Need help breaking free from addiction?
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Who Answers?

I Am Bulimic For More Than 10 Years, And It Is Killing Me...


I don’t know exactly where to start… I have been a "hard-core" bulimic now since I was 14 (am 27 now), throwing up as much as 7 times a day. The only time I was ever able to "control" this was when I was on drugs (the non-Rx kind) of which I have been clean of for 2 1/2 years. Lately, my eating, purging habits have gotten out of control. I mean, I KNOW I have a problem. I KNOW I cannot eat and purge in the way that I am, and I feel completely powerless about it. I can easily eat up to 20,000 calories in a sitting, purge, and then do it again. I’ve counted, and it makes me sick, but I cannot stop. I am afraid to tell my friends, I fear that they will not know how to respond and judge me. I cannot afford to get "real" help, for I am putting myself through school, and that is another reason this is scaring me. I am eating (on average) SIXTY DOLLARS worth of junk food a DAY!!!! (of which I immedeatly purge). I CANNOT afford this! I am short on rent almost every month!!! I don’t know what to do! I need help, but I dont know where to turn or… or anything. I feel lost, guilty, and scared, I know that this is HORRID for my health and for my mental well being, but how can I stop? I should also mention that I am Bi-Polar, diagnosed at age 9, and have not been able to be on my meds for about a year plus now (financial reasons). Sometimes, I get so frustrated with myself and my eating habits, I just, I don’t want to do it anymore, and that scares me more than anything…. please, any help you can give me, I would greatly appreciate. Thank you.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

You have described your despair in very vivid terms. It is clear that you are extremely anxious, depressed and worried about your situation. Please remember that there is nothing worse than believing that you are helpless and hopeless. The fact is that there are things you can do to get help and I will suggest some of them.

First, the fact that you have been diagnosed with a bipolar illness dating back to when you were nine years old means that you may qualify for disability insurance. That is important for you to know because with disability you would get Medicare and Medicaid health insurance. With those you could get medical coverage, including psychiatric care, that would also pay for prescriptions.

Another approach would be to go to the medical department at your college or university to get medical and psychiatric care. They could help you with both your bipolar and eating disordered problems. That is what they are there for.

There are also not for profit mental health agencies, such as Catholic Charities, as well as city and municipal hospitals with mental health clinics that could provide care for your psychiatric difficulties. They could also help you apply for disability and even emergency Medicaid.

It is really important that you get back on medication for your bipolar disorder so that your moods become stabilized. The mood swings, especially depression, make you want to binge and purge. You see, bulimia is really an addictive disorder in many ways and it mimics other addictions. It is no surprise that you were once using drugs and are now struggling with bulimia. The same neurological pathways in the brain are affected by both drugs and bulimia. You probably know or will now know that bipolar disorder and problems with addiction go together. Addiction is an attempt to self medicate for those with bipolar disorder.

There are additional things you can do, although and to repeat, getting back on medication is the first step. Here are some suggestions:

1. When you feel the impulse to binge and purge call a friend, go to the Internet, get out of the house… do something to distract yourself until the impulse passes.

2. Along with #1 above, join our community forum and post whenever you feel the impulse to binge and purge. People will respond to you and the writing helps. This costs nothing but you will get a lot of support. On our community site, there are forums for eating disorders and bipolar disorders as well as other forums for many problems. You are welcome and encouraged to participate. Join today.

3. Learn to do meditation and yoga, they are probably available at your school, to help calm your emotions. They are a good substitute for binge and purging.

Remember, do not despair because there is help available.

Good luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

  • Brenna

    Thank you Dr. Schwartz. I am in the process of finding help in my area. I have "come out" about my problem to my two best friends, because I realize I cannot do this alone, and they have been extremely supportive and helpful...for which I am very grateful.

    Never in my life have I been more frightened to try to do the right thing. As I explained to my best friend, I know I need to change, I am totally suffering with this illness, but it has been such an integral part of my life for almost half my life, that it is a truly scary thing to try to change.

