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My Experience with Bulimia

Living with the aftermath of the hurtful behavior is never easy.

By Mika OkaPublished 3 months ago 8 min read
My Experience with Bulimia
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

No matter how one presents themselves to the world, no matter their appearance or their journey, there are always individuals who feel entitled to pass judgment.

It is an unfortunate reality that some people believe they have the right to define others based on shallow perceptions.

Personally, I have experienced the pain and devastation that comes from being told to change my body because of its size. I have felt the weight of judgment placed upon me, as if I were confined to a pedestal where others believed they had the authority to critique and condemn.

They never knew the battles I fought internally, the immense effort I put into trying to conform to their standards.

It reached a point where I resorted to harmful behaviors, making myself sick after every meal, leaving wounds on the back of my hands as a physical testament to the struggle within.

Living through the aftermath of hurtful words is never easy. Emotional scars always run deeper than what meets the eye.

Each day is a struggle to heal, to reclaim self-worth and to rise above the effects of those callous tongues.

I find myself standing at the precipice of one year since the tormentors’ venomous words poisoned my spirit. In my pursuit of healing, I have chosen to keep my distance, erecting a wall of self-preservation to safeguard my fragile heart.

Can I ever face them again without succumbing to the weight of their judgment?

Can I navigate their presence without undoing the progress I’ve painstakingly made on my path to recovery?

The thought of being in their company feels like an insurmountable challenge, a reminder of the vulnerability I once endured.

The following narratives are taken from the Korean drama, TOMORROW that shines a light on the profound impact of body shaming and bullying based on appearance.

Overheard while she was getting her daily coffee at the coffee shop

Photo by Erick E. on Unsplash

Of course, you are fat if you eat like that.

Look at those calves. I’ve never seen anyone like that before.

You should quit eating chocolate unless you want to be like her.

While having lunch in the pantry

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

She is so skinny.

I think she’s skinnier than before.

Her clothes look awesome on her and she’s great at her job.

I’m so jealous.

I think she looks too thin.

She looks thin in a good way.

You shouldn’t talk about weight when you’re eating. You need to be reverent before food.

Reverent?

Stop eating so much.

Sir, I don’t have a problem with my body, so why do you keep…

What do you mean you don’t have a problem?

I’m saying this because I’m worried about you. No man in Korea is going to like you if you’re this fat, you know?

This is all because I’m trying to get you to take care of yourself.

Intervention from a bystander

Isn’t taking care of yourself different from watching your weight?

What did you just say?

Taking care of yourself is different from watching your weight. It’s always the ones who don’t take care of themselves who use that excuse to criticize someone else.

Her secret

She didn’t eat anything. She kept on talking while cutting her food smaller and smaller pieces.

She kept asking pointless questions and talked about how good the food was without eating anything. She would put her fork down after putting it up to her mouth. The only thing she ate was a piece of mushroom.

I didn’t know. I thought she was really enjoying the meal.

Actually, I was curious why Shin Ye-na had that cut on her hand. All she ate was that little piece of mushroom, but she stuck her finger down her throat and threw that up. This wasn’t just a one-off occurrence. And that’s probably how she hurt her hand too.

She’s obsessed with being thin. Why?

A well-meaning colleague

I haven’t seen you eat much lately, so I’m worried about you.

I’m fine.

Come on, just have a little. To keep your blood sugar up.

Ms. Jeong! Aren’t you embarrassed about your weight? I know you don’t like what Mr. Ham says, so why don’t you stop eating?

Why would you keep on stuffing yourself and eating everything you want? Why? Don’t you have any self-restraint?

I gI’m sorry. I was being too pushy, wasn’t I?

I guessed you are under a lot of stress lately.

Overhead in a cafe

She’s so skinny. I’m so jealous. I wish I could be that skinny even for a day.

But it won’t happen in this lifetime.

At the same cafe

Photo by Myznik Egor on Unsplash

Look how thin she is. Gross. I bet her bones would break with a kick.

Go on, then.

Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t like women that thin.

Me neither.

I can hear you. I can hear everything.

The male colleague running his mouth again

No wonder you are so thin. You know, it’s unattractive for a woman to be so thin.

Didn’t you have enough? We’ve got one who’s too big and one who’s too thin. So, the two of you should mix so you’re just the right amount of curvy.

All the voices she hears

Ms. Shin, are you okay? You don’t look well.

She’s right. You must have been very stressed. I think you lost more weight.

