by Christine Kane
www.christinekane.com

In our last episode, I wrote some general thoughts about bulimia and the process involved in creating a healthy relationship with food and your body and your life. Whether you are still actively bulimic, or you’re simply working on some of these issues, the suggestions below may provide some guidance for beginning that work. They aren’t linear. They aren’t magic. They take commitment, but not force or rigidity. Practicing them helped me enormously.

1 – Set your intent.

This step isn’t really a step. It’s a requirement. Most people who talk to me about their struggle with food want out. They’re tired of it. They’re tired of their own illness, all the voices, and the overwhelm. My sense is that they’re as much addicted to distraction and overwhelm as they are to food. At least when there’s distraction and overwhelm they don’t have to face the monsters they know are down below the level of the distractions. One remedy for this is to set intent. (Another is silence. More on that below.)

In one of her lectures, Caroline Myss made a passing remark that I love…”One powerful prayer (intent) beats a confused cathedral any day.” I am convinced that human beings are, as Marianne Williamson said, “powerful beyond measure.” I know that I am no longer bulimic because I simply decided that I had had it. I was over it. I was tired of the struggle. I decided to heal. I committed. I set intent.

You need to decide to heal. And you then need to remind yourself again the next morning that you decided. And the next. Write it in your journal over and over. Tell your voices their days are numbered. This doesn’t mean you go on a diet, begin an exercise regime, or find any other ways to beat yourself into submission. Consider this a non-step… the opposite of every diet you’ve ever started. This is deeper.

Decide to heal. Pray. And do that everyday. Trust me on this. You have no idea now how powerful this will be. But it will be and it is — especially if you gently take a single action that reinforces this intent. You may find a possible action among the steps below.

2 – Stop reading women’s fashion magazines, People magazine, and fitness magazines. No exceptions. (While you’re at it, just stop reading magazines period.)

I know this is a hard one for some people. I did this without even getting advice to do it. I believe it to be the most revolutionary step I took. One day I just realized that these magazines made me miserable. Every time I finished looking through one, even briefly in grocery store lines, I felt like the life had been sucked out of me. I don’t need to go into the reasons why. You have to check in with yourself about it. Write in your journal about it.

We all know that the only way to keep a magazine going is to sell advertising, and the only way to sell advertising is to sell products, and the only way to sell products in high volume is to keep people emotionally hooked into the belief that they’re not okay as they are, where they are, and who they are. This is the energy behind most fashion magazines. I don’t even read O magazine. And I like Oprah. I just don’t like her magazine. Try it for a month. Really, I promise, you’ll be happier. (And just think — you won’t have to witness Dr. Phil bitch-slapping people around anymore.)

The part of us that gets hooked into these magazines is addicted to self-loathing. I see it as an inner Dementor that actually feeds on our negative feelings in order to stay alive. This keeps the whole system called “eating disorder” functioning. And even though you feel slightly worse and a little more depressed after a harmless bout of Glamour-gazing, you are comfortable. You know this place. The Dementor has been sated. You’ve made yourself small again. The Dementor loves this.

Do yourself a favor and stop it. Look away. Take your magazines to recycling. Cancel subscriptions. It would be more productive for you to sit and stare at the wall and feel wildly uncomfortable, than it would be to open Cosmo and flip through the images generated by an industry that needs you to keep feeding the Dementor. (By the way, when you don’t feed the Dementor anymore, it starves and dies.)

3 – Get a massage.

Energy healing. Acupuncture. Homeopathy. Massage. These are a few of the widely expanding areas of alternative medicine. Try them. The reason alternative medicine works is because it works on the body, mind, and emotions. It does not fix. It slowly heals. I’ve tried almost every form of alternative medicine. My favorites are massage and acupuncture. I also did extensive energy healing work, mostly because I happened to meet a master practitioner and I knew she was excellent. And tell the practitioner what you are working through. Tell them I told you to tell them. This will help them help you. And you need lots of compassion during this process. Allow people to give it to you.

“But I don’t have time! But I don’t have money!” If you’re saying these things, go back and review Step 1. When I first started this process, I was making minimum wage. I began working with a homeopath. The cost was high and not covered by insurance. (Not that I had any.) I decided it didn’t matter what I had to do, I needed to go at least once every three weeks if I wanted to shift. The doctor was compassionate and gave me an enormous amount of attention. I eventually moved on to acupuncture. Again, I was making very little money.

