More threads by Diana


This is just something I've been wondering about. It seems like just about everyone who is or has been anorexic also has a history of being bulimic. I was definitely anorexic, getting myself down to about 85 pounds at one point, but I was never bulimic. Is that unusual? Of course, it's wonderful. I think that in my past, before the anorexia, I sort of tried to throw up a couple of times. However, I didn't try very hard and just stopped because it seemed impossible. I don't think I wanted to do it while I was anorexic. I'm just curious about it, in trying to understand what I was going through - that's all.

Sea Swirl

I read somewhere that Bulimia is like "failed Anorexia" and can come about when people lose the strict discipline it takes to be anorexic. That happened in my case, where I lost that control and just had to give in to the craving to eat. Then of course, there is no option but to purge it and absolve yourself of guilt and calories. Then the whole cycle begins.

I think if you're anorexic and never become bulimic, it might be because you're just more able to cope with the hunger or distract yourself from it. Everyone who's anorexic will come to that place where she's really hungry. Not everyone can handle the intensity of that, and I think it depends on what kind of person you are. If you're the time to stick something out, no matter how hard it is, you'll hang in there. If you're a quitter (and I don't mean that in a critical way... just a way to describe it) and you habitually don't finish what you start when things get too hard, you'll go bulimic.

Also I think there are practical reasons to avoid bulimia. Like, some people absolutely despise throwing up. They would rather starve than have to. Or they just haven't thrown up for any reason in so long that they just can't imagine it being an option.

That might be a big part of it. People who have thrown up in the past more than "average," or are kind of prone to throwing up anyway due to illness, might be more likely to see vomiting as a viable option.

For myself, I hated the idea of throwing up (And I had read about how the acid can rot out your teeth - that terrified me ! I had a profound phobia of the dentist at that time.) so I went the laxative route. I did throw up several times, but I just never got into the "groove" of it like so many bulimics do.

So maybe you were the type that just thought of vomiting as too foreign a sensation and too unpleasant to go through with it ?

The other thing about bulimia is that it's totally chaotic. It's feast and famine, one extreme after another in violent undulation. Anorexia is not like that... It's even-keel all the time. Anorexia can be sort of soothing that way to a person who is seeking control and balance in her life.

I think to some anorexics, the idea of binge and purge is just too much upheaval. It's not the steady, constant control that they're looking for.

Bulimia really is a beast that way, too. I felt totally out of control, like a puppet. It must depend on your background. If you came from a calm, non-violent family where the dysfunction happened quietly, maybe you're more likely to stay anorexic.
If you came from wild chaos, bouts of quiet and then bouts of screaming and violence, you might be more likely to wreak chaos in your own life, and be comfortable in bulimia.


Thanks for replying. I think you're right in that I was looking for some kind of constant control. I didn't completely stop eating, but I knew what and how much I could eat that wouldn't put any weight on me. I would think, well if I'm going to get through the rest of the night without either losing control or passing out I better have an apple first. And then even when I thought that maybe I did eat too much, I knew that all I had to do was limit my intake to the extreme the next day. I think this even made it easier for me to be in denial about my anorexia, because I still did eat a little bit.


I don't agree that the connection and reasons behind bulimia and anorexia are that clear cut personally. I do agree though that it does have to do w/ control issues, personality, family patterns, knowledge, etc. but those alone do not explain why one person has anorexia, or bulimia, or both. I know from research that bulimia & anorexia do occur together, so that a bulimic may become anorexic or an anorexic may become bulimic. But also remember that anorexia in itself has 2 types: one w/ excessive starving and exercise and one w/ binging and purging involved. So that in itself shows you how close those 2 are. They are both though very severe disorders which can have numerous hamrful consequences. I don't believe one is more sever than the other, besides from the obvious reality of an anorexic who is down to her/his lowest weight and is at risk of a heart attack or death due to malnutrition- but a bulimic can be at risk for a heart attack too b/c of electrolyte imbalance. But not all anorexics get to that point, same as not all bulimics throw up 10 x's/day.

I don't think people sit down and think "ok, so do I want a chaotic ed and lifestyle or would I prefer the calmness of anorexia?" It's not this simple. Most people don't choose. Unconsciously it may be a factor but so many people get into an ed without even consciously knowing or understanding what they are doing.

Diana I get what you mean w/ being in denial about anorexia b/c you were still eating something. being in denial is a huge part of the ed in itselfd. I think that having a certain kind of knowledge about ed's can affect what you do, b/c you will learn "tricks" or certain habits.... so throwing up to you seemed impossible where as food restriction did not. it just depends on so many factors why that is.


So, if an anorexic person binges and purges along with starving and excessive exercise, this doesn't make them bulimic? I have heard that bulimics rarely lose a lot of weight. I guess I was confused with the distinction between the two disorders.
I agree that although it's about control, it's very complicated when it comes to "choosing" the disorder - unconscious on many levels. I think that's what Sea Swirl meant. When I first started to recover I couldn't really answer the question as to why I became anorexic. I can give more reasons now, but still no clear cut answer. And some of my reasons are still guesses.

Sea Swirl

Eunoia said:
I don't think people sit down and think "ok, so do I want a chaotic ed and lifestyle or would I prefer the calmness of anorexia?"

Of course not. But just as an abused child will often grow up and select an abusive spouse, it's about acting on whatever feels 'natural' or normal to that person. So it often isn't a conscious decision, but may just go with whatever lifestyle the person has already established.

And yeah, I think there are definite trends in what *type* of control people want in their ed. They will do/unconsciously select whichever type best fits them personally, and they don't usually find out why they picked one type or another until they get into recovery/therapy.

if an anorexic person binges and purges along with starving and excessive exercise, this doesn't make them bulimic?

I don't know if that is really considered a second type of anorexia or not ... Maybe it is, because they often split up these designations as much as possible. Personally, I don't know if I'd consider it anorexia if the person is purging on any kind of regular basis. I mean, as soon as you're bingeing and purging, that is like the definition of bulimia, isn't it? I think most bulimics do try to starve themselves, too, and will try to exercise. (After all, the goal of both disorders is exactly the same : to be thin.)

If you remove overeating and purging, I would think you remove the only real difference between the disorders. Anorexia is associated and diagnosed with low body weight, too, and that is from the lack of calories. Once you start bingeing, you tend to put on weight (Else all bulimics would be underweight... right?) and won't even look anorexic.


these are the definitions I found:
- restricting- type anorexia nervosa: restricting intake of food hence the weight loss
- binge- eating/purging-type anorexia nervosa: lose weight by making themselves vomit after meals or by abusing laxatives or diuretics, may engage in eating binges

then bulimia nervosa also known as binge-purge syndrome: binges, then engaging in compensatory behaviors (ie. vomit, misusing laxatives, duretics, enemas, fasting, or exercising excessively)
- purging-type bulimia nervosa: compensatory behaviors regularly include vomiting, laxatives, duretics, enemas
- nonpurging-type bulimia nervosa: compensate instead by fasting or excessive exercising

There was also a chart w/ circles representing ed's...basically on the left is "restricting-type anorexia nervosa" which overlaps w/ "binge-eating/purging-type anorexia nervoas) which then goes into "normal- weight bulimia nervosa" etc. ...if that makes any sense (this is all from a text)

I think these show the enormous overlaps btwn behaviors etc in these 2 disorders. You guys are right w/ the unconsious patterns of "choosing" which way to go. I mean part of the definitions and descriptions for associated behavior includes personality patterns, control issues, impulse control etc etc etc. It definately makes sense.

but for a definate answer on "definitions" etc. I'd ask David Baxter


OK thanks, I got it - sort of. Kind of like on a continuum from underweight to normal weight. I guess it's difficult to make distinctions. Most people with an ed are probably somewhere in the middle.


I meant to ask this the last time... has anyone heard of bulimirexia? I think that's how you spell it. I remember hearing about it as this "new" ed, obviously a combo of bulimia & anorexia. But is it really legit? I've never actually seen it as a def. in a text book to my recollection. Or is it just another term to describe the overlapping symptoms/behaviours of the 2 disorders? Anyone?
Yes. It's not a new term. I heard it 19 years ago when I was first hospitalized for eating disorders. I also am not sure of the criteria of it or even if many doctors use it. I have heard if referred to as "a combination of symptoms of Bulimia and Anorexia."

I also found this "Some psychiatrists and clinical psychologists identify a condition called bulimarexia, although it is not at present a part of the standard nomenclature. Bulimarexia combines the two conditions of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. There are patients who, for example, will spend a few months in an anorexic state and then a few months in a bulimic state. They may alternate these states several times."

just mary


Regarding the term "bulimarexia", I recently read a book called "Bulimia / Anorexia" by Marlene Boskind-White and William C. White. The first half of the book discusses "bulimarexia". Basically the authors describe a binge/purge type of behaviour with respect to food, it was clearly different from anorexia but I wasn't sure just how it differed from plain bulimia.

I found it in the bargain bin of a bookstore and it was a relatively easy read. You might try looking for it in your library.

I find it odd that you ask that cause I was woundering the same thing and well I asked my e-d doctor and he told me that if a girl or a boy have both behaviors of anorexia and bulimia then they are diagnost as Anorexic-bulimic if you don't go threw periods of starvation and you make yourself sick then you are just bulimic and the same goes for if you don't purge and stuff and you starve yourself you are anorexic.. but a very great majority supposuble of girls that are anorexic will have a phase of bulimia sometimes ..I hope I answered your question ... yours trully
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.