Hi. My name is Debbie, and I’m an addict. Only, my dope man is found on every corner and in well-lit areas along main streets. No dark alleys and shady characters needed for me. Driving down Rural Avenue at dusk doesn’t give me goose bumps, and I can pass Brookside Park without cringing and holding my breath. My dealer is a little less subtle and a lot more ubiquitous. Gas stations, convenience stores, and supermarkets make me sweat; golden arches and curly-cue-topped sundae signs put knots in my gut. Sometimes I need someone to hold my hand through the farmer’s market, once my basket is full of zucchini and eggplant and cherry tomatoes and I make my way toward the homemade breads and tables piled high with desserts.
Like many addicts, my drug of choice is “more.” Like most, I’m prone to substituting one for another on a whim. What some people don’t understand, though, is how a single slice of bread can be hypnotizing, or the smell of peanut butter from across the room can send a cascade of chills down my spine. My using dreams often feature the corners of white-frosted confetti cake, buttercream icing piled high in those little ripples the bakers are so good at, or the distinct salty sizzle of bacon frying in its own grease. No, I haven’t lost my mind. I’m simply addicted to food. On second thought, my mind can be a pretty scary place to be, so maybe I’ve lost something along the way. Whatever it is, it’s not a void that can be filled with sugar and bread and tomato sauce. I should know – I’ve tried.
This is not a pretty life to live, and so I’ve tried everything to fix myself. Exercise, diet pills, not eating anything, painkillers, 12 Step meetings, self-hypnosis, yoga and meditation… Most of which are actually not solutions but rather, symptoms of my eating disorder. Even the most successful period of weight loss in my life, during which I was proud of my accomplishments, turned out to be a practice in calorie restriction and over-exercising. What’s a girl to do?
Write about her struggles. And compile the finished products together, in hopes that someone else like me needs to know someone understands. I understand the obsession, the crazy need to finish the package of cookies despite the stomach ache, the urge to vomit after eating even the smallest amount of food, the compulsion to not eat at all. It’s part of who I am, for better or worse.
This is my account, uncensored and at times neurotic, of my eating disorder and recovery process. It is not perfect, but it is real.
Debbie is an addiction counselor and yoga teacher in Indiana. She is an avid reader of any genre, and has published fantasy short stories; she is still working on the elusive novel. Recently, Debbie has ventured into non-fiction writing, in hopes that discussing her life with an eating disorder will help someone in need. Debbie’s loves include her niece Lillie and her girl-cat, Emilio Estevez. She is passionate about mental health awareness, especially related to addiction and eating disorders.