Our Battle With Eating Disorders: Part three Bulimia Nervosa

In my last post you and I began along the many paths of a loved one with an eating disorder. I let you in on the struggles our family faced during the time our daughter’s E.D. developed. Now I would like for you to take my hand and let me lead you down the path we were forced to choose to begin her recovery.

Since we did not have insurance, we could not afford to send her off to a treatment facility. Truth be told, I am not sure if we had had insurance if we could have afforded to do so since they were all located out of state and extremely expensive. The medical doctors did not know how to treat them, and even the state’s so-called experts at the Medical University of South Carolina were no help. When I reached out to the Psychology Department I was told, “That sounds like a dieting issue.”*

*(Now you have just another glimpse into why South Carolina is called the Eating Disorder Wasteland.)

We began her treatment on our own, and it was the most difficult thing I and my husband have ever done. Each day fighting her to live as we argued with her, pleaded with her, to eat – even if it was just small little portions. We encouraged her to express herself through her art, no matter how difficult the subject matter became to us and quite frankly to others. You see, she was not drawing those images for us. She was drawing those images for her. To release the trauma she had been through. To release the anxiety she felt. To release the distorted image, she had of herself.

We struggled like this for a few years. She would take one step forward and several backwards when she would relapse. And family members? Those extended ones who were related to her by blood? The ones who observed from outside, not knowing exactly what was going on inside our home? Our minds? Our hearts? Our souls? Well, some of them meant well, but the one who was the MOST help at all was my mom. She understood that what our daughter needed was someone in her life who would not judge her, would not try to force her to do something, would not belittle her, would not berate her, would not shame her. For that, I will love my mother even more for the rest of my life.

I have a cousin who lives close by and she and my best friend became the ones I leaned on for strength. They helped me by listening to my fears, to being the shoulders I cried on, the ones who kept me from giving up.

My poor husband? I honestly do not know who he turned to. Because while we had each other, the stress that this puts on a marriage, one that was struggling to survive. . . well let’s just say it is a miracle that we are still together, still love each other, still want to be together. But that is a post for another time. Like I said, I am sure he truly felt all alone as he struggled to understand what was going on with our baby girl.

The rest of our family, their actions did more harm than good. No matter how well intentioned they were. You see when someone deals with an eating disorder you have to be careful what you say to them and more importantly HOW you say it. And for the love of all that is Holy please, please, PLEASE, do not send them information for ‘treatment centers’ without going to their parents first if they are minors. You see, when you tell someone with a mental disorder that they should be in a center, that you have found the place that will heal them, unless that person is ready to get well, all they will see and hear is a place to lock them up and throw away the key. And even when they are ready to get better, they may not be ready to leave everything and everyone they know.

So, again, please do not do things like this unless you have spoken with the people who are caring for them first. Also, I would recommend visiting the National Eating Disorder Association website for more information on how to approach the subject.

Now you see how alone we were, how isolated we felt, and how terrified we were as each day we fought our own daughter for her life.

Then something miraculous did happen. I found a doctor that did not take insurance, so it didn’t matter that we did not have it. He was also certified in Organic Medicine.

Wait. What is Organic Medicine? Organic medicine is where a doctor who has been educated, trained, and certified in the use of natural and herbal medications prescribes the treatments, writes the prescriptions for the products, and even mixes them. You can learn more about the difference between Organic Medicine and Herbal Medicine here.  

This doctor was kind, listened, and was concerned. He understood that it was not just all in her head as we had been repeatedly told. He could see that she wanted to get better, but because of the cycle she was caught in, she did not have the strength – mental and physical – to do so. He took the time to explain to both me and her that he could help her if she would agree to do what he said, which she did. So, he prescribed natural and herbal products to help her with the mood swings, her stomach aches, to rebuild the nutrition her body was desperately lacking.

These things were not cheap. But could be found at our local Herbal Store, God’s Green Acres.

Over time, as she followed his treatment, she began to get better. Her eyes no longer looked like death. Her skin began to glow again. Her moods were less erratic.

We had hope.

This is where I stop our walk for today. Please take the time to read further and learn about Bulimia Nervosa.

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

According to the National Eating Disorders Association website it is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by the cycle of binge eating and self-induced vomiting which the person does to eliminate the food they consumed during their binging episode.

According to the DSM-5™ it is:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
    • Binge eating is:
      • Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
      • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating.)
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviors in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise.
  • The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur on average at least once a week for three months.
  • Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
  • The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa.

Bulimia nervosa most commonly begins in adolescence or young adulthood. While it is uncommon for it to happen before puberty or after the age of forty years it can still happen. It usually begins during or after the person had been dieting along with the experience of multiple stressful life events.

According to Healthline, Bulimia can cause problems with the central nervous system, digestive system, circulatory system, and reproductive system.

It is important to note that eating disorders are more about control than they are about food. Eating just happens to be the one thing in life we have control over. So, when someone feels overwhelmed and struggles to find a way to regain some semblance of control over their life, the ones who are prone to developing an eating disorder will see food as the one thing they can control. Which is how it started with our daughter.

For more information about this and other eating disorders, please visit N.E.D.A.

In the next Tempest File, I will continue our story and share with you more information about another eating disorder. There are many, many, more. Some recognized, some not recognized.

Please leave a comment and share this information. Awareness is the key to getting more help and treatment options to those who struggle with these and other mental disorders.

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