Bulimarexia and MDMA - my experience
I was 19 when I realized that I developed an eating disorder. I subsequently bought every book and scoured every website available on the subject. I diagnosed myself with bulimarexia.
Bulimarexia is an eating disorder that locks one into a cyclical eating behavior. First comes an inordinate desire for food, then consumption of vast quantities. Subsequently, one purges to get rid of the food via forced vomiting (often several times per day), fasting, constant dieting, laxative or diuretic abuse. Those suffering from bulimarexia also exhibit a distorted body image, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and despair. Often isolated, the bulimarexic feels rejected and distrustful, and feels an enormous amount of shame connected with her/his behavior.
I stopped short only of forcing myself to vomit (this is why I refer to myself as bulimarexic rather than bulimic), otherwise the above paragraph describes my behavior and emotional life exactly. I did not pursue therapy; everything I read said that short of inpatient treatment there wasn't any therapy available for bulimarexia. Long term therapy was shown to help with changing eating habits, anti-depressants seemed to help some people with the emotional side of the disorder, but for the most part 1 in 15 people still die from the disorder, most have their lives significantly shortened, and only 3 out of 15 ever recover completely. I struggled for the next three years to overcome it, but my efforts only seemed to exaggerate the cycle.
I first took MDMA at age 21. I did not take it with a cure for bulimarexia in mind. I took it because I was involved in the electronic dance music scene, and was curious about the experience my friends were having. I took it alone and at home. I did not leave my apartment during the experience. I do not know what the dosage was because I bought the MDMA on the black market. I had never consumed drugs at this point aside from occasional alcohol and marijuana.
My first MDMA experience was what has been called a 'peak experience'. Every experience I've had with MDMA has been multidimensional. I could speak on the benefits it has had on the rest of my psychology for pages. Here I will relay only the parts of it that apply to my eating disorder.
The first realization I had under the influence of MDMA was that I had never physically felt that good in my life. I had never understood why people were so excited about drugs. I realized that without experiencing MDMA it was impossible to understand how good it actually feels. It was not the drug that amazed me; it was that my own body had the receptors for MDMA. I got that my body had the capacity for this experience, and was therefore holy. I had previously related to my body as a shell - one that was disgusting, flabby, and loathed. Now I realized the complexity of my nervous system, cellular makeup, sense organs, and, perhaps most importantly, my digestive system. In the space of thirty minutes my relationship to my body was permanently changed.
As the experience continued I examined my behavioral disorder without the disgust that I usually attach to it. Being able to view my emotions without getting caught up in them allowed me to see my disorder in its entirety for the first time. I realized that for the most part my bulimarexia is a physical disorder. I realized that the pattern of bingeing on sugar and simple carbohydrates is a cycle wholly dictated by the body, and that I was not weak or gross for falling into that trap. I realized that I did not have a host of emotional issues to clear up before I could begin curing myself. Instead, I had two parents who did not model correct eating habits, I grew up in the time of 'heroin chic' and 98-lb. supermodels, and I lived in Los Angeles, where 1 in 4 women suffer from eating disorders. Now that my relationship with my body had been fundamentally changed, I wasn't sick or disordered, just very susceptible to a particular cycle of eating.
Next, I realized that I was not isolated from people because of bulimarexia, but that I was isolating myself because of it. I had created a melodrama where I had had a big secret problem and my relationships to other people were reflections of how much they didn't know about me. There is a childish selfishness to bulimarexia, - I'm going to do this to my body and you can't stop me. No bulimarexic is truly in touch with the impact their behavior has on others, we are much too caught up in our projections to allow that in. MDMA filled me with a sudden compassion for my friends who had put up with me canceling due to 'illness', my parents who had paid for much of the wasted food, my best friend who knew and called to check on me all the time, what I must have put her through! I called a few friends and talked to them, all of them were loving and kind and supportive. I stopped externalizing (for good) on realizing that I was the one creating my life.
At the peak of the experience I went beyond the body, humanity, and the world into the universe. I ceased to exist as a soul within a body and became stretched across all the stars in the sky. I 'felt' what the universe 'felt' and I joined the ebb and flow of the ancient rhythm. Given that sort of context, the whole eating disorder thing seemed rather silly.
Today, six years later, I still have difficulty with my eating habits. I do, however, love my body, and have ever since that day I first took MDMA. I rarely have the sort of pain and exasperation I used to experience around eating and body image. I have never purged since the first time I took MDMA.
I know other recovering bulimarexics. Those who have taken MDMA have also disappeared the hatred of their bodies. Some of them permanently, some of them only for the 4-6 hours they are under the influence (this does happen every time they take MDMA). The bulimarexics I know that have not taken MDMA cannot possibly fathom that their body image and worldview will ever change. Those that have had traditional therapy concentrate on monitoring their eating habits and pay close attention to the emotional states that they are in, as well as the emotions they are suppressing. For the most part, I've noticed that these bulimarexics may be more self-realized, but it doesn't seem to do anything to fix their disorder.
I think that MDMA would be incredibly valuable as a treatment for bulimarexia. I cannot imagine anyone with a body image or eating disorder not benefiting from MDMA. I also think it needs to be approached with caution. I have taken MDMA about 15 times in the last 6 years. Not all of those times were helpful for my bulimarexia. MDMA is an appetite suppressant and a stimulant. Each time I take it, I lose about 5 pounds (mostly water weight, but the bulimarexic doesn't distinguish this difference). There have been 2 times when I have taken it only for this reason, and I consider myself wise and disciplined when it comes to these things. This is not healthy, nor does it further any sort of therapy. I could definitely see a bulimarexic becoming 'addicted' to the release of loving oneself and one's body, coupled with a quick reduction in size.
It has been almost two years since I have taken MDMA and although I will certainly take it again, it is not something I feel I need to maintain the changes I've made. Once I got the message, it was very easy to hang up the phone.