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Pocatello nurse discusses her struggle with bulimia, how she overcame it in new book

May 1, 2019

POCATELLO — Noelle Gilbert fought a “beast” for more than 20 years, but in the end, she won, and now she’s hoping to help others do the same.

The Pocatello resident and home health nurse is sharing her longterm struggle with bulimia and how she recovered from it in her new book, “Dying To Be Thin: Tools for Battling The Bulimia Beast.” The electronic version is currently available on Amazon and she is planning to work with her editor on a softcover edition in the future.

“I refer to bulimia as the beast, the monster, and the demon within. It is just that. An all-consuming disorder of multiple origins that destroys the body both mentally and physically,” Gilbert wrote in an email response to the Journal. “There are many around us who suffer from this disorder. No one should feel alone in their struggle. No one should suffer in silence.”

Gilbert says she started binging when she was just 11 years old and began purging roughly a year later. She was looking for a way to control her life and punish herself after she was sexually abused.

“I hated myself,” Gilbert wrote. “I saw myself as unworthy of self-love and respect.”

Gilbert describes herself as a strong, independent person who has always been afraid to show any signs of weakness. Subsequently, she tried to deal with her problems alone.

Gilbert wrote her book in hopes of helping others in similar situations.

“We are human. Have flaws. Have demons. That’s ok. There is absolutely no shame in this. ... ,” she wrote. “I have struggled for many years in silence and along my journey have met numerous people struggling with an eating disorder wanting to be understood. They were trapped in this gray space. My desire is to help them out of it by guiding them down a similar path to recovery that I took.”

In her book, Gilbert discusses four critical steps: discovering the why or reason that will help people address and conquer their bulimia; ending the purges; banishing the binges; and dealing with the emotions and thoughts that perpetuate the disease.

She says her children played a big role in her recovery.

“My why was my children. I wanted to be healthy and whole for them. I wanted to be an amazing mom who has a love and zest for life that resonated to and through them. I wanted to devote my time to them, not to the toilet bowl, the fast food drive through, or a perpetual state of self-loathing,” she wrote.

Gilbert says her turning point began when she was 32. It took her a year to stop purging and another year to overcome binging and emotional eating.

“The greatest hurdle I had to climb was loving myself despite everything that had happened to me,” she wrote. “I had to change the lies I had been telling myself for years and completely change who I was. It was a difficult feat, and one I still must work on daily.”

Still, Gilbert feels she has won the mental and physical struggle caused by her eating disorder, and she hopes others will read her book and find out if the methods she used will work for them.

“You are never past the point of no return. There is always hope. We tell ourselves that we can never be fixed, that we are broken or worthless. We allow thoughts of defeat to take over. This is nonsense,” Gilbert wrote. “These lies must be removed from our minds if we are to conquer any disease or disorder. Healing from bulimia is an inside job. It starts within us. In our minds. It takes time, but it is possible.”