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When Is Enough, Enough?

 

Many of us struggle with the self defeating behavior of vanity. In some cases a person’s perception of how they view themselves physically can cause them to obsess about their looks and appearance at an unhealthy level. Some of us will go to any length to change our appearance to make up for we what we think we lack, appearance wise and in other aspects of our lives even to the point where it is self-destructive to our own well being.  This is my story on vanity.

In my experience I chose to change my body chemistry physically as a means to improve upon what I thought I was lacking. Growing up as a child I was always the shortest or one of the shortest kids in my grade. I was also very skinny so with the combination of these two I appeared to be younger than all of the other peers in my class. It would go without saying that I was an easy target for bullies in my younger years growing up. What made matters worse was that my family would move every couple of years and I would transfer to a new school. For me it felt like once I finally gained the exception of my peers including the bullies, I would have to start all over again at a new school and repeat the cycle. This pattern of living I think is what caused me to grow up in a very shy and reserved manner. I wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up to anyone unless I really got to know them. Although I excelled in sports and had a lot in common with my fellow classmates I always resorted to the crutch “It’s better to say nothing at all then say something and face possible rejection.”

It wasn’t until the start of my senior year in high school where I thought I had found the answer to my problem. Some friends of mine who were comparable in size to me decided to get a gym membership at the local gym. I quickly followed suit as I had seen the recognition some of the bigger, stronger guys in my school got and also didn’t want to now be the small guy even in my group of friends as they started getting bigger in the gym. Once I started lifting weights I was off and running. Within a couple of weeks I was hooked on going to the gym. I loved the feeling I got emotionally and physically from working out. Although I was only 5’7 and weighing no more than 130lbs I felt like I could take on anything or anyone after I left the gym. After only a few months period of time I was exuding more confidence in the way I walked, talked and carried myself in general. People were starting to notice the change in my appearance and I was slowing crawling out of my “little man” persona. I continued lifting regularly four to six days a week and had totally revamped my diet to that of what a bodybuilder would eat. After almost two years of this workout regimen I had gained almost twenty pounds. Most people would have been completely satisfied with such a substantial gain but I just found myself obsessed with wanting more.

After being in the gym for a couple years I started to notice patterns in certain people who seemed to bulk up, get stronger and more toned in a short period of time. I was always comparing myself to the next person thinking “what can I do to reach that level?” I heard a lot of talk about anabolic steroids and had interfaced with some people who were doing them. They would glamorize about how great they were and how they were making gains like never before. I had always frowned upon steroids thinking that they were just cheating to get to where you want to be as opposed to earning it. After seeing some friends take steroids and how they morphed their bodies seamlessly within a couple months time, my thought process began to sway.  After doing some research on various types of steroids and finding a reliable source, I decided to do my first cycle. I told myself it would be a onetime thing just to get a little bigger and then I wouldn’t do anymore. I decided to go on a short cycle called Dianabol (D-bol) which was in pill form to be taken orally. This cycle would last for six weeks and was considered a good first cycle for beginners. During the cycle I started to become more and more obsessed with working out and my physical appearance than ever before. I would weigh myself every day at least twice. I couldn’t walk by a mirror without stopping to see how I looked in whatever I was wearing. I was constantly eating and could not stop obsessing about how I was going to look at the end of the cycle. It didn’t take long for people to suspect I was using steroids. Although I denied it every time, it would just feed my ego even more if someone asked me if I was taking them. I loved hearing how big, intimidating and in shape I was. This was something I had never experienced in my previous years and it felt amazing to be on the other side of the coin. I was even getting more attention from girls which I also craved.

After my first cycle was finished I had come from not ever conceiving of using steroids, to anxiously awaiting the start of my next cycle. My first cycle seemed to go very well and had literally no side effects which are common amongst steroid users. Within a few months I had purchased my next cycle. This time it was going to be a combination of Sustanon and Equipoise, both of which were to be taken by way of intramuscular injection. I once again found myself doing something I thought I would never do which was sticking a needle in my body. I was in too deep in my vanity to see that a progressive pattern was forming and unfortunately this 2nd cycle did not go as intended. After about three weeks into the cycle I was in a rush one day to be somewhere and after doing a shot in the bathroom, accidentally left the steroids and needles on the counter exposed. My mother ended up finding them soon thereafter and before long my entire immediately family knew what I was up to. The end result of this 2nd cycle was a good waste of money, some broken trust from my parents’ one of which who started to grow distant from me because of the poor choices I was making.

This gave me my first reality check which only lasted a couple months and before long what was starting to seem like my “addiction to vanity,” began to take over again. I started buying steroids at random based on whatever was available at the time. Though I had not experienced any real noticeable side effects from the previous two cycles, I found myself starting not to care even if I did get any. I was losing interest in working out naturally and felt like I had to be on steroids to get a good workout. Could it be that what started out as making minor improvements to my body had become full blown narcissism? I had gone from a humble, shy person who once appreciated the attention and friendship of others to the cocky mindset of expecting everyone to pay me attention.

It wasn’t until a few years later when steroids stopped working for me. I had gone on and off steroid cycles over the years to follow and had gotten some of the side effects that avid users talk about such as body acne (bacne), puffy cheeks and temporary shrinkage of testicles to name a few. It wasn’t until my last cycle that I really felt some of the repercussions that had me completely second guessing what I was putting into my body. Like that of any drug used over time, the body quickly gains a tolerance and more is needed to get the same desired effect. I decided I really wanted to take it to the next level this time. Though I had made gains with the previous cycles I had done I wanted to get huge this time. I did some research on what advanced bodybuilders take for steroid doses and decided I was going to one up even that. I knew the health risks were extremely high but my desire to look better in my own eyes outweighed the risks.  The cycle started off well and within 4 weeks I had put on 15 pounds of solid mass. I was 5’7 weighing in at 194lbs. This consequently was quickly accompanied by severe body acne. It was tolerable at first but soon became too embarrassing to even wear a tank top in the gym. I decided to finish the cycle in hopes that it wouldn’t get worse but that is not what happened. By the middle of the cycle I was almost embarrassed to wear a t shirt because acne had plagued my body from my chest to back and almost halfway down each arm. If this wasn’t bad enough, the worst was yet to come. During the course of a steroid cycle the drug is essentially suppressing the body’s normal testosterone production and acts as a “clone” or replacement to that production but is up to 4 times stronger. The longer a cycle is run for, the lower a male’s natural testosterone can get so when the cycle is over your body is trying to kick start its natural testosterone production again which can often lead to testicular atrophy, erectile dysfunction and infertility. This turned out to be the par for course in my last experience in conjunction with most of my body looking like the before picture on an acne commercial. Words could not describe the embarrassment of not having a functional libido at only the age of 27. I had to take expensive medication prescribed to older men for well over half of a year to sexually perform adequately with my girlfriend at the time. Eventually over the course of 9 months everything returned back to normal but this was the last straw for me.

In the end steroids would have turned out to be a never ending addiction for me had I not suffered some major consequences that led me to rethink what I was really doing to myself. I had grown to always wanting what I didn’t have as opposed to appreciating what I already did have. I had to come to the realization and acceptance that I will never be perfect or even close to it. Vanity in my opinion can be just as unmanageable and detrimental to a person’s life as any other addiction as you are trying to “Play God” forcing something artificially to be the way it was not meant to be. This addiction is also progressive like any other and will only get worse until some sort of bottom is hit forcing the person to seek other alternatives.

 

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Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Conditions and Disorders · Tags: Addiction, Addiction Treatment, steroids

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