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My Recovery Attempt

by Lydia Rose

Thank you for taking your time to read about my struggles.
I first binged and purged in February 2010. I was in my second year of college and stressed from taking a large load of difficult courses. I weighed X pounds when I graduated high school and had lost about X pounds the previous fall. I've always been sensitive about my size: I've been 5'9" since age 12 and have a larger athletic build. I lived with several roommates that did not know me well, so they largely ignored my erratic behavior. I frequently drove around at night, going through McDonald's drive-thrus for ice cream and then headed home to purge. I finally told my mom in July. She was shocked and insisted I go to therapy. At 19 years old, I cried in front of my new therapist, wailing about how horrible my family treated me. Looking back on it, I'm sure I looked ridiculous. My family provided a wonderful up-bringing for me and my siblings and have supported me financially through college.

I started a SSRI (my family doctor prescribed it to me over the phone), and due to alcohol consumption, by the end of August I was not sleeping, rail-thin, and in the midst of a manic episode. I was paranoid: I accused someone of stealing my keys and phone. In actuality, I had just lost them. I moved in with my sister and started school. I'd always been a high-achieving, bright student, but I began having issues focusing and studying.

I started seeing another therapist, tried another antidepressant, but my recovery was mostly stagnant. I'd gained a significant amount of weight, and purging began again. In the meantime, I was developing a problem with alcohol. One night, I stole much of my sister's liquor cabinet. She came home to me passed out, and called my parents. My parents came to pick me up in the morning. The next week, my sister and I went to Australia. Sure enough, I drank too much one night in Sydney and she had to bring me back to our hotel. I studied abroad in Ireland as well and made a terrible impression on my fellow classmates when I blacked out at the pub and needed to be carried home during one of the first nights.

The following fall, I finally turned 21. I disappeared one night, didn't answer my phone until 4 PM the following day, and my mom and brother were about to get police involved. On a trip to Chicago with friends, I went back to a random hotel room with strangers. After this, I was paranoid that I was pregnant. I started therapy again.

The following year, I was mostly a full-fledged alcoholic. I hid countless bottles of vodka underneath my bed. I became intoxicated before most family functions and even class. I had withdrawn from school in the spring, which escalated both my depression and drinking. I failed each of my summer classes. I almost got arrested for public drunkenness. I cried in the ambulance to the hospital, begging the EMTs not to bring me to jail. Luckily, I was not charged with anything. The "friend" I was with that night did not stop after I got caught. She continued her night despite the fact I had just been handcuffed in a squad car. I drank and drove with my youngest sister in the passenger's seat. I'm not proud of any of these things, and one would imagine they'd encourage me to change my behaviors. I brought myself to an emergency room looking for help.

Finally, a distant family member approached me because she had heard I'd been having problems. She encouraged me to seek help at the hospital. So, I started attending an intensive outpatient mental illness/chemical dependency group every morning for 6 weeks. I lied about sobriety as I had been continuing to drink (much less, but still). I felt I didn't belong in a group of hard-core addicts. These people had much larger problems with much worse drugs. I finished the group feeling much better.

In the meantime, I had lost about X pounds in six months. I reached X pounds and was exercising nearly every day. Now, my purging behaviors have returned, and I started another new SSRI. I struggle every day with what I eat and have spent much of the last 3 weeks intoxicated. I believe I've gained weight. I'm seeking support as I try recovery once more. I'm feeling very exhausted from trying to get better and sometimes feel as if there is no hope for me. I'm about to graduate from college if I can make it through these last few classes.

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