New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the first openly gay mayoral candidate in the city's history, has acknowledged a past battle with bulimia and alcoholism.
"I'm embarrassed about it now still. I wish I could say I wasn't," the Democrat said in an interview published Tuesday in The New York Times
At the time, Quinn said, she was 16 and her mother was dying of breast cancer. In order to cope with the situation, she revealed, she would eat a large amount of comfort food such as ice cream and corn muffins in a single sitting and then purge. The cycle of binging and purging provided a temporary sense of relief for what seemed like a life that was spinning out of control.
Quinn felt that if she could be the perfect daughter, her mother might be saved. It was at this time, in 10th grade, that she overheard fellow classmates in the locker room talking about purging to lose weight.
For someone who had always struggled with her weight and self-image, "It seemed like the greatest idea I ever heard," she told the Times.
"For a brief moment, you've kind of expelled from your being the things that are making you feel bad."
At the same time, Quinn said, she started drinking with her friends at clubs in Manhattan and Long Island, where she lived before attending Trinity College in Connecticut.
After graduation, she worked as an aide to gay City Councilman Tom Duane, a recovering alcoholic. Quinn said he suggested rehab, which she did for 28 days in August 1992.
"Asking for help, getting to rehab, dealing with bulimia, cutting back on drinking, getting drinking out of my life altogether -- all of that helped me put the pieces back together," she said.
"I just want people to know you can get through stuff," she said. "I hope people can see that in what my life has been and where it's going."
Recent public opinion polls show Quinn leading other candidates in the mayoral race.
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