Do You Think About Making Yourself Throw Up?

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Most of us have experienced a day where we wake up, start to get dressed, and accidentally catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror.  We scrutinize our reflection and immediately begin to note all of the imperfections in our appearance.  We inspect our midsections, thighs, and behinds, while sadness and self-loathing begins to set in.  Some of us are able to rationalize that we are simply having a “fat day”, while others vow to do something about it, pledging to join Weight Watchers and the gym as soon as possible.  However, some individuals are incapable of rational thought in this type of situation.  They cannot tolerate that the reflection staring back at them looks nothing like the images of perfection in their head.   Some of these people may even go on to develop a dangerous eating disorder.

An eating disorder is exemplified by an unhealthy relationship with food, inconsistent eating behaviors, and significant distress and anxiety related to weight and body image.  Eating disorders can develop at any age, but are most common during adolescence and young adulthood.  Eating disorders can be successfully treated, but can be potentially fatal if they are not addressed or ignored.

Bulimia Nervosa is one of the most common eating disorders, characterized by a repetitious cycle of binging and purging.  Individuals with this affliction compulsively consume large portions of food, only to compensate and reverse their actions by purging.  Binging often occurs with high-calorie, unhealthy foods, which culminate in feelings of humiliation, shame, and anxiety.  People are desperate to assuage their feelings of embarrassment and discomfort by trying to undo what they have done.

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Individuals may purge by causing themselves to vomit, through extreme exercise, by fasting, or via laxative, enema, or diuretic usage.  Some people feel as if purging is a deserved form of punishment for unwarranted calorie consumption and may be willing to engage in any behavior to evade weight gain.  Compensating purging behaviors are usually covert and individuals with bulimia are usually within normal weight range, thus making detection of the disorder more challenging and difficult.

Bulimia can be caused by many factors including genetics, environmental, and psychological factors.  Bulimia develops from a person’s erroneous perception and endless obsession over their weight and body image.  People with bulimia are fixated on physical appearance and usually portray low confidence and self-esteem, while they fixate on perceived flaws.  Binging and purging can be utilized by some as a negative method of coping for stress, apprehension, and sadness.

Bulimia can lead to short and long-term health issues.  Bulimia has a significant and perilous effect on several of the body’s systems, including the gastrointestinal system, the reproductive system, the renal system, and the circulatory system.  The seriousness of the impact is dependent on the overall severity of the disorder.  Furthermore, continuous vomiting can be detrimental to the mouth, teeth enamel, cheeks, hair, skin, and nails.

Do you think about making yourself throw up?  If so, there are several things that you can do to manage distressing urges and thoughts.  Consider the prospect of seeing a nutritionist for nutritional counseling to become educated about healthy nutrition and proper eating habits.  Contemplate the possibility of counseling with a licensed mental health professional.  A mental health clinician can assist with examining and changing your distorted thoughts and perceptions, teaching you to cope with distressing urges and compulsions, and improving your self-esteem, confidence, and self-image.  Additionally, psychiatric services may be utilized in tandem with mental health and nutritional counseling, as antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to help individuals manage feelings of anxiety and depression.

Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy  facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.