Alcoholism and Anorexia
In terms of healthy body image, living in a resort town was really intimidating! I was obsessed with going out every night. I was obsessed with looking sexy! There was a problem though, I wasn’t as thin as my friends.
I found myself full of self-pity and jealousy. One night, staring down into my empty cocktail glass, I realized that drinking actually made me full! I could probably lose weight if I supplemented my meals with alcohol! I thought I’d found the golden ticket to being thin.
I began skipping breakfast, running five miles a day, working all evening in a bar (which burned a ton of calories), and then going out all night. As the weeks moved forward, I realized I was losing weight at a rapid rate! At 5’8″, I dropped from 135 pounds to 97 in only a few months.
Of course, there was a downside to my rapid weight loss. I was suffering from anemia, hair loss, extreme dehydration, depression, and constant anxiety. On top of all that, my lack of eating was contributing to daily alcoholic blackouts.
The Progression of Alcoholism and Anorexia
A year later, I was so thin that I agreed to participate in counseling, at the repeated urging of friends. Soon, I was clinically diagnosed with anorexia. Of course, I was in complete denial. I had a problem? No way!
I continued down my destructive path because I was so obsessed with the attention I was getting. Everyone told me how thin I was and how I looked like a model. I continued to visit my counselor and slowly began to learn about what I was doing to my body. She told me about how the lack of nutrients in my body was causing it to process alcohol slower. So, that explained my blackouts! A healthy liver can metabolize one drink an hour. Mine could metabolize one drink every few hours. My counselor told me how much liver damage I was doing to myself.
I still wasn’t ready to change, but I was ready to listen. I learned that alcoholism is significantly more harmful to woman than men. This is because women don’t possess an enzyme that helps metabolize alcohol. I learned that women who drink frequently are at a greater risk for cirrhosis of the liver than men, even if they drink less, or for shorter periods of time. I learned that if I continued to drink alcoholically, and deprive my body of key nutrients, I’d soon end up with cirrhosis or pancreatitis.
The Turning Point
Here I was at the turning point. I had to make a decision about my life. I was battling two evils, alcoholism and anorexia. Finally, after several trips to the ER, I decided I was ready to admit total defeat. I accepted the fact that I was an alcoholic, an anorexic, and if I didn’t seek help soon, I’d die.
I got a sponsor and began to work a strong recovery program. I went through the twelve-steps to regain my spirituality. Through the steps, I also found emotional wellbeing and a healthy body image. I began to truly experience the freedom of bondage to my alcoholism and eating disorder.
Today, I continue to work a program, because I believe recovery’s a life-long journey. I’m truly grateful for all the experiences in my life. I’m truly grateful to have been given the gift of freedom.