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Season 2, Episode 5


Age: 24
Location: Texas
Addiction: Bulimia
What’s memorable: Throwing up into plastic bags, using a toothbrush. Eating until she physically can’t anymore at all-you-can-eat buffets. The relief after the intervention about not having to worry about hiding her disease anymore.

Official synopsis: For the past eleven years Salina has been suffering from severe bulimia. She also struggles with a shopping addiction and recently began battling a new urge, self-mutilation. Her family is desperate to help her break this cycle and is hoping she will take this lifeline.

Original Air Date: January 2006
Interventionist: Candy

All comments.

  1. snugs

    Sometimes the official synopsis says things that are never mentioned in the episode. I just watched this and don’t remember anything about a shopping addiction or self-mutilation.

    1. Kat

      I just watched this episode last night and read your comment Snugs, that’s super weird that those things were never mentioned in the episode but got included in the synopsis. I watched this episode when it first aired too, I’m really just astonished I went almost ten years never knowing those other two things about that episode.

      1. snugs

        When they put two people on one episode so much must get cut out of their stories.

  2. Ruth

    I’m just watching this episode as I’m typing this and all they’ve shown is her bulimia. Absolutely no mention of shopping addiction or self-mutilation.

  3. Ruth

    Also, the vomiting in ziploc bags which she stashed in her closet was truly disgusting. It just shows how far gone she was that it didn’t seem to strike her as odd anymore.

  4. Tobie

    I communicated with Salina after her episode aired in 2006 or so. She stayed recovered and her and her husband had a baby boy. Not sure what’s become of her since, but I hope she is happy- her episode is the one I can identify with most.

  5. A.

    As a recovered bulimic it was really hard to watch. It was like watching myself. I’m grateful that I’m healthy and haven’t purged since 2012. It’s still a struggle to accept myself sometimes but I just have to remind myself why I have to keep going. So all of you out there: please get help, because you can’t have bulimia and a life at the same time. That’s not a life.
    I hope Salina is doing well to this day, I would like to hear some updates!

  6. Randi Kreger

    I would not be surprised if she has borderline personality disorder. Those three problems are often comorbid with BPD

  7. G

    Memorial for Salina’s cousin who was killed in front of her RIP

  8. brand

    The vomiting into plastic bags is what really got me. Surely there must be a better way to hide your bulimia than throwing up into plastic bags and hiding them in a closet. I had to stop watching this episode after seeing that. It was just too much watching her bent over a ziploc bag in a garage with a dirty toothbrush shoved down her throat.

    1. Emily

      I can relate to your comment. I saw this episode many years ago and unfortunately I have the visual stuck in my head of her in the garage. Its interesting in a way that I’m so freaked out by that scene because I will quite likely speacialize in eating disorder treatment as a therapist in the future. Regardless I think what it is is there is something so bizarre and self-sabotaging and disgusting (and not to be mean but just sad and dumb?) about the act of forced vomitimg because you think you are fat (before people come for me, think of this like an addiction like drugs. Drugs are… dumb and can ruin your life). Something I also never forgot was when she said she thinks she is like this because of her father. It was all I needed to confirm anything I’ve wondered about the “why” of eating disorders.

      1. K

        These are some pretty uninformed ideas but hopefully I can help. Eating disorders have been portrayed in the media as it being about not wanting to be fat. Obviously an illness that leads to you throwing up in plastic bags has a more complicated list of reasons as to why someone is doing it. The need to feel in control of something thing like how much food you eat gives someones a sense of control when their feelings feel so out of control. I often hear it’s not about looking skinny, but about feeling small- so small you could disappear even. Sometimes it’s about eating so much you don’t have to feel anything other than full. The simple brain chemistry thats been shown that shows how “high” people with eating disorders get when they restrict, purge/vomit, or binge eat shows the clear confirmation of these struggles and honestly that it’s really not that hard to understand. With both eating disorders and drugs if you are put in traumatic situations where you don’t know how to respond to and cope with feelings, we will adapt to find a way. Drugs and eating disorders are escapes from not being able to cope with those feelings. Sometimes people seek the right help to get support, sometimes they turn away from help. I think many people in both fields are still trying to figure out why some people change their lives and why some people can’t or don’t.

      2. L

        Jesus, please reconsider your career path. You’re going to hurt someone.

      3. AJT

        If you can’t handle vomit in bags, you’re not going to make it.

      4. Sarcastic_Goth

        “Not to sound mean”, bro she has an eating disorder, she was so far gone in her disease that she didn’t realize how bad it really was until she got sober. I get vomit on me by my residents and other bodily fluids on the daily working in a nursing home, if you can’t handle even the sight of vomit, I don’t know how you’re going to make it period being in healthcare.

