Conducted by A.E. Cox
Filled Out By: Holly
Addiction Type: Anorexia/Bulimia
Q: So, tell me about this addiction. (What the addiction is, how old you were, why it started, how long it lasted, etc.)
A: I started disordered eating when I was about sixteen. Over six months or so, it turned into full blown bulimia, then eventually anorexia. It began when I started gaining my normal womanly curves. I had always been skinny as hell, and it scared me.
Q: When did you first know your addiction was an "addiction"?
A: I started dieting originally. I tried various types of diets. About six months later, I realized I could eat food that I wanted, and then throw up afterward. It was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I have only thrown up involuntarily on about five separate occasions in my life. Not even alcohol poisoning would do it. But there I was, bent over a toilet, shoving my fingers down my throat. Sometimes my nails would scratch my throat and make it bleed. Eventually, I grew tired of having to go through it every day, and decided it was easier to just not eat. For a while, I was eating only 300-500 calories a day at most, and exercising for hours. My weight dropped, of course. I didn't really realize that I was obsessed until one of my closest friends at the time talked to me about it. Eventually there was a big mess with the guidance counselor at my high school and I was sent to therapy.
Q: Did you feel other people judged you based on this addiction?
A: Yes. But only in certain aspects. People tend to watch me eat once they've learned I had an eating disorder. It was especially bad in lunch in high school, which I had always despised and avoided. Once my friends knew, I knew they were always watching what I was eating. I am fairly certain it wasn't just paranoia on my part, either.
Q: Did you try to hide the addiction from others? Is so, what would you do to try and hide the addiction?
A: When I was bulimic, I hid it completely. The only person who knew was my friend who was also bulimic, because she knew what I was going through. It was never too difficult- only a matter of excusing myself to the bathroom after a meal. No one found it particularly suspicious. The only difficult place to hide it was in public toilets. If there was another person in the room, the sound was difficult to muffle. Once, someone asked if I was okay, and when I didn't answer, she brought the nurse in.
Q: Did you loose any friends or harm any relationships due to your addiction?
A: In a way, my relationship with my close friend who was also eating disordered will never be the same. Even though it made us closer than our other friends, it also made us further apart in some ways. There was subconscious competition, scrutinizing each others' food choices when together, etc. It's a strange relationship to be in. I know my eating disorder also made it difficult for my parents. That was only on top of a whole list of other problems, though.
Q: Did you feel, at any point, you were in control of your addiction and brushed off concerns of friends or family members?
A: I almost always felt this way. Looking back, I still think everyone was a bit overconcerned. In the end, this is something I will always have to deal with by myself.
Q: Were there certain "triggers" that made you want to continue your addiction?
A: Generally, just thin people in magazines, photos, films, in person, etc. I would look at a thin person and feel bad about myself. To this day, I get triggered.
Q: When did you decide enough was enough and get help for your addiction?
A: I, personally, didn't decide this originally. Throughout junior high and high school, I was being sent to guidance counselors who would tell me to see a psychiatrist or psychologist. Eventually, my good friend talked to the guidance counselor because she felt there was nothing else she could do to help me. As this was probably the tenth time this type of thing occurred, my parents realized they couldn't ignore it anymore. I went to a therapist for the first time.
Q: Were there certain steps you took to recovery? Did you go to someone for help?
A: I have only had one therapist ever. I am lucky to have found a decent one, because I have heard horror stories, and experienced a few. I did go to a psychiatrist once. It was ridiculous and traumatic. I got a prescription for Zoloft, I think. But, on the way home, I told my dad I didn't want it, and I was never going back there. He said okay. I think my therapist has helped me a lot with the eating disorder aspect of my problems. He helped me understand the nature of it, and I did what I could to stop it. I was in therapy for over a year, then I went to college with a bright outlook, and had recovered from my eating disorder for the most part. However, I dropped out, and found myself back in therapy early this year for depression and related issues.
Q: Did you experience any kind of withdrawal symptoms?
A: It wasn't necessarily withdrawal. I began to gain weight again because my metabolism had slowed dramatically. I think that is a big reason why recovery from anorexia is so terrifying. Eventually, my metabolism worked itself out and I can eat regularly now and stay at a healthy weight.
Q: What kind of support system did you create for yourself in trying to overcome the addiction?
A: I honestly don't remember specidics at all.
Q: What would be your advice to anyone currently experiencing this addiction?
A: Step outside yourself and look at what you are doing. When you are so wrapped up in an eating disorder, you have such a skewed image of yourself- physically and emotionally.
Q: How do you feel your life has changed since your recovery? What have you learned?
A: Although I have overcome this aspect of things, I have some things in me that I feel I will never recover from. From my eating disorder and my recovery, I have learned a lot about myself emotionally. I have learned of my own strength.