    I appreciate your response tho, and will keep this site updated on how I am doing. Thank you.

  • Anonymous-1

    thanks for this eating disorder info

  • Sophie

    Gorgeous Gal,

    I just wanted to write to you & tell you that I totally understand how you feel. I to have bulimia, anorexia & I've been a compulsive eater for ten years now (I am now 28) & feel the same desperation that you feel. I too spend a horrendous amount on food, & now am at the stage where I do it at work as well as home. I was sent to an eating disorder centre two years ago where I gained weight & really thought that I had overcome this illness but I am now just as bad as before, if not worse.

    I hope that one day I can tell you how to overcome it but until then please feel free to write to me. I have supplied my email address for this purpose.

  • B.N.

    im have anorexia for a year and bulimia for 2 years. I know how you feel.When i suffer from anorexia, my weight decreased to 43kg (im 165cm) then bulimia came, took me just a month to gain 10kg.

    I dont know if my suggestion help. When u feeling wanna binge/purge try drink a glass of work on me. Drink it slowly. Find any activities that interest you. reading, outdoor activities.... etc. make sure u are really interesting doing it. call your friend, hang out with them.... try tell your family too about your problem. They can control and help you. Everytime before you binge/purge. Try think about the process outcome that will harm your body. You do know binge/purge will effect your esophagus etc. Draw your self a organized time of meal time. Everytime u eat. shew on your food and eat slowly. Reduce your desire of binge/purge alittle by a little everyday. And finally it will become a habit and you will ahve a normal eating. and byebye to eating disorder ^^

    Its not too late to stop. Stop thinking because you having bulimia for 7 yrs for so long time. You are not too late to stop. Trust yourself , i can overcome this, so are you, so are everyone.

  • so so

    i've been bolimic for 2 year .. and i realy need a help but am so scary of tell anybody about my illness

  • Anonymous-2

    I have been bulimic since I was fifteen and had told noone untill last week, I am not 31 years old, I don't spend alot of money on binging since I purge anything I eat not just large amounts of food, I understand the frustration that you are having with yourself, we know better than what we are doing but can not control or explain why it is we have the urge to do what it is we do. i compare it to wanting to disappear just like when we flush the toilet, make all of it just go away. The lack of finances is a hard one since getting professional help can be expensive however you do need to check into charity hospitals and organizations that are out there to help those that don't have the financial means to help themselves, good luck I hope that you beat this issue

  • Catinca

    I am 23 and tonight i am desperately searching help somewhere. I am from Romania. We don't talk much about mental disorders here. It's tabu, it's embarassing because we have a lot of other issues that come first. Anyway, I am throwing up since i was 11. I had periods of time in which i was annorexic, periods of several months, periods when i was normal (short periods that i consider the best of my life). Otherwhise, i throw up almost daily, up to 10 times a day. I don't know what to do. My boyfriend just found out. he is supporting me, but i tend to be depressed and i lost all self esteem. I feel that i am loosing the control over my body. Please help me. With advice. Thank you

  • tom darling

    I had Bullimia for 25 years. I suffered tremendously. I am a male which is not the normal person who gets this disease. I used it to lose weight for running. I went to clinics, to psychiatrists, even to the U-M eating disorder center and nothing worked. Then, I began to pray to God to help me. I prayed every day, every time I wold throw up I prayed, and my wife prayed as well. I asked God to help me. Finally, he did. One day, I became very sick with a severe headache and it would not go away. I ended up bed ridden and finally went to the doctor whi analyzed my blood and said I was very very sick. He was not certain what was wrong. Then, as I lay in bed one day, God spoke to me, and said he was going to heal me. He told me exactly what he was going to do and that I could get out of bed now and I was healed. It was true. My headache went away and I was able to eat and keep the food down. God told me to remember him and to go out and help others. The next day, I was driving and just ate regular food, no problem. God told me that food is nourishment for your body and you eat it to get nourished. I have never since been sick with the disease. I have now run 2 more Marathons, and I feel better than I have in 25 years. I have been Bullimia free since September of 2005. You can contact me anytime for help. You CAN beat it. God will help you!!!!! Believe!!!

  • sydney

    I was reading the letter the man wrote on his 25 yr. battle with bulimia and felt so overwhelmed with relief and guilt all at the same time. I am 42 yrs. old and have suffered at the hands of myself for 17yrs. with purging. It all started after my 3rd son, I became obsessed with loosing weight in fear that my husband wouldn't love me or find me attractive, which is not his character at all. I just believed he would leave me because my first husband did. Alot of scars, but it really didn't hit me till after my 3rd son was born. every time I ate I started feeling sick, nauseated and thru up. But that fit right in to my exercise regime people said,Wow your look great for having 3 kids, thats all it took and I got hooked. Well I went to the doc complaining about my food coming up my esophoges(?) and I had alot of test done and was told I had Reflux. So at 25...I thought nothing of it, it works for me so I got down to 114lbs. for me that was small, but the constant gratifacation I received fueled my fire. This is where it got complicated.....I asked Jesus to save me and come into my life and be my savior and I was changed. Except my besetting little sin that haunts me then and now, I'm sick of feeling sick, I pop Dramamine like its candy so I don't feel sick, but then I eat and I throw up cause I don't want to be fat. Sick of being Sick and don't want to be Fat.

    I'm at war with my soul, God loves me soooooooooo much he has given me so many healthy days, but I have not surrendered my little vice. I want to let go but don't at the same time. AAAHHH, I don't know what to do...I have talked with family and friends about my disorder its NO secret, thats the side of me that wants to be honest and live a righteous life and feel free. The other side is afraid to let go cause I haven't had a day where I can eat and not feel sick, literally. I think I'm loosing I need help. This is a first for me to reach out to total strangers, but I know others stuggle and have OverCome this. Thanks for reading my story....I do hope to converse with others to get your help, support and in turn offer the same to you. again thanks...syd

  • dona

    hi i have been bulimic for 2 years now ,,, its so depressing as i am always worried about lung damge and all the side effects of bulimia ,, i hate it so much ,,, i am ready to stop it i just want to know if my health is fine or i already have lunge damage and how can i conform i am safe

  • Flavy

    Hi. I have been blumic since i was 15 and now i am 24.. It was horrible during first year and was kinda stable for the next 2 years but for the last 5 years its getting worse each and after..Also for the last 4 years my alcohol abuse problem added.. I throw up minimum 2-3 times a day and my potassium lvl is slightly below min. normal value.. I am down to 38 kg but keep going in between 36kg and 39.5kg (161.5cm tall) Havent had my period for 5.5 months..I also smoke a lot..Dont know what to do kinda accepted whats coming for me in the end.. I throw up till i see only clear saliva or blood or my throat hurts from clear stomach acid..And the interesting part is i never put my finger to my throat just a bit pressure to my stomach muscles and there! I just easily throw up thats because some issue from birth thats in my stomach.

    I do go to therapist for years now and didnt really see any improvement at all.. Tried sports didnt work (i used to be professional swimmer).. Nothing worked or works for me at all so I hope all of you guys will have more luck and better motivation than me! /HugS Get Well soon all of you!

  • Anonymous-3

    I'm 31. I have been bulimic since i was 12. I started with epicac syrup. The only time in my life i havent vomited is when i was on speed and didnt eat. I have never been addicted to anything in my life other than food and bulimia. I have tried drugs, i drink occasionally but I have never yearned for anything as bad as i do for binging and perging.

    I know i am addicted to food. I can purge then walk out of the bathroom and start all over. I have thrown up in every restaurant in my town. I know which ones to go to for the best privacy. My addiction is a secret. There is not one person in my life who I've told. I went on a girl's trip to vegas last year and one friend suspected but i use my braces as my excuse for my after eating bathroom trips. I hate my braces but they have defintely aided in my addiction.

    I eat constantly. I usually eat fruit for breakfast. I keep that down. I'll purge on my lunch break. Then i will go home and make dinner for my family and I will usually always overeat then purge. My typically pattern is 2-4 times a day. For the last 19 years. My teeth look terrible and they hurt. When i was single i had much more free time to "feed" my addiction. That was when the acid began to eat my esophagus. That still didnt make me stop. I quit smoking when my kids came along, I quit drugs after college was over, but for some reason i cannot kick this. It's like my secret best friend. it knows what makes me feel better.

    I have never had a great deal of trauma in my life. I grew up fairly normal from divorced parents. Rough patches but thats life. Ive only went through one depressing period and it was because of a breakup. It didnt fuel my bulimia tho.

    I wish i knew how to control my intake and not just shove shove shove. I want to not CONSTANTLY think about where the next place i'm going to vomit is going to be.

    I am intelligent and have realized for a long time that bulimia is not the answer to weight loss. I am not thin. I'm 5'2 and weigh roughly 145. I go to the gym a few times a week but nothing excessive. I dont like working out. I dont enjoy sweating. I want to be lazy and bulimic and thin. It might sound like a joke but it's the truth. The speed made me very thin but i didnt like it. I missed my food. I missed my secret best friend. i like the bulimia more than being model thin. I find it ironic.

  • Suzanne

    Like 'Tom Darling' I too was healed by Jesus. I suffered the pain and secrecy of Bulimia for 7 years, and it almost killed me. I knew this was not the life I was meant to live, but I was just so helpless to fix it. One night I called out to Jesus to help me. He did, body, soul and heart. There is hope for every person - its not just for a few. Doesn't matter a scrap what you've done in your past or whether you even want to be a Christian (I didn't!) what matters is that you live. 8 years ago i gave Jesus my life, and its been amazing ever since.

    its not a complicated answer, but a real one. Ask Jesus for help. He is real, and he can handle your problems - he did make you after all, so he knows what you need!

    Go for it. You are too valuable to waste another day. The world needs you, the real you. xxx

  • Erin

    I would suggest reading Jenni Schrafer's book, Life Without Ed. It has changed the way I view my eating disorder. This book has helped me with techniques much more than any pschologist's. However, professional help is a very important technique in itself.

  • carino

    Okay so i was reading through what everyone was writing and i can relate to alot of it. The fact that i didnt have to much trauma in my life, just divorced parents, scitzo father who got retired from the military, and all my juvenile cases, i'm not in to much of a bad shape however, i have always (since 12) been OBSESSED with my body mass. Starting from 12 i was a cheerleader and i loved to work out. By 13 i literally would not eat, i just didnt want to. My sister gained alot of weight once my parents divorced (she lived with my mom) and i lived with my little brother and dad. So i guess now that i think about it i did kind of have a stressful growing up. My brother and dad became addicted to marijuana, my brother also to over the counter medicine, me on the other hand went to college by 16 once i got my GED, and i was always the *idol daughter* since my sister became a stripper wow i've never told anyone my story, so writing all of this does sound liike i have problems. Anyways, so i became very selfish since i thought nobody cared about me and got reallllllly fit and tan and everybody loved me. But behind all of that, i wouldnt eat, i would go to tha gym and work out till i literally wanted to pass out. By 15 i started throwing up constantly. Nobody knew because my dad was out partying and my bro was being a pot head, so i was home alone most of the time. I sometimes would walk around my big house and cry so hard and i would sleep all day and never eat. So anyway i shook that faze by 17 and thought it was in the past. Then by 18 i started again, throwing up, but this time i was more secretive, i couldn't throw up in my bathroom because my family got their act together and sober and people would hear me if i did, so i would drive somewhere far and throw up in the grass. After each meal i swear all i could think about was how fat my stomach was feeling and how i needed to throw up then work out because i don't want to get fat i don't want to get fat i can't gain weight. I never was over weight, in my beginning bulimic stages i was 104 and under weight. i am about 5'3 and i weight 113 now and am 19. i think it is the perfect weight. but the sad thing is i can't eat like i normal person. I have to throw up because if i don't im going to weigh 120. I just finally (AS OF TODAY 6-21-10) admit i am a bulimic. I can't tell anybody in my family because they all had so many problems and i was the one that did good in life, i was the college smart girl with her head on straight. But nobody knew what was going on when i was home alone, or when i'd take drives to other places, or when they'd offer food and i'd lie and say i already ate. The crazy thing is i never thought this was abnormal, to throw up, to work out excessivly, i thought everyone had to do drastic things to have a perfect body. Also, i've realized i don't always have to throw up because i am a little of an alcoholic (ONLY on the weekends). I eat and throw up all week till the weekend where i drink liqour and i don't want to eat. This is where i start to sound crazy, when i wake up that saturday or friday morning from partying and drinking the night before, my stomach is so flat and i weight about 110 and i feel so good. Like i don't want to stop this, i know the risks but i love feeling thin. I hate eating and feeling that lower bulge. To get rid of that i recently became addicted to exlax. Wow see now that i'm typing all this out i'm seeing how much of a problem i have, but i'm scared to tell, i don't want to ruin my image, and i sort of don't want to stop. . . I need help.

