Diet pills/ appetite suppressants… another side of eating disorders we don’t readily talk about. We should.
Over the years I have used many forms of products that were labeled as either “diet pills”, appetite suppressants, detoxing or laxatives .
I probably started using them well before I developed a full blown eating disorder. Raising the question for me, are they a gate way drugs to eating disorders?
Taking diet pills is disordered in itself. I trialed all sorts , I bought them without really knowing what the active ingredients were. Which for me, is completely against my personal values. I’m a scientist and to be so driven to take something purely for the goal of weight loss is baffling. I’m the kinda gal that has to know the how, why and the risk/ benefit of anything. However diet pills were different.
I remember buying my first diet pills in secondary school. I thought it would be a “quick fix”. They are addictive.
Soon diet pills became a part of my ever expanding routine and rituals.
I would hide this behaviour from others, which means I knew what I was doing wasn’t normal. I was incredibly secretive about this behaviour. It eventually expanded to other drugs including laxative abuse.
Neither diet pills or laxatives result in weight loss. The weight loss associated with laxatives is water weight. It’s purging and extremely dangerous.
I felt cleanest when I was emptiest and high from ignoring hunger pangs, and even more euphoric if the hunger was suppressed. Sometimes I felt superhuman. But I wasn’t. Looking back now, I only felt happy if I was empty. I wasn’t happy outside of this. I was numb.
I’m fortunate I don’t have lasting effects from the laxative abuse. Many are not so lucky. Laxative abuse is not something to be scoffed at or ignored people can be rendered incontinent or dependent on laxatives for life in order to be able to poop.
Diet pills are also dangerous. Not only do I believe they encourage disordered eating and other behaviors they can be harmful in themselves. Many of the diet pills or appetite suppressants are widely available without prescription or worse over the internet without any safety regulation. That means many of the products have not been approved for use in humans let alone approved as safe. You do not know what is in many of them. The drugs that are rigorously tested and checked require approval from the Food and Drug Agency (FDA). Anything without out this approval stepping into completely uncharted waters and potentially very dangerous. I had signs of liver inflammation when I started recovery and signs my liver was struggling. When we don’t know what we are putting into our body we really are playing with fire. Thankfully my liver recovered.
Social media is rife with adverts selling these hazardous products. Companies that sell them are also cunning and as soon as a drug is labeled as dangerous, they rebrand the same product. I bet you have seen celebrity’s used as promotions for such pills, claiming celeb X had a miraculous result to their product without any ill affects. When in reality I am willing to bet, the celebrity NEVER takes them. But people who engage in disordered eating or want to fit into the societal norms are easy targets. I was. You name it I tried it. I have intentionally omitted the product names of anything I took, as I do not wish to trigger or promote disordered actions. Frankly I know that when I was in the depths of my eating disorder if I heard about a new product, I was onto it as soon as I read about it, and so I know what goes through some of our eating disorder brains.
I want you to see that it’s something we don’t talk about enough in the eating disorder community. However, I am confident it’s a hell of a lot more common than we think.
I’m not going to pretend stopping this behavior wasn’t difficult. It was but it is completely possible. I can’t imagine putting something I had no idea the content or safety of into my mouth now (unless it is food).
I went cold turkey- I flushed my pills and binned all the detox teas. It was one of the first behaviors I tackled in recovery ( that and the Fitbit, which is a post enough in itself) Fitbit aka handcuff.
Now when the adverts appear on my social media I either report them or remove them.
Diet pills are an odd one, but if you want to recover they have to go. They don’t work and who know’s what damage they’ll do.
Let’s make this discussion part of eating disorder recovery and bring it out in the open.