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Bulimia Recovery First Step

Admitting You Have a Problem

The first step to bulimia recovery is admitting you have a problem. Seems obvious when you really stop to think about it.  Yet, I know from experience it’s so easy to deceive yourself into believing it’s a necessary part of getting through everyday life.

So what stops us from admitting we have a problem?  The payoffs.  Payoffs are what we get in return for not giving up the compulsive eating.

The Problem May Not Seem Obvious to You

Maybe you’re binging and purging 3,4, 5 times a day, thinking about food constantly, worry about getting fat, and avoiding being with friends because it usually involves food or other triggers. To you, it’s just a temporary problem.

“I can handle it.  Just need to lose a few pounds.”

Or, maybe you’re at the point you’ve done it for so many years you just can’t see how you’d get through the day without ED (eating disorder).

People close to you probably know something is up, even if they don’t know exactly what it is.  You’re not fooling anyone but yourself here.

Bulimia is About Escaping Our Feelings and Pain

One of the hidden fears with admitting your addiction is coming to terms with what you give up if you stop obsessing about food.  Or said differently – what you have to deal with if you give it up.

I’m talking about your feelings.

If you’re compulsively overeating, you focus on food, food, food.  All those other problems in your life (at home, school, work, with your boyfriend, boss or kids) magically seem to disappear. You find temporary relief by overeating and purging.

Ahhhh…. finally something to give you a little peace!

You’ll do anything to keep that relief going.  From experience I know food distracts you from the issues in your life that overwhelm you.  The everyday challenges that you haven’t yet learned how to deal with effectively.  Believe me, bulimia is only a temporary escape.

Food Distracts But the Problems Don’t Go Away

Get honest with yourself.

Although what you are doing with food distracts you from your sadness, guilt, anger or fears, it doesn’t actually help resolve your problems.  Your problems are still there after the binge, right?  The sad part is you’re just hurting yourself but the problem is still the darn problem.  And it’s right smack in the middle of your life. Ugh!

One of my philosophies is that we’re full time students of LIFE.  We’re here to learn lessons as long as we’re alive on this journey called our life.  When the universe tries to send us a message – a lesson – it’s gentle at first.  If we don’t get it, the universe makes it a little louder or more painful the next time.  If we still don’t get it, it can lead to a full-blown meltdown, physical accident or crisis.  I have come to realize that if I can get the lesson the universe has swiftly, it doesn’t have to knock me over the head with it.  My prayer these days is

“God, let me get the lesson quickly”.

Avoiding your problems doesn’t make them go away.  You’re really not solving your issues with food, just temporarily avoiding them.  Turns out…once you face what you’re afraid of it’s actually not as bad as you think it will be.  Feelings come and go, but don’t kill us.  We just fear they will.

Admitting Your Addiction Gives You Access to a New Life

Until you can admit to yourself and others that you have a problem, there is little hope that you will ever recover.  I tried recovery on my own off-and-on for over 15 years. I’d have a good couple of months without a binge and then something stressful would trigger me and I’d fall back into being a 5x/day bulimic.

It wasn’t until I admitted to another person my problem and that I was committed to recovery did it “take”.  When I finally told someone I was a non-bulimic it was one of the scariest things I’d ever done.  I thought to myself “how can I say that?!  I’ve never been able to keep my recovery before…how am I going to do it now?” And now another person knows my painful secret.

I don’t know exactly what was different about that time other than telling another human being allowed my recovery to be alive in their mind and they actually saw me as a non-bulimic.  As I look back now I think because they saw me that way, I started to see myself that way more and more.

I told the first person over six years ago and I’ve never had a binge and purge episode since.  And I can tell you with complete confidence it will never ever happen again.  I’m completely recovered.  My life is completely transformed.  My life changed forever when I admitted I had a problem.

Get Busy Livin’

Today can be the day you admit your addiction.  It really can be that easy.  I know we don’t know each other, but I hope you can trust me when I say that those feelings you’re afraid of feeling really aren’t going to kill you.  Yeah, they’ll hurt here or there, but aren’t the guilt, loneliness and shame of your bulimia hurting you enough?

I love the line in the movie The Shawshank Redemption where the character Andy says to his friend Red:

You either get busy living, or get busy dying.

I believe in possibility. I believe in you.  I believe recovery is possible.  If you’re ready for recovery now, great.  Admit your problem and get started with the next steps.

If you’re not ready yet, that’s ok, too.  Your recovery will start when YOU and only you are ready.

Now you know the first step…and when the time comes, at least you know what to do.

This Post Has 12 Comments
  1. yes they can you are a minor childthey can also go to the coturs the day you turn 18 and tell the coturs your bulimic refusing treatmentand have you court ordered to treatment and have you deemed incompetent and have them given full custody of you medically and physicallythey can also be given rights to your money if you had anyyou have a serious mental disease that you admit to havingget helpyour killing yourselfyour bmi is 17.4and it should be around 22.018.5 to 24.9 is healthy your not healthyyour skin and bones and very grosskeep it up and you will have no friendsno one wants to hang out with the girl thats ugly thin that eats then pukesyour teeth are going to fall out as is your hairyour smell like pukeno guy will want youi am a recovering anorexicyou need to get help or you will die i was forced into treatment the first time at 18 and guess what it wasnt my idea it was my momsince i was deemed not able to make my own choices i was forced into therapyyour mom can do it tooas soon as a doctor sees your teeth and weight your no longer going to have a say age wont matterby throwing up all your food you have proved that you are capable to handling your own life

  2. I spent hours going through your sight and all the awesome information you’ve collected.
    In what feels like a very isolated world sometimes…
    So grateful I’ve found you.

    1. Hi Shelly,

      Welcome and so great to hear from you! I’m glad you stopped to say hello and I always invite your feedback and appreciate what you’re going through. It can seem very lonely out there and I do hope you’re starting to take steps to find your way to lasting recovery. Or, if you’ve been on the up and down roller coaster of relapse/recovery, may something you find here or elsewhere give you that last drop of information you’ve been looking for to create your breakthrough. It can happen at any time anywhere. May it come quickly and you come back and share your success story with us!

      With love and light,


  3. Is it possible to recover from bulimia after 36 years of having it? Although I am not vomiting or abusing laxatives for 5 months now I sometimes don’t eat a single thing or eat extremely little for weeks at a time.

    1. Hi Mads,

      Yes, absolutely. I work with women who have had bulimia for 20, 30 and even 40 years to release it forever. I am at a place of belief because I have crossed over into lasting recovery. The choice for you is whether you want to decide you can recover from bulimia? Once YOU decide you can recover and begin to believe it, that’s when you will grow stronger and stronger in your recovery. Stopping the symptoms of bulimia does not necessarily demonstrate you’ve healed the pain, forgiveness and shame underlying your eating disorder. It’s important you feel empowered as you go and right now I sense you are uncertain. Self-love and continued healing brings certainty, confidence. If you would ever like to schedule a free consultation for coaching, please email me. I would be happy to discuss how we can help you heal what’s going on underneath your symptoms. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

      Much love,

  4. Polly, so my first step is to admit to someone that I’m bulimic and think about food all the time? Is that really all I have to do? It seems an easy concept, but how embarrassing is it to have to admit that to someone? I think the embarrassment would kill me. I tried OA a few times and on one occassion, someone I knew came in and I never went back. I was so embarrassed. At 12 years old I was anorexic; however, in 1967 there was no such term. My Dr. told my mama I was probably looking for attention and I guess he was right. I’ve been anorexic/bulimic since 1967 and it’s a horrible way to live. It does keep me from having a social life. I’ve been an exercise bulimic for 34 years and exercise is the most important thing in my life. I don’t want it to be, but I can’ stop.

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Thank you for your comments and question – I’m so glad you’re here!

      If you’ve ever heard of Dr. Brene Brown (she’s receiving a lot of notoriety lately – appeared on TED and Oprah) she would tell you the best way to release shame is with connection. Being vulnerable and sharing with someone what you’re hiding will allow you to feel “seen”. It sounds a bit counter intuitive, I hear that. I especially remember how I hid out with my secret for decades, just like you. However, if you’re serious about your statement “I don’t want it to be…” and you really do want a different life, then I encourage you to start by sharing with someone you trust what you’re doing. Maybe it’s a therapist, maybe a close friend, or a mentor online who can just listen. Getting this out of you will help you start to get closer to what’s inside you – the real you that’s wanting to come out.

      Secondly, I thought your declaration was great except for when you killed it with possibility…

      I don’t want it (exercise) to be (the most important thing in my life) – leaving your statement and declaration right there and leaving the rest to unfold would be my advice to you.

