Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Interview - Nadine P.

Healing through the community support of group meetings, the twelve-steps, therapy and treatment centers.

Nadine P.:
  • How did you know that you had an eating disorder and when did you know you needed help?
I struggled with it (eating disorders) since I was 12 years old. When I was in my teenage years I had no idea what was wrong with me, I just knew I couldn't manage my eating. I was binging everyday.

I would wake up every morning hoping that this day would be the day that I would have no more problems. By midday, or 3:00 or 4:00, I would consume everything in the house, and I'd have this huge massive binge, and by the end of the night I would be consumed with all the negative feelings: guilt, hopelessness, how could this happen? It was a cycle that would happen every single day. I knew something was wrong but I didn't know what.

Finally when I was about 18 or 19 years old, I looked online for a  solution, because I was living with a boyfriend, and I was doing this in secret, no one knew about this. It became my whole entire life, and it was a big secret. So I looked online and there was a meeting, I came across Over Eaters Anonymous, and the meeting was like in the next hour and literally half a block from where I was living. It was amazing! That was the first step for me, for admitting that I had this. I walked over to the meeting, I was late, and at this point I was just desperate for a solution. A lot of people go into OA not liking it, judging it, but I didn't care I was so desperate. So at 18, 19, was the point I got help.

  • How old are you now, and how long have you been abstinent?
I'm 24, and 1 year (of abstinence).

  • When you were younger was there any awareness of the disease you had? Or had you never heard of them and just though you were alone in doing them?
In the back of my head I knew that there was something going on. At one point, I did look online for help. I don't think I came across a way (for help). Maybe I did, I just didn't want to hear it. I think I was just looking for that quick solution: tell me what it is I'm doing, tell me what the is solution so I can wake up tomorrow and everything's going to be okay, whether it's a diet or whatever. But I don't think I really understood the severity of what I was doing. I was in complete confusion.

  • The biggest thing for you was bulimia, but did you ever have a problem with compulsive over eating?
It was mainly binge eating, but I definitely restricted.  I had some anorexia during my teen years, at one point I lost a lot of weight and everything was really controlled, but my whole eating career was mostly binge eating and restricting. When I thought I had some kind of control to make up for all the calories I would take in, it was my way to sort of manage the weight. It shocked me because I was never really over weight, but my weight fluctuated. When I was restricting, I'm 5'10, and I got to 110, and then I go to 150 in four months. 150 was my highest weight but I never... I consumed close to 10,000 calories a day, so I have no idea why I was not bigger, it's miraculous to me. But my problem was mostly binge eating, binge eating every day, every day, every day. It's crazy to look back and imagine a human being went through this almost every day in her life!

  • Did you ever have a rock bottom?
Yeah, it's funny because, when I got abstinent, I didn't get abstinent when I hit my rock bottom. I had so many rock bottoms. It's so hard to say this, I dappled in... I tried working and I couldn't because I was so consumed in the eating, and I was so mentally messed up. I dappled in prostitution, so I could get money for food, so I hit so many different rock bottoms. Eventually, when I went into OA, I couldn't get it, I couldn't get it, I couldn't get it, I kept going back. I had so many rock bottoms before I was abstinent that I finally I saw that what I was doing wasn't working, and I had absolutely no control over this. It clicked about a year ago.

  • Was there a specific step out of the twelve steps that particularly resonated with you?
I think it was step one for me, because I went through the steps still (thinking) I had some kind of control, I went through the steps treating it like a diet. So it was really step one for me, to just really be honest with myself, which was extremely hard for me and just say, “I can't do this, I cannot do this.” I think it's what gave me the most clarity, just accepting the powerlessness that I had. And it would be so easy for a outsider to look at my life and say, “Hey girl, you are so out of control. You don't have control over this thing!” But when you're in it, it may seem like the most logical thing to do, but for some reason when you're in it, you still want to exert that control everyday, you keep hitting that wall. So I think step one was the most profound for me. When I looked at it for years, and I sit in the room   say, “Yeah, yeah, I'm powerless, I'm powerless”, and I thought I believed it. But when I really had an inner acceptance, “Wow, I really am powerless here. I really need to let go of everything that I believed about my eating disorder, I just need to let go.”

  • Who's your higher power and what would you say to people who are turned off from the twelve steps because the belief that God is involved?
For me, I was so desperate, it was kind of like blind faith. I was willing to listen to anything, I didn't really believe in God, but I went into it with blind faith. What do I have to lose, it's either I go back out there and say screw this, there's no God or I go in there and go in with blind faith, listen to what everybody has to say, use this persons God or that persons God who helped them recover, what can I lose? If it works, great! If it doesn't I'm going to be in the same position I was when I didn't believe. Eventually, that faith turned into real faith, because in my own experience I started developing my own personal God. For me it was a matter of how desperate was I? 

  • So you believe that God is your higher power.
Yes, I do, I do. At first I was definitely skeptical, but I was so desperate, that it really helped (to know) that there are these people who have recovered, they went through what I did, and they have recovered, so I am going to use their God and pray for that God. It just grew from (there), and it was  blind faith in the beginning.
  • How important is sponsorship in the program?
Extremely important. It's essential, it's vital. I tried doing the twelve steps on my own and it didn't work for me. To have some one I could call every single day... it's crucial to have a sponsor.

  • How did you find your sponsor?
I went through so many sponsors, when I went to meeting literally every single person in the room was at one time my sponsor. When I was first working for somebody... I was trying to find the prettiest person in the room, because if they became my sponsor I would become this typically gorgeous person. Again, I treated it like a diet, which person has the answer. I would get this person who would look like a great sponsor on the outside but I'd still binge, then I went to another sponsor, and another sponsor, and another sponsor. I can't say that I found the right sponsor, I think when it clicked for me I was able to hear the message from whoever was telling me. The teacher appeared. When the student is ready the teacher appears, and I stuck with her for a year. The big thing for me was sticking with her, because she was also with me while I was binging. For me I would treat sponsorship like a diet, if you didn't work I would go onto the next one. Finally I stuck with her, and she told me, “If you binge you call me. You keep showing up to meetings. You keep showing up to your commitment.” I became open to that and I stuck to it. I couldn't stick to anything in my life, but I stuck to this no matter what. Eventually it just clicked for me and I was able to hear the message.

  • Do you think 12 step programs are lifestyles or do you think there is a point where you're done and can move on?
It's hard to say. The program says it's a lifestyle thing, but everyone has their own story. I know people who used the 12 steps and then just left, and now there fine. There are also people who used the 12 steps and left, and are not fine. In the program we don't say, “This is the answer, this is the only answer to recovery.” But I know for me is it definitely a forever thing, because nothing for me worked before. To have a year, no therapy, no medication, just doing the steps, and to have this amazing life unfold to me I don't want to give it up. If I want to follow the program it's a lifestyle and it's a lot easier than how it was when I was over eating. For me it's lifestyle, absolutely.

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