Approximately 4.7 million women will have their lives threatened by bulimia nervosa. Like other eating disorders, bulimia is complicated and not fully understood. Those suffering will often binge on large amounts of food and then purge their calories through behaviors such as vomiting, use of laxatives, use of diet pills, or excessive exercising.
Magnolia Creek had the honor to share part of Brandy’s journey through recovery. She was gracious enough to share her story to help others connect to hope and recovery. Brandy’s struggle with an eating disorder started at the tender age of five when she began her first diet. Unfortunately, her story is an often too common one. Even at a young age she knew she had an issue, and recalls very little time when an eating disorder wasn’t part of her life.
Early on it started as binging (eating large amounts of food), to alleviate the anxiety that was continuously present. By age seven, her eating disorder had begun to worsen due to several traumatic events that continued over the next few years. Brandy recalls, “There are only small periods of time in my life when my disorder was on the back burner.” Eating disorders are often triggered by a negative energy balance, which can be the result of trauma. Many of people with bulimia will have a co-occurring mental illness such as anxiety or depression, and Brandy suffered from both.
The trauma intensified her anxiety and depression, continuously influencing her eating disorder. Brandy was following the dangerous cycle of binge eating, purging, and restricting her body from food. Many of those suffering from bulimia say purging gives them a feeling of comfort, and sometimes even an intense happiness. This dangerous cycle continued, and in her middle school years, peers and friends would comment on her appearance, but it would quickly be forgotten.
By her junior year of high school, her eating disorder was becoming more evident to those around her. Concerned friends told her parents that she was purging and was restricting food from her body. Brandy sought treatment at a local psychiatric hospital but was not ready to get help or to stop the dangerous behaviors. Statistics show that relapse is common in those suffering from bulimia with it occurring in approximately 30-50% of cases.
For the next year Brandy continued to suffer and was admitted to the hospital after graduation, but again it didn’t work. After years of being large, being small, and battling her eating disorder, she said, “I realized that the only way I was going to get people to know I had a problem, was if I starved myself,” and that’s just what she did. Her health began to deteriorate; she was blacking out and having severe physical symptoms from her eating disorder, and outpatient therapy was no longer an option.
That’s where Magnolia Creek came in. The intimate environment gave Brandy a place where she didn’t get lost in the shuffle. “I didn’t just fade into the background as I did in the past, I wasn’t one of 50 people, I was one of a few, and I could get the help I needed,” she said. The small groups helped Brandy share with others where she was in relationships to her disorder, and because they were struggling with the same issues, they understood. “I liked that the group was open to different topics, and this was the group I stayed with, they understood me,” she added.
“I didn’t just fade into the background as I did in the past, I wasn’t one of 50 people, I was one of a few, and I could get the help I needed.”
At Magnolia Creek, our professional staff customizes a care plan for each client meeting their psychological, medical, nutritional, spiritual, and relational needs. Comprehensive and strengths-based, our treatment program includes weekly individual and group therapies, in addition to meetings with the staff psychiatrist, psychologist, dietitian, medical team, and clinical director. Our program allows women to identify and eliminate their eating disordered behaviors, and establish a healthy relationship with food.
For Brandy, her future is now full of hope, and she knows that she is on the road to recovery. “I can’t praise Magnolia Creek enough. I have had this disease for many years, and I don’t expect it go away overnight. You can only pretend for so long before someone figures it out.”
“You can only pretend for so long before someone figures it out.”
The best hope for a full recovery from bulimia or another eating disorder is through early, aggressive intervention. Magnolia Creek is dually licensed and can tailor a program to treat eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health conditions. We offer a residential program that provides a structured, stable environment, and a partial hospitalization program that allows clients to begin life outside of treatment. Our home-like setting offers a healing environment that is the perfect place to make needed life changes.