The Pretty Prudent Pharmacist

It’s with great fondness that I introduce this smart, kind, mother-of-three. She’s not a princess but most certainly a leader of the rebels.

A couple of years ago all my teenage girlfriends converged on one house for a weekend. After hours of quaffing wine, eating, and laughing we went around the table and confessed one thing. There were affairs, abortions, miscarriages, sex, lies, and rock ‘n’ roll. And then there was K, who told us that she suffered from bulimia and aside from her husband, nobody knew.

Neither of us had known about the other as we bulimics are so darn cagey. We joked that we’d make great CIA agents, and then we looked at each other genuinely, barfer to barfer, relieved we were not alone with our shame.

Out of ten women, two of us had had an eating disorder: double the national average. As K has never told anyone else, I feel very humbled and grateful she was willing to discuss her secret with me. Meet K. She lives in New Zealand.

What defines you? 

My children. I am a pharmacist and have pretty much worked part-time since I had them nearly 20 years ago. I’ve always put my children first. I am doing some post-graduate study at the moment which I know will be rewarding when I have finished. What makes you smile? Dreaming….girlfriends….my children… animals….the sun.

What’s your secret? 

I never thought I was beautiful or attractive and always just wanted to be accepted. I tried to be a person who I thought people would like but realized that wasn’t the answer after a few monumental errors!! My mother was very tiny and I always felt large in comparison (I was 10cm taller than her) I felt like I was never pretty enough or small enough. I totally feared rejection after having experienced it a few times in early adolescence, but now I treat others how I would like to be treated and I am always myself, if people don’t like what they see then it wasn’t meant to be.

Biggest fear?

Rejection. I have a brother who was by no means perfect but he had lots of friends and everyone seemed to love him. I tried really hard and achieved well but no-one seemed to notice me. I found being social often awkward as I think I was naturally shy and when I tried to overcome this it didn’t always turn out well.

Any shame or guilt?

Yeah, I did things to try and impress others when I was young –that was stupid and not a reflection on the real me or what my beliefs were at all.

Does bulimia ever show up now?

Yes. When I’m stressed, unhappy or feeling insecure it comes back. It’s not often now (maybe a few days a year)

How often?

I can’t control it’s return it happens automatically but I now know that it’s not a good way to live and I now take it as a sign that my body/mind is telling me it’s time for a change. I now act fairly instantly if it starts up again and take a reality check of what’s going on. Things that help are dealing with/talking about issues, exercising regularly, eating a healthy regular diet (especially having something mid-afternoon) so I don’t get to that point where nothing will work to fill the gap.

Any other tricks to manage it? 

Definitely…exercise is the main one, I need to do a couple of hour long cardio sessions each week and try and do an extra one or strengthening sessions as well. I go for a run (usually on Sunday morning before the family wakes) and think of the things that are on my mind – I just run until they don’t bother me anymore. I now have to run for 9.5 kms to burn off all the thoughts but I feel so much better afterwards. Also when I am in control of my food and at a sensible weight I find it easier to avoid food issues. I also very rarely drink alcohol.

Do you remember a lowest moment? 

Having three young children, no money, minimal family support and a husband who gambled and drank to drown his own monumental issues. Realizing that I wanted my children to grow up in a family with a mother and father and that I would have to make major self-sacrifices for that to happen.

Wow, I didn’t know that. You are one amazing warrior Mama. How are you coping now?

I’m strong – fine but I still feel vulnerable occasionally. I am trying to live every day like it’s meaningful and try to achieve everything I dream of doing.

Is there a truth you learned from dark times? 

Things are often not what they appear to be, don’t be fooled, jealous or greedy. Notice when you are happy and be grateful for what you do have. Be yourself and look after yourself – I am over 40 now so this is becoming more important as my friends and family age and develop illness I’m realizing how important good health is.

Can you tell me three things you love about your body?

I still find this hard …but if I have to, 1.  Good skin 2.  I can run 9.5 once a week 3. Still got all my teeth!

OK, make it four. 

I fit clothes I wore 10 years ago.

Thank you so much.