I didn't know I had a problem with food, not at first. I was an active child and not yet overweight, but not as petite as my family so I had a perception that I was fat. I was always hungry and there never seemed to be enough food. I had an obsession but didn’t know it yet.
When I was thirteen, I worked in a restaurant and all of the sudden food was so accessible and I couldn't stop eating. I was afraid food would run out, so I began hoarding food in my apron pockets and stealing bites when no one was looking and it started to show, I gained a lot of weight fast. A neighbour noticed my weight gain and brought over a diet plan, she told my mother that I should try it and I did. This is when the yo-yo dieting began.
My obsession with food hit a new level. I never had enough. I wanted to eat till I was full, but I was never full, so I ate till it was too painful to eat more. I would clear my plate then eat off everyone else's plate and when food was thrown away, I would take it out of the trash. I tried a dozen diets, losing weight every time, just to gain it back and each time the gaining would happen faster and the losing just got harder.
At the age of nineteen, I was watching a programme on TV and a man was talking about bulimia and how it affected him. I didn't hear the problem, I just heard a solution to my dieting problem. 'This was the answer to all my problems', so I thought. I started vomiting and it was easy for me. I could eat whatever I wanted when I wanted and not gain weight. This was the solution I was looking for. I was eating massive amounts of food and had no idea what normal eating was. I thought I could stop any time, I just didn't want to stop - this was working for me.
After six years of eating and vomiting, I got pregnant and temporarily stopped vomiting and gained over eighty pounds because my binge eating did not stop. After having my first child, I could not lose all the weight and the vomiting was getting worse. It felt like all I did in a day was eat and vomit, nothing was getting done, my house was a mess and so was my life.
When I got pregnant again two years later, I could not stop vomiting. This was the first time I knew I had a problem and I became obese. Another four years passed, I was overweight and the vomiting was no longer working. This disease was killing me. After a purging session, my face and neck would be swollen, I could barely open my eyes and I had broken blood vessels on my cheeks and around my eyes. My teeth were decaying and I always had sores in my mouth and on my tongue from the stomach acids. My hair was falling out and I constantly had headaches.
One morning at 3am, I found myself online searching for help and I was introduced to a Twelve Step programme and went to my first meeting. I heard others share their stories and I related instantly. For the first time I was like other people but, unfortunately, for the next five years I only heard others share their problems, but I did not hear anyone share the solution. All I did was go to meetings, but I wasn’t working a programme and my life got worse, my eating got worse and I no longer wanted to live. I cried almost every day and prayed to a God that he help me stop or let me die. I didn't know what to do. I had never heard of a Twelve Step programme and I hit a bottom.
Pleading with God to please take my life (and I meant it this time with all my heart), I believe was my first surrender. Within a week, a woman walked into my meeting and she had a solution and for the first time someone gave me direction. I did what was suggested and I started working the Twelve Steps. I had a sponsor and I had hope. I still had not surrendered completely though. I went to meetings, I was reading the Big Book daily, I was working the steps, I did everything that was suggested by my sponsor, everything except stop eating. I thought I could figure a way to get sober and still eat like I wanted. I was living a lie.
It took nine more years of this hell I was living in and two more sponsors for the miracle to happen. I don't know what I did different or why it took so long, but one day the not wanting to eat was stronger than the wanting to eat.
Today, I live a sober life, not completely free from the obsession but I know I don't have to eat anymore. I no longer want to die and I have a wonderful life. I always heard 'don't leave before the miracle happens'. For me, it took fourteen years to get sober and I believe the miracle happened when that woman walked in to my meeting with a solution. It just took me a long time to surrender. It takes what it takes and I thank my Higher Power every day for giving me the gift of desperation and a new life.