My Struggle With Bulimia And Addiction
For many people, addiction isn’t their only struggle. It’s estimated that nearly half of all persons afflicted with addiction also suffer from a co-occurring disorder. This may be depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD or an eating disorder.
Body dysmorphia and eating disorders can begin at any time, and for me it started at about 13. My self-esteem and self-image was distorted, and I suffered from intense anxiety, fear and depression. I started trying to control my food intake in order to fix myself, both inside and outside. Limiting my food intake to lose weight didn’t work, however. I couldn’t control my impulse to eat, which only made me feel worse
At some point, I decided to try purging. Once I realized I could eat without worrying, my eating disorder really took control of me. I went from throwing up multiple times a day in my first year. Just like an addiction to substances, my eating disorder progressed. I lived with this for many years.
Having an eating disorder truly rules your existence. It prohibited me from having an active social life, it interfered with my schooling and my relationship with my family. I couldn’t live normally.
Things came to a head when I accidentally swallowed a toothbrush while trying to vomit. I had to go to the hospital to have it removed. The very next day, I was throwing up again. This was a real moment of clarity for me. I knew I needed help. I couldn’t stop.
I spent some time in the hospital. Despite the severity of my illness, I couldn’t get insurance coverage for more than 5 weeks of treatment. Even then I knew that I wasn’t well enough to leave the hospital, but there was nothing I could do about it.
I left treatment and had nearly a year free from my eating disorder, however my problems weren’t over. I began drinking and using with my friends. It quickly escalated, just as my eating disorder had. Now I was using and experiencing consequences as a result of that. Once again, I sought help for my eating disorder, which had returned. I wasn’t admitting to myself that I had a substance abuse problem, though.
After another short stint in treatment, I was back on my own again. This time, I ended up with consequences that finally led me to admit I had a problem with alcohol. I began attending a 12 step program. This helped me stop using drugs and alcohol but I was still in bondage. I still actively engaged in my eating disorder.. With this problem still unaddressed, it was only a matter of time before I began using again. It always seemed to me that I would never be free no matter what I would be a slave to addiction in one form or another.
When you aren’t able to get help for your co-occurring disorders together, one is always going to come back, with the other is soon to follow. This is one reason why it is so difficult for those fighting two disorders to successfully recover. A few weeks of treatment aimed at only one of the problems simply doesn’t work. Realistically speaking even addressing both disorders in an inpatient short term treatment facility leaves the person with little or no chance at success.
I met someone, fell in love and became a parent. Things went well for a while, but the problems were still there. I went to a doctor for my ADHD as I was going back to school and needed something to help me focus. I left with a prescription for Adderall. This changed things, because now I was using legal, prescription drugs. I realized that there were medications that could help me with the problems I was having. My inability to focus, my anxiety, my chronic pain. There’s a pill for everything, and I wasn’t doing anything wrong, right?
Finally, I hit a bottom. There was no way I could keep going the way I was going. I wanted to die, and had I not finally gotten the help I needed, I would have.
What Finally Changed
Once again, I completed a short, thirty day program to help address, eating disorder my addiction and PTSD. However, I knew from past experience that 30 days wasn’t going to cut it. I needed more help. I begged them to send me somewhere so I could continue to recover. I’m so glad I was able to advocate for myself — it isn’t easy — and ensure that I continued to get the treatment I needed. They found a facility in Florida that would take me and by the grace of God I was able to stay for 5 months.
This SAVED my life!!! Finally I was able to make headway and get the help I had needed for so many years. Today I am still active in individual therapy and slowly but surely I am continuing my work on personal growth. I have made huge strides in my life in the last 19 months I went from being broken and empty to living a full and happy life. Now I am not saying that life is perfect it isn’t my recovery has been full of challenges and successes. The beauty has been in fully experiencing each and every moment, as they saying goes “there is a time and a season for everything”
It was important that I address both my addiction and my eating disorder. It was also important that I address other issues that were impacting my life, such as anxiety and PTSD. Too often, treatment simply isn’t long enough or comprehensive enough to fully delve into the underlying issues that drive the addiction.
Healing from an eating disorder is a process. I have to be vigilant. Recovering from addiction is also a lifelong process. I feel incredibly grateful that I was able to get help and to make the changes necessary to life a full, healthy life. So many people don’t get that opportunity. I am able to be a mother to my child, and I am able to achieve other goals I set for myself. I am so grateful to be alive.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.