I never thought that I was fat, I just knew that I wanted to be thinner. At first, I mean. As things got worse – as the voice got louder and more insane – I started to see things that weren’t there. I didn’t see skin wrapped taut around bones like everyone else. I saw rolls and indents and imperfections. But when I first started out, just kind of more as an experiment than anything else (wanted to see how much weight I could lose before prom), I really didn’t think that I was fat. Not overweight, anyways. Maybe just a little chunky.
Eating Disorders and Alcoholism – The Beginning
I went to Europe the summer after junior year of high school to visit some foreign exchange friends I had made. Of course, I was looking forward to seeing Europe – but more than anything, I was looking forward to finally being away from my overbearing parents. I could finally ‘party’ like someone my age. And I did just that; I drank and drank and drank. Until, eventually, I experienced my first blackout, lost my virginity, and was raped. I came back from Europe with brand new darkness residing inside of me.
Something had shifted – I knew that the world could be cruel. I kept drinking and I started smoking cigarettes. What I didn’t know was that I was harboring inside of myself what I later came to find out was unresolved trauma. I stopped trusting, and I started yearning for control. Of something. I cut out carbohydrates and began running. Soon I cut out fats, I cut out fruits, I cut out everything. Except for carrots. I ate as many carrots as I wanted. I used to dip them in barbecue sauce and pretend they were french fries.
This became normal in my dark little world. Dipping carrots in barbecue sauce became normal. Hating my body to an almost unbearable degree became normal. Starving myself until my fingertips went numb and my hair fell out became normal. Drinking so much that I forgot where I was, waking up in strange beds, on strange couches, wearing oversized sweatshirts I didn’t recognize; walking back to my apartment in last night’s make-up as everyone else walked by me on their way to campus – this was normal. Misery was comfortable; it quickly became all that I knew.
College was like this.
Dual Diagnosis Addiction Treatment – My First Exposure
I went to a dual diagnosis treatment center for a month after my junior year of college – one that specialized in eating disorders and substance dependence in women. For that, I wasn’t ready and I didn’t want to hear it. I went back to school and picked right back up where I had left off. Plus, I stopped caring so much about my weight the more I drank. The more I went to therapy. They told me I wouldn’t be able to have children if I didn’t start eating healthy fats (my period had been gone for months). I got drunk and ate avocados. I hated myself more than I ever had before.
Self-loathing took on new meaning. Things progressively got worse over the course of the next several years, until I found myself living on a mattress in the middle of a living room in an apartment with no power or hot water, drinking wine to the point of blackout every night. Until I found myself strapped to a stretcher with knife wounds on my wrists – half-assed attempts (I didn’t want to die, but I sure as hell didn’t want to live, either).
Recovery is Possible
And I kept drinking until I woke up in a psych ward somewhere far away from home and they told me I was going to alcohol rehab in Florida. I knew my life was about to change and I was terrified. But I surrendered. It was either surrender right then and there or keep on going the way I had been and die. I went to an all-female rehab in Southern Florida and it changed my life forever. It took me a long, long time to learn to love myself – but I finally do. I really do.
I help other women struggling with eating disorders and addiction. And, I love doing it more than anything I have ever done. Sharing my experience, strength, and hope with another woman, letting her know that at one point I weighed 85 pounds and still thought that I was overweight, that I have gained 60 pounds since then and couldn’t adore my body more – letting her know that I used to blackout nightly because I did not want to feel, that I now have over 14 months sober and feeling is a blessing – this is truly rewarding. This is what it’s all about.
Give yourself the opportunity to recover. You deserve it.