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- Eating Disorders & Mental Health
Side Effects of Bulimia Nervosa - Guilt Induced Depression
Feelings of guilt and shame can be among the many side effects of bulimia. Because bulimia, unlike anorexia, is a hidden eating disorder the many emotions that are engendered by the binge-purge eating patterns stem from keeping this a secret from friends and family.
The guilt-induced depression arises for many different reasons including:
- A perceived lack of control, perhaps over life or situations, perhaps over eating or both
- Lying, keeping secrets, the subterfuge, the isolation required for hiding the eating, purging and other effects of bulimia from people
- The horror of consuming so much, and often such unhealthy (forbidden) foods, and then following this with purging
- The awareness of what binging and purging is doing to the body
- The inability to cope effectively with the situations that trigger bulimia
- The realization of the impact bulimia is having on others around them, especially their closest relationships
Bulimics are well aware of the harm they are doing to their health and wellbeing, even if some refuse to acknowledge it. Some cling to their bulimic behavior as a coping mechanism, because the idea of not being a bulimic and facing life without a crutch can be terrifying. I know this first hand because when I initially looked at the effects of bulimia on my life and decided that I couldn’t go on living this way any longer, the thought of no longer being bulimic was quite terrifying. My food addiction gave me an ephemeral comfort and the idea that I was going to stop using food as a coping mechanism was scary.
For 20 years I lived with bulimia and was used to thinking of myself as a bulimic that displayed more or less bulimic behaviors depending upon what was going on in my life at the time. For many years, in what I thought was recovery, I told myself I was recovered, but in the back of my mind I always hid a fear that bulimia would come back. I would carry on without bulimia for months or even years, but always fell back into my comfort zone of addiction when things got too stressful or a challenging situation came up.
In the beginning, to think of myself as non-bulimic was too far out of touch from my then present reality. I had grown used to thinking of myself as a bulimic – someone who was at times severely bulimic, binging and purging up to 10 times day. Releasing the guilt and depression once I overcame bulimia was one of the best things that ever happened in my life.
When you decide to overcome your bulimia you will not only rid your life of the terrible health effects of bulimia, you will also be able to release yourself from the persistent guilt, the shame and other negative emotions that you may be living with right now.