  9. Lorelei

    The ziploc bags omg! I was watching it hoping to god she didn’t store those things and would dispose of them right away but I was sadly mistaken…. and I have almost no gag reflex so it always floors me when people can just stick something down their throat and instantly vomit. So gross to watch but I’m glad she got better. I hope she’s doing okay today as well

  10. Holly

    It really saddens me the way people on here talk about eating disorders. Having lived with one for almost 20 years, I know all the ins and out of it. Eating disorders are similar to drug and alcohol addiction. Trying to numb the pain. Trying to cope with something that feels so unbearable. Trying to forget. Wanting to have control. Most woman and men with eating disorders have a history of abuse and trauma. I can’t remember the number but it is a high percentage. For me, it wasn’t about being skinny or looking good in a bikini or whatever people like to believe. I was trying to control my anxiety, numb my trauma, and at times…comfort myself. People just want to label these disorders are disgusting or gross. It’s a disease. They didn’t choose to do this, just like someone doesn’t choose to become a drug addict or an alcoholic. Recovering from an eating disorder is so difficult (not that being clean and sober isn’t). It’s abstinence from behaviors that were killing you, while also having to eat 3 meals a day and snacks. You can’t really understand it unless you are in it. I wish people had more compassion towards individuals with eating disorders.

  11. Holly

    Also, just like people with drug or alcohol addictions go to extreme lengths to get high or but drugs, so do people with eating disorders. Yeah it’s disgusting to throw up into plastic bags using a toothbrush, so is using a dirty needle to shoot up, or driving drunk. You are trapped in a disease, doing whatever possible to numb the pain. It’s an addiction. It’s not a pretty disease wrapped up in a bow. I guarantee you that people who have done similar things like throwing up in plastic bags also think it’s disgusting. And just like drugs and alcohol, it’s a choice to choose recovery.

    1. Shelby

      Thank you for saying this. I’ve been in Salina’s position and have been at points where I was throwing up into ziplock bags as well. It’s a terrible disease that makes you feel extremely isolated, but oddly enough in control as well. Trauma and many other factors contribute, not just “I want to be skinny” as you mentioned.

      Hope you’re doing okay and staying strong <3

  12. Sophie

    Hey anyone have any updates on her?? I never forgot this episode I’ve also been struggling with bulimia for over a decade 😔

    1. Britt

      Same here! Curious if she got better, food is so accessible and also you need it to live, it’s so hard to treat no one knows what to do with me and all my addictions

  13. Kail

    Salina’s story is a good example of how average people see disordered eating vs what it’s really like. She was most likely not at a dangerous BMI (because it wasn’t mentioned) and didn’t seem to have any major health problems that she was aware of, despite having bulimia for over a decade. I think it was her mother that said she didn’t “look sick” or that she “looked fine” or something. Less than 6% of ED sufferers are underweight! Her own husband somehow believed she wasn’t purging often even though she was disappearing immediately after gorging herself at a buffet! Many suffer silently without chronic health conditions and the telltale signs are ignored by doctors and peers. It just kind of shows that society hates eating disorders but likes eating disorder bodies until they’re too thin.

    I was glad to see Salina on that Oprah special saying she fully recovered and she had no urges to relapse. I really hope she maintains that and knows she deserves to get better.

    1. Erica

      Hey Kail, your comment really resonated with me. I have suffered from disordered eating since I was 8. It’s been over 20 years of struggling and you’re exactly right about “looking normal”. I even had my pediatrician snowed. She said I “looked great!” when what was really happening was my ED becoming a near and dear part of me. While I struggle less now with the assistance of therapy and loved ones watching out for me, I still feel like totally turning my back on it would be like cutting off an arm. That’s how dangerous and insidious they are. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

  14. Kaylee

    Hey dizzy it looks like your synopsis of this case is a little off, a shopping addiction and self harm weren’t mentioned

    1. Dizzy

      Yes that was the A&E official synopsis for the episode. That happens sometimes, the blurb will mention some aspect of the addiction that wasn’t in the episode, I am assuming because it was written before the final broadcast edit? Not sure.

  15. Steph

    This one hit personally, as I was some version of anorexic and/or bulimic for over 20 years. I know the puking in ziploc bags is shocking, but one can truly get to the point where it loses all shock value. Better to stash bags to throw away later than have a toilet get clogged or a septic tank overfill and have to explain why there is vomit where there shouldn’t be. In the end, it’s just food that squished around in your stomach of a few minutes, not poop, right? OBVIOUSLY that is incredibly disordered thinking, but just a glimpse into how you can get desensitized as someone with an eating disorder. I spent a collective 6 months of my life in inpatient hospitals, and I remember I was in once with someone who used to puke into her mouth and then swallow it again. I remember thinking — I will NEVER be that bad. And yet I was hoarding any plastic bags I could so I could puke after meals and hide them under my bed. I am incredibly grateful to be in recovery the last 10 years. Eating disorders have a unique way of becoming your entire identity and it can be next to impossible to imagine rebuilding yourself after they’re gone. BUT it is possible!