No longer believing the promises

Jill describes her experience below where the cloak of lies surrounding substance misuse and disordered eating practices appears to have been lifted.

Jill:
C: How did you begin to figure out that there were other ways to feel good about yourself that were not dependent on your appearance?

A: Well first I had to realize that those things didn’t help me, they didn’t help me! They may have changed the way I looked, but they didn’t change the way I felt about myself. They did temporarily, but then I wasn’t happy. It didn’t change my life, it didn’t work for me and it didn’t solve anything, it just made things worse.

Below, Alexa describes how she wants to be honest with the people in her life, which then leaves no room for substance misuse or disordered eating practices as they both involve lying to people around her.

Alexa:
C:
Are there things you tell yourself that help remind you of how when you are happy with yourself you don’t need disordered eating practices or drugs?

A: Yeah I remind myself of all the people I have hurt by lying and that I was hurting them by lying all the time.

C: How does that keep you away from disordered eating practices?

A: Cause I don’twannabe lying and I’m notgonnatell my mom ‘Okay I’m justgonnago pukenow.’ Like disordered eating practices can lead me back, and I don’t want to go there. And I just remind myself of that on days where I think‘Ahh, I ate a lot, and I don’t want to feel thisway.’ But I just think about the feelings on other days that I felt that I’m too good for Bulimia. I know I’m better than what I’d be putting myself through. Cause it hurts people and I remind myself of what people said. Like I have friends that tell me Alexa you’re beautiful. Or I’ll remind myself of the days when I realized the way that Anorexia was a form of torture to my body, and I'm no longer OK with that.

 

Michelle articulates her knowings of the interconnections of Anorexia/Bulimia and Substance Misuse as follows:

A: If I don’t keep up the healthy eating habits then I’m going to fall back to drugs. Because for me, they go hand in hand. Other people, they, can just have one. Like sometimes I think it would be easier to only have one of the problems. But at the same time, I think it would be a lot harder, because – like being in here, I know once I get out, if I start doing drugs, the eating disorder will come back. But if I start having the eating disorder again, then the drugs are coming to come back. But if I only had one, I don’t know what would be holding me up and keeping me away from them.

C: So having struggled with both, keeps you away from both?

A: Yeah. Yeah. And I'm sure that a lot of people don’t think like that, but that’s kind of what keeps me holding on to staying away from both of them. I mean I still have that craving to use drugs but I also have that fear in me that I’m going to turn into one of those girls that weights X pounds and they’re like 25 years old, and I don’t want that. And I know that if I keep doing drugs the eating disorder will stay with me. And I know that the life that Anorexia/Bulimia and Substance Misuse have in mind for me is not the life that I want to live. So I need to continue to fight against them.


Below Megan speaks of a similar experience, and how cutting out drugs and alcohol led her to consider the impact that disordered eating practices were having in her life.

Megan:
A:
Yeah. It came hand in hand for me, and now I’m glad that they came together so that when I cut drugs and alcohol out of my life it wasn’t as hard for me to cut disordered eating practices from my life too. It wasn’t two totally separate problems for me. Like, I kind of learned to deal with drugs and alcohol, and then thought well why am I still doing this? It doesn’t make sense. Just being open to criticizing yourself.

C: What do you mean? Say more.

A: Like, kind of getting mad at myself too. Like why are you doing that? For the first week I was still trying to purge, cause I didn’t like what was going on.

C: Like what was going on with your body?

A: Yeah. I didn’t know anybody here so I wanted to still be that smaller person, cause people would then want to be my friends. But now I look back and I think that was stupid. Like now if I ever get those thoughts I think why would you do that? That doesn’t make sense. It’s like calling yourself on what you’re doing.

Megan describes how one of the tactics that disordered eating practices used to try to sneak back into her life was that it would be a way to help make her body smaller, and that if she were thin then other people would want to be friends with her. Just recognizing these tactics makes a person less vulnerable to them appearing in their lives, as they can notice when the problems are making a play for them, and interrupt them rather than acting on it.

C: It sounds like there is a disconnect between what you want for your life and what disordered eating practices and drugs and alcohol want for your life and those things don’t fit together.

A: No. Like being skinny doesn’t make you successful.

C: So if you don’t want to see yourself as apartierand someone who is all about their looks. How would you prefer to see yourself?

A: I’d rather be seen as someone who does what she says she’sgonnado— someone who follows through with her word. I see myself as a person who is strong, like a strong person. Like if I say I’m not going to do something, I’m notgonnaturn around and do it.

Q; So how did you to begin to free yourself from both problems?

