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What Happened When I Was Given Diet Pills While in Eating Disorder Recovery

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

Dear co-worker and everyone else naive about eating disorders,

Maybe it was the fact Thanksgiving just ended. Maybe it was the fact I woke up that morning severely constipated, which has always been a huge trigger for me. My stomach was bloated, I had no appetite and I did not need to step on the scale to know the number had gone up from the backup. My brutal self-critic — who is normally constantly reminding me I need to lose weight, stop being so lazy, work harder, be nicer, basically the “be perfect voice” — was on full volume.

Those days are the ones I wish I still had one of the girls in treatment, whom I could lean over and give them the look, and they would just get it and support me… But I don’t. So, I have found if I just go on autopilot and eat all my safe foods, I can get through with the bare minimum of trying to fight for recovery.

With all of that said, I cannot put the full blame on your shoulders. You are most likely unaware of what the true meaning of an eating disorder is or the fact a simple trigger could spiral someone like me, who is fighting hard for recovery, into a relapse that could potentially take their life.

Please know that is why I am writing this — not to blame you for my relapse but to educate you and anyone else who is ignorant to the fact eating disorders are real, they are deadly and they do not take much to re-emerge their ugly heads again.

I was sitting at my desk and you started complaining about the weight you gain from the recent Thanksgiving… which is a hard enough day for me that I do not want to relive once it is over. I politely listened to you talk about how you want to lose weight; what you did not know is that you were not the only person speaking that in my ear today. On a good day, I would change the subject, which I have gotten very good at in order to protect myself in recovery. But this was not a good day and I was weak and that’s when the words slipped out of my mouth: “I know, I feel huge too, I would love to lose weight.” And that’s when you said you had the best prescription weight loss pills and preceded to hand me two of them. You then told me how to take them.

I could not be rude so I slipped them in my purse, planning to throw them out once I got home. What you did not know is handing me those pills set the spark…which then became a small flame.

Thankfully, I got home and my parents were home. Even though they knew nothing, they distracted me enough to get through the night. However, that spark was still lit brightly.

It wasn’t until the next morning, as I was getting ready for the gym before work, that I found the pill; before I could even think twice, it was sliding down my throat. I do not want to be triggering, so let’s just say that small flame quickly became a large fire.

And the next day was not any better. The second pill went down easier than the first. The jitters had me up all night and constantly moving all day, my mind raced faster than it normally does, and if I ate one bite I was full. The sight of food made me more nauseous than it normally does. My obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) was at its peak, and it took me seven tries before I could leave my room and walk downstairs. Instead of reading my normal recovery blogs before bed, I found myself calculating and recalculating calories burned and calories eaten.

For the rest of the week, that large fire kept burning strong. I felt out of control and it scared me how quickly old behaviors all flooded back in the blink of an eye.

I am still trying to put out the flames and it has not been easy. I am too embarrassed to reach out for help, due to the fact my life could not be going more perfect if you could remove my eating disorder.

As you can see, handing me those pills may have been innocent from your end — you may have even been trying to bond with me as a friend — but please, I beg you and everyone who is naive, keep your diet talk, pills, workouts and whatever else you are or will be doing after the holidays to yourself. Some of us have other goals.

Getty Images photo via Tom Merton.

Originally published: January 21, 2019
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