You need to gain some weight. Here, eat.

Stop it.

Why is everyone telling me what to do?

She’s nothing but bones, yet her stomach sticks out.

Isn’t that a muffin top?

She looks gross now that she’s thinner.

She needs to gain some weight.

She must have been fat before.

After her failed suicide attempt

Photo by Meghan Hessler on Unsplash

Why did you save me?

Why did you try to kill yourself? What is it has you in so much pain?

I don’t know. Why I have to live like this. What I’m living for.

Why are you so obsessed with being skinny?

Obsessed?

I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. I heard you throw up after you eat.

People who are normal wouldn’t understand.

But you’re so much thinner than most people.

I was fat when I was young. All the way up to high school.

The bullying at school

My nickname during high school was cholera. Because hog cholera was at its peak then.

But did you know that pigs can never see the sky?

I thought I should die if I can’t live ever see the sky.

I thought, if you’re fat, you can’t even die if you want to.

A That was when I started throwing up. I starved myself, as if my life was on the line. I ate just enough to not die and threw up the moment I felt full.

When I lost weight, people asked me how I did it and complimented me.

It felt good. And I was proud of myself.

I worked really hard and got recognition for it too.

Then why are you in so much pain?

I thought I could finally escape from people’s gazes, but whether I’m fat or thin, people never stop judging how I look.

When I eat something to try to gain a little weight, I throw up immediately because I keep remembering how things were before.

It feels like I’m in a prison I can never escape from. I really hate how I am now.

A similar story

I didn’t think it would bother her because she was so cheerful.

After her boyfriend broke up with her because of her weight, she quickly became depressed. At first, I thought she would get over it but she didn’t

The looks people gave her must have been too cruel for her to bear.

A mother’s love

So why would you change yourself into what other people want you to be? Those people who only judge appearances will always find ways to criticize you, no matter how perfect you are. Don’t let them tell you what to do. Is your life theirs or yours?

No matter what people say you should always be on your own side. You’re beautiful. I’ve raised you into this beautiful person.

The prison

I think you’re very similar to how my sister was then.

Are you saying it’s my fault? It was only for a moment for your sister, but I’ve spent my whole life being judged by people. Just because I was fat. I’ve become trapped in this prison that other people have made for me.

You’re right. I never went through that, so I don’t really know. It’s possible that the people who made that prison and put you in there were the people who’ve hurt you this whole time.

But don’t you think you could be the one who locked the door so you couldn’t escape?

Don’t try so hard to maintain a body you don’t even want. Your body is yours, not someone else's. You should love and care for it yourself.

Words

What saves people is not your power, but the weight of your words.

Shaking it off

Even when you hear people say rude things, how can you shake it off so quickly and smile? I can't help but be affected by it.

The truth is, I don't like hearing that stuff either. But I’m really happy with my own body. I think that’s how I can shake it off so quickly.

It might be hard to imagine, but when I was young, I was all skin and bones. I was really ill. But I miraculously got better. And since I can only live this life once, no matter what other people say, I decided to eat whatever I want and have fun. Stay healthy too, of course.

Because my standard for happiness, is myself.

What do we do?

What do we do when we find someone, we have no idea how to help?

Our job is to still try to save them despite that. They are the only ones who can free themselves from their situation.

Our job is to offer them comfort, sympathy, and support rather than a solution.

Those things can be difficult to come by in this harsh world.

*As bystanders, we may not possess the power to change their narrow-mindedness, but we can strive to create a better environment for those who have been subjected to such harsh scrutiny.

May we create a world where compassion reigns, and where no one is made to suffer the pain of living through the words of others — Emika Oka

©Emika Oka

Thank you for reading 🖤

Previously published on From The Corner of My Mind

Your support holds immense significance for a disabled neurodivergent. If you’d like to show your support, you can consider buying me a coffee here. Your kindness is greatly appreciated.

https://emikaoka.wordpress.com/home/

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About the Creator

Mika Oka

Sharing her unique perspective on the world as a hearing-impaired autistic person with bipolar disorder despite the challenges.

https://ko-fi.com/emikaoka

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Comments (3)

  • Ameer Bibi3 months ago

    I feel sad for you , why people don't create ease for each other

  • Alex H Mittelman 3 months ago

    Sorry this happened to you! Well written!

  • Andrea Corwin 3 months ago

    I don’t understand people who are cruel for fun. Sorry about your experiences. ❣️

Mika OkaWritten by Mika Oka

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