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This question comes to us from a reader:

Q:

Hi there, i ran across your website and thought that someone like you might be able to help me through my recovery…

Heres a summary of my case:
I’ve been bulimic for almost 5 years with bingeing and purging routines for about 3-4 times per week (once a day in those days). During the later 2-3 years I’ve added the problem of laxative abuse, starting with a few tablets of Dulcolax and it built up to about 100 tablets a day towards the end of those years. Towards the end i also shifted to this other “herbal laxative”, also taken about 100 or so per day. At the very begining, my weight stood at 130 pounds (almost 60 kilograms, with my height of 160 cm or 5 foot 3 inches). At 130 pounds i decided to start eating healthier and exercise healithily. At that time without the bulimic actions i was able to get my weight down to around 110-115 pounds. Then the bulimia kicked in. Throughout those 5 years my weight got down from 110-115 pounds to a minimum of about 90 pounds, measured about a week ago.
About a week ago, everything changes. I had severe reactions against the laxatives i was using, including nauciousness and just feeling sick all the time. I knew that i had to quit one day, and i knew that my internship had to start soon so i gues it would be a right time to quit. (im 20 years old). So i got on the road of quiting, with full support from my parents, who was well aware of the need to quit. Frankly, i knew that i was going to be tough. I expected and was able to accept a full 10 pounds or so increase in my weight, if that was going to do the quitting.
On the first day, i did a good job of controlling what i ate; i had the help of my mom in guiding me on that. My diet was full of fibers and proteins with some carbs. I also did some exerising about 30 minutes a day for the past week. Prior to this, i knew that fluid retention wil result, but i definitely underestimated its affects on my weight. The routine i did on the first day of quitting continuted for 3 days. After 3 days, I was super constipated since i was not able to “go to the bathroom” like that…on my own. On the third day my weight increased from around 90 to 96 pounds…i was quite shocked and felt very bloated. I purged on the end of the third day because i felt sooo constipated and bloated, but very little, compared to what i was doing for the past 5 years. On day 4 and day 5, things went on the same way, i stil had trouble going to the bathroom and took a few tablets of laxative to help my body a litle bit.
So right now im standing on day 6-7 of the recovery. my weight now is about 98-99 pounds. my goal is to quit but keep my weight to be around 100 pounds or so. im really dreading this road of quitting and im really worried that my weight will go on increasing nonstop especially with the fluid retention. i drink so much fluid this past week and i dont pee it out much at all, i feel like al the fluid i intake is converted in to weightweight and addds on to my number on the scale and never gets rejected out anymore. So in short the past week was a semi recovery as in i dont rely on constant puking and constant laxative taking anymore but i did cheat and do one or two of each just to keep my weight from exploding. And yes i realize that this is not good since i plan to completely quit. there stands my issue.
I was wondering if you have any advice as to how to better approach this road. Keep i mind that i DONT want to gain more weight than around 100-102 pounds =[ and is there anyway to trigger my system to function normally as soon as possible? i mean tons of fruits and vegies that i have been eating havent helped at all in my digestive system and the “going to the bathroom” stuff.
I do very much appreciate your time and effort to help
Answer:
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this advice is not intended to treat any condition nor is it a substitute for medical care.
It’s so great that you have chosen to seek help. That’s very brave of you. It’s so difficult to come forward and look for help. I’m really so happy that you reached out.
First off, please, please, please get yourself to a medical doctor immediately.
You are in a very, very precarious position right now. There is so much going on in your body and you are quite ill with an extremely serious eating disorder. You need more than just your parents helping you. You need to be monitored by a whole medical team as well as a psychologist or psychotherapist who specializes in Eating Disorders. To find treatment go here.

 

 

It seems that your weight is very low.  If haven’t menstruated for at least 3 months, you would be considered anorexic.  Your desire to stay at such a low weight is dangerous. With your low weight,  the fact that you are exercising daily,  the use of laxatives and bingeing and purging you are at increased risk for cardiac arrest and organ failure. Your whole system is at risk.

When  people stop purging and using laxatives, they usually suffer from severe water retention and their digestion takes a while to normalize.  This is because your body has been losing water so rapidly for so many years. The moment it receives food, it will do whatever it can to hold onto. It’s been starving for nutrients. As you allow yourself to eat normally, your bodily functions will take over.
You want to recover from your eating disorder, yet you want to stay 100 pounds. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to do both as your weight is too low for your height, so staying at that weight would inherently keep you in an eating disorder.
You want to know how to  trigger your system to function normally as soon as possible. However, you have been abusing your body for 5 years. It will take awhile for your system to heal or recover.
I’m sorry that I can’t give you the answers that you want, but I’m afraid that your eating disorder voice is asking these questions. You are trying to figure out how to stay underweight without bingeing and purging and using laxatives and you are trying to figure out a quick way  to normalize your digestion without working with a doctor and nutritionist.   Unfortunately, this will take time.  However, if you choose to get into treatment, your quality of life will hopefully improve.
I know that you have an internship coming up and it’s hard to balance recovery and work, school, etc.  Many people decide to take some time off from school or work to focus directly on recovery. It can be helpful as often it’s very hard to do school when the eating disorder is so pervasive. It’s also hard to do recovery when you have no time to focus on yourself.
Thanks again so much for reaching out. I am rooting for you and I hope that you get the help and recovery that you need.

 

 

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.

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  • Sunshine

    I really appreciate your blogs. Thanks for always answering the questions and for all of the great info you pass on.

  • Angel

    i have suffers from this for two but i only take 7 at a time and i stop for a month and do it again for a week. i have done enough to my colon and i want to fix it but don’t know how.it’s been 2 years .

  • Tracy

    I have been reading so many blogs this last month and has been so helpful in trying to overcome my laxative abuse for 15 years. I am in recovery now and having a hard time dealing with the bloated stomach and my feet and legs swelling. My face face is also a little puffy. I was taking 100 laxatives a day. About 30 after every meal. I weighed 105 lbs. at 5’4. I was always a little sick all the time and my life revolved around the dam laxatives. I socially was withdrawn, didn’t date (im divorced) and just became a homebody. I thought being skinny would be the best thing in the world. Well, it wasnt. I have been hopitalized 3 X and seeing a kidney specialist now. I am taking vitamin B12 and Iron supplements and Vitamin D. My electorlytes were way off and potassium levels very low. My organs were shutting down. I ve been crying for weeks. I have another doctor appt in 2 weeks to see how my kidney are healing on there own.. I just want this bloating to go away I cant fit into any clothes and dont feel like going out in public. Im scared to death of the weight gain as well. I know im going to have to get used to it. Anyone who has gone thru the bloating experience and the estimated duration of this awful period , could you let me know how long it took you. I Love being able to read other peoples stories as it helps so much with us who are going through the same thing. The doctors have just looked at me like i am absolutley crazy.!!!!! I have to tell my story over and over and its just exhausting. Some doctors just dont get it!!!!!!!

  • Kat

    Hi Tracy! I was wondering if you were feeling any better yet with the bloating? Or if you had read anything about how long the bloating and fluid retention takes to go away after abusing laxatives and stopping. I’m extremely miserable and hate going out too. I live in a hoodie I can’t fit into any of my clothes because I’m so bloated and my legs are so full of fluid. If you or anyone knows the duration of this please let me know. Any information will make me feel better 🙂

    Kat