  • Netta Dawson

    Hi my name is Netta and i been an on and off bulimic for months and months. When i was 17 i started noticing that i was gaining weight. I weigh myself one day and the scale said 150 pounds. (I am 5'9") so anyways i started to hate the way i look and i wanted to get the fat off fast! so one day i was watching a movie and a girl started throwing up her food after she eat and i started googling ways to purge and the affects. I knew it was a deadly disease, but if your a bulimic all you would care mostly about is losing weight and getting that fat out of yoru system. When i first purge i felt like it was not my thing so i stop for a while. than one day i just binge on a whole bunch of food and i felt fat! so i purge and i felt like a relief when i got done doing it. I did that for about 2 months and i never old my mom or no one because i knew if i did my mom would get me help and at the time i didn't wanted help at all. So i lost about 30 or more pounds and i weighed at the time 115 pounds from bulimia. I still thought i was fat when i would look in the mirror. My mind started to play tricks on me and say stuff like your fat. I love food, but i just don't like what it does to me. I hate the feeling of being full and its like food is the enemy, ya know? in 2007 when i was 17 and weighed 115 pounds at the time my sister caught me purging and she told me i need help, but i didn't believe i needed help. So i help myself and just try not to think negative thoughts. I was healthy at the time and started to feel better about myself..Well, kinda... And so in 2010 this year i relaspe and started to purge. One day i just felt the pressure of losing weight again. I guess its because i'm in high school and i see all these skinny girls and feel the pressure to pruge after i eat. The problem is i dont know my limit so i eat and eat the foods i crave. Like cookies, chicken, candy, ice cream, cupcakes..just all fatty foods. It feels good while i'm doing it, but afterwards i feel horrible. So i purge to stay skinny. i was skinny all my life, but as i got older my body changed and i hated the changed so i figure out a solution to control my weight by bulimia. i am still a bulimic and i always purge in the shower so no one can hear me. I think my sister knows, but i know my mom doesn't know at all. I notice that my bulimia got worse because i started getting sores on my hands from purging. The acid burns my mouth and my teeth is starting to look mess up, but i can't stop. How can you stop? I just don't want to die in a young age from this disease. I weigh 124 punds now and im really tall. My sister says im skinny and friends, but i don't see what the see. I see the opposite. Hopefully one day i will stop this deadly disease. I just felt like sharing..

  • Anonymous-4

    I am 30 years old, been married for only a year to a military man and have 3 incredible kids. My image is very important to me. I can't step out of the house unless I am dressed to impress even if I am just going to WalMart. I workout at least 5 times a week. I have been worried more about how I look since i married into the military life. Almost every military wife I know has let themselves go and I promised myself I wouldn't let that happen to me. I have to be the thinner one, I have to be the most attractive one. I used to be anorexic when I was 14, then turned bulimic when I was 18 at 23 I stopped worrying about my weight. Now that I am worrying again I have turned to bulimia. I throw up my food 3-6 times a day depending how many times I eat. I collect my puke in a trash bag because throwing up in the toilet is very messy, I think. I have lost so much weight in the past 3 months and I love it. I am not the weight I want to be just yet but I finally fit in a size 6 again. I stuff myself with food every time I eat and I start feeling desperate and start thinking that I am a fat ass pig. Throwing up is wrong but when I literally feel my stomach emptying it feels so right and I start to think I am doing the right thing. Nobody knows I am doing this and at least for now I am not ready to stop. I look fantastic for having 3 kids. Every where I go I get looked at. My friends husbands stare at me. i get hit on by married or single men and I know that this wouldn't happen if I were fat.

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    I fully understand that you want to look attractive to men especially when you know that other wives on base have allowed themselves to gain weight. However, there are some cruel facts you need to know about bulimia:

    1. You state that you love your kids. Bulimia is a deadly disease. It destroys the stomach, esphogus, teeth and mouth. Your children need you but you will not be around if you continue this self destructive behavior.

    2. The other fact is that purging is actually addicting. That is because purging stimulates hormones to flow that go to the pleasure center of the brain. For that reason, people who purge feel pretty good immediately afterwards. Of course, in 30 minutes or less they feel awful about themselves.

    Mom, your family needs a healthy wife and mom. Stop purging. There are healthier ways to remain thin.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • lucie

    i think that everyone that has bulimia will find the same comparisms and the same realisations to make with any statement anyone with the same disorder cane make...

    - i feel paranoid that everyone around me is bulimic

    - i feel like everyone knows

    - my glands are swollen

    -my throat is peeling

    - i have lost weight.... but im certain im about to put it back on

    - i have lost half of my personality to this disgusting disorder

    - it IS disgusting

    i dont want to see what all of you see once or more times a day that disgusting flemy stringy orangey thick lumpy shit that you so happy consume so very fast and then five minutes later cannot stand thethought of it inside of you

    even though youre the one completely forced it inside of youself.

    if worse then a drug addiction its a complete and utter trap. you dont want it.. youre the only person who can stop it but the only person who is inflicting it upon yourself.

    the people that have overcome bulimia OR anorexia

    i wish i could have as much bravery as you.

  • Shaye

    Bulimia is a horrible soul sucking illness... You all know this - and I know it too... I spend the years between 8 and 20 with my head down the toilet - desperately trying to throw up everything inside me - including all the saddness and self hate which I felt.

    At the age of 20 I felt so close to death... In fact, I am not sure how I didn't die - I was throwing up 15 times perday and living in a constant binge/purge. I felt like amachine - void of life...

    But deep down there was a flicker and I knew I was worthy of more... I knew that I deserved a good life. A simplfe life. A life free of the demon I'd carried since I was just a kid.

    I made my first true commitment to recovery and booked myself in to see a therapist. Together we practiced Cognitive behavioral therapy and positive energy treatments. It took 9 months - but I managed to fully 100% recover.

    You can read my full story here:

    In it I share the ugly, the embarrasing and the inspirational sides of my struggle and recovery. I hope that you gain inspiration for it and realise that you can recover too!

  • Anonymous-5

    i am tired of having this horrible illness sometimes i enjoy it as get to eat what i want enjoy it and then vomit without putting weight on i am addicted to food and dont know why sometimes i think i am just greedy pig . i try to diet but dont last bing and purge binge and purge my husband suspects but no one else would have a clue i come across as happy and confident but am i why am i doing this to myself why can i not be normal i have a fab family and a perfect little boy who i love more than anything why can i not stop why why why why why i hate this illness regret the first time i ever did this


Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 Who Answers? 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.


Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand