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Eating Disorders + Addiction (How Do You Kill the Hydra?)

Eating Disorders + Addiction (How Do You Kill the Hydra?)

Eating Disorders + Addiction (How Do You Kill the Hydra?)

Hydra

That’s me on the left – I’m like, “I am NOT going to eat 4,000 calories of candy in one sitting – burn the head after I cut it off!!!” and the other guy is like, “Wait. Did you say 4,000 calories?” and I’m like “Don’t worry – I took Correctol” and he’s like, “Yuck…” (obviously the guy with the torch has never had an eating disorder….)

 

I just read an article from Recovery Connection that says 50% of those with eating disorders will go on to have some sort of addiction issues. The article also says the symptoms do not always present at the same time: one disorder may be under control, while another rears its ugly head; or one disorder may kick-start a dormant tendency long held at bay. It is something I can still relate to, two years sober, when a secret candy glut or binge eating setback rattles my overall recovery…

 

I am reminded of the Hydra – the mythical sea creature with nine heads and nine hungry mouths. The Hydra had a lair at the entrance to the underworld, and like most Greek monsters, it was greedy and gratuitously mean and symbolic. You will remember our hero Odysseus with his club and straight edge, going after the Hydra as one of his challenges before he could go home to Troy. That poor guy – the Hydra was so toxic, its breath was lethal (like the smell of the stale bourbon in the morning) and every time Odysseus lopped off one head, two more grew back.

 

I swear that is how I sometimes feel when fighting the disorders that have cropped up since I quit drinking. All my issues involve filling a void (I do not even want to know why at this point), so they could all be called eating disorders, I think. Or gluttony. Or sea creature-ishness if you are feeling inventive.

 

For most of my twenties I had bulimia. I would eat several bags of cheap candy or a loaf of white bread, cinnamon toast (the breakfast of champions) and then I’d take six laxative pills (when the directions said take two) and the rest of the afternoon you can imagine (if you have the gag-reflex for it)… I don’t talk about this much. It is not really appropriate dinner conversation, it’s repulsive and it is something a bit deeper than embarrassing to admit. Let’s not even talk about the subliminal naming of my product to choice – Correctol…

 

I have not spiraled to the purging part of my eating disorder again since I’ve been sober, but I do binge sometimes late at night when no one is looking. And I have thought about how much better I’d feel if I GOT RID of it all. It’s like cutting off the ugly, snapping head of the Hydra and watching while a few more grow back…

 

Today I’m not drinking because I’ve corrected it ALL…

 

How come you’re not drinking?

Comments (6)

  1. Tall Girl
    Nov 12, 2015

    We are so similar, Marilyn. Chocolatey Ex-Lax was my bulimic drug of choice, and I was happiest when my thighs were thin enough to wrap my hands around, fingers touching. Was listening yesterday to a panelist speak of her son’s death from bulimia in middle age, and I wondered about the damage I have done over the years. I will never have a normal relationship with food and I accept that, along with my alcoholism, as being the mental illness I must never ignore and of which I must always be aware. Awareness, in the form of mindfulness, is my best ally. Automatic pilot is where the damage is done. Today I have to feel my feelings–fear, anger, hurt, loneliness–and stay present in them until they pass. I have to eat to live, which is sometimes the hardest part. I am just thankful to have a normally functioning digestive system today, the body is amazingly resilient against the damage of addiction. Thanks for the post. Heading into the holidays, I needed the reminder.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Nov 12, 2015

      It is my biggest secret I suppose – horrible. And I too have a lifetime dysfunctional relationship with food. I think my body is kind of amazing – yours too – and yes we are similar, and in good things as well as bad.
      XXXOOO
      M

  2. BC
    Nov 12, 2015

    Thank you for sharing this. I too have suffered from an eating disorder the majority of my 37 years. I feel, in my opinion and that of my therapist, that trauma I suffered as a young child, triggered the eating disorder and then the alcoholism when older. Unfortunately with addictions, when you quit one, it seems the other(s) will rear their ugly head. Thank you for bringing awareness about this. Its really hard to be comfortable in our own bodies, the way God made us.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Nov 13, 2015

      I hear you. I don’t know what happened to me to make me so prone to addiction, but I struggle with it every day. Thanks for the comment and take care of your beautiful self…
      XXXOOO
      M

  3. JIm
    Nov 13, 2015

    Hi Marilyn. Interesting article. My soon to be ex-wife had an eating disorder in high school. Father was/is an alcoholic. Now she has seemed to replace that issue with work addiction (which helped destroy the marriage). Also has been in counseling for 10 years. Would work addiction go along with the context of your post? I suppose it doesn’t matter what the addiction is, does it?

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Nov 13, 2015

      I think an addictive personality will find something to attach themselves to – work, candy, boiled peanuts, booze, gambling – it is a struggle for me. It seems to be about re-wiring old habits and in so doing rewiring the brain. But I do feel like addiction is a hydra – with all those hungry mouths to feed…
      Keep the faith.
      XXXOOO
      M

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