A health and fitness vlogger has admitted to faking workouts after becoming addicted to a prescription stimulant that “ruined” her life.
Ashley Beeman, 34, runs the “Fit + Fabulous” blog, which encourages wellness through a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
But in 2015, she secretly got hooked on Adderall, a drug used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) after being diagnosed by her doctor. The mother-of-two, from Arizona in the US, said the weight-loss results she achieved with the drug spurred her addiction as she dropped from 75kg to 58kg.
She admits to sharing misleading posts with her 32,000 social media followers during her addiction.
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“I would fake my workouts for my social media followers and my business grew a ton, and I feel terrible about that now,” she said. “People were complimenting me which spurred me on and made me feel great. I thought I looked fantastic but I was just skin and bones.”
Ms Beeman’s life quickly spiralled out of control as she began to run through her monthly prescription in just two weeks. She hit rock bottom when she ran out of Adderall at a family reunion and became so anxious she couldn’t interact with her family.
In June 2016 she vowed to quit the controversial drug — and after enduring a “nightmare” detox period, she is now celebrating three years without it.
With the support of her husband Dusty Beeman, 36, she came clean to her social media followers about her former addiction.
“A year after I had given up I knew I had to come clean on my Facebook page,” Ms Beeman, mum of kids Dylan, 8, and Davin, 6, said.
“I had pretended to be living this really healthy lifestyle to all my followers and I owed them an explanation,” she said. “I went live on Facebook and I received such a warm reaction. Everyone was really supportive and they started sharing their own struggles with Adderall.
“When I first got clean I felt guilty but now I’ve tried to forgive myself and move on. Now I genuinely love to work out and eat well,” she explained.
During her addiction, Ms Beeman says she was terrified of running out of Adderall.
“I would lie to pharmacists and doctors,” she confessed. “I would make up ridiculous excuses like I dropped my prescription script into the lake and they would just give me another.
“On Adderall I would hardly sleep. I would be up all night staring at the ceiling. Sometimes I would have a few glasses of wine just to get to sleep,” she said. “I was always constipated. Sometimes I wouldn’t have a bowel movement for up to two weeks at a time.
“I wasn’t focused on my family in any way,” she continued. “When I was on Adderall I was selfish. I was just living my life and I wasn’t present for my children. I wouldn’t spend time with them.
“I feel like I’ve missed a lot of memories with my youngest one. I became obsessed with my business. I felt like I was being really productive but in reality I probably was just a tornado. I would jump from task to task maniacally.”
Ms Beeman described her comedowns as “a nightmare” and said she would spend days vomiting and shaking until she could get a new fix.
“I went to Cancun at the end of March 2015 for a conference. I was really anxious and I ended up taking my whole prescription early on in the trip. I didn’t think I could do it without Adderall,” she recalled.
“I had to get a flight home to Arizona without Adderall and it was awful. You’re so, so tired and you can’t eat enough food,” she said. “You throw up and you shiver. Your heart feels like it’s going to jump out of your chest.”
In 2016, she realised it was time to seek help.
“I explained to a new doctor that I really wanted to get off Adderall because it was ruining my life,” Ms Beeman explained. “We did my blood work and it turned out I had Hashimoto’s, an auto-immune condition and hyperthyroidism that may have been the cause of all of my symptoms in the first place. I think I was misdiagnosed with ADD.
“So I went cold turkey on Adderall. It was such a hard transition. I was so unwell. In the first three weeks I put on 9kg, which was devastating for me at that time, (as) my view of my body had become so warped.
“But I didn’t want to go back so I pushed forward. I wanted to experience my life. But I craved Adderall so much for a long time. I had to work a lot on body positivity and finding an inner worth that didn’t depend on my looks or my weight. I weigh 68kg now and I’ve learned to love my body.
“It wasn’t always great. My first year off Adderall I still punished myself with crazy diets but I don’t do that anymore. I hate looking back at photos of myself during that time because I don’t look good, even though I thought I looked amazing.
“When I watch old videos, you can tell by my eyes I’m not really there.”
Now, Ms Beeman feels she’s truly present with her family and business once again.
She said: “I’ve worked hard to make memories with my children in the present. I hardly remember ever playing with them while I was on Adderall. Now family is my priority.”
Originally published as ‘I faked my workouts’: Blogger’s massive lie