide comfort, hope, and inspiration to those stuck in bulimia's clutches

I threw up again that night, half-afraid that my eyeballs were going to explode. But it was, by far, more important that I get rid of dinner. Of course by then, throwing up was the only way I knew how to deal with fear. . . And [the bulimia] is so very seductive. It is so reassuring, so all-consuming, so entertaining.
At first.
, Marya Hornbacher (p. 64)

Bulimics binge eat (gorge themselves beyond fullness). And eat. And eat. After these binge periods, during which they feel a complete lack of control and an overwhelming sense of self-loathing, they use any measure possible, usually self-induced vomiting, laxatives, or exercise obsessively to prevent weight gain. In some instances, bulimics may purge any time food that enters their bodies, not only after their binges. For more information on bulimia, check out

The emotional perils of bulimia

spacerWhile anorexics are seen as self-controlled, subservient "good" girls, bulimics are seen as gross, fat, out-of-control "bad girls." That bulimia is essentially a complete and painful loss of control is what leads to the emotional perils of bulimia. Bulimia is also linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

spacerLike the anorexic, the bulimic also sees herself as impossibly fat, bloated, and grotesque. However, because the anorexic is seen as highly feminine in her extreme thinness, she is seen as "successful" while bulimics are seen as failures with no dignity or self-control.

Because I did not warrant the coveted title of anorexic, I was embarrassed . . . spacer-Wasted, Marya Hornbacher

spacerBulimics also suffer simply because of the gross nature of their illness: the horrible, indescribable feeling that they get from their need to eat until their stomachs are distended and bursting out of their jeans. The awful period after when they realize what they've done, that there is no going back, that there is no other option but the toilet, or the laxatives, or the all day periods of exercising.

Midway through the food you remember and it's too late and you're still fucking hungry . . . but then you feel so unbelievably guilty and hideous that you HAVE TO THROW UP, and so you do . . .
, Marya Hornbacher (p. 121)
Because bulimics don't have the "status" of anorexics, because their illness involves such horrific, painful activities, bulimia is considered shameful and consequently, many girls do not reveal their secret.
The truth is I never told anyone, not my friends, my family, no one . . . spacer-Suzanne, 16
spacerAlso, because symptoms of bulimia are not immediately evident (unlike anorexia), bulimia is difficult to catch, which makes it more difficult to treat, creating a dangerous cycle.

WHO is at risk?

spacerAll the same people are at risk for bulimia as are described in the At-Risk List under the main eating disorders section; those with poor self-control, along with other specified symptoms have a tendency to lean more towards bulimia then anorexia.

WHAT causes bulimia?

spacerBulimia is a result of the same factors identified in the main eating disorders section.

WHAT are the symptoms of bulimia?

  • Binge eating
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Swollen glands
  • Rotting teeth
  • Excessive concern about weight
  • Frequent weight fluctuations
  • Strict dieting followed by binges
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed about eating
  • Feeling out of control
  • Vomiting after meals
  • Laxative and/or diuretic abuse
  • Depressive moods
  • Overeating in reaction to emotional stress
  • Excessive exercising
For more diagnostic criteria for bulimia, go to

WHAT are long-term effects of bulimia?

spacerLong term effects of bulimia are described in Eating Disorders. The problems most experience mostly by bulimics include stomach and throat rupture, chronic constipation, loss of teeth, and death caused by electrolyte imbalances.

HOW is bulimia treated?

spacerWhen bingeing and purging (or extreme exercise, laxative uses, etc.) leads to extreme physical danger, hospitalization is required. As symptoms are brought under control and both eating behaviors and weight are stabilized, control is gradually returned to the patient. After the patient is somewhat stabilized and for less physically severe cases, treatment generally involves individual and group (possibly and/or family) psychotherapy as well as nutritional counseling. There are drugs that can aid recovery. At all levels of care, treatment requires high levels of structure and a behavioral treatment plan based on the patient's weight and eating behaviors. Long-term psychotherapy and medical follow-up are essential.

No one can simply "get over" bulimia. Telling a bulimic to eat normally is like telling a victim of spousal abuse to just leave him or a victim of alcoholism to stop drinking:  It's just not that easy and it sure as hell doesn't happen overnight.
spacer-C, age 17
HOW can you help yourself if you have bulimia?
A Message

spacerFirst of all, you cannot do this alone. The incredible amounts of strength it requires to fight bulimia cannot be found in only one person. If you are bulimic, you MUST tell someone you trust. You must allow people to help you recover, conquer, and live. Having said this, it is also important to note that, while a friend or relative can help you, no one can fight bulimia for you. You must be the one to "choose life." You must be the one to say "I am strong enough to win, to conquer the bulimia." Others have done and so can you. It is hard but it is worth it. You are worth it. When you feel a binge coming on, do something else. For suggestions try For more tips on self-management, or what a person with bulimia must do to make the fullest possible recovery go to
And remember, as Dylan Thomas said, Do not go gentle into that good night.

A Teenager's Struggle with Bulimia: My Story -C, age 17

spacerI started throwing up around ninth grade. I had never been any good at self-control or consistency, so I guess I wasn't destined to become anorexic. Bulimia for me was initially about how I looked and about weight control, but it turned into a monster that I couldn't escape from. I cared about my appearance; the first thing I thought after a binge was "you're going to gain weight." However, after a while, I didn't throw up after daily meals in fear of fat. Instead, I would purposely gorge myself until I couldn't eat any more. Sickened and bloated I would stumble to the bathroom, crying and feeling like the biggest failure. Gasping, I would ram my finger down my throat until most of my binge was gone. The binges became huge, uncontrollable episodes where I tortured myself. Bulimia would come and go, but even when I wasn't bingeing, it was always in the back of my mind.
spacerEventually, I was diagnosed with depression. As I began therapy and medication, my bulimia subsided to a point where it didn't totally control my life.
spacerNow, at age 17, I don't binge as often, but sometimes I relapse into those periods where I know that I am full, but I keep eating, keep stuffing food into my body. I hear the comments from those around me: "how do you eat so much and stay so thin?" I want to scream that I am not thin - that I am bloated and can feel myself becoming grotesque and disgusting. I am not a survivor of bulimia yet; I am still a victim. I know that I have a long road ahead of me. But I refuse to let the bulimia win.