Over the past 10 years, I’ve gained over 200 pounds. I’m starting this blog because I know I’m not alone. I know we are out there, but we tend to hide.
I hide because I was not always this big. I was “normal” for the first 40+ years of my life.
Then, overnight, I got sick. It took 6 months of tests, specialists, poking, prodding, scanning to come up with a diagnosis. “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. One of the most useless labels ever created by the medical community. No one is clear what it is, no one is sure what causes it, and there is no cure. There is pain, there is exhaustion, there is fever. Migraines, joint and muscle aches, “brain fog”. Pain meds kept me asleep more than I was awake. When I wasn’t seeing a doctor, I was in bed.
I gained most of the weight in the first few years. It was like my metabolism screeched to a halt. I stopped cooking, because I simply couldn’t perform the physical tasks, and the meals came from any place that would deliver. I could not drive, so the food came to me.
I don’t live in a big city. Choices here for food delivery range from pizza to Chinese food to subs, fries, etc. I went from eating healthy meals that I prepared to living on whatever would come to my house.
And the more I ate of the food, the more I craved it. It triggered something in my brain that numbed the emotional pain from having a chronic illness. My life changed completely. I lost my job, I lost my freedom and independence, and I slowly lost contact with my friends, as their lives moved forward and I was house-bound. The physical illness created depression, and in spite of therapy and even MORE medication, I found myself abusing food like an drug addict abuses heroin. Sugar, fat, and starch caused a physical reaction and it was nothing for me to eat an entire pound of pasta, or an entire pizza in one sitting, and then zone out on the couch, dozing off from the chemical reaction created in my brain as the food metabolized. Some people throw the phrase “food coma” around as a joke. I can testify that I can eat myself into a physical state that is exactly like being drugged. When you fall asleep sitting up from eating a pound of pasta, there is something serious going on with your body.
So, I stopped the delivery. I made arrangements to get groceries and started buying the healthy food I ate before I got sick. For the most part, I ate healthy meals. But, if something happened and I got upset, I went back to the trash food. And that’continues to be the pattern.
Some people would say I am trying to kill myself. I’m not. I have tried everything short of surgery to get this under control. I even went so far into debt from paying for a Residential Treatment facility that I had to declare bankruptcy because I couldn’t make the credit card payments.
Insurance won’t pay for food addiction treatment, unless you’re a purger. I’m not bulimic. I binge without the purging. My health insurance won’t cover any of the surgery, either. They specifically exclude it and explained that too many people abused it. Their words, not mine.
So here I am. What I would call an average person. I have a college education, had a decent job, a great group of friends, varied interests, and a physically active life.
That’s still me on the inside. Unfortunately, on the outside I am super morbidly obese and lack the financial means to pay for any of the options that will help me. I isolate and carry so much shame and guilt because I feel like I should be able to control this.
I sometimes wish it was alcohol or drugs that I abuse instead of food. At least I could physically avoid being anywhere near them. With food, you have to eat to survive. Like making an alcoholic drink 3 times a day.
I don’t know what I hope to accomplish with this blog. I know I’m hoping that somehow someone out there will read it and know what this personal hell is like and know they aren’t alone. Maybe people who don’t know what this feels like will read this and learn that we are not disgusting lazy animals that choose to live like this without trying to do something about it.
I fight every hour of every day. It is so hard, and it is exhausting. To know what I’m doing to myself, and to do it anyway? I live each day hoping that I can get through it without eating myself numb, and keep searching for something to help me. For the strength to be able to save myself.