I never knew that my road towards bulimia would end in a treatment center for substance use. Addiction in any form is a dangerous beast that will consume every aspect of your mind, body, and soul. If you’re lucky, you’ll survive. The first time I threw up, I was 14. I had no idea how to cope with the emotional pain of trauma; I was simply trying to survive. Bulimia was my coping tool.
When I started purging, I was doing it once a day. I became obsessed with my weight, with calories, with my body. Purging drowned out all the emotional pain I was feeling. Within a year, my disease took over my whole world. I was throwing up 15 times a day and my body was starting to feel the effects. My throat burned, my stomach hurt all the time, and my heart would race uncontrollably. I was exhausted. My muscles ached when I had to climb stairs, yet I made myself run 3 miles everyday. I was completely consumed in my disease. Every waking hour was wrapped up in planning my next binge and purge. Where was I getting the money? Which drive thru was I going to hit? What was I going to order? Where was I going to throw up?
This went on for several years until I hit a breaking point. I realized that if I continued down this road, I was going to die. I had no idea what to do with the shame and the guilt. Throwing them up was so easy. With a flush they would swirl away down the drain. I convinced myself that if I ever felt the pain that I was so desperately trying to avoid, I would explode and that pain would consume me. Tomorrow, I’ll stop for good. I felt helpless.
I was so envious of people that had anorexia. I would have given anything to have that self control. I’d start each meal with the best intentions. Choose your food wisely. Only eat your safe foods. Somehow, I would always eat something that was on my “forbidden list”…which always led to purging.
At the age of 17, I went to treatment. I finally have the chance to beat this monster. I followed the rules. I want to be free. After 5 weeks of inpatient care, I was terrified when they told me it was time to leave. A deep sense of dread seeped in. I’m not ready. I tried so hard. I went to ANAD meetings and counseling. Within a year, my addiction was back, and stronger than ever. I added gasoline to the fire when I threw drugs and alcohol into the mix.
I was now informed about my eating disorder. I knew that binging and purging produced a neurochemical reaction in my brain that was similar to heroin. I had no doubt about the power it wielded over me. I was defenseless in it’s grasp. Hindsight shows me that I should have run from any mind-altering substance, but I was young and wanted to fit in. Drugs and alcohol allowed me to do this, to feel like I was part of something. The irony is that, what once finally gave me a sense of belonging eventually set me apart. This is the end point of addiction: a sense of complete isolation from the human race.
At the end my wish to be anorexic came to true (great life goals, right?!). I was actively restricting my food for the last couple of years before I went back to treatment. I lost a lot of weight after I had my son. I got down to my lowest weight of 126lb at 5 8”. I was a skeleton, but I loved it. I would drink in the attention that people gave me. I basked in that fact that I had finally “arrived”. I was a size 1. I loved the feeling of control that rushed through me when I would skip a meal. I got high off this. My life was full of chaos but there was one thing I could control…what I ate.
I remember my moment of clarity. I had gotten out of the shower and got a real glimpse of what I looked like, it was revolting, bones jutting out and veins popping up in places that were once rounded or smooth.
I went to treatment and got sober, but it wasn’t just about getting sober it was about healing. I knew that I had PTSD and was in desperate need of intense therapy. I followed suggestions, listened to experts as well as my peers and my sponsor. I stayed open, willing, and honest. I tentatively stepped forward on this journey of recovery. Getting help turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made, other than becoming a mom.
I’m now two years into my recovery and I have no regrets. This journey has taken perseverance, courage and a willingness to face my fears while walking through them. I have learned that I am not destined to repeat mistakes, that I can change through hard work and baby steps, I am slowly becoming a person that I like.
The greatest gift I received was peace. It seeped into my soul, a sense that no matter what happens everything will be ok. I found the healing that I had sought through food, drugs and alcohol never really worked. They provided a temporary, ephemeral salve for the emotional pain that encompassed my life.
I’m finally free to live my life as a whole person. For that, and that alone, I will be forever grateful.
This piece was written by SobrieTea Party Contributor, Rose Lockinger. She is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about the disease of addiction. She is a single mom to two beautiful children and has learned that parenting is the most rewarding job in the world. Rose is currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing. You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram.