The Truth About Laxative Abuse

Wake up to excruciating pain; I can’t believe I am back in this place. Get in the bath, try to diffuse the pain, I feel like I may have a heart attack. I have an exam tomorrow, but I am in too much pain to study. I might be dead by then anyway. Finally! Emptiness, I can breathe again. Back to sleep, my body has reached the point of exhaustion.

I wrote this on September 26, 2016. It was the last day that I took laxatives. That was 231 days ago. Laxative abuse is a behavior seldom discussed, but highly addictive and dangerous. It’s both difficult to monitor and shameful to disclose.

I so plainly remember that first day I tried it. It was 2013 and I awoke hungover after a night of bingeing. I was disgusted with myself yet without relief. I was overwhelmed by desperation and committed to anything that would make me feel empty. So, I pulled myself from bed and walked the city block to CVS, where I bought my first 10-pack.

Empty

The effects of those tiny orange pills were excruciating, yet I was addicted at first swallow. Over and over, the pain was all encompassing. But then, relief, emptiness. It didn’t matter that the laxatives didn’t undo the calories I had consumed, my stomach was flat and I felt empty. I could rise from bed, get dressed and leave the house. Nobody can see my bloated stomach because I am empty. 

First 10, then 20, 35, 50. As the number climbed and I fell deeper, I convinced myself the pain, the health scares, the tears were all worth it. I lost complete control of my behavior, yet still believed I could control it. Soon I will stop, I’m sure of it. I don’t need support because I will stop. 

You deserve more

Shame surrounding my laxative abuse is what kept me sick for so many years; I was disgusted and embarrassed. But, just like restricting, bingeing or purging, laxative abuse is a serious behavior that often requires intervention to overcome. Without proper treatment and support, I would still be lost in the cycle.

To anyone struggling, please know you are not alone. You are not disgusting and you deserve help. Reach out for support; life free of addition is so much sweeter than the emptiness, I promise.

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