This Woman is a Secret Purger; Have You Ever Thrown Up, or Tried To?

Georgie has been keeping her purging a secret, from everyone. Until now.

We don’t talk about purging very often on HealthyGirl.org. But it’s something a lot of us have dealt with—or at least tried out—in the past. Here, Georgie shares her Real Story. After reading, feel free to share anything it triggers for you. xo…Sunny

When I was growing up, kids called me names like string pole and skeleton. I was naturally skinny, and no matter what I ate or did, my weight stayed low. I was just skin and bones. I had no curves, no hips or thighs, no boobs, nothing. I remember being in the eighth grade, and listening to the other girls in my class complain about their periods. I prayed every day I would get mine too so I could be like them, and finally know what it was like to be a ‘woman’. I was so disappointed because I didn’t get my period until my freshmen year of high school. Although I was skinny and bony, it didn’t bother me much because I was still innocent and uncorrupted when it came to body image. I didn’t obsess about my body or why it was this way. After all people often told me how lucky I was that I could eat what I wanted, and not seem to gain an ounce of weight. But little did I know that my body was about to change.

Halfway through my high school education, my thin frame suddenly blossomed into a curvy woman’s body. My metabolism slowed down significantly, and gave me some junk in the trunk. I watched helplessly in the mirror as my weight shifted, and my body became unrecognizable. In an effort to comfort myself, I began binge eating on junk food. As I was stuffing my face, everyone else was watching my body become heavier. Once I ate so much that I had to rush to the bathroom to throw up because my stomach couldn’t hold any more. It wasn’t long before the comments started coming from family and friends: “You need to start exercising”, or “You can’t eat anything you want anymore, look at where it’s going.” I was shell shocked. The naturally skinny girl couldn’t eat what she wanted anymore without it showing on her body? How was that even possible?! I felt scrutinized in every way at home and at school. I started wearing baggy clothing to conceal my curves.

The first time I can remember deliberately purging occurred at a family birthday party around this time. I can’t remember whose birthday it was, but after devouring some cake I went and did something I had never done before – I headed straight to the bathroom and stuck my finger down my throat. I had seen it done in a scene from a television movie about Princess Diana a few years earlier, and so I imitated it successfully.

From then on I began purging in an occasional and sporadic way. At times I could go a week or even a few months without purging, but other times it could be several purgings a week. I never wake up saying today I am going to throw up; it is always impulsive and uncontrollable. I didn’t purge today but I can’t promise I won’t tomorrow. I have been sporadically purging since I was sixteen, and have never been able to stop. Today no one in my life knows my secret.

Over the years, I have managed to deceive my closes friends and family. I grew up in a large family in a small house, so it was hard to find the right time to do it when no one else would be around or could hear the sounds coming from the bathroom. I learned to be sneaky about it. Sometimes I would put the television loud on in my room, and purge in there, or I would run the water in the bathroom tub to cover the sounds.

My purging fluctuates based on my mood, and the current events of my life. If I feel good about myself, then I am least likely to do it. But when I am down on myself and my luck, the purging reemerges. Afterwards I hate myself, because I feel guilty about the food I just wasted and my inability to stop.

This past year has been extraordinarily difficult for me. I parted ways with a guy who made me feel very loved; I got a horrible boss who treated me poorly; and at my recent physical, my doctor informed me if I gained five more pounds, I would be slightly overweight. Well that was enough to send me through a cycle of non- stop purging. I stopped eating whole meals, and began began drinking some Chinese magic coffee purchased online that was suppose to suppress my appetite. If I ate a little too much, the awful nagging inside my head about my fat ass would force me to go throw it up as a reminder of the punishment awaiting me if I ruined my weight loss.

I achieved my goal. Good going Georgie. I lost enough weight that my favorite jeans fit again, that my face got thinner, and that I could be at my happy size six again. But do you want to know the truth? The recent weight loss hasn’t made me happy; instead it has made me incredibly miserable. Every day I wake up, I am terrified of putting anything in my mouth that could put the weight back on.