Your commitment to healing will have to involve some action steps. You set your intent, you make the commitment and then you back it up with action. You say yes to your intent, and then the universe says yes back to you. It’s just how it works. And you won’t know this until you do it. (This is why they say “Leap and the net will appear.”) This is what I did. I never went into debt. I got healthier and stronger. When you get healthier and stronger, your energy lifts and you naturally attract more into your life.

4 – Please, oh Please, Stop Drinking Diet Soda.

The homeopath I saw during the early stages of healing bulimia never offered food advice. He knew better. One day, however, he said quietly that he’d like me to stop drinking Diet Coke. He explained that NutraSweet has been reported to be a depressant and bad for the brain. He didn’t get all dramatic and hyper and judgmental. He just stated it calmly in about two sentences. Because this man had never once said anything like this to me, I trusted his advice.

I switched to regular Coke and regular Pepsi (I don’t drink soda at all anymore, but back then I couldn’t imagine life without fizz.) The first thing was that I lost a good deal of weight within about a month. The second thing was that I really did feel emotionally better. I’m not a “medical expert” (is there really such a thing?) so I can’t document this step with data, but I believe that diet soda is one of the most vile substances you can put into your body. And I also know what it’s like to be addicted to it. So, I understand how challenging it can be to let it go. Would it help if I told you I don’t even think about having it anymore?

5 – Stop Reading the Fear-Based Way-too-Mental Medical Articles on Eating Disorders…

I decided to add this step as I was searching the web for a few factoids to back up my beliefs about women’s magazines. As I was reading the very self-important medical world’s take on women’s bodies, I felt my heart racing with fear. And I’m not even bulimic anymore! It reminded me of how I used to read article after article about eating disorders when I was in college, sending myself into panic and terror. This doesn’t serve anyone.

I vacillated between reading women’s magazines, which kept me hating my body, and reading the medical industry’s studies and articles, which kept me terrified of my body. I realize that I was in a constant state of negativity. When I actually did begin recovering, the medical industry and all of its components no longer even mattered to me. Their articles only kept me scared. It wasn’t until I began meeting compassionate, wild, funny, loving people did I let go of all the fear messages.

6 – Allow Silence and Boredom.

This isn’t the same kind of “bored” I wrote about in “The Way Clouds Do.” That was high school, and kind of a violent boredom. This is conscious boredom.

I call this step “boredom” so that you won’t take it and make it an assignment to meditate or “do” something with the silence.

Bulimic women love assignments. They take them on and know they’re going to do them perfectly. And this works for about 3 to 5 days until they miss a day. Then they hate themselves and give the whole idea up because they messed up and they think they’re no good at anything. At least, that’s how I remember my own process…

So, given all that, this is a non-assignment assignment.

Get bored.

Just five minutes. Try sitting quietly. Don’t turn on the tv. Don’t grab a book. Bite your nails if you must. Just sit there and deal with the silence and listen to your body. When I facilitate retreats, I surround all the activities and writing work with long bouts of silence. I don’t call it “meditation” because that words makes all the obsessive compulsive people jump into their poses and make it into a “meditation assignment.” Just get bored. Sit there. Try it.

There’s a huge amount of information, emotion, and stuff coming at us at any given time of the day. Women who have eating issues tend to be ultra-sensitive to this stuff. They don’t seem to have filters. It all just seems to come in. If you are this type, then you need some process time. You need silence. You need to just sit there. You’ll get how much better it makes you feel, I promise.

You need peace. But maybe right now you can simply get a little freedom from the panic. You’re not alone. You can heal this. I know that because I did. No, it wasn’t easy. You’ll probably have to cry a lot. Really a lot. But it is so worth it.

I will be writing more about eating and eating disorders and my own process. If you’re reading this and you have questions or issues you’d like to ask, please email me or add a comment to this section. I will address your question or comment in another blog. Like I’ve said, I’m not an expert, but I’ve gotten through it and I can speak from my own experience.

18 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • M

    Christine,

    I’m not sure whether you get comments on your old posts or not.

    I’ve been reading your blog sporadically for about a year now. I happened to stumble upon it on google one day and that’s how I got started. I’ve been recovered from bulimia for almost 2 years, which is part of why I was so interested – you seem to have gone through a lot of what I have. For me how it happened is I just up and stopped one day. It was like somehow finally I had had enough. And I just never did it again. And after about a year of some rough urges, I even stopped getting the urges. It’s funny. Maybe years of therapy helped get me to the place where I stopped, but the actual stopping was just some part of me saying “I’ve had enough now.” I wish I could conjure up that dedication towards other areas of my life today.

    I’ve also had the struggles with depression and anxiety, and tried so many antidepressants /medications and doctors and therapists, for years and years, nothing seeming to “solve” it. I’ve even tried several self-help strategies, including many of yours, and I’ve tried praying… nothing seems to stick. Recently I began trying acupuncture, Reiki, and very recently (so recently that it’s impossible to tell whether it’s helping yet) homeopathy. I just don’t have very much faith in anything anymore. My life seems to fall apart on a regular basis no matter how hard I try and how good I am about trying to dig myself back out of holes. A lot of your tips seem helpful but in all honesty it seems very overwhelming… I feel overwhelmed very easily and start feeling like if I don’t do everything exactly right, then it’s my fault that I don’t feel as happy as I’d like to.

    I just graduated college in December and am stuck in a job that is boring and depressing, and I have no sense of identity or clue where I want to move with my life. I thought I was an artist, but lately I don’t even know what an artist IS anymore. Is it an identity or a profession? In a sense, I’d like to be MORE than an artist. And in a sense, I feel guilty that I am “betraying” myself in some way by not pursuing any sort of art. So there is this confusion. On top of it, my boyfriend hasn’t been talking to me for the last 5 days. It really hurts, especailly because he is also my best friend, and because I don’t have many other friends right now, and I am so depressed right now, and I don’t have anything else in my life that I care about right now or am passionate about. And I can’t decide whether he’s in the wrong over it or not. (And it has to do with the “artist” thing.) I feel guilty, like I should be grateful that I HAVE a full-time job, and like it is my fault he isn’t talking to me because I would only yell at him if he did (or something). I am so stuck in the negative.

    I know you personally can’t guide me through any of this… but do you have any tips on what one does to help oneself when one habitually falls into depression? I know you have many blog posts but they seem so overwhelming I don’t know which one to read or re-focus on, or which advice to follow first. I know my depression has to do with me not feeling like I have a passion or purpose in life, but I just can’t seem to stick to anything or decide anything or believe anything or commit to anything. I am too afraid of being wrong, or of missing out on something better. I’ll set an intent, but then I’ll lose heart. (I tried a word-of-the-year this year, but it’s COMPLETELY backfiring… I chose “love”, and instead of more love in my life, things seem to be worse.). I’ll pray, but then I’ll stop. I’ll decide I’m going to save up money and go to Los Angeles and go to acting school, but then I decide that’s silly and I’ll never have the money and I don’t want to anyway. I’ll decide maybe I should go to photography school, but then I decide that that’s not good enough for me and I need to figure out something better to do with my life. Etc.

    And I can’t help but hold some resentment for people like you and some other people in my life (aka boyfriend) who seem to be so much more stable than me emotionally and spiritually and identity-wise, because I end up feeling like it’s my own fault that I’m so miserable, which hurts. And then on top of that, I feel guilty for resenting other people. Which hurts. And obviously, when people find out that I hold resentment against them, they don’t like that very much. I end up hating myself a lot. Especially considering I’ve been like this for years. I find that I’m continually complaining asking “What’s wrong with me,” or using the excuses ‘I don’t know what to do’ or “I don’t know how.” I hate the idea that it’s my fault that I feel so bad. Which is part of why it’s so hard for me to accept responsibility and change.

    I’m not sure what I’m expecting as far as a response from you, I think mostly I just feel the need to reach out to anybody right now who maybe even might listen. I feel I have talked the few friends I do have to death. I am in a place where I just wish there were miracles. I’ve always wished I was someone other than me.

    Well, thank you for reading (if you did indeed receive this). Your blogs have inspired me a lot in the past. And if you do indeed have some tip that could maybe help (although of course given my mood I am doubtful)… I would like to try to trust it and see if it helps.

    Thanks Christine.

  • Christine Kane

    Hi anne – I don’t have a forum or anything. But I highly recommend the resources at this site:

    http://www.transcendbulimia.com/

  • anne

    I am wondering if there is another location here that I can blog with other recovering supporters on a regular basis? I can stop my maddness with the help of other stories cause I then do not feel so alone.

