Tummy of terror

As I hacked into the flesh, all I felt was pure hate...

Published by: Polly Taylor
Published on: 20th September 2010

They say becoming a mum is the happiest time of your life. From the moment you hold your baby, nothing else matters – but, for me, something else did. I’d gained weight during pregnancy. I hadn’t minded, but now I’d given birth…
Lifting my top in front of the mirror, I felt sick. My once flat, toned tummy was saggy and covered in stretch marks.
To me it was vile so I went on a diet. Tucking into fruit and salads, and taking long walks with Ellie in her pram, I was confident I’d soon slip back into my size eight skinny jeans.
But weeks later, I was still a chubby size 14.
Give yourself a break!’ Mum said. ‘We can’t all ping back into shape like the celebs!’
I’d never struggled with my weight before, though. I carried on dieting but, by the time Ellie was six months old, I’d lost heart – and I knew what would cheer me up.
Cream cake in hand, I grinned at my partner. ‘Beats all that rabbit food!’ I chuckled.
But as soon as I’d polished it off, I felt disgusted with myself.
I looked down at my belly hanging over my waistband, and gave it a prod.
Guilt and shame consumed me. I felt sick. I disgusted myself.
Suddenly, I was running to the loo, where I stuck my fingers down my throat and threw up.
That was better! I felt like my insides had been cleansed. Almost as if I’d never eaten the cake…
After that, whenever I ate something bad, I made myself sick. And it wasn’t like it was a problem… I mean, I only did it when I fancied a treat, it wasn’t like I did it all the time.
When Ellie was two, I split with her father. We’d drifted apart, but still I couldn’t help but wonder…
Was it because of my tummy? Had it disgusted him?
Feeling more repulsed by my body than ever, I started making myself sick three times a day.
Now I was alone, with no one to see, it was easy to scoff comfort food, then bring it back up.
Within a few months, my old size eight jeans were hanging off me. But it wasn’t about my weight any more – bulimia made me hate myself, fat or thin.
My chest constantly ached from the vomiting. Worse, because I was chucking up all my vitamins as well, I was constantly tired.
Barely able to stand up sometimes, I had no choice but to quit my job as a dental nurse.
On a rare night out for dinner with my best friend Jon, I didn’t hear a word he said.
All I could think about was the food. I’ve got to get rid of it before I get fat!
Excusing myself, I nipped to the toilet and made myself sick.
There was a knock on the door. ‘Mel?’ Jon called. ‘You okay? You’ve been in there ages.’
Quickly wiping my mouth, I searched my bag for some chewing gum to hide the smell.
But when I opened the door, I saw his worried face.
‘Is everything all right?’ he asked. ‘You’ve not been yourself tonight.’
I went to speak, but he jumped in. ‘You’ve not been yourself since… Ellie was born,’ he ended.
Suddenly, looking at his worried face, I found the strength to confess, to tell him everything.
‘You need to get help,’ he soothed, wiping my tears. ‘I’ll stay with you until you’re better.’
I went to the doctor the next day.
‘Oh, it’s just a phase,’ he said.
A phase?! Was I making all this fuss over nothing?
Feeling depressed, I stopped on my way back and bought a chocolate gateaux and a cheesecake. At home, I used a knife to cut the cake and rammed the first slice into my mouth.
Minutes later, I gobbled a second, then a third…
Like a druggie, I couldn’t stop.
Within an hour, I’d stuffed down both cakes.
After I’d made myself sick, I lay on the bathroom floor sobbing
This wasn’t a phase… I was in a mess! My reflection in the mirror was unrecognisable – my eyes bloodshot from vomiting, my face gaunt, my skin grey.
Ellie deserved a better mum than this…
In a daze, I walked into the kitchen and picked up the cake knife.
Lifting my t-shirt I held the cold metal against my stomach.
With a deep, shaky breath, I pressed the blade against my skin and cut. Blood seeped from the wound – but I felt nothing.
I sawed back and forth, watching the gash widen and dark red blood drip on to the kitchen floor.
Still, I felt no pain.
Taking the knife to the right hand side of my stomach, I cut again. More blood poured out, pumping on to my trousers and making my fingers slippery.
When I’d finished, I had a 4in long gash on my left side and a 2in wound on my right.
That’s better.
The pain was kicking in, white hot, it seemed to burn.
When Jon came home, I hid the wound but, as I reached up: ‘Argh!’
‘What’s wrong?’ he asked.
Could I lie, tell him it was stomach ache? No, I’m sick of lying. Defeated, I lifted my top…
‘I just want it to go away,’ I sobbed. Not just my stomach – I wanted my bulimia gone, too.
‘We’re going to a doctor,’ Jon vowed. ‘We’ll get this sorted.’
A new doctor put me on anti-depressants, and suggested a support group.
With help from my friends, I gradually managed to stop making myself sick.
When I was feeling stronger, I went for a night out with friends – and met Joe, 25.
‘You’re gorgeous,’ he winked, as we chatted. For the first time in years, I believed it.
We began dating and, a year later, I fell pregnant. Determined things would be different, when I held Riley for the first time, I promised to stay well for him – for all of us.
I’ll always be in recovery, and every day’s a battle. But now I have Joe, Riley and Ellie in my corner to fight it with me.
Melanie Edwards, 26, Nottingham