Bulimia Self Help and How It Worked for Me
As a recovered bulimic, I believe self-help is a tremendously important part of a successful bulimia recovery. If you believe, like I do, that we are responsible for our lives and our present reality is a result of our thoughts and actions, then recovering from an eating disorder like bulimia is up to us. Whether you choose to work with a therapist, through a treatment center or a 12-step program, how you work your recovery is still an individual choice.
Women find different ways and means to make a difference in their lives and to change their destructive thought patterns. Self-help is about regaining self-awareness, about reinstating self-confidence, and living life with a new appreciation for who we are and, ultimately, getting to self-love. I’ve learned a lot from women who have shared their stories on my bulimia blog. Each of the bulimia stories I have encountered is unique in that different things work for everyone.
I know that at times during recovery you can feel happy and positive, but even then there are underlying unresolved issues that can rear their ugly head at the next turn. The recovery process is not always smooth and easygoing. I believe if you know and expect this ahead of time you can be saved a lot of grief and frustration.
Bulimia Self Help – What Initially Didn’t Work for Me
I lived with bulimia off and on for 20 years and tried a lot of things while trying to overcome my eating disorder. My mother struggled with alcoholism, depression and weight issues when I was a kid. Once she learned I had bulimia, she did attend some OA meetings with me to help us both overcome our addictions.
This was the first type of bulimia self-help that I tried and I attended meetings over a few years hoping they would help me find lasting recovery. The people in OA were always genuine and supportive, however I never really enrolled myself in their process and the fact that they opened each share with “I am a compulsive overeater” never felt good to me.
This is not to say that Overeaters Anonymous won’t be good for you or has not had a positive impact on many other bulimia stories because thousands of women have benefited tremendously. I share this because I want you to see that I tried something and found it did not work for me at that time.
Bulimia Self Help – What Did Work for Me
In my early 30’s I grew accustomed to regarding my bulimia as a companion who would always be with me. After 20 years, sometimes mildly bulimic and sometimes binging and purging up to 10 times a day, it seemed like my addiction would never go away. Then I attended a 3-day workshop called the Landmark Forum and it changed my life forever. (it sounds corny, but it’s true!)
The Forum helped me understand that anything was possible and I could overcome bulimia if I decided I wanted it and committed myself to it. I made a declaration then and there that I was a non-bulimic and began to live my life that way and have ever since. Working on my inner game, my attitude and my everyday thoughts is what helped me rebuild my self-esteem and love myself again.
Your Self-Help Journey – Discover What Will Work for You
You may find attending bulimia support group meetings really helpful. Or you may find that learning stress reduction techniques such as meditation or visualization can be hugely helpful as an alternative coping mechanism.
Effective self-help techniques could be simply picking up the phone to speak to a friend who listens without judgment, deciding to enroll in a bulimia rehab program or choosing to speak with a therapist. Even listening to hypnosis CD’s on self-esteem can be a part of self-help.
You may find that simply reading bulimia stories will help you relate to recovering bulimics struggles and learn from their mistakes and successes. Finding out how others overcame their struggles can help you discover what will work best for you. In the end only you can decide what will ultimately work for you.
by Polly Mertens
reprinted with permission from ©2012 Gürze Books
About the Author:
Polly Mertens is an online pioneer in the eating disorder recovery community. She recovered from bulimia after 20 years and it’s her mission to help others recover, too. Visit her site to download her free book of recovery stories at www.getbusythriving.com or check out her bulimia recovery blog for tips, tools and inspirational recovery guidance at www.inspiring-bulimia-recovery.com.
Dr. Gnap website editor eatingdisordersrecoverytoday.com. Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago. Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.