      When you said “but I can’t stop” right after that you’ve just killed off possibility. You’ve reconfirmed to yourself, your subconscious and anyone reading that this is never going to end. If you keep talking like that, guess what, you’re right! When you begin to move away from impossible (never going to/I can’t stop) towards hopeful (i would like to and I’m learning how to live differently) and then possible (I believe I can win this) you go in the direction of your dreams.

      I hope you can find someone to confide in and then do. Please let me know if I can help you further.

      With love and light,


  5. Hi Polly,
    I was anorexic at 9 which developed into bulimia. This was ‘substituted’ for studying for one year at 18 but since then its got worse and worse. Now, at 44 I binge and vomit up to 10 xs a day. I feel so trapped. I had no treatment as a child as it was seen as a ‘sin’ by my family and the condition was not really known about then. I had no desire to ‘be thin’ – I was completely unaware of why this was happening or even that it was. Is there really any hope that I could be free of this? There is just so much that I don’t know where to begin.

    1. Ab-so-lute-ly! There is so much, you’re right and I want to see if I can help you start slowly, but immediately, of course. Because once you know you want to change this, if you were like I was, you want to have your new life start right away!

      Here’s a first thought where you can begin…a blog post I did that summarizes the 5 steps to creating lasting change (aka – recovery/breakthrough your eating disorder). Click here. The other thing you want to begin doing which you maybe stopped doing a long time ago was having hope, believing you could break out of this. I believe anyone can and that’s what eventually helped me stop after 20 years. Please contact me directly by email if I can help further. Happy to be here as a resource or coach to support you along the way.

      With love and light,


  6. I am 37 and I have been struggling with some form of an ED since I was 10. I never would have imagined when I was diagnosed with bulimia at 16 that I would still be bending over a toilet 20 years later. I am very functional so it is easy to just keep doing what I do – but I am so tired of it. I can easily admit there is a problem – that has always been easy for me. I have been to many treatment centers and been in therapy for 20 years. It is changing the self destructive – negative – self deprecating thoughts that feels impossible to me. After each binge/purge I truly believe that I will not do it again. The disgust and self hate is so strong that I really believe tomorrow will be different – it never is. I suffer from depression as well a d sometimes take ephedrine based diet pills to help with appetite control – these drugs really mess with my head and always help me lose weight and then put me into the hospital – but sadly I ALWAYS order more eventually. I will get up tomorrow and walk – go to work – tutor – do yoga – it all looks pretty on the outside but my head is so loud and yelling so many nasty things. At night after putting on a pretty show – I will release it all and binge and purge. The next day I will get up and do the same thing. I only wanted to share because I am tired of reading stories and watching shows about people with EDs who suffer for a year or two and then decide to get help, work hard, and recover. I have been seeking help, working hard and doing all the “right things” for so many years and here I am alone – reeking of vomit and writing on a bulimia blog on a Monday night at 37 years old. I feel pathetic and worthless. No husband, no kids, and not even a thin body to show for all this pain. I wouldn’t wish the pain of An ED on anyone. Sorry for the pity party. Thanks for listening. -Sara

    1. Sara,

      Heartfelt thanks for sharing your story and being so vulnerable. You are not alone in this struggle…believe me. If I could share all of the women who contact me with a similar story…15, 20, 25, even 30 years of the yo-yo relationship with bulimia you would feel more “normal”. It is a tough, tough road to tow and I know because I did it myself for 20 years. I commend you for never giving up. And I encourage you to stay in touch with me as I will be releasing my new recovery program soon where I share what I believe are the elements, the formula so to speak, of lasting change (recovery). You are right to point out that the mind you’re living in keeps you locked in this loop. That is exactly right. Unless you change your mindset, you literally re-wire your brain and stop it from believing that bulimia is what I call a “winning strategy” you won’t have lasting recovery. Sure, you can have a day or even a few months, but the lasting change comes when you have a new mind. A mind that won’t tolerate this and also recognizes what you said at the very end of your story…that it’s not worth it. It seems (emphasis) like it’s working, but truly it is an illusion that bulimia ever works – at keeping you thin, much less happy. It is only when you can truly be you, let go of the illusion that keeps you bound up in this behavior, that you free yourself and you let you be yourself.

      Please email me if you’d like to connect to talk and I’d love to support you further on your journey.

      With love and light,


    2. Hi Sara,
      I feel very connected to your story as mine is quite the same. I wish you lasting recovery because you are a special being. Im committing to recovery today, and Im scared as hell. Im praying for the strength and hope to follow Pollys path and begin a most amazing journey. With love, Christa

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