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A Bulimic and Alcoholic-After Residential Treatments for Both, the Bulimia Remains :( HELP!

by Sara
(Orange, VA, USA)

Looking back, I can see that I had problems using food for comfort even as a small child. My sister also sufferred from bulimia in High School and some of college, but recovered with a little bit of counselling and her own will power. With her as my role model, I thought at first that this "technique" for staying slim was the answer to my problems. I thought that vomiting would be my solution compensating for my inability to stop snacking and dislike of exercise. I also thought that my lack of popularity in school was largely due to being "ugly" and slimming down would make people finally notice me.
Needless to say, my secret "technique" quickly snowballed into an overwhelming obsession and dangerous problem that I still suffer from nearly 10 years later. During the first two years of my eating disorder, I was both bulimic and anorexic. The only foods I would allow myself to keep down were coffee with skim milk and splenda, diet soda, fruit, vegetables and light yogurt. At my lowest, I weighed only X lbs. Hurtful and embarassing comments from my peers, not the concern from friends and family or facts about the risks and health problems I was putting my body at risk for, were finally what convinced me that I needed to put on a little weight in order to at least fit into normal society again. However, I wasn't ready to give up my eating disorder, which had become my only friend and comfort that I could trust would never leave me unless I chose for it to. I only wanted my problems to be able to fly under the radar, to be able to avoid unwanted and uncomfortable negative scrutiny.
In High School and college I intermittently received one-on-one counselling from 2 different therapists and anti-anxiety, depression and sleeping medications from a psychiatrist. I would often justify not "spending the money" on counselling that "wasn't helping anyway." Mainly therapy wasn't working for me because I wasn't doing the work in my every day life that was necessary for recovery. Also, I was "too ashamed" to join any support groups and risk others who knew me, but didn't know about my disrder find out my dirty little secret. In High School, I began experimenting with intermittent binge drinking (whenever sheltered and anti-social little me had access to it).
In college, I began to depend on alcohol as a social lubricant that allowed me to finally be the fun-loving, spontaneous, popular, attractive and carefree person I had always wanted to be. This quickly spiralled into full-blown alcoholism. Rather than give up this liquid vice, I decided I was finally ready to seek intensive, residential care for my eating disorder. At The Carolina House I overcame many of my fears of certain types of foods, enjoyed hobbies and methods of self expression that, in everyday life, I never would come up with on my own or rationalize taking the time to do. It was a largely enjoyable break from the difficult realities of everyday life, educational and eye opening in my self-understanding. However, I felt quite uncomfortable unable to exercise, gaining weight when I was already in a normal range compared with everyone else there (because they were all underweight).
I also went to my very first AA meeting when I was at The Carolina House in 2009. I wish I could say that I have been sober ever since, but I haven't... by a long shot. Shortly after leaving The Carolina House, I relapsed with my eating disorder and continued to abuse alcohol, marijuana and my perscription medications. It was an incessantly swinging pendulum between my addictiobns. If I reduced my drinking, I would replace it with more eating disorder symptoms, if I drank or used drugs, I wouldn't care so much about what I ate.
Finally in 2010, after the dissolution of a 4 1/2 year relationship, geographical "cure" of moving back in with my parents, hospitalization for an alcohol and anxiety medication induced fall and skull fracture, DUI, two suicide attempts and with the urgings of my family and new boyfriend, I finally entered alcohol rehab. For the next 2 years I stayed largely sober from alcohol, with intermittent relapeses every 1-6 months, "medicinal" marijuana use, little to no participation in AA support groups and a continuing increase of eating disorder symptoms. Surprise, surprise that the house of cards finally came crashing down again when my boyfriend, job and family finally found out about a particularly nasty relapse. I lost my home with my boyfriend, my job and a lot of self respect. Thankfully, I did have enough hope left to reenter rehab--this time a dual diagnosis program.
Since my stint at LaPaloma treatment center in June-July 2012, I have remained sober from alcohol, drugs and misuse of my perscription medication. I have moved back home with my parents, gotten a wonderful new job, started making friends with people in the AA meetings I attend, and even started dating casually. I picked up my 5 month chip 1 week ago, but I feel somewhat like a fraud because during this time I haven't remained sober from my eating disorder--one of my main addictions. I have an appointment with a therapist in 1 week, have disclosed my problem to my AA sponsor and another woman in the program with a similar history to mine. I have considered attending an Overeaters Anonymous meeting since the AA program is working so well for my alcoholism, but have not yet gotten up the courage, or made the time to go ahead and do it.
I am still scared of giving up all of my addictions and "shortcuts" that help me instantly change my mood when I want to feel better. I am afraid of the hard work and discomfort involved in changing my habits and acting opposite of what my instincts, desires and first impulses tell me to do. I figured that at least writing oput my story in the non-intimidating relative anonymity of an online forum would be a helpful first step. I would really appreciate people who can respond with suggestions, their experience with similar struggles and dual diagnoses, information on helpful chat groups and online forums for bulimia or, even better yet, alcoholic bulimics.

Alrighty, I've rambled on enough and now I look forward to hearing people's responses.

Sara

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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community


The Bulimia Recovery Program