A: I know disordered eating made me anti-social. And that was part of what got me into being healthier-food is such a corner stone, the first summer I actually relaxed about what I ate, I had such an amazing time, I felt so carefree. I fell in love and met my husband.

I think both can be ways of dealing with the world, it’s a distraction. If I prioritize being an unrealistic weight, I need to dedicate most of my energy to achieving that goal which means I’m not paying attention to the fact there are wars going on right now, where families are being slaughtered. There is oil leaking into the ocean right now and no one is stopping it. Those problems are so overwhelming, it is easier to distract by getting high or focusing on getting thin.
I’m also aware it’s a huge waste of time and energy. I could be having fun, but instead I’m trying to lose weight when I don’t need to. They both fill so many needs. As a youth and young adult I also felt like I wanted people to know I was suffering, from just having to exist in a world where girls and women are routinely abused and exploited. And I still suffer, but am better equipped to deal with it. I’m smarter, I can think more critically, I can challenge myself.

Q: Can you say more about other milestones that might have helped you in getting more space from the problems, or people or places or things that helped you get to where you are?

A: I think that going to university helped a lot. In developing critical thinking skills, and just opening up doors. Um but the critical thinking I think in challenging the media stereo types, and just challenging that idea that if you are thin you aregonnahave this fantastic life and that your alwaysgonnabe having fun on the beach. And that’s just really not true. That I was more miserable when I was really thin. And having a sharper mind and being more aware. Like I usually start to feel worse about myself when I am staying home a lot and when I don’t see a lot of real people. It happened to me when I was a student. I would be at home a lot and all the women I would see would be on TV or in magazines and that was it. And then I go to the grocery store and its “Oh I’m actually really normal”. But when your not out like.

Q: That’s a lovely image, the idea of allowing yourself to be in connection with people rather than disconnected through images.

A: Um and in a sense having children has helped and not at the same time. Because its an amazing thing that your body can do. And it kind of gives a new appreciation for that. Like creating life, and then feeding them. I really haven’t had any disordered eating in years. It’s more thoughts. And I am fairly good at working on them now.

Q: What helps you keep them as thoughts and not allowing them to turn into practices?

A: Part ofwhatshelped along the way is nobody being super good at talking me out of feeling bad about myself. So I have had to talk myself out of it on my own. Even my partner, I know he has the best intentions, and that he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what. But he’s just not that talented at it. And my mom doesn’t get it, and my sister and brothers are worse off than me. So I think I think about when I’m 90, what do I want to think about when I remember my life? That I was high and can’t remember? That I never ate chocolate cake and maintained a 22-inch waist? Or that I had fun, was a good friend, enjoyed the childhoods of my children, including, making and eating rickety uncles or a piece of their birthday cakes. Or the mothers day breakfast they made for me, even if it probably has 2000 calories worth of maple syrup in it. But I still get distracted by it. I still weigh myself everyday. I’m a slight health fanatic. I also have food allergies, which severely restrict me.
I think drug abuse for me, was a lot easier to leave behind, because the line between healthy/normal isn’t so blurry. I smoke pot sometimes, but id there is a reason for me not too, then I won’t and it’s no big deal. Like when I was recovering from pneumonia. I don’t feel I have any issue with drugs and alcohol. I don’t feel that my relationship with eating and my body is totally health, but I do think its pretty normal

Q; How did you get so good at talking your self out of the thoughts?

A: Practice. And also with other people. My sister has struggled with disordered eating as well. So the things I say to here, I can say that to myself as well. And reading too.

Q: Anything that was most helpful?

A: Maybe some blogs. Or personal memoirs. But I can’t think of anything in particular.
I think drug abuse for me, was a lot easier to leave behind, because the line between healthy/normal isn’t so blurry. I smoke pot sometimes, but id there is a reason for me not too, then I won’t and it’s no big deal. Like when I was recovering from pneumonia. I don’t feel I have any issue with drugs and alcohol. I don’t feel that my relationship with eating and my body is totally health, but I do think its pretty normal

Q; How did you get so good at talking your self out of the thoughts?

A: Practice. And also with other people. My sister has struggled with disordered eating as well. So the things I say to here, I can say that to myself as well. And reading too.

Q: Anything that was most helpful?

A: Maybe some blogs. Or personal memoirs. But I can’t think of anything in particular.

Q: You mentioned that opening up critical thinking skills really made a difference for you. How did that help you step away from ideas of weight and did it impact your relationship with drugs and alcohol?

*A: Well. Drugs and alcohol have not really been a problem for me for I wouldn’t say I’ve had problematic drug use in quite a few years, um quitting smoking was really hard and tied into disordered eating because of the weight gain.