Photos by some guy the author knows.
Bulimia’s fucked up. I just spent a week doing it to see what it’s like, and I don’t understand how those bitches survive. For seven days, I felt like I was a second away from fainting, and I mostly did eating-disorder-related activities such as lying in bed and complaining, calling my friends to talk about how fat I am, and shitting out cancerous-looking substances. Let me walk you through my week… DAY ONE: It’s my first day with bulimia nervosa. I wake up early and run to the gym. I starve myself all day. I can’t watch TV—all the ads are making me hungry. It’s cold out, so I stay home and chew gum and read grocery-store fliers. At around 7:30 PM, I speedwalk to the nearest grocery store. I buy a thing of Reese’s ice cream and five chocolate bars. I feel like everyone knows I have an eating disorder, even though it’s all in my head. No one gives a shit what I buy. I am barely back in my door before my entire face is stuffed with chocolate. I walk in, get in bed, and eat the ice cream with a makeshift chocolate-bar spoon. I eat the whole tub. Thirty minutes later, I’m bent over the toilet with my right hand shoved down my throat. It will not work! Then I remember a show where this bulimic puked herself with a spatula, so I shove my roommate’s toothbrush down my throat and jiggle it around back there and then BRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAWWWWW the entire universe blows out of me. Or at least a bunch of chocolate does. Then I feel sick, like flu-sick. I drink some water and feel better. It’s incredible—I do feel thin, and still full. Bulimia works! I congratulate myself and don’t flush. Looking at the mixture feels great. I DID IT.
Today I’m only eating popcorn. At work I scarf down popcorn during my breaks. I even hide some in my jacket pockets just in case.
My stomach is still totally fucked from last night. I try not to puke, but it’s hard. The day at work goes slowly and all I can think about is my weight.
When I get home I’m starving. I order four extra-large pizzas. I actually yell out, “Is everybody OK with that?” so the pizza guy doesn’t think I’m a fat cunt—which I am. It gets here and I practically inhale it. I don’t even taste what I’m eating. I barely chew, I just swallow. Then I go and visit my new best friend, the toilet.
This time it is a lot worse. The pizza comes out in little chewed-up balls and the sauce burns my throat. I get this tear at the corner of my mouth and the acid from my puke burns it every time. Also, I can feel the pizza moving up my sinuses and into my nose in what feel like rock-size blobs. I want to stop, but I can tell there’s at least a whole pizza still in there. I tell myself I can’t stop until I puke 20 more times. I do the countdown, only counting pukes where puke comes out. A lot of them are dry. When I get to 20, I can tell there’s still some stuff in there, but after vomiting so violently I’m spent. I feel dead. I actually fall asleep for a second in the bathroom. That night I dream about KFC.
I skip breakfast. I feel like shit. I get drunk on gin and tonics at a local bar, where I drink all afternoon. I worry about the calories in tonic and think about making myself puke. Later on, I meet up with some friends and make sure to get even more inebriated. Then, around 2 AM, I go to the bathroom and puke. It feels great. My stomach is getting used to this. Plus nobody approaches me all night since my face is pallid and swollen, my lips are Dracula red, I’ve got this weird tremor in my neck, and my breath smells like vomit.
I get to work and make sure I get on my lunch break before everybody else. I open the fridge in the break room, steal three lunches, and hide in the bathroom. I choke down the contents of a Tupperware filled with cold spaghetti. I throw the carrots out. Then I eat a ham sandwich and a half-frozen piece of chicken breast. The weird thing is that I basically am a bulimic in this moment: I can’t stop myself once I get started. I numb out and the whole binge is a blur.
It takes a few hours for the reality of what I have done to sink in. I am filled with a sense of remorse that only gets worse when the three people whose lunches I ate start looking for the prick who stole their food.
But what choice do I have now? I tickle my oropharynx, gag reflex ensues, and the evidence is gone. The ham sandwich gets caught in these gobs of hard, impacted white dough that are extremely painful to get out. Imagine one of those gigantic shits where it feels like you are tearing yourself. It seriously hurts, and afterward, I have all these little red freckles around my eyes. Still though, it is a good day for me: I defied authority, I didn’t spend any money on food, and I puked.
Normal day, normal meals, no puking. I have the world’s biggest eye infection, which means I am wearing a patch, no kidding. I go to the clinic and the doctor says this whole experiment could cause lesions in my stomach if the secreted amount of acid stays higher than the level of average digestive juices. I barely know what that means, so I don’t think about it. I stay in bed and watch TV. I try to eat soup; I fail. I’m an awful person. I can’t accomplish anything.
I wake up with serious nausea. I bend over to grab my cellphone and puke in my mouth. I think I forgot to mention how easy it is for me to puke now. I just have to firmly contract my diaphragm, and I puke up some stuff. I barely eat all day—I just puke and puke and puke. My entire life is ejected. I vomit feelings, stress, bad bands I used to like, the entire world comes out. It’s really cool.
I can’t go to work, I can’t think, I can’t even talk on the phone. I am an island called Bulimia. I fall asleep backward in my bed next to a couple dirty bowls.
My last day. I’m not eating today, and I probably won’t even find the energy to get out of bed. I think of what will be written on my headstone: “Marie-Elaine died at age 22 because she wanted to be skinny.”
Now that it’s all said and done, I can tell you that bulimia is stupid. I gained six pounds in a week. I also carried the constant fear that professional bulimics would read my article and say that I wasn’t doing it the right way, or that I’m an amateur and a crybaby, or whatever. But fuck that. I just can’t see any of you having the energy to yell, or type—anything. In fact, all bulimics also want to have sex with their fathers. Swallow that!