Even as she says it, Trina Elliott knows it's an odd-sounding admission:
She's afraid of looking like a freak during her appearance tonight on TLC's My Strange Addiction.
Producers from the show came to St. Petersburg last year, documenting Trina and her husband Mike Elliott's habit of giving themselves coffee enemas multiple times a day. The show says Trina administers them to herself up to four times daily, claiming the couple declines to travel or leave their home much to indulge the habit.
Early press coverage of their episode, which kicks off the show's fourth season, has included ABC News, London's Daily Mail newspaper and the syndicated show Dr. Oz, where the couple traveled to New York for an episode that aired Tuesday.
The couple, who now live in Orlando, said they agreed to do the program mostly to explain how the enemas have offered her relief from constant problems with constipation and kidney stones. They don't deny indulging the habit or that Trina, in particular, insists on at least one coffee enema daily. (Mike says he hasn't indulged the practice regularly for a while.)
Still, they worry about how producers crafted the episode — pairing their story with the tale of a woman addicted to eating her cat's hair and grooming her pet with her tongue, making it tough to see any larger message in their story.
"We're not celebrities; we don't get paid to be on TV," noted Trina Elliott, 37. "I don't feel bad about telling the world I did this. I just hope the show doesn't make us look like freaks."
One thing they both insist: They never allowed producers to film them actually taking enemas, instead wearing clothes and re-enacting the procedure while covered by towels.
"I think my exact words were, 'Go f--- yourself,' " said Mike Elliott, 44, a freelance web designer and computer consultant, describing his response when producers asked to film them doing the deed.
"I don't mind talking about it, but I don't do it in front of people," she said. She uploaded a video to YouTube in 2010 discussing her initial resistance to the treatments.
Wendy Douglas, the senior director of production at TLC, said she was told their crew filmed the couple receiving enemas and re-enacting the procedure.
"We go out and shoot documentary-style, fly-on-the-wall, to capture the situation," she said, downplaying accounts from the Elliotts that producers told them what to say during filming.
But the doctor who is shown consulting with the couple on possible health effects of their habit, Tampa gastroenterologist Dr. Alan Weintraub, said he didn't actually examine the Elliotts, instead offering some thoughts based on a short interview.
Weintraub, who added the couple never revealed they might be administering the enemas up to four times a day, said the practice allows caffeine to reach the bloodstream faster — which may make them feel better without offering much therapeutic value.
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The Elliotts are no strangers to TV. Visitors to her YouTube page can click on a playlist with clips from the couple's appearance on Anderson Cooper's daytime show last year, where they were among several people who talked about how couples argue. Now, she worries that doing the TLC show "is the biggest mistake I've ever made," and he is preparing for friends to tease him mercilessly.
"I sorta knew what I was getting into," he said. "It ended up being more publicized than I expected."