How’d you get that fat in the first place?
So I’m going to do my best to answer it.
I have always been fat. Not chubby or plump, fat. Very fat. “Morbidly obese” fat. I was over 300 pounds in high school and about 375 when I was 21 or 22. But I was comfortable with it. I worked and went to school; I could climb three flights of stairs and could walk back and forth across campus with no problem; I went for walks and did aerobics; I went out with my friends a lot; I could go to clubs and dance for hours without any difficulty.
When I was 23 I got my own apartment and went a bit hermity. I didn’t know how to cook and was lazy so I started eating fast food and delivery a lot more often. And since I was all hermity, I didn’t go out and got next to no exercise. So I put on some weight. Then I was unemployed for seven months and probably put on some more weight. But not a huge amount because my clothes still fit and I was still mobile and had no real issues other than the emotional crap.
When I was 25 I injured my back at work; in a fall that involved all 400~ pounds of me slamming my spine down against the edge of tile stairs. I’m not going to go into exactly what happened but, due to my naiveté and fear of causing trouble, I made a decision that resulted in my receiving no treatment. The pain was so severe that I would cry trying to put on my shoes. Every night when I walked up the stairs to my apartment I would have to hold on to the rail with both hands and, essentially, drag myself up while shrieking through my teeth. The pain was constant.
Cooking for myself or even standing long enough to pour a bowl of cereal became too much for me to handle. So I began eating fast food for every meal. Could I have found a healthier alternative? Duh. But this was easier and I didn’t think it would last very long.
Then a driver ran a stop sign and totaled my car. Which exacerbated the pain to the point that I could barely function. I was finally able to get treatment and saw a chiropractor for several months. Which helped. But it sure as hell didn’t solve anything. The pain was still constant. And intense.
So my car was totaled and I still owed thousands on it. And I had to buy a new car so, in addition to rent, I had two car notes. Did I mention that I worked for a non-profit and barely made enough to pay my bills as it was? And then I found out the guy I was in love with had been lying to me for the last year and had no desire to be with me so I had to end that.
And then my dad lost his job. So, a few months after the accident, I made the decision to move back in with my parents because they needed my help and I was, frankly, losing my mind and couