Inside Look

Embracing Healing: Maleen's Story of Binge Eating and Bulimia Recovery

recovery story Mar 25, 2024

Meet Maleen! She has recovered from both Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa.


I had the honor of working with Maleen several years ago, and I looked forward to every session we had together. She was, and is, so insightful. This blog is an exclusive interview in which Maleen shares her heart and journey.


Share a little bit about your background struggling with an eating disorder? How long did you struggle, at what age, and what your treatment process was like? 

Hi, my name is Maleen. I'm 28 years old and living in Germany. I developed bulimia from the age of 19 and struggled my way through until I recovered at the age of 26. My healing journey took me to traditional therapy to deep spirituality to Sarah and finally back to myself. 

I always associated food with a feeling of security, love and belonging. When my parents divorced, these attributes were taken away from my life. All that remained was the food. It began a grueling cycle of eating and taking measures to force my body back into its childlike form when "all was well".

It began a period of 8 years in which I lost all confidence in myself and in life. I was so starved for love and felt so lonely. I was grasping at any straw that I thought would heal me. I traveled the world, meditated in Indian temples, walked the Camino de Santiago, became a yoga teacher and took part in ayahuasca ceremonies. All of this has enriched me incredibly and yet it has not brought me any healing. 

Today I am 28 years old and have been free from binge eating for about 1.5 years. I feel very connected to myself and my body and have found a way of living that feels right and finally feels like "Maleen" again. It felt like coming home. I haven't been here for a long time. And I feel that the absence of my joy and my true personality was the reason for the deep loneliness I felt for so long. 


Was there a moment in your eating disorder recovery journey where you realized you wanted to recover? A moment where something shifted in you? 

Yes, there was that moment. I believe we are only ever one decision away from healing. It just takes a while until we are ready to really make this decision with all its consequences. 

We know what heals us. We know what we have to do. We are just not (yet) ready to take the steps. I wasn't ready for 7 years. I still wanted to go back to the past. I wanted to lose weight to be loved again, to belong. I didn't want to risk gaining weight under any circumstances. I needed the affirmation and approval of others so much.

In 2022, I made a different decision for the first time. It was my birthday. I was in Mexico that day, at a Muay Thai training center. Shortly before that, I had caught Covid and had barely recovered. But as I always did in all areas of life, I pushed myself to my limits and beyond.

In the first training session that day I injured my ankle and could no longer walk. I had to take a break from training. So there I was laying in my AirBnB on the other side of the world. With the sudden pause, something inside me collapsed. I was so tired. So exhausted. So sad. So lonely. 

Every year, my greatest wish was to be free of bulimia by my next birthday. To realize for the 7th time that I hadn't made any progress shook me to the core. This can't be your life, Maleen, I said to myself. 

And this time I was ready to make the decision to really heal, come what may. I was ready to let go of everything: my desired body, my friends, my job, my old life. It was enough. I gave up the illusion that I could ever recreate the past.

I found myself in the here and now and was ready to move on, whatever that would look like. I started on an "all in" journey while still in Mexico and allowed myself everything. First and foremost, enough food and the first sports break of my life. "I don't have to do anything" became my mantra. 

I continued to have many setbacks and often questioned everything. But I didn't give up. Not this time. Things changed quickly, and I made great progress. I got my period back after a few weeks. My eating habits have changed significantly over the past 1.5 years. My needs have changed dramatically and still do. And that's okay because that's life.

I'm so happy that I can now focus my energy on the things that really matter in life: relationships, friendships, my dog, my family, and hobbies that bring me joy. 


How did you deal with feelings of shame in eating disorder recovery? 

Facing my shame was such an important key in my recovery. I exposed myself to my shame. I went to the beach and the sauna in a bikini at my maximum weight. I wore no make-up and ate whatever I wanted in front of others. I went on dates even though I felt so uncomfortable in my body. It was hard but I needed it. I no longer restricted myself. I didn't let my eating disorder take my life anymore. My body had to experience that nothing bad happens when I show myself as I am.

Without a mask, without pressure, without pretending. I had to experience that I am welcome just as I am. 


If you could identify the three biggest factors that helped you achieve full recovery from your eating disorder, what are they? 

Simple but not easy: 

  1. Eating enough & moving my body in a way that feels good without pressure. 
  2. Remembering who I was before I wanted to be like everyone else. 
  3. Moving forward, despite all the relapses (that are part of the healing journey)  


Do you have any favorite eating disorder recovery resources? 

Book: Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling (Anita Johnston Ph.D.) 


Leave any readers currently struggling with an eating disorder with an inspirational message? 

You are here in this world to have exactly this experience, God knows why. You will find your way out when you are ready. Healing cannot be rushed. I know it's hard, but trust. Everything will be okay. You will have a great life. Stay strong. Live day by day. 

You know, everything changes in life. Change is the only constant. And sometimes, only this thought helps us get through this time. Hold on to it. 


How are you now helping others? How can people find/contact you? 

I do have a YouTube Channel (@maleen) You can also find me on Instagram (maleen.may). All German though.


Please share your favorite quote. 

"You cannot recover by staying the same."


Thank you, Maleen, for contributing to the Conquering Bulimia blog! You are an inspiration! 


Interview Hosted by: Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee is a Certified Eating Disorder Recovery Coach with four professional certifications, including one from the esteemed Carolyn Costin Institute. Since 2016, she has run a private practice currently located in Dallas, TX, assisting clients globally along with mentoring newer recovery coaches.

Posted on March 25, 2024. 

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