Bulimia, smoking and drinking

October 23, 2008 at 10:53 am 7 comments

Bulimics tend to have addictive personalities, and frequently have more than one addiction. I smoked, drank a lot, and was bulimic. Each issue individually was quite a handful, and all three simply bowled me over. (Although, with the alcohol, I never considered it a problem. I just couldn’t stop drinking once I got started!)

One mistake I made in the early days was to believe that I could give up more than one addiction at a time. So I would eat “normally” and keep the food down for a week, and the next week I would try to stop smoking. It usually ended in disaster.

When I was finally ready for recovery, I decided to focus only on the bulimia and food issues, and to allow myself to continue drinking and smoking. I wasn’t drunk all the time, but I did drink a good amount when I went out on the weekends. By “good amount” I mean more than necessary. Generally I was in bed with a hangover the following day. I smoked between 10 and 20 cigarettes a day.

Thus I focussed only on the food, and I got it in order — one day at a time, one step at a time. Four years later, when I was pregnant with my first child, I stopped drinking and smoking. It wasn’t terribly difficult, as I wanted a healthy baby. My issue with smoking was that it had to do with freedom and rebellion. My husband didn’t want me to smoke, so I would stop now and then in order to please him. Meanwhile, I resented his power over me.

This issue with my husband complicated things. I stopped and started smoking a few times — stopped for pregnancy and breastfeeding, started again when the babysitter came and I resumed my studies at a nearby café. It wasn’t until I really wanted to stop smoking that I actually succeeded. I stopped because of the effect on my voice and breathing. I wanted to sing better. After smoking on and off for 23 years, I quit five years ago. But I finished my degree first! I decided it would be silly to try to quit smoking during a stressful time in my life. The day after the last final, I quit smoking. Just like with the food: Because I wanted to stop FOR ME, I did, and I didn’t miss it.

I never considered alcohol to be a problem, but when I decided just for the hell of it to give up alcohol one lent five or six years ago, I was amazed at how clear my head was! And when I afterwards took just a few sips of wine, I was quickly buzzed. I still drink now, but have cut back considerably. No more hangovers. A glass or two (sometimes three) of wine is enough, spread out over a long evening. It means more to me to be in good shape the following day, as there are things I want to do!

That is related to getting older. I see that I don’t have the energy I had twenty years ago, and it takes me longer to get over a late night out. So I have become more selective about what I do, how much I consume, and how late I go home. Sure, sometimes it still happens. But you won’t catch me socializing just to be “nice” if I’m not in the mood. That is generally a waste of time. I have learned to nicely and politely refuse invitations.

Getting over a problem/addiction is a personal issue. You do it for yourself. You have to really want it. And when you are ready, you will succeed. One day at a time. There’s a lot you have to work through. It’s about progress, not perfection. That’s what life is about. Be patient with yourself! You’re doing fine!


Entry filed under: About Recovery, addictions. Tags: , , , , , , .

Autumnal Agony? More thoughts on normal eating

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. shelly  |  December 3, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Hello I was soo gad to hear your story, I was going through bulima soo I thought because I started to analyse my behaveure since I stope being sick, but I have become addicted to cigerettes and alcohole and although I can give up alcohole I am finding it hard to give up cigeretts ( I stopped making my self sick after I started smoking)I found your words very encoureging as I may need to give up booze then the smoke at first I did try to give up all at one go but I aalways falll flat on my face and crave it! I also had an husband that wanted me to give up things of my choice! I actually started smoking to cheese him off when I was 18,. What a sad mistake as although it took away one problem it created another. as I have givin up smoking in the past I saw my weight go up and it wasnt a reality I wanted to feel or see and I am not skinny I am over weight with the problem. as I said I think your words meen alot as sometimes it is fact you really at times can not kill a bird with one stone, even better mouther huberd just created more problems (the cycle). your words r soo inspireing thank you!

    • 2. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  December 5, 2010 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you for your note. It is hard to give up any addiction, and addictive behavior — smoking, drinking alcohol, overeating — tends to come from somewhere within us. Sometimes it’s hard to just be who you are, and you tend to expect much more of yourself. Remember that you are doing the best you can. Definitely take it one thing at a time. If you can let go of the alcohol, that is great. It could be helpful to go to counselling. Things like this are hard to deal with on your own. Having the courage to get some support from outside can make a big difference. Wish you all the best.

  • 3. lulugirl  |  June 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I am a bulimic female, who in in the process of quitting smoking. I have not smoked for almost 2 weeks, but I have also gained 5 pounds which has completley turned my world upside-down.
    The depression I have been feeling has now worsened, and I am depressed about gaining the weight.
    Any suggestions?

    • 4. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  June 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

      There is no simple answer. Bulimia is addictive behavior, as is smoking. To give up two addictions at once is an incredible challenge — perhaps even unrealistic, in my opinion. Many questions come to mind: Are you in therapy? To undergo such a transition, therapeutic help can be a real support. How much did you smoke? How severe is the bulimia? With not smoking, what else has changed? By giving up the smoking, you make space for something new. There is of course the tendency for many people to eat more when they give up smoking. Now and again I’ve heard that there’s a metabolic connection as well. To reinforce how good you feel when not smoking, an increase in movement is helpful. Regular brisk walks in which you can feel how much easier it is to breathe. Swimming, biking. Some additional exercise has the benefit: you feel good, and your metabolism gets a kick.
      Smoking or bingeing provide structure, and part of the challenge is to devise a new structure. Part of the transition could be gaining 5 pounds, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay. Were you happy with your weight before gaining the 5 pounds? When you make such a change, physical reactions occur. When I was first in recovery, I was willing to gain weight and kept in mind that I was in a process. I assumed I would perhaps gain a bit more, but trusted that it would level off at what suited me. I “just” had to put in the right amount of fuel. That was another huge process which included incredible honesty — only eating when it was about nourishment. The other reasons for eating had to be evaluated, and that’s how I learned about my other needs — for rest, companionship, activity, feeling feelings… during that time I was in therapy. My biggest support was the conviction that recovery is a long-term project, and appearances from one day to the next only temporary.
      As I said at the start, there is no easy answer. I hope some of this will help you find clarity. If not, please write again!

  • 5. elise  |  December 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    wow i wont say much but i have an identicle problem, smoking, bulimia and when i get started drinking im the life of the party until the next morning most times, cant say no to much but very helpfull reading your points of recovery, makes alot of sense and i feel i can take some of it and put it into use. thankyou 🙂

    • 6. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  December 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      I’m glad to be helpful. 😉 Just the fact that you have clarity about your behavior is a first big step! The next question might be: Do I want to change something? And how can I go about it? What ressources do I have, where can I get help? What are my goals? And how would I imagine things could otherwise be? Clear pictures and goals are powerful tools. Take care!

  • 7. Heather  |  December 26, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Hello I have related to all of the posts. I’m not right I drink smoke and am a extreme bulimic. I smoke and drink not to eat food. I am so sick of the pattern. But I keep doing it. I just want to stop! I have one child he means the world to me as well as my partner and our extended family our dogs and cat. When is enough?to be dead? I don’t want that. I will take each day and try to stop what I am doing to myself I want it more than anything! Thankyou


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