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Three years after filming a video detailing her struggle with drug addiction and bulimia, blogger Collin Morgan finally feels comfortable sharing it with the world.
Morgan, a regular TODAY contributor and the coupon-savvy mom behind the popular Hip2Save blog, released a video called "How Coupons Saved My Life" on Wednesday in which she delves into some difficult subjects from her life. The video was filmed in 2012, but she didn't release it until now.
"I felt at that point [in 2012] that I wasn't OK with letting that out there,'' Morgan told TODAY.com. "Now I'm really at a good place in my life, and when I thought about the video, I hoped it would benefit people who might be struggling with any addiction. I just wanted to show people that there is light at the end of the tunnel."
Morgan, who grew up in Idaho, talks about the low self esteem that led her to drug addiction throughout high school in the late 1990s. In 2000, she got pregnant at age 19 with the first of her three children. For the safety of the baby she quit doing drugs, but turned to food to deal with stress.
After giving birth to her son in 2001 she became bulimic. She stayed that way for five years, until her pregnancy with her daughter.
"It's hard to say, but my whole day revolved around it,'' she said. "If I wasn't doing it, I was thinking about it. They were these pointless years where I wasn't really living. I just hit the bottom. With addiction, it's a guilt cycle. You're not present with your kids [because of the bulimia], so you want to numb your guilt. It's a vicious cycle, and it's so hard to jump out of it."
With the help of her family, Morgan went to rehab for her bulimia. When she returned home, she realized that the condition had also spawned crushing debt of more than $60,000.
"My credit card debt was so much fast food,'' she said. "I realized while I was trying to pick up the pieces that it just insane to have all this debt. I couldn't have this weigh on me and go back to the bingeing and purging cycle. A food addiction is really hard, because with alcohol and drugs, you can just avoid having any, but with food, you have to eat."
While trying to reduce her family's debt in 2007, Morgan, who had always handled the grocery shopping, started finding ways to save with coupons. Emails to her mother and sister about deals she found led to the creation of Hip2Save.
"I felt so confident,'' she said. "It wasn't necessarily about coupons: It was something in life that I really got. I'm a stay-at-home mom, so it's helpful to have that thing. It was huge for me, because I was always super hard on myself, thinking I was worthless or stupid, so to have this was a great stepping stone for me, and I really started to enjoy what I was doing.
"I remember that first credit card that we paid off. It's such an exciting feeling when you do it on your own."
Morgan has developed thick skin in dealing with the online slings and arrows that come from blogging, but she has been pleasantly surprised with the reaction that her latest video has gotten.
"It's been way more positive than I thought,'' she said. "A lot of people are letting their own stuff out in the comments, so it seems like it's been therapeutic for them and opened up a great conversation."
Morgan has three suggestions for others who may be struggling with similar challenges while caring for a family.
1. Talk to someone.
"I think the first thing is to figure out someone that you feel really comfortable with, because that first step is being honest not only with yourself but also someone else,'' she said. "When you start being really open, a lot of that guilt is pumped out, so you're not killing yourself with the guilt every day. Before I went to rehab, I felt better because I had said that I needed help. Especially with certain addictions, it can be very embarrassing, so letting it out helps a lot."
2. Find something to throw your energy into.
"I know it's easier said than done, but finding something you're passionate about, that is huge. Just doing something for yourself that gives you that boost a little bit can make a big difference."
3. Things will get better.
"You can come from an addiction and be OK. When you're in it, you don't think it's possible. You think, 'It's never going to happen for me.' But there is a light at the end of the tunnel."