Do I Have Bulimia?
A problematic relationship with food starts gradually. You might be under chronic stress at school and try to cope by treating yourself to your favourite food. You might be constantly compared to other people your age and start seeing your body as ugly. You might want to know, “do I have Bulimia?” With time, your eating habits might turn into binges and the guilty you feel might make you engage in unhealthy behaviours.
What Is Bulimia?
Bulimia is a type of eating disorder characterised by episodes of binge eating and purging. When you engage in binge eating, you have no control over your behaviour and consume large quantities of food. This fills you with shame and disgust so you then resort to an unhealthy way to lose weight such as vomiting, eating laxatives or excessive exercising. Purging might bring you temporary relief but you’re generally dissatisfied with the way your body looks and fear putting on weight. Constantly overeating and then depriving your body of the fuel it needs can result in a number of physical symptoms: sore throat and dental problems from vomiting, exhaustion, weight fluctuations, dry skin, irregular periods, indigestion, bloating, feeling cold all the time etc. There are also many behavioural symptoms involved. You might hoard food for later binging sessions and then skip meals. You might feel out of control and be preoccupied with your body weight and shape. A person with bulimia is ashamed of their behaviour and experiences at least two episodes per week.
What Are The Complications of Bulimia?
Bulimia doesn’t only cause emotional and psychological damage but comes with many physical health problems:
– dental problems such as gum infections, cavities and teeth discolouration, inflamed throat
– stomach ulcers
– stomach and oesophagus ruptures
– problems with bowel movement
– dehydration which can be life-threatening
– irregular heartbeat
Bulimia also puts you at risk of substance abuse and suicidal thoughts and gestures.
How Is Bulimia Treated?
Once you’ve reached out for help, you’ll be examined for physical signs of bulimia and checked for possible complications via blood and urine tests. Depending on your age, you might be offered either Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Family-Based Treatment (FBT). CBT is an individual talking therapy which goal is to help you understand what led to your problematic relationship with food and teach you new coping skills. FBT is a treatment offered to underage patients that places importance on family dynamics. Parents are seen as facilitators of change and their involvement in the therapy allows them to restore the bond with their child and help them develop a healthy identity.
If you aren’t sure which treatment would be the best option for you, contact My Family Psychologist to discuss your options.
How To Talk To My Parents About Bulimia?
Reaching out for help isn’t easy, especially if the people who are supposed to protect you haven’t noticed that anything is wrong.
Tips To Prepare
Before you share your concerns with your family, try to gather as much information on your symptoms as possible. It’s a good idea to keep a journal where you write down your binge and purging episodes. You could also list things you’re worried about such as your low mood, weight fluctuation etc. Remember that you can’t predict your parents’ response nor you’re responsible for the way they react. They might respond with anger or blame themselves, or they might be too shocked to process what you’re saying. Once you’ve chosen the time and place to talk, make sure you get straight to the point. Say that you’re worried and that you need their help.
What If I’m Not Taken Seriously?
A lot of people don’t have enough knowledge of mental health disorders. Even worse, they might believe mental health issues are a myth or don’t happen in their family. These views are outdated and wrong but hopefully your parents are open-minded enough to hear you out. If your parents don’t take your struggles seriously at first, think back on what you wrote in the journal and explain to them how these problems affect you. You can also show them resources on bulimia that include statistics and a list of symptoms.
What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms Better?
Whatever happens, remember that your health is your priority. Make sure you start with self-care: be extra gentle to yourself and try to introduce positive affirmations to your routine. Keep a diary where you write down your thoughts and learn how to recognise your triggers. Does social media make you feel inadequate? Is a relationship with your sibling toxic? Try to come up with alternative responses to sadness and hurt, for example, going for a run, punching a pillow, writing or drawing.
While self-care is an important part of recovery from bulimia, it’s also important to seek professional help. Contact My Family Psychologist to find help suited to your needs