I used to believe that food was my source of comfort and joy. That was until I found myself addicted to food and then it manifested into bulimia.
Bulimia is characterized by overeating, bouts of binging and purging. It preoccupies thought and distorts one’s self-image into a grave concept. Bulimia is a very serious mental health disorder that requires a drastic change in thought in order to manage it and heal it.
“A person with bulimia might eat more than 2,000 calories in one sitting and then induce vomiting. Vomiting, however, is not the only method of purging. Excessive exercise, laxative use, enemas, fasting or a combination of purging methods are common alternatives to vomiting. People who binge without purging often receive the diagnosis of binge eating disorder…This type of stress may cause arrhythmia, heart palpitations, heart attacks or death. Repeated vomiting erodes the enamel of your teeth, leading to yellow teeth, mouth sensitivity and rapid tooth decay. For women, bulimia often causes fertility issues.” (http://www.bulimia.com)
After almost two decades of keeping this disease concealed, I had to go to the doctor regarding a separate issue and my best friend came along with me for moral support. After the doctor examined me, my friend and I joined him in his office. The doctor asked for my permission to speak openly in front of my friend and I said that he may. He asked me pointedly, “So, how long have you been tossing your cookies?”
My friend looked at me in astonishment and I broke down in tears. My secret was disclosed. The doctor said that the damage I was doing to myself could cause death and explained in graphic detail how that could happen by something known as Barrett esophagus.
I knew then that I had to face this inner assassin, head on.
It wasn’t healed overnight, by any means. First of all, food is everywhere and there’s no law against overeating at restaurants, no law against driving after you’ve eaten too many slices of pizza. No law against serving a 10-course meal at family dinners and holiday gatherings, and certainly no law preventing you from going to the bathroom to purge after you’ve been on a food bender.
I tried many different avenues to curb the craving. Some were very useful, but all were temporary fixes. I hadn’t yet found the destructive thought.
I was buried under the debris of feeling contemptible and undeserving. I recoiled at the mere idea of self-approval, as I had no sense of worthiness and assurance. Each time I walked past a mirror, I avoided looking into it at any cost, because looking at myself triggered thoughts of binging and purging. Worse, whenever I was yelled at, criticized or judged, I found myself plunging into days of gormandizing and regurgitation.
I was engrossed in tracking calories, weighing myself and desperately trying to extirpate the parts of me that seemed so horrific, but nothing was changing in the mirror of belief and the symptoms of bulimia grew worse, resulting in afflicted health.
Where does this belief stem from?
As I continued searching for answers, I learned from the Greek origin that bulimia means “extreme hunger.”
During this time, I had taken up scriptural studies in hopes of gaining spiritual interpretation and metaphysical answers to the ongoing dilemma of the human condition.
In one of my bible classes, the “Be-attitudes” was the subject and one verse in particular stood out to me: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 KJV)
I pondered this for a while and found myself reviewing it over and over again. Eating and drinking are the most fundamental human needs, so there had to be something else to this.
As I continued to dig and read a variety of interpretations, my research in lexicons led me to discover that Jesus wasn’t referring to food and water, but rather that it’s possible – and just as vital to our health – to gain a deeper sense of satisfaction by being filled and quenched with righteousness.
The word righteousness doesn’t refer to self-righteousness, but rather to “justice,” and “approval. More specifically, a “divine approval.”
There was that word again: “approval.” But this time I saw hope in that word. It took on an entirely new meaning that led me to a different point of view. For the very first time, I had a glimpse into how God sees me. This prompted me to reflect on how long I was hungering and thirsting for the acceptance and love from others and how those cravings were being temporarily satisfied with food.
Further exploration and study led me to another section in the Bible, Genesis 1:31 (ISV) that supported this idea of divine approval: “Now God saw all that he had made, and indeed, it was very good!”
Me, very good? Yes, and that is something I would have to accept.
It was time for me to take up arms against the thieves that had been occupants in my thought for decades, broadcasting in my mind that I had no worth, no purpose and was very bad. I had to demand my freedom from those enemy thoughts because they were not going to easily give up control over my self-image and set me free.
With immense dedication and fortitude, I used every means at my disposal to become the victor over this arduous challenge and eventually it yielded to the power of prayer.
When those squatters were finally kicked out of my consciousness, I was lifted up to a higher, deeper and more permanent understanding that I am worthy of love.
It was best said by King David in Psalms 63 (ESV) when he was in the wilderness thirsting:
5“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”
I am forever grateful to God that I have since been free from that vile disease and continue to seek the fullness of Christ rather than the fullness of food.
KJV-King James Version
ESV-English Standard Version
ISV-International Standard Version