View Full Version : My ADD meds caused bulimia


Ganbari
04-02-13, 11:21 PM
This is such a scary, yet liberating process: admittance.

All this I've finally realized and accepted in the past few days... on Easter day, I had the first ever compulsion to vomit what I'd binged upon- that's what made me admit I'm bulimic. I've been a binge-eater since about 5th or 7th grade. I've had body image problems since I was 10, wherein BDD full-out exploded during my freshman year in high school.

then I got healthy and changed my diet and exercise habits last year, but I guess that eventually morphed into 'orthorexia', (anybody heard of it? It's similar to anorexia, only it's a disease concerned with the obsession/compulsion to eat
purely, healthily"). It got so bad that I would avoid 3 or 4 food groups, darn near hyperventilate if someone offered me a forbidden food....etc. I got better over this summer, and I stopped exercising and eating 'healthy' obsessively. In turn my body got uglier, fatter in my mind, and my fear of food remained. I couldn't go back though... I felt trapped in my mind from ADD, and in my body too.

But then came ADD medication. The idea that I could hone my ADD-scattery intelligence, harness my potential, even put my health obsession to rest. I heard that stimulants made you lose weight too, it sounded like a cure-all miracle.

I started out on Adderall, although it offered me little to no appetite suppression or weight loss. It didn't help my ADD anyways, so I switched to methylphenidates.

I'm on Focalin now, it really helps my ADD :) I feel so competent, I mean I can pay attention in my math and science classes! And understand it all!

But Focalin turns food to ash in my mouth. These days I usually eat about one meal a day, and a snack too. I crave the feeling of being 'empty' inside.... I HATE eating. My friends give me weird looks at lunch and when we eat out together, because I'll eat nothing. When Focalin wears off, I often binge. Felt terrible afterwards, but deep down I thought it was okay in some way.

I didn't think much of my habits until recently. I eat alone, embarrassed of what I eat and how much I consume. I get anxious in cafeterias and kitchens. And I'm upset when my friends or family give me food.... like I wanna be courteous but GOD........ I CAN'T EAT IT. I hate that I love food. I binge for about a week, and then purge for the same amount of time. I use Focalin as my purger. While I need Focalin, I abuse it. I'm afraid if I tell my parents, they'll take me off it and that is my worst nightmare, besides getting fat.

I'm telling my mom tomorrow, and my closest friends soon, too. I just don't know what to do....... help me please?

MellyFishButt
04-03-13, 12:44 AM
This is not a joke but maybe that's Gwyneth Paltrows same issue, Orthorexia. She even has books glamorizing it.

Ugh, I'm so sorry. :( I love food, dining, shopping for food. Adderall has definitely changed that in a negative fashion. Not that my troubles are the same. It sucks to have to give one up for the other.

I'm proud of you though. You seem to be ahead of the curve, before it had a chance to become a lifelong debilitating ordeal. I would highly suggest a therapist well versed in eating disorders and keep talking about it. As long as its not a secret it doesn't hold you captive! :)

dvdnvwls
04-03-13, 01:52 AM
I have no experience in this.

I think it's very odd that you say ADD meds caused bulimia when you have had bulimia since you were a freshman in high school. I guess that the meds forced you to notice, though.

Pardon me if the following is crazy; please disregard it if it is. What about arranging to never again eat alone? To always eat with friends or family, and if you're really hungry then you have to get somebody to come sit with you while you eat? It would be a million times better than what you're going through.

SquarePeg
04-03-13, 06:12 AM
Meds havenīt caused your bulimia. You had an obsession with body weight and food before hand. You have started meds and one of your hopes was that it would help you control your eating, and it hasnīt.

I think it has bought your problem to the foreground, which is good. It means you have acknowledged it (a huge step) and can deal with it.

I was bulimic from the age of about 14 and sought help at 20. I had 2 years of psycotherapy, it was the best thing I ever did.
I have never suffered from it since.
You have a love hate relationship with food and itīs not healthy. Therapy can help you acknowledge all of your hidden feelings and hopefully will stop eating to fulfil your emotional needs. I donīt ever think about food now, I eat when Iīm hungry and not for emotional reasons.

Ganbari
04-03-13, 04:26 PM
wow, first of all thanks for all the responses already! that was...amazing, every reply was helpful.

I shouldn't have said my ADD meds caused bulimia, that was my own doing. What I meant was, before I took medication I would binge, and binge alone-- never purged. I took advantage of the appetite suppression I receive from Focalin, and that was my way of purging: fasting. But apparently ADD meds usually heals eating disorders

Never eat alone? That's a really good idea.... psychotherapy too.

dvdnvwls
04-03-13, 05:36 PM
But apparently ADD meds usually heals eating disorders...

I wouldn't be too convinced of that.

Some ADHDers may have a minor overeating problem that is pretty much fixed by ADHD medication. For people with more than just a minor overeating problem - I think the results would be a lot less certain.

Ganbari
04-03-13, 11:45 PM
Hmm... then it just varies from person to person? I can see that

How long did it take for any of you guys to tell a loved one, friend etc about your problem? I'm afraid to tell my parents yet, I can only see them putting forth the worst possible reaction. Like institutionalizing me.

dvdnvwls
04-04-13, 12:39 AM
I'm assuming you are legally able to make your own decisions, i.e. you're technically adult age even though you're with your parents. Here's my only thought on telling your parents - compare the following statements:

"Mom, Dad, I have an eating disorder; I don't know what to do."

"Mom, Dad, I have an eating disorder; I've seen a therapist twice now and I'm going to be OK."


In other words, tell the therapist first, get that going properly, and then tell your parents.

ana futura
04-05-13, 12:18 AM
Wow, this is so weird. Focalin is the only ADHD med I've tried that doesn't affect how I eat. Ritalin zaps my appetite.Dexedrine zaps my appetite and makes food taste like cardboard.

Focalin leaves my appetite unchanged, and I probably eat more often on it, as I no longer forget to eat.

Also, I think you are using the term Bulimia wrong. Are you actually throwing up your food when on focalin? Or just not eating? Both?

I use Focalin as my purger. I don't understand this sentence. You use it to throw up?

It's sounds like you might have some other issue in addition to ADHD. I would talk to your doctor about anxiety.

sarahsweets
04-05-13, 06:25 AM
It may seem like the worst reaction but if you think about it, you are killing yourself. You are denying yourself adequate nutrition and vitamins not to mention all of the nasty stuff that goes along with throwing up. TRUST me on the throwing up part. I now have a pre-cancerous condition that requires new biopsies every year due to a damaged esophogus from throwing up and acid reflux. So if it takes a in patient treatment program to save your life, then its not a bad reaction at all.


Hmm... then it just varies from person to person? I can see that

How long did it take for any of you guys to tell a loved one, friend etc about your problem? I'm afraid to tell my parents yet, I can only see them putting forth the worst possible reaction. Like institutionalizing me.

Ganbari
04-06-13, 02:19 AM
I don't understand this sentence. You use it to throw up?

It's sounds like you might have some other issue in addition to ADHD. I would talk to your doctor about anxiety.

Yeah, that's why it's taken me so long to recognize bulimia, I thought it was a disorder only connected to vomiting. But it also includes excessive exercise, fasting etc. Focalin=fasting

I called a hotline the other day, and I've told my closest friends. According to my mental, physical and psychiatric stabilities I require a "partial hospitalization" program. I can see Ive been unstable, for awhile now. Hey, that's what therapy is for. My meds, my bathroom mirror, and my pantry have all been demons of their own device.

GwenDee
04-06-13, 08:19 AM
I just sat my husband down this week and told him I am bulimic and I'm over 40 years old...I never told my family. Ever. It started in high school but I was able to manage my anxieties in other ways during college - it didn't rear up again until about a year and a half ago but I was unhealthy in other ways. Learning to get back to a normal relationship with food is very challenging.

I think it's wonderful that you are allowing yourself to admit the reality of your demons and being able to talk about those things to the people who love you will only help you more. I came here today because I wanted the hope and encouragement of seeing success - it's possible - and hope you will keep updating....

ana futura
04-06-13, 11:07 AM
Yeah, that's why it's taken me so long to recognize bulimia, I thought it was a disorder only connected to vomiting. But it also includes excessive exercise, fasting etc. Focalin=fasting

I called a hotline the other day, and I've told my closest friends. According to my mental, physical and psychiatric stabilities I require a "partial hospitalization" program. I can see Ive been unstable, for awhile now. Hey, that's what therapy is for. My meds, my bathroom mirror, and my pantry have all been demons of their own device.

See, this is very complicated. Focalin can be an appetite suppressant. But it sounds like it is more than that and that you are using it to further negative goals.

But to be a "true" bulimic it is my understanding that you must binge, then purge (through laxtives or throwing up). You are not purging, you are binging then abstaining- similar, but not entirely the same. Binging then abstaining is not as physically damaging as binging then purging. This is why true bulimics and anorexics must be hospitalized- they are slowly walking towards death. Their bodies never receive any nutrients. You do not sound to me like you are in danger of killing yourself- yet. You are still giving your body the chance to digest your food.

Meds do make me want to take better care of myself- eat less, eat better foods, exercise more.

So maybe what's really going on is some of that- Focalin is giving you the self control live how you want to live. But because you think you have to overcome your "bad" behavior when unmedicated, you take it too far.

Whatever's going on, the true problem here is the binging, not the fasting. It is the act of losing control that makes you feel desperate to regain control.

You must shift your feelings of guilt about binging towards focusing on the self control focalin gives you. Use the self control you have on focalin to make better food choices- healthy foods, healthy portions. If you eat healthy when on focalin you will be less tempted to binge when not on focalin.

If you are new to the med, that "ashy" taste you describe (for me it's cardboard) WILL go away.

ADHD meds can help eating disorders- because they increase self control. But if you are still focusing on the guilt you have about binging, you will only use that self control to further your eating disorder.

I'm not sure you need hospitalization. Maybe you do, but don't let fear of that outcome prevent you from getting help.

Ganbari
04-08-13, 12:37 AM
GwenDee, I will keep updating. This conversation's given rise to the question that maybe I do have some sort of co-occurring thing about me. I research stuff alot on the internet, health and medicine. For hours. And though I am DEFINITELY not afflicted with bipolar disorder, these past rocky few days have made me wonder if I do have a mood disorder of some kind.

Anybody ever heard of "cyclothymia"? It's a non-serious mood disorder that, if left untreated, can morph overtime into real bipolar disorder. I think I may have that. I've gone over this past year over and over in my mind, and I've found that when I go on a binge spree, I feel down. Not depressed.... just, down. And when I'm happy, damn near euphoric and hypomanic, that's usually when I fast (purge) too. Positive correlation... and before I always blamed the events going on in my life at that time to be the cause of those week-ish long moods. But now.... maybe not. Who knows I only have a high school education on my shoulders as of now.

Oh, and as for the update. I've finished with telling my closest friends. When I told my mom I wanted therapy, she scoffed and asked "What for". so. Back to the drawing board...again

dvdnvwls
04-08-13, 01:19 AM
Oh, and as for the update. I've finished with telling my closest friends. When I told my mom I wanted therapy, she scoffed and asked "What for". so. Back to the drawing board...again

How old are you? I had the impression that you must be technically an adult and therefore able to arrange for therapy by yourself. If your mother knows you have an eating disorder and doesn't think you need therapy, then there's something seriously wrong with that.

Please do remember that fasting is not like purging, and it's not helpful to call it by the wrong name. Fasting is just fasting, no more.

Ganbari
04-08-13, 09:21 AM
I recently turned 18, I shouldve specified earlier.

My mom knows I've been depressed the past week or so (and I felt myself coming up again yesterday, I feel....normal? now) and I led into the suggestion for therapy through that. I was planning on launching into telling her about the eating disorder, whatever it may be, if my mom's initial reaction was alright. As such...it wasn't

She's got the money, I've got the problems. I can take myself to therapy or the hospital, but I still can't get to a better place through any of that, now can I. Oi. Ve.

MellyFishButt
04-08-13, 09:43 AM
Are you in school? Talk to the school counselor about it. Your mom really shouldn't ignore this and I really worry about her flippant response. You must hide it really well!

Ganbari
04-08-13, 11:30 AM
Yes I'm a senior. I've been reluctant in the past to tell my school counselor because I can see my counselor spreading that problem further than where it needs to go. Does that make sense? Like, tellng the school nurse because she needs to eat and calling my mom, she needs to know too OH she didnt pick up? Better call your emergency contacts too, hell


O_o maybe I'm just cray-cray.

Ganbari
04-08-13, 11:31 AM
Whatever it is. I'm getting help. I don't care anymore if my mom doesn't think so.

Ganbari
04-16-13, 02:23 PM
Alright. I've told my very closest friends and my mother, all successully, whew.... I'm going to psychotherapy today in like two hours and I'm getting a medical checkup on Friday, which will include checking for electrolyte imbalances and all that.

I keep hearing that ED's "never completely go away". Ouch. Still, I'm glad for all of your support and I'm so lucky I recognized this problem early on. If half a year counts as early!!

Fuzzy12
04-17-13, 08:31 AM
First of all, well done for recognising that you have a problem and actively trying to find a solution. With eating disorders, in particular, that's really significant.

I do think that medication can trigger an eating disorder or exacerbate it. It might not actually cause it but anything that effects your intake of food or triggers thoughts about food can trigger an eating disorder.

I've had an eating disorder for almost 20 years now. Last year I started taking anti depressants, which suppressed my appetite. I was thrilled to lose weight and bham, the weight loss made me want to lose more weight. It was just too tempting to not use this opportunity to lose weight. I didn't force myself to eat, on the contrary, I actively tried eating less and less. When I ate it was mainly fruits. The few times that I binged I threw it up again as I was terrified that might put the weight back on.

By the way, fasting can be part of an eating disorder. I'm always cycling between fasting, starving myself, binge eating and purging and eventually just binge eating. My fasting isn't healthy. It might have healthy side effects but I don't do it for health reasons.

I do believe that eating disorders never really go away. Even when I'm trying to eat healthy, the slightest thing can set off my ED. It's one of my major escape mechanisms. I think, you can learn to manage them. I guess, I will always be obsessed with food, weight and eating but I hope that at some point I will learn to overcome the urge to use this particular escape mechanism and be able to employ healthier coping techniques.

Stimulants, I guess, can help with eating disorders. ED's can be a form of self medication and if stimulants help with the reasons why you are are using food as self medication, you might not be so tempted to fall back to the old bad habits.

But yes, I do think, that if you have a pre-existing eating disorder or a tendency it's important to watch out and be aware of any patterns developing.

I'm glad you are going to get help. Keep us updated!!

asuwriter
04-19-13, 06:56 PM
Yep, in my experience, you will likely always an ED, but you learn to manage it. I starved myself often in high school, and then in college, I learned to purge. I finally stopped doing it regularly years ago, but I'm pretty sure that given the right circumstances, I could slip back into that habit. It's especially hard as I try to lose weight the healthy way after having a baby. I feel like there's a fine line between keeping track of calories and obsessing, and I have to be careful not to cross that line while also trying to get to a healthier weight!

Anyway, I'm glad you're getting help, and good luck!

Ganbari
05-19-13, 09:40 PM
Alright, so I've been seeing a psychologist and she's been really helpful. My parents have been very supportive with getting me to eat consistently, and healthily again. Granted, I relapsed within a week, but I haven't "purged" since two weeks ago.


My psychologist actually came to wonder in our last session if I'm cyclothymic, a less severe form of bipolar disorder. And it makes so. much. sense. She's referring me to a specialist on the issue wherein I'll be formally diagnosed and put on a mood stabiliser or something of the sort.

I am excited to get better!