2023 Awardee – Madelynne Alton – HWRA – Providence Hall HS

Mar 21, 2023

Buzzing Bulimia

I, like many other people, face challenges, setbacks, and failures every day. A major challenge I face daily is my eating disorder known as bulimia. I am in recovery but I have constant thoughts and temptations to relapse. I have been diagnosed and prescribed anti-anxiety and antidepressants to cope; however, I do not take them. My brother passed away from an accidental overdose so I’m uncomfortable taking medications. My disorder was very severe from 2020-2022. When Covid hit, my physical activity was strained because of quarantine and its effect on sports programs. I decided to start running but that was not enough. I took matters into my own hand in a world of chaos. The only control was what I ate, and what I didn’t. I have always had a fragile relationship with food but it had reached an all-time low. When my sophomore year of high school started my habits remained the same. I played varsity volleyball, basketball, and softball that year while suffering from severe bulimia. I would purge before games and still expect great performance. I would be affected on holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. I would be affected on my birthday and at parties. I was exhausted, drained, foggy, frail, and malnourished. My menstrual cycle was affected and my skin was lifeless. I could feel my heart getting weaker each day that I purged. My irritability and shame were destroying my relationships. In my junior year of high school was when I decided that enough was enough. In order for me to recover, I needed to focus on myself and find a way to be less stressed without compromising my education. I quit basketball. Quitting basketball was not an easy decision for me. My team was taken by surprise and I lost my opportunity to get a three-sport scholarship. Quitting gave me the time, rest, and focus to be able to recover. I focused on intentional workouts and mindful eating. I was able to fix my once-neglected relationships including my relationship with food. Recovery is not a straight line though. I would relapse and it would destroy me. I would get addicted to the cycle that is bulimia all over again and my progress would get flushed away. I would make a dent in my recovery and then completely return to my old habits. I then decided to make realistic goals for myself by starting small. These small goals were progressive goals that started with just making it through a single day. Then a week, then two, then a month, and so on. I am now four months free of relapse. Bulimia is not an easy disorder to have. I will be facing this challenge for the rest of my life but I won’t let it control or limit me. Every day I am learning more about myself including my triggers, and new ways to build my relationship with food. Bulimia Nervosa affects roughly 1% of young women. It is more common than most people think. Other disorders related to Bulimia include anxiety, mood disorder, impulse control, and substance use disorder. Eating disorders are terrible and can cause a lifetime of damage, but that’s not to say they are impossible to overcome. I am living a normal life now that’s filled with joy, excitement, and delicious food. I still have anxiety and am moody but I blame that on being a teenage girl. Bulimia will always be the buzzing noise I hear in the background but with some music, it disappears.

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