Hello, my name is Dr. Theresa Larson. I used to have bulimia.
Having bulimia is like having any other addiction - alcohol, drugs, sex or a litany of others. 'Stopping' seems like a good idea, but brain and body chemistry make it incredibly hard to break the cycle long enough to stick.
It's also like having PTSD or other mental and emotional distress. The fog that drives seemingly irrational behaviors and thoughts comes and goes based on triggers that are often unclear and deeply wired.
I tried and tried for years to deal with it, secretly.
When I told my family, they alternately worried for me and blamed me. They just could not understand me.
I was so desperate for a cure and for support, I was scared I'd do something drastic.Sound familiar?
4 in 10 Americans know someone who struggles with alcohol or drug addiction. The number of additional Americans that know someone with PTSD or an eating disorder is also shocking.
You may have struggled like me, or if you're like half of Americans, suspect someone else is struggling. You may have tried to find or offer help.
You may have talked with an addiction or mental health professional.
You may have confronted yourself, your friend or loved one.
You may be trying to be supportive, to somehow understand.Has it helped?
In other words, can you look at yourself in the mirror with no judgment? Do you have confidence (and not just hope) that your loved one is in a good place for good?
The answers to those are usually a definitive NO
The answers are NO because those are trick questions. Having zero judgment or being completely 'healed' don't happen with addiction, eating disorders, PTSD, etc.
Back to your efforts - of course they have helped. Just being there for yourself or a loved one helps.
My late father was a Catholic Priest for the last decade of his life.
A widower since I was 10 years old, he witnessed all manner of sadness, illness, and death in his rural mountainous parish.
"Just being there with compassion makes an enormous difference," he would tell me.
So what else can you do?