Deep down I know that my purging is a result of me trying to take control of my body and its weight, since I can’t control anything else in my life. So instead I take it out on my body. I deprive it, I punish it, I inflict the pain, and suffering on it with my fingers crammed down my throat. This is my secret pain, my secret shame, my secret agony. When I look back at the pictures of the bony adolescent I once was, I don’t envy her skinny frame. But I do envy her innocence. I wish I could go back to the days when I was naïve about body image, and weight. When I could look at myself naked without focusing on the hips that need to be trimmed just a little bit more…..

A big thanks to Georgie for sharing her story—I’m so glad she felt free enough to share her story with us and start breaking the cycle of secrets. I, for one, know that letting go of the shame that surrounded my disordered eating issues helped me immensely. And what helped me get rid of that secrecy and shame most was going to a support group filled with other women who had eating issues. Now, please share with Georgie, and with me: What’s helped you get past some of the secrecy and shame and start moving forward in recovery? xo…Sunny

15 Responses to This Woman is a Secret Purger; Have You Ever Thrown Up, or Tried To?

  1. Andrea Owen says:

    I can relate to almost all of what the author wrote. However, I haven’t purged in over 4 years.
    ED is a mind f***. The dysfunctional cycle of it all made me feel like I was crazy. In all honestly what made me stop, was that in my mind the act of purging was or wasn’t. Either I did purge or I didn’t, therefore if I did it, I had to somewhat admit to myself that there was a problem. But, if I just restricted, I could somehow justify it. My “Ed head” was smart, I suppose.
    The pain of getting to whatever size or weight and still being miserable inside was what eventually made me wake up (and getting pregnant with my first child).
    It’s been an amazing journey, one that I still realize how much loving myself and my body is incredibly fulfilling and empowering. And then actually eating and exercising in a healthy way blows my mind sometimes. My body has never hated me, and I will never hate her again.

    • Georgie says:

      I am so happy to read Andrea that you love your body and feel good about it – that is truly a beautiful and peaceful thing to achieve, and my goal is one day to achieve the same balance and love for my body and weight – thanks for reading my story and for your comments!

  2. Deanna says:

    Wow! Purging is a big one. I threw up for years. It was such a shocker, particularly to my parents, when I finally started talking about it. It is really important to stop, even if you keep eating and even if you gain weight, because you are causing irreversible harm to your body. It took a long time, but it has been well over a year, maybe two, since the last time I threw up. At my peak I vomited sometime four or five times a day. It is still hard sometimes, but overall I know that this is a better way to live.

    In dealing with both binging and purging I have found that a technique similar to that used by some ex-smokers has been useful. I will get the “urge.” I try to ignore it. Doesn’t work. So, I tell myself that I will do something for 5 minutes, like swap a load of laundry, or make a phone call I have been putting off, or sort a drawer. At the end of 5 minutes I ask myself if I MUST do it now, or if I can wait 5 more minutes. Usually, I can wait. After a while, those 5 minutes really add up.

    Thanks again for talking about a tough topic and giving me a chance to remember, think and share.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I really couldn’t throw up unless I was actually sick. God knows I tried. I was bulimic, but with laxatives… ultimately I think that was probably less taxing, even though I did develop an electrolyte imbalance that forced me to stop purging.

    I hope you will be able to get support to get over this. It’s one thing to occasionally overeat after recovering from bulimia or binge eating disorder–and we probably all do…. but it’s really hard on the body to continue to throw up like that.

  4. Thanks to Georgie for sharing her experience. It is indeed ironic how trying so hard to be thin leads us to hating our bodies more and being physically and emotionally unhealthy. I was surprised to read that a doctor would tell a patient that five more pounds would make them slightly overweight. I understand physicians needing to discuss weight when it is problem and contributing to health problems. But five pounds from slightly overweight seems a far cry from a major health issue. Physicians need to become more aware of their patients’ histories with eating and body image issues and measure their words more carefully.

    • Georgie says:

      Thanks so much Ashley for your comments and feedback. It was very difficult to sit through that doctor’s appoitnment, because at the time I didn’t feel I was overweight, in fact there I didn’t think there was a problem until my doctor told me that I was beginning to weigh too much. Afterwards it led into a lecture from her on portion control, and calorie intake. I have always respected and liked my doctor, but that day was so painful and certainly helped trigger me into a dangerous spiral of non stop purging. Thank you and to the other ladies for your comments and feedback – it means alot to be able to share my story with all of you.

  5. beautiful one, my heart breaks reading this because my older sister is bullemic. i have watched her terrified for years and ask God continuously how to help her out of this pit…

    i wish i could show her how much she is worth AS A PERSON instead of just a body. i wish i could show her how incredible she is just how she is TODAY. and i wish i could make the decision for her to stand up for herself, because she deserves it.

    thank you for sharing your story, love. you are in my prayers, and please know by writing this, you DO have the strength to stop – obviously you are SO strong! you are so much bigger than this… don’t let it steal another day from your precious, precious life.
    -rebekah

    • Georgie says:

      Thank you so much Rebekah for your loving words and support!! I hope your sister gets better- I hope the battle gets easier and she overcomes her eating disorder – with just you standing by loving your sister unconditionally is one HUGE positive sign and motivation for her to get better. The words you wrote mean alot to me, to read a stranger tell me that I am strong was incredible, thank you love! I am working on it one day at a time, you and the other women on this blog are giving me strength and in return I give you more gratitude. THANK YOU

  6. Emma says:

    Thank you!!! I’m 20 now and have been binging/purging since age 15. After I had been on my first portion controlled successful diet I had such a huge binge that I physically felt ill and my tummy hurt and so I tried to purge. To my great surprise it worked! I had tried so often! and now it was working… little did I know that this was the beginning of a on and off journey into occasional purging.
    I haven’t purged in 3 weeks to this day, but I do use laxatives after a binge… Jip I know it’s bad and so but I do limit myself to not go over the max dosage recommended and I began to walk/jog again. So now the stressful times are more binge free and more exercise full. Although I have to admit that even exercise just doesn’t seem to give me the relief that purging even after a normal size meal is able to give me… but, I spoke with one of my friends about it and also to my parents but they think that I don’t purge anymore at all since I told them after I had purged on and off for a year and then was able to stop for over 3 months… My friend knows though and she is very supportive! And you here are so encouraging!!! Thank you so much for bringing this up!!!

  7. Georgie says:

    Dear Emma: You and other women out there going through this is what inspired me to come forward and put my story out there as painful as it was to go public with this in a way. It’s worth it when I hear someone can relate to what I have been living with. It’s worth it to me to start a dialogue about this, and for other women to think about themselves and their own battles with purging/binging/ or whatever hell they are battling. Thank you for your feedback and for coming forward. I appreciate that, and I know other women out there do too.

  8. Kensington says:

    I remember trying so hard to teach myself to purge to try to counter-balance the binging. Thank God I never could do it. My body just wouldn’t cooperate and I gave up.

    Georgie, you already know so much just by knowing you are using control of your body in place of not feeling you can control other things. USE that knowledge to propel yourself forward. Once you know this, you can’t “un-know” it. You might want to take a look at how to put together a “Recovery Toolbox” to help yourself:
    http://www.something-fishy.org/reach/toolbox.php

  9. […] founded by health editor Sunny Sea Gold. This week the site featured a young woman’s story of secretly purging and encouraged readers to step out of the shadows of secrecy and seek […]

  10. Linda says:

    Georgie,
    Thank you so much for sharing this! I am in your same boat, I have been for many years now, and I was never brave enough to talk about it to anyone. For me as for you, this is my secret pain, my secret shame, my secret agony. I have always thought that I had control over it and that I could recover anytime I wanted. And actually I have stopped doing it for months at times, and even for a couple of years once. But when life throws me lemon, or when I am in a particularly stressful period, I feel the impulse to go back, and sometimes I do. Well, now I know that the path to recovery is long…..
    Thanks again to you and all the other people who commented to your story. I know it is difficult to come forward about this, but reading your words made me feel a little less alone.

  11. Gerogie says:

    Linda wow thank you so much! As hard as it was coming clean about this awful secret, even though all the shame came out in the open and the guilt, in the end I wrote about this because of women out there like yourself. I knew I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, or doing this to my body so I was hoping and praying that other women would get something out of reading my story and now I know they did, so thank you Linda!

    I hope you find the peace and love you deserve with your body and in life, I am searching for mine right now – never lose hope that is what I hold on to each day.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.