The Art of Surrendering in Bulimia Recovery: Alexis Audigier's StoryNov 30, 2023
I am always in awe of the brave bulimia survivors who are willing to share their story with the Conquering Bulimia audience. Today, I had the pleasure of chatting with CCI Certified Eating Disorder Recovery Coach, Alexis Audigier. Alexis holds a Masters degree in psychology, with a focus on clinical psychology and intimate relationship research. She is a member of Project HEAL and IAEDP. Alexis bravely shared her journey of achieving full recovery of bulimia in the interview below.
Can you share a little bit about your background struggling with bulimia? How long did you struggle, at what age, and what your treatment process was like?
My struggle with bulimia began at age 15, on the heels of an inpatient treatment for anorexia, where my weight was too high for insurance to continue coverage, but I was not in a mental space to cope with the sudden weight gain, nor was I at a healthy weight for my body (didn’t know this at the time), simply because I was suddenly at a minimum BMI. I wanted to do recovery “right” but was not mentally prepared to cope with the exercise restrictions and meal plan. I spent years trying to maintain that discharge weight, unsuccessfully, which kept me in patterns of shame/compensation around eating any “unsafe” foods or amounts in addition to binging to physiologically cope with the restriction. For the next 13 years, I spent 11 of those years with a BN diagnosis but was only given the attention for higher levels of treatment during time periods when my mental health was so deteriorated that I was a risk for myself or my weight dropped to an AN diagnosis. In total I had 2 more residential stays, and 1 hospitalization; none of which were the turning points in recovery. I would say the times where I was the most sick, were the times were I got the least amount of care, because I was most capable of escaping to the point where I could also look and present normal. For instance, some times there were days on end where I would completely dissociate and spend the entire day in symptom use, but come out of it and turn up at an event or commitment looking completely normal because all my distress had been numbed. Internally, I was living an emotional hell of shame and hopelessness.
Was there a moment in your bulimia journey when you realized you wanted to recover? A moment where something shifted in you?
I always wanted to recover. I just didn’t know how since I had been to higher levels of care without success. I think this is what kept the shame active. The fact that I could not stop despite having “all the tools”. Things shifted for me when I met a man who I wanted to marry and I knew there was no way I wanted to bring an eating disorder into building a life with someone again or share these behaviors with my children. (My mother has an ED and I experienced the negative impacts of that). Before our first date I decided I was ready to do whatever it would take. Inspired by my vision for my future self, I surrounding myself with tons of accountability and even had a friend stay with me during a really difficult emotional week, so that I would not turn to behaviors.
How did you deal with feelings of shame in bulimia recovery?
I never did any direct "shame" work, but I do remember when I did start to recover and have feelings of shame, I would reach out to people whom I trusted and loved, who were able to remind me of my worth and value despite my engagement in behaviors. So I guess a practical tool was developing friends whom I could be vulnerable with (like really vulnerable--sharing everything I ate) and who could reassure me of my future and value and see who I was past the struggle with food. Having individuals who could remind me of my true identity encouraged me to make the next best decision at the next meal or snack and press onward with recovery.
If you could identify the three biggest factors that helped you achieve full recovery from bulimia, what are they?
- Understanding my identity in God
- Surrendering what my body would become or needed to look like
- Accountability and support from trusted friends to reassure me of my true identity
Do you have any favorite bulimia recovery resources?
Not specifically, but the Bible was foundational for my recovery journey in connecting with my recovered self.
Can you leave any readers currently struggling with bulimia with an inspirational message?
John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.- Jesus
Please share your favorite quote.
'Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.'- Marilyn Monroe
Find Alexis here!
Author: Merrit Elizabeth
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