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Purging as SI- am I the only one?


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I have been dx as bipolar2. I have a history of eating disorders (not active for 17 years) and have also cut/burned in the past.

 

The past few months I have been going from hypo/depressed/to I-don't even know! I have been purging as a coping mechanism and as a way of self punishment. I even cut myself for first time in 18 years bc of guilt from cheating on my husband. I feel I deserve to be punished and purging is a way to feel better.

 

Am I the only one who uses this as their form of SI?

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No, you are not the only one.  

 

In my early 20s, I "accidentally" discovered that purging was "cathartic" for me and brought about the same "release" that people who self-harm in more conventional ways tend to report.  It did not start as an ED behavior for me, but rather, I would often eat (not even binge) to have something in my stomach to purge... or would purge on an empty stomach even.  

 

Regular individual psychotherapy and DBT group therapy (typically helpful for other forms of self-harm....I had to "argue" to the intake worker that my purging WAS self-harm) helped me overcome this for the most part.  However, this is a coping mechanism that has kicked in here and there in times of high stress.... such as being in a psych inpatient unit and having my PTSD triggered by other patients' behavior.  Then the purging got me transferred to the ED unit...even though I had purged more in those 3 days inpatient (3x to be exact) than I had in my entire previous 5 years (which was 0 times).  

 

Unfortunately, when I got out of IP treatment (psych and ED unit), that coping mechanism continued on for a little bit, but this time with an ED element.  (i.e. was binging too). 

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, IMO and experience, it can be done for the same motivators as other forms of self-harm, so I believe can be considered self-harm.  However, it can lead you to get incorrectly Dx with an ED by a clinician who fails to see that connection, AND it can put you at risk for developing an ED as you become more "addicted" to the whole ritual (as in my case).  

 

I'd strongly encourage you to talk about this behavior with a therapist knowledgeable about both self-harm and ED who can make a proper assessment, help you understand the behavior better, and recommend the best course of treatment, such as DBT.  Fortunately DBT is effective for both ED and "regular" self-harm.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been dx as bipolar2. I have a history of eating disorders (not active for 17 years) and have also cut/burned in the past.

 

The past few months I have been going from hypo/depressed/to I-don't even know! I have been purging as a coping mechanism and as a way of self punishment. I even cut myself for first time in 18 years bc of guilt from cheating on my husband. I feel I deserve to be punished and purging is a way to feel better.

 

Am I the only one who uses this as their form of SI?

 

I don't think purging is a common form of SI, but I know from when I did it with my ED - it felt good afterwards.  I suppose the release feeling isn't so different than burning or cutting.

 

The thing is - burning/cutting is largely superficial.  Purging can lead to a ruptured esophagus and death.

SI is never good, and I don't support the former... but it won't kill you.

 

Turning to purging is not an improvement.  It's dangerous.

I also think using purging as an SI mechanism could easily reignite your ED.  You don't want that.

 

I'm afraid of where this could lead for you.

 

I don't want to condone SI, and I don't, but I can understand the lesser of evils.  If you must self harm... don't purge.  Superficial burning can accomplish the same goal without the danger.

 

None of it is good, and you need to get help -- but please stop purging.  It's dangerous enough that I'm willing to break the rules and suggest an alternative negative in the hope of saving your life.

 

(And, yes, it IS that bad when you get to repetitive purging)

 

I'm sure it feels minor and hidden... but it's so much worse.

 

Edit: If any mod want's to trigger hide any part of this, feel free

Edited by Cetkat
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Harm reduction is what you're talking about cet... and it is a valid concept.

 

However, suggesting that someone burn themselves instead of purge isn't necessarily less dangerous. Burns are very susceptible to infection, and in this age of MRSA (antibiotic resistant infections), could easily lead to loss of limb or life.

 

In addition, cutting is not superficial for everyone. It depends on how, where, and with what one self injures. It is also easy to self injure more deeply than one intends, leading to permanent nerve, muscle, or tendon damage, excessive loss of blood, and accidentally dying.

 

Perhaps better to leave the specific method of harm reduction up to the individual than to suggest something.

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This has been a difficulty of mine over time. Particularly I would switch between the two, when I wasn't self harming I was purging/vise versa. I use to live with a girl who did similar. Also get the need to punish oneself. Hope your able to use more helpful coping options and forgive yourself. xx

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Harm reduction is what you're talking about cet... and it is a valid concept.

 

However, suggesting that someone burn themselves instead of purge isn't necessarily less dangerous. Burns are very susceptible to infection, and in this age of MRSA (antibiotic resistant infections), could easily lead to loss of limb or life.

 

In addition, cutting is not superficial for everyone. It depends on how, where, and with what one self injures. It is also easy to self injure more deeply than one intends, leading to permanent nerve, muscle, or tendon damage, excessive loss of blood, and accidentally dying.

 

Perhaps better to leave the specific method of harm reduction up to the individual than to suggest something.

 

I misspoke a bit in terms of the cutting.  When I lumped it with burning I largely only meant that, that grouping when taken as a whole, can be safer.  You are completely right that non-superficial cutting can be very dangerous in and of itself though.

 

You are also correct about non-superficial burns, or even basic ones uncared for.

 

I can see where I made an error in judgement in suggesting an actual alternative over purging.  My main point I wanted to get across was that, purging can be very dangerous and life-threatening & I was trying to present a harm-reduction alternative.  I'm glad you were able to see that.

 

You're right.  I should have simply made the purging point and suggested finding other ways to cope, while leaving it up to the OP to determine what that should be.  I reacted a bit without thinking due to fear that something horrible could happen.

 

Thank you for your understanding and patience.  I will try to keep this in mind in the future and not repeat the mistake.

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I tried it a couple times and while it was very effective to get a release it was too exhausting and I worried about my throat. I don't have a gag reflex so getting to the point where my body would actually throw-up was quite violent on my poor throat.  My sister on the other hand can barely brush her teeth without gagging and the one time she tried to purge (eating disorder) she puked involuntarily until she was afraid she would suffocate. Something I can't understand!  I was always on the lookout for 'safer' and 'more effective' ways to SH but the real harm is mental in my opinion and I've stopped trying new physical methods because it's never going to change the way my mind operates.  

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