So! That was kind of heavy, huh?
You’d think I would learn—when people who know me first started reading my book, they would give me these god-awful worried faces, gently touching my shoulder, asking me if I was okay.
Or, they would apologize profusely, saying if only they’d known, perhaps they could have done something to help me.
These reactions always seem to surprise me. I wrote the book—and the above essay—not because I want or expect those around me to take action. Quite simply, it makes me feel better to get it all out. I immediately felt better after I hit publish last week, and have been feeling better ever since.
I know to some, the idea of exposing their most darkest secrets is an unimaginable thought. I totally get that.
I guess I’m just wired differently. It makes me feel as though I’m not carrying the weight all by myself, like a load has been lifted.
Anyway, I am fine. Thank you for your concern.
It is a struggle, and sometimes I wonder if it will always be a struggle, if that is just my lot in life. God, I hope not. The days of endless storm clouds only broken up for a few hours of sunshine every other month just doesn’t work for me, you know? It’s hard imagining living this way for the rest of my life.
But living I must do, and am. I do the work, I pack the school lunches, I get on the treadmill, and I wait. One morning, when I test my feelings before even opening my eyes, I know that I will feel light. I just know I will.
I get up exactly when I am supposed to, embracing the work day with enthusiasm. I go the extra mile getting my morning tasks completed, and that always makes me feel good, knowing that I pushed myself and I won. It doesn’t take too much cajoling to get myself on the treadmill. I walk for 30 vigorous minutes, enjoying the heart pumping and the pulsating music. Time is made for a shower, even though I can think of a thousand other things that need to be done at that moment. The hot water feels so good on my skin, and I am amazed once again at how such an ordinary thing can make an incredible difference in my disposition. I am a mommy machine—ironing school clothes, packing lunches, not waving my kids off as they try to tell me, in painstaking detail, about their dreams from the night before. I don’t care that I don’t have time; I make time, and I ask them questions about what they remember from slumber. I hum on the way to school, I give a cheery hello to the other parents, I send my daughter off with the just the right amount of love and encouragement and support. The morning is flawless.
Once both kids are off to school, and the husband leaves for work, the house settles into quiet. The aquarium hums, the ice maker startles, but there’s no chatter, no litany of questions about light saber fights or upcoming summer plans. I sit in front of the computer, on top of the best possible start of the day, and I start to feel the crumble. I squirm in my seat, wishing away the nagging feeling, its shriek slowly rising, no matter how hard I push down. There is absolutely no reason to feel this way, and yet, these bad feelings will not be denied. They are out to show me who’s boss, and the days that start out with me actually having my act together only serve to stoke their singeing fire. My fall, therefore, is that much greater, and once the bad stuff has its way with me, I’m left in a tattered heap—wondering what the hell it is I am supposed to do now. I was so stupid to ever think I had fought the inner beast and won. It has a choke hold on me that is both effortless and insurmountable. I am no match, and I never was.
I don’t return emails or phone calls. I forget to go buy dog food, school pencils, and the stuff to make macaroni and cheese for the church potluck. I’m not sure what hurts more, the worried looks Michael and my mom get when they recognize the place I am in, or the fact that my kids no longer notice when I check out. It’s normal….isn’t it?
I am sick to death of this. I am tired of analyzing how I feel every second of every day. What must it be like, to just go about your normal routine, without a moment’s thought about how you’re doing, about how to avoid the challenges that you know lie ahead. How does it feel…..just to “be”….. and for that to be okay???
It’s not my inability to control what I eat. It’s not numbers on a scale or how high the number is on the tag of the dress. It’s just me. I am broken. I refuse to allow myself any sort of peace, and I am exhausted. The fight produces little victories here and there, but my God, it is not enough. I just want to be free.
Edited to add: This is not a cry for help. I am not, nor have I ever been, suicidal. My duty to my children far outweighs any feelings of wanting to give up on life. I don’t want to give up—that’s what makes this so hard. It helps to get my feelings out in this way—thanks for listening.
I can’t tell you what it means when people share their personal stories with me.
For them to feel comfortable enough to write to me, telling me painful things about themselves, I feel so….honored.
And I want to do right by them. I want to give them the right encouragement, say the right thing, so that they will know that yes, their story matters. Yes, they deserve to be happy, to be healthy, to be loved. I tell them all that because I truly believe it, but I also know, from being in their shoes, how very hard it is to convince yourself that you are worthy.
When you are mired down in self-destructive behavior, you can’t bring yourself out of it because you don’t think you are worth the effort. It’s so much easier to believe what that little voice is always telling you—that you are nothing. To battle against that—to stand up to the negative and to reclaim your life—it seems like such an enormous task—one that you’ll never be able to achieve. You give up before you start.
I’ve been there. Heck, I’m still there, in a lot of ways. I get tired of trying and I just want to give up. I have to force myself to remember how far I have come, and even though I have so much further to go, I know I can do it—deep down, I know the only thing standing in my way—is me.
So today, I am getting out of my own way. I am choosing to fight for me—because I deserve to be happy. And so do you.
Let’s keep reminding each other…okay???
There’s news this week that a new diet drug is showing promising results, more so than any other drug in a long time.
(For more info, google the drug Qnexa. If I were cool, I would know how to link to an article here, but alas…I am clueless.
Folks, this is good news. I wrote in Designated Fat Girl about my experience with diet drugs and how I benefited from them a great deal, only for the pills to be yanked away (once by the FDA, once by a power-hungry doctor). It seems the medical community is just a little bit touchy when it comes to using pharmaceuticals to help lose weight—any sign of a problem and the patient is left high and dry. For my 16 years battling morbid obesity, the only time I lost significant amounts of weight were either with diet drugs or with surgery. Am I particularly proud of that? No…I wish I could say I’d been able to “do it on my own”. But in the end, something had to be done and I did finally do it, so there!
My point….yes, there are risks with diet drugs, some pretty scary side effects, even. But I ask this: what are the side effects of carrying more than 300 pounds on your frame? What is your extra weight doing to your heart, your joints, your psyche? Shouldn’t a patient be allowed to consider all the risks and make the decision on their own? And if they choose to use diet drugs to help lose weight, shouldn’t we support such a brave decision???
New diet drugs means there’s been new research, and that makes me happy. The more we talk about this obesity epidemic, I have to believe we are getting closer to finding real solutions to abolishing a hideous condition.
Springtime has always been a mixed bag for me, emotionally.
On the one hand, the flowers! The return of green grass! Wait…is that the chirping of birds I hear????
It’s hard to be down and depressed when your surroundings are popping with color and the sun feel so good on your skin. So yeah, like most humans, I love spring.
But when I was heavier, and my eating was out of control, spring always seemed to signal some sort of panic. Like I didn’t know all winter that eventually, the weather would warm up and the clothes would get smaller. Every year, the calendar snuck up on me and I greeted the changing of the seasons with dread and despair…and desperation. Quick…can I lose 100 pounds by June?????
So okay….spring reminded me that summer was coming and I was still fat.
Then, I had gastric bypass in the spring of 2008, along with weeks of complications. The spring that year should have held the extra promise of finally getting my body under control; instead, March, April and May of that year are but a blur. I feel like I missed an entire spring, and when I finally came out of it, I hadn’t a clue as to how to get better.
Now, I’m finally getting to enjoy Spring as I’d always imagined it. Full of beauty…and of hope. Three years after my surgery, my health is no longer spiraling out of control, and truly, there is no accurate way of quantifying that feeling.
All I feel…..is grateful.
I’m coming up on my 3-year gastric bypass anniversary. In a lot of ways, being 336 pounds seems like a lifetime ago; sometimes, though, I still manage to forget that I am no longer morbidly obese. Finally, my mind has had time to catch up to the rapid weight loss of those first post-surgical months, but I suspect I will never fully get used to losing so many pounds. And that’s a good thing, I think.
I don’t want to forget.
As painful as it was—and sometimes still is—it’s important to me that I always remember what it’s like to struggle against something you feel powerless to change. I’m sure people looked at me for years, wondering why I didn’t just exercise more or simply pay more attention to my diet. They had no idea the torment I went through on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. I’ve said it many times and I will always repeat it as fact: No one is 336 pounds because they like food too much. There’s other stuff going on, to be sure.
I’ve never been a drinker. I don’t enjoy the taste of alcohol and I hate the way it makes me feel. I used to look at alcoholics and think, “Why don’t you just stop? It can’t be fun; why not quit?” It seemed so simple to me.
Now I know that’s an ignorant way of thinking. I look at people struggling with problems with empathy, hoping that they find the solution that works for them. Yes, there are plenty of people who manage to live their lives without overindulgence, without addiction. They should consider themselves lucky; not everyone is as fortunate.
If you have a problem with food, with drink, with whatever demons, please know that there are people out there who can sympathize. I hope you find answers.
If you know of someone struggling, please—offer kindness. You don’t have to understand, it’s not your job. But human decency? We all have that responsibility.
I have a friend who just had gastric bypass surgery this past week, and she’s having a hard time.
She misses food. She says she’s hungry. She feels lost.
Boy, I can so relate to what she’s going through.
Telling someone what it’s like to have gastric bypass surgery is like trying to tell someone what it’s like to have a baby. Meaning, you can describe the effects all you want, but you can’t really understand it until you go through it yourself.
That’s why I never, ever recommend someone should have the surgery. It has to be an individual decision, one made after lots of research and soul-searching takes place. I’m glad I had it done, and ever with all the complications I endured, I would absolutely do it again. But no, I would never tell anyone to go through with it.
Having the surgery is a shock. I didn’t realize how much I used food as a comfort; I always thought of my eating as a weapon of self-destruction, never something that made me feel better. But just after surgery, still in the hospital, I wanted a Mountain Dew so bad. I realized how I used soda to calm me down, to make me feel better. And now, I couldn’t do that. And like my friend is now, I was just lost.
It gets better. You just have to grit your teeth and get through it, day by day. It takes a while, for sure. But eventually, you do find a way to eat and you do enjoy food again. In fact, eating is so much more enjoyable when you know it’s not killing you.
If you’re thinking about having weight loss surgery, read all that you can. Find people who have had it done (they are everywhere!) and ask them about their experience. Go into the process with your eyes wide open before making a decision. This is a major life change, and it is not going to be easy.
But for me, it’s been totally worth it.
Are you superstitious about your “fat clothes”?
I’ve known many people who, at the very moment they achieved their goal weight, promptly cleaned out their closets and dispensed of their large sizes. This always struck me as pushing one’s luck; after all, how silly would you feel if you gave all your clothes away, only to gain some weight back and need them just a short time later?
Now that I think of it, it’s a pretty pessimistic way of looking at things.
When I had gastric bypass surgery and the weight came off so quickly, my mind had a hard time keeping up with my physical reality. I walked around in clothes that were way too big for me because I couldn’t grasp the concept, couldn’t believe that I was actually, significantly, thinner. Finally, family members and friends started to gently coax me into buying more clothes. And as I did, I really thought nothing of bagging up the old clothes and donating them. I got rid of my “fat” clothes.
It turned out to be way more of a practical move than a symbolic gesture. First, I don’t have a lot of closet space, so I needed to make room. Second, as people gave me clothes they no longer needed because they’d lost weight, it occurred to me what a nice gesture it is to pay that forward, and giving away my clothes meant I was helping someone else. Perhaps most importantly, ridding myself of the bigger sizes meant I could no longer use the larger clothes as a crutch. The weight was gone, and I was moving on, end of story.
It’s now been almost three years since my surgery and I haven’t needed my fat clothes, thank goodness. If you’ve lost weight or you plan to, I encourage you to clean out your closet. Let go of the pounds and say goodbye to the bigger you!
Snow in the south—send help!!!!
We were socked with four inches of snow Monday, following by half an inch of ice.
We’re going on our third day out of school, and I am a Mommy on the Edge!
One good thing about all of this—I am actually able to play in the snow with my kids. When I was much heavier, walking across a room was an effort; now, I can run and jumo and play in the snow with little worry.
Of course…..that doesn’t mean I like it.
Please send sunshine. And please Lord, let there be school tomorrow!!
I’ve gotten some flak about my eating habits, and really I can understand why.
Pepperoni slices. Cheese. Peanut Butter. Yeah, not exactly the picture of health.
In my defense, though, I never pretended to be an expert on anything. A lot of people put out books about their experience with weight loss, promising to share with you what they found to be the key to their success.
My book, Designated Fat Girl, is simply a memoir about my food addiction. I’m not promising to tell you what to do (I wouldn’t even begin to know what “the right thing” is…although I am quickly becoming the expert on the wrong thing!)
My eating habits have been poor all of my life, and quite honestly, they still leave a lot of room for improvement.
Some question why, after all I’ve been through, wouldn’t I now “do the right thing” when it comes to food.
Oh, if it were only that simple.
Gastric bypass surgery affects people in different ways. Some people are forever restricted in how much sugar and fat they can consume; others eat both with ease.
For me, some sugar is not a problem, but too much carbohydrate leaves me feeling deathly ill.
Fruit was never my favorite thing anyway, but now I really can’t tolerate it.
Green leafys? No way, and for most of my adult life, I’ve enjoyed salads, but alas, no more.
No to corn. I can have a tablespoon of green peas, a teaspoon of green beans. It’s pretty pitiful.
So I’ve found what I can tolerate, between my problems with digestion and my limited palate.
And it’s not always pretty, that’s for sure. But so far, it works for me.