City Council speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn says she grappled in the past with bulimia and alcoholism, addictions she said she developed as a teenager struggling to cope with caring for her dying mother amid the trials of adolescence.
In an interview with the New York Times, Quinn says her bingeing and purging began when she was 16; her mother was dying of breast cancer at the time, and Quinn woke, bathed and fed her most mornings.
She was also the child tasked with giving her mother, who could only read her lips, updates on her worsening health condition, the Times said.
Quinn says at the time, she believed if she was a perfect daughter her mother might get better. She says she believed that meant being thinner and prettier and getting better grades.
At particularly overwhelming moments, Quinn told the Times she'd sneak quarts of ice cream and muffins to her bedroom, consume them rapidly and then force herself to vomit -- all in a desperate attempt to numb her pain and halt, at least temporarily, the hopeless, fearful sense of life spinning out of control.
Quinn's mother died when she was a high school junior. It wasn't until the mayoral hopeful was 26, having battled bulimia and the alcoholism that often accompanies it for a decade, that she finally sought help and entered a Florida rehabilitation center.
Now 46, Quinn says she hopes others will follow her example of openness, and that those who struggle will have the courage to seek help, like she did. She told the Times she has come to believe that "until you stop hiding things, you're hiding things, and hiding things is not healthy."
"I want to be affirmatively proud of what I have made my way through," Quinn told the Times. "And to do that, in the same way I had to tell my father and my family and my friends that I was gay, I need to not hide this anymore."
Quinn is expected to speak publicly about her battles with eating disorders and alcoholism Tuesday at Barnard College. She's also expected to address her struggles in a memoir set to be published in June.
"I just want people to know you can get through stuff," she told the paper. "I hope people can see that in what my life has been and where it is going."