Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by ways to remove excess food as perceived by the affected person by purging or using laxatives. This is called purging type of Bulimia. There is also the non-purging type and here people deal with not appreciating their self-image through excessive exercising and fasting.
We live in a world where the awareness of being healthy is prevalent evident from the increased number of health apps. People do inculcate healthy eating habits and find ways to stay healthy, but for someone with Bulimia the pre-occupation with body image is excessive to an extent that he/she suffers from mental and emotional trauma. The individual suffers self-harm, depression, loneliness, anxiety, alcohol and drug addiction and low self-esteem. An important point to remember is people with Bulimia are of normal weight or a little overweight. People who are underweight and purge suffer from purging type of anorexia.
What goes on in the mind of a person suffering from Bulimia?
People with Bulimia do not feel comfortable in their own skin; their mind is constantly filled with negative thoughts about the way they look. In order to know what really goes on in the mind of a person with Bulimia, watch out for these signs and symptoms. The affected person feels:
Depressed thinking about the way he/she looks and is totally dissatisfied with their body
They are anxious about the way society looks at them, mainly emerging from the dislike of appearance.
Social isolation sets in from the lack of confidence of looking good
Constant obsession with body and weight
How does it feel to be constantly engrossed in body shape and weight? The person is continuously thinking of food and finds ways to satisfy the urge of being uncomfortable. A person with Bulimia will eat in large amounts and then find ways to eliminate excess food through purging or misusing laxatives. This cycle of binge eating followed by purging is referred to as binge-purge cycle. There is the opposite effect as well where a person is immersed in fear of gaining weight compelling him or her to exercise or fast excessively to an unhealthy limit.
If you are concerned about a loved one having Bulimia, watch out for these behavioral patterns:
The person will indulge in a binge eating episode by eating huge amounts in a short span of time than indulging in regular eating patterns.
Once the person is compelled to binge eat, he/she feels uneasy and thinks this behavior cannot be stopped.
The person will spend money on buying more than needed groceries and will come up with excuses on why so much money was spent.
The person will eat until he/she feels totally uncomfortable.
Along with bingeing you should notice or recognize signs of purging if you or a loved one has Bulimia
He/she will visit the bathroom regularly during a meal or after a meal
You will notice unhealthy teeth and gums
Regular occurrence of sores in mouth and throat
Swollen salivary glands in cheeks
Caused by the side effects of vomiting you will notice scars, calluses or sores on hands or knuckles.
Harsh sounding voice
An important point to remember is Bulimia is fear of gaining weight and not looking good, a person with this condition suffers from lack of self-esteem. It is also necessary to understand the physical side effects such as abnormal bowel movement, dehydration, bloating, fatigue, fainting, seizure, irregular heartbeat, dry skin, no menstruation or menstrual irregularities, muscle cramps and tingling in feet or hands.
Bulimia nervosa results in imbalances in professional and personal life, the affected person is so unhappy about his/her appearance to an extent that it hinders leading a regular and productive life. The person gets into extreme social isolation, finds it difficult to get regular sleep, loss of interest in faith or religion, the person gets into drug and alcohol addiction from the need to fight being depressed about body image. The other severe side effects are internal bleeding, infertility, self-harm, heart attack, suicide and death.
What causes a person to become Bulimic?
It is the strive for perfectionism that triggers Bulimia and it stems from fitting in well into a society. In schools and universities there is peer pressure of being thin and according to reports this condition can be genetic. Media plays a big role and here the concept of beauty is equated to being thin and it has a negative consequence on the minds of people who are unhappy with the way they look.
People with history of emotional and sexual abuse are prone to suffer from Bulimia and their mind is constantly filled with the feeling of low self-worth and guilt. The co-occurring mental disorders associated with Bulimia are personality disorders, anxiety disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mood disorders, personality disorders and self-injury.
Helping a person with Bulimia:
A Bulimic person is totally dissatisfied with their self-image and they are constantly thinking about food and weight. They are of the view that being thin is considered to be normal and being responsible. A person suffering from this condition needs help and it is advised to visit a psychiatrist or counsellor. It is important for family members and friends to help those suffering from Bulimia. Along with a visit to doctor and psychotherapist, there are self-help methods as well.
The most important aspect is to accept yourself, and you can do this gradually by recognizing your good qualities like how creative and kind you are. Ponder upon the impact of your presence in workplace, friend circle, charity organization and so on.
Recognize that everybody has flaws and nobody is perfect, there is always some part of your body that is beautiful. Also, remember that there are people who will appreciate you for your kind words and good actions more than your self-image.
Whenever you feel negative about your self-image think about the people who appreciate you for the person you are. If you really want to change the way you look indulge in healthy exercise habits but don’t overdo it.
Stay away from people who criticize you and be around people who appreciate you, and write down every good deed you have done which can be as simple as feeding your kid or pet, taking your dog for a walk, cooking a good meal and so on.
The most important aspect about feeling better is try to eliminate negative thinking and work towards self-appreciation and self-confidence.
Whenever you feel stressed or anxious think about the positive deeds you have done and feel happy with yourself. It will take a while, but remember nobody is perfect and slowly bend towards feeling good about yourself.