And Thinner …

Even now cured, I still pick photos that make me look thin. It’s the angle of the camera, but my legs look thin. Eating Disorders leave residuals that stay with us always.

Even now cured, I still pick photos that make me look thin. It’s the angle of the camera, but my legs look thin. Eating Disorders leave residuals that stay with us always.

The pressure behind my eyes was so intense I truly thought they might explode. My stomach flexed and emptied the last of its contents. I was fourteen. It was the first time I had made myself vomit.

I switched from a private school to public at the beginning of fifth grade and quickly felt the disapproving stares of the more worldly girls. My lunchroom plate of the given portions was suddenly a glutton’s feast and I more often than not tossed all of it in the trash. I existed on grapes and diet soda. I’d eat at home where no one could see, I thought.

Junior High was worse. A minefield of girl cruelty. Curled up in the library I devoured a book about a young girl, a ballet dancer like I was, who had anorexia. I wanted to be her and I was failing miserably. At 14, my ballet career was at best pathetic. I took the bus faithfully to Boulder Ballet Ensemble three times a week and danced to the tinny piano sounds that Tom’s Tavern below drove out with loud CCR on the jukebox. I had a crooked spine and very little drive and determination. I spent my time in class daydreaming about the stage rather than really working to make it happen.

That same lack of drive and determination made me a failure at anorexia as well. Sooner rather than later I would fail, overwhelmed by the desire to eat and I would inhale a pizza. “look at her go!” parents would say and my face would flush with shame. So it was in that same book with the beautiful anorexic dancer I desperately wanted to be there happened to be a bulimic girl. An electric shock flooded my body. I could get rid of it! All of it!

The feeling of fat and shame was quickly replaced with a high of ridding myself of all that punishment. But like all highs the time between needing to experience them gets closer and closer and closer until you lose quality of life and  in many cases- nearly my case,  life.

At 17, I lounged in a borrowed room, my mother having moved to San Francisco for a job,  watching Oprah and splurging on Yoplait lemon yogurt and five saltines. I wouldn’t keep them, but it was still a splurge. I distantly heard a girl on the set tell Oprah she had been busted because of the tell tale bruises on her hand. Those of her two front teeth being repeatedly pushed into them as she forced the food up and out. I looked down. There they were, two bruises. I’d never thought about them, but there they were — two purple tooth marks with aging bruises circling them never given a proper chance to heal. I heard her say that was when I started using the handle of my toothbrush. Oprah’s voice distantly echoed now I don’t want anyone thinking that’s a good idea!

I was already in the bathroom. That was when I learned there were tricks to bulimia, tricks of the trade.

Later my rituals were so streamlined I needed nothing. I could simply lean over and let go. I may have failed at anorexia,(still I prayed every night God would gift me with it and take away bulimia) but I was a damn good bulimic.

More tomorrow.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder please contact NationalEatingDisorders.org — you’re not alone. Know that you can beat this and you can and will have a life.

Stephanie Stearns Dulli is alternately confident and riddled with anxiety. Perfect qualifications for the two major careers in her life: once professional actress in LA and now stay at home mom in DC. Since leaving LA and the acting world behind (for now), Stephanie has found other ways to be creative. After starting her blog five years ago, she began working as an on-camera iVoice for iVillage.com. She currently blogs at Stephanie Says about where you will find pop culture, fashion, photography, and is the director of the Washington, D.C. Listen to Your Mother show.

Image via Stephanie Stearns Dulli, with permission

Cross-posted with permission from Stephanie Says

  • Absolutely devastating. Speechless.

  • Whoa. I am so having a conversation with my daughter tonight.

Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
Nancy Reagan dies, Just Say No, Ronald Reagan
A Not-So-Positive Ode to Nancy Reagan’s Frothy “Just Say No” Campaign
I Married for Health Insurance
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Trump Reality Check, Now with Actual Facts!
Fascism Facts
I Married for Health Insurance
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Women’s Elections Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Token Drop in an Abysmal Bucket & the Plight of Women Under Sharia Law
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
The Vital Voice of Hillary Clinton: Part 1
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread