Something happened to help me appreciate the plight of people with the eating disorder, bulimia. Although this didn’t happened to me recently, I was reminded of it, and I don’t think we can ever give this too much attention. A few years ago, I got a very bad stomach virus. The most obvious symptoms were nausea and vomiting, which lasted from about 8:30 pm through the night and part of the next day. My whole body ached so much that I thought I was dying, literally. My gut was wrenching, my head was aching, and I felt so helpless. I couldn’t keep anything on my stomach. It was several days before I was able to eat normally. I think I probably lost about 5 pounds that week. Each time I found myself on my knees in the bathroom, I hoped that it was the last. It was a very painful, ghastly feeling, and it made me think of the many people who routinely purge themselves on purpose after eating a meal to control their weight.
I realized that someone who is completely stable and emotionally comfortable would not do it. I don’t really understand what a person might be going through that would make them do that; however, when I conversed with some friends about it, they reminded me about the focus there is in society on appearance and body image.
That experience helped me to have a little more compassion for those with eating disorders. I hated that feeling when I was throwing up. The feeling of my stomach clenching and tightening, making me think I was going to puke but nothing happened was equally as aggravating. If people make themselves do it, you know there must be something going inside of them that causes them a lot of distress. If you know of someone with an eating disorder, don’t be too hard on them. It’s an addiction, much like someone who abuses drugs or alcohol.
I always say that we should look for lessons in all of our pain, and I am glad that I could learn something from my own suffering.