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City Council Speaker Quinn Reveals Struggles With Bulimia And Alcoholism

Pundit: Timing Of Mayoral Hopeful's Move Seen As 'Inauthentic,' 'Too Contrived'

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn is opening up about her decade-long struggle with bulimia and alcoholism.

In an interview with the New York Times, Quinn said her bingeing and purging began when she was 16 while caring for her mother who was dying of cancer.

“My life was out of control, and I craved something that could give me control and that was bulimia,” Quinn reiterated Tuesday during a talk at Barnard College.

Quinn said at the time, she believed if she was a perfect daughter her mother might get better. For her that meant being thinner and prettier and getting better grades.

Her mother died when she was a high school junior.

Quinn said after 10 years of battling bulimia she entered a Florida rehabilitation center at age 26. The 28-day treatment program came at the recommendation of friend and former boss Tom Dwayne.

“It gave me a sense of control over my eating of a small part of my world, and the alcohol drinking gave me a little bit of an escape,” Quinn said.

Quinn has given up alcohol entirely and years later, she said she wishes she could say she’s not embarrassed by her struggles with bulimia and alcoholism, WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane reported.

The 46-year-old Quinn said she doesn’t want to be seen as a victim, but hopes others will follow her example of openness.

“I just want people to know you can get through stuff,” Quinn told the Times. “I hope people can see that in what my life has been and where it is going.”

Quinn reveals her eating and drinking battles in a new book, “With Patience and Fortitude,” which comes out next month, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported.

Quinn’s message Tuesday to the Barnard students was that when you reveal the truth, good things happen, WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reported.

“One of the things about challenges like bulimia or eating disorders or alcoholism is you think you’re the only person,” Quinn told the students. “I thought I was the only 16-year-old girl in the world who had no ability to deal with her mother dying.”

Quinn credited getting professional help to beat bulimia and alcoholism and said asking for help is a sign of success, not of failure.

“When you come out of hiding in whatever way you’re hiding, you get to go out into the sunlight,” Quinn said at Barnard.

She also spilled other family secrets, like her relationship with her father, an 86-year-old Irishman with a certain formality to him.

“We always greet each other by shaking hands. We’ve only kissed once … on my wedding day,” Quinn said.

Baruch College professor Doug Muzzio told CBS 2′s Kramer the new “chatty Kathy” or “chatty Christine” approach is an attempt to woo female voters, but added, “The buzz out there, initially, is that it looks a bit inauthentic and it looks too contrived.”

“Clearly it’s an  attempt to differentiate herself in a multi-candidate field,” Muzzio added. “This is a way to distinguish herself. It’s branding.”

So there’s Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who has already revealed that his wife identified as a lesbian when she met him. If Anthony Weiner enters the race — he of sexting scandal fame — the mayoral race could really turn into reality television.

“It’s the, you know, sort of the Kim Kardashian effect on American political life, New York political life,” Muzzio said.

Quinn insisted she in no way intended to set a standard for what the other candidates do, yet it leaves one wondering what other revelations await as the mayoral campaign kicks into high gear, CBS 2′s Kramer reported.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)