A Fictional Day in the Life of a Person With Bulimia

What is it really like to have bulimia nervosa?

Anxious woman sitting in sofa daydreaming
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What is a day like in the life of a person with bulimia nervosa? This fictional account takes you into the mind of a young college-age woman living with this disorder.

Please note that stories of people with eating disorders (even fictional ones) can be triggering to those with these disorders. If you have an eating disorder or are in early recovery, please consider whether or not reading this story will be helpful for your recovery. If you are triggered, please talk about it with your therapist and/or treatment team.

A Fictional Account

It is morning and I am up and getting ready for the day. I try not to look in the mirror before I get my clothes on but, inevitably, I do. I also check the scale. The voice in my head tells me that I look fat and that I probably gained weight from everything I ate last night. I purged afterwards, though, and that gives me some reprieve from the criticism. My throat is sore. In fact, it’s usually sore these days.

I relish the fact that I am not hungry in the morning. That way I am not taking in calories that I probably won't burn while I am only sitting in class. I drink coffee for breakfast and then I head to school. Throughout class, I keep trying to figure out a way to avoid eating lunch altogether.

If I could just avoid eating so much, maybe I wouldn’t have to purge. Maybe I can go to the library and tell my friends that I need to study for my test on Friday, so that’s what I do. I eat an apple. My teeth are so sensitive that it is hard to eat it. 

Noticing that my eyes are bloodshot, one of my teachers asks if I’m feeling OK. I lie and tell her that I have really bad allergies right now. During my afternoon classes, I struggle to pay attention, only thinking about how the rest of the day will go.

What is my mom making for dinner? Can I avoid eating altogether? That’s unlikely, and I’ll probably end up overeating. How will I get rid of it? How will I hide it from my parents?

The stream of questions and concerns about food, eating, and weight seems unending.

After school, I am so, so hungry. There is a part of me that knows I need to eat, but the voice in my head keeps criticizing me, telling me that I don’t deserve to eat, that I already weigh too much as it is. So I drink some diet sodas and go for a run, weighing myself when I get home to see if I lost anything.

My boyfriend calls and we get into an argument about something silly and he tells me that he thinks that we should take a break from each other. This is not really unexpected, but all I can think is that he is breaking up with me because of my weight. The voice in my head continues to criticize me telling me that I shouldn’t have eaten in front of him, that no one will love me. Negative emotions wash over me.

When I come downstairs, I ask my mom what’s for dinner. She tells me and I groan inwardly. It’s my favorite meal and it's going to be way too hard for me to avoid eating. At dinner, I eat really quickly and eat way too much. I give up on my diet for today.

I finish the box of cookies in the cupboard; that way they won't be there to tempt me tomorrow and I can truly start my diet tomorrow. I know I am going to purge anyway, so I might as well eat everything I want. Tomorrow I'll be good.

Afterwards, I feel uncomfortably full. I can't stand the feeling and know there is only one way to feel better, so I go to the bathroom and throw up in the shower. My mom knocks on the door to ask if I’m okay and I tell her that I’m in the shower.

Now, I feel horrible and ashamed. I don’t want to do this to myself anymore.

However, I continue to turn to food to help me feel better. This day has already been screwed up so it doesn’t matter anymore. I sneak downstairs and find myself eating a ridiculous amount of food in the pantry, sneaking whole packages of food to my room to continue the cycle of bingeing and purging.

At the end of the night, I resolve that tomorrow will be a better day — no more bingeing or purging. I resolve to simply not eat.

A Word From Verywell

Please note that this is just one depiction of what it can be like to have bulimia nervosa. While every patient’s experience is different, the thoughts and behaviors of bulimia are unhealthy and potentially dangerous.

Bulimia nervosa affects people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.

If you have an eating disorder it is important to seek help.

One of the most effective treatments for bulimia nervosa is cognitive-behavioral therapy. There is also research to suggest that self-help may be beneficial for some people with bulimia nervosa.

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Susan Cowden, MS
Susan Cowden is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders.