online conference transcript
Bob M is the moderator.
Bob M: Good evening. I want to welcome everyone to our EATING DISORDERS RECOVERY conference and to the Concerned Counseling website. I'm Bob McMillan, the moderator. Our topic tonight is EATING DISORDERS RECOVERY. Our two guests are "normal" people, not authors of a book, or some celebrity type. I bring that up because both have "recovered" from their eating disorders, but the ways they did it were very different. Our first guest is Linda. Linda is 29 years old. Our second guest is Debbie, who is 34. I'm going to have each give us a little background on themselves and how their disorder started. And then move quickly into their recovery stories. Because I'm anticipating a large crowd, I'm going to limit the questions to 1 per person. That way, everyone gets a chance. Linda, I'd like to start with you telling us a little about yourself, which eating disorder you had, how it started, etc.
Linda: Well, let's see. I am the youngest and only daughter of two doctors. I went to private schools (girls' schools) and took ballet. I think all of that helped "foster" my eating disorder. I "dabbled" a little in anorexia, but found the restricting very difficult, especially because I needed some energy to dance. I struggled for about seven years with bulimia. It wasn't until I moved out of my house (dysfunctional family - bad relationships) and took a real good look at my life, that I chose recovery. I think I knew that what I was doing was unhealthy and dangerous, and that I couldn't live a long and prosperous life that way. But I think I also knew that I couldn't recover while I still lived with my parents. By the time recovery began, around age 21, I knew that it was what I wanted, needed and that I was ready for it. There were very little resources or knowledge in the medical community. There were no support groups, and only one clinic with four beds. I read books voraciously...books about eating disorders, about recovery, about spirituality...and aside from that, for the first year, all I did was see an MD. When I first told him what was wrong, he said," I'm the doctor. I make the diagnosis." Of course, I knew better about the whole thing than he did. I did join a support group about a year later. I had stopped completely bingeing and purging after one and a half years.
Bob M: At the worst point Linda, how bad was it for you? How much were you bingeing? What was your medical condition like?
Linda: I actually prefer not to mention numbers, even in a forum like this. Binge eating/purging took different forms, and it was very often, many times per day and I was taking laxatives too. I was very lucky. Even today, there is no visible damage to my teeth, digestive tract, etc. At the worst point, when my weight was at the lowest, I was scared. I knew I couldn't maintain that and live. And with my parents being doctors, I had to be creative, trying to keep everything secret.
Bob M: Were you ever hospitalized Linda?
Linda: No. There was a time when my body "shut down" as I call it. I was tube fed at home for two or three days (a "bonus" to having parents as doctors). I couldn't keep anything down even if I tried. My body just voided itself on its own.
Bob M: If you're just coming into the room. Welcome. Our topic tonight is EATING DISORDERS RECOVERY. Linda (age 29) and Debbie (age 34) are our guests tonight. Both recovered from their eating disorder, but used different processes to do that. For tonight, since we have two guests, please type either Linda or Debbie at the front of your question or comment, so we know who it's directed to. Since the audience is so large tonight, I want to ask everyone to only send one question. We are going to try and get to as many as possible. Debbie, tell us a little about yourself please?
Debbie: My story. I'm an executive assistant to a very demanding boss. My eating disorder, anorexia and bulimia (later), started when I was 16. Like many girls that age, I just wanted to be wanted...by boys, of course. And I thought the only way that would happen is if I looked pretty, translated "thin". I don't usually bring up weights, but to put this in context, I was 5'4", 130 pds. Over the course of 3 years, when I was 19, I was down to 103 and thinking that wasn't enough. I was keeping my eating disorder to myself and one day when I was in college, a couple of girls in the dorm were in the bathroom and I heard one throwing up. And that's when I learned about bulimia. As you can imagine, or maybe for some of you, luckily you can't, my life was a wreck. My electrolytes went way down, I was hardly eating, and whatever I ate, I threw up. So my entire body one day just gave out.
Bob M: and this was over what period of time Debbie?
Debbie: I was 20 when I had my first hospitalization.
Bob M: We have a few questions and comments from the audience I want to get to. Then I want to hear your recovery stories.
jelor: Linda, did you ever slide back to your old ways, interrupting recovery? for how long? is that okay?
Linda: Yes. It did take me over a year-and-a-half before I completely stopped binge eating and purging. But it went from numerous times daily to once a week, to once a month, to finally-never. I felt it was a part of recovery, that it took me "xx" years to learn those negative behaviors, that it would take me awhile to learn positive coping skills. I tried to make sure that I didn't rip myself apart for it. I forgave myself. It was ok.
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