    Any ideas?

    Anne

  • anne

    I will check in here for more energy to keep my intent on it’s toes. It’s just for today .

    Anne

  • Christine Kane

    thank you anne! i will add you to my prayer list!

  • anne

    I have been a bulimic since 1980. I will be 48 years old in August. When I read your note about having intent and to remind myself everyday of that intent…I decided just for today I would do it. I have never had long recovery time from bulimia and I am tired of my disease. I am a recovering alcoholic too and have 9 years of sobriety. I cherish that accomplishment and so today I have an “intent”. I commit to myself to be present and have a simple task for today. Intent to heal.

    I send to love to all others who suffer from this terrible disease

    • Terri Wickstrom

      Hi Anne,
      I just found this blog so I don’t know when you wrote but I would love to have contact with you as we are so similar with our disease. I started in 1981 and finally started on real recovery in 2012 when I was 52. Unfortunately it took a horrible accident to get me started but I would love to have some people to go through recovery with.
      I love this blog and am glad I found it. Anyone who wants to talk I would be really glad to listen.

  • m

    I’ve not had bulumia but in my mid 20’s made a concerted effort to make peace with my body shape and having PCOS. Not watching TV for 6 months, stopping buying women’s magazines and twice monthly massages worked wonders!

  • christine

    HI Anne,

    I remember feeling EXACTLY how you describe feeling here. Sleeping was the only way out. It sounds to me like you would benefit from going real slow and being really kind to you. Make time for a massage. And start talking to people about this. Help is out there. I promise. I’m keeping you in my prayers, okay?

  • anne

    im juz so tired of my life now i feel like i wanna sleep for the longest time.. everything seems perfect outside.. i have a perfect life n so many says im beautiful but why am i still doing this stupid routine over n over again? i had such a wonderful family n wonderful bf n wonderful work n my life is what everyone wanted but why am i still puking late at nite when everyone’s asleep?? im juz so tired of eating the same food n puking in the toilet bowl!! my throat hurt so bad n my mind is juz so tired.. i wanna sleep n shut my mind out.. i dunno how long i can take this torture.. why am i juz so weak?? why can’t i juz eat like normal?? which empty part of me i need to fill up when i had such a brilliant life?? i dun understand at all.. im juz so tired so many times i juz wanna slit my wrist n juz sleep for the longest time so i dun have to binge n purge at the same time.. it’s juz so tired n im so tired..

  • Maya

    Thank you so much for this, Christine. It helps- really, really helps. I found your blog through a link from Heather’s and am so grateful to have access to you amazing women inspiring me with your strength, honesty and recovery. I’m really looking forward to future posts.

    With love and hope,

    Maya

  • christine

    Thanks Anne, for your additional comments. Now that you mention the warm kitty — I had never had pets when I was a kid because of allergies in my family. (At least, that’s what they told me.) Finding my cat Camille was also one of the things that coincided with the end of bulimia as well. No question about it, she was an angel for me! I agree with everything else you wrote too!

  • Heather

    All I can say is yes, yes and yes — to all that you have shared! Thanks for another great post!

    With love,
    Heather

  • Anne

    Christine – I love that someone so thoughtful and articulate and honest as you is writing often and in such an accessible and immediate form. I have never read any blogs before, and now you are bookmarked!

    I just want to offer a little comment. I believe that most of us work through something in our lives related to self-loathing. There may be outward symptoms such as bulimia, or alcoholism, or depression, or drug addictions, or social anxiety, which need specific attention, or there may be no external symptoms, but still a deep pain and a lack of connection to the world. I agree wholeheartedly with Christine that setting intent and being willing to engage in the process (even if it seems too costly or time consuming) is the only way to begin. It might take a while for the pay off to become visible, and initially everything might seem even worse, but to be able to look back and say “I did that. This is me now. And I like me. I am here.” It’s the biggest accomplishment of life. The boredom/silence that Christine mentioned is key. Healing is not only about letting stuff out…..it’s about letting stuff in. And you can’t do that in the noise and commotion of everyday life. I still need that time every few days to just be by myself and to ‘take a moment’. I don’t see it as a ‘task’, but as a bonus to my day. A little me-time. And it can be 3 minutes or an hour – just whatever you need at the time. (Personally, I find that a warm, furry kitty on your lap helps as well!).

    Thanks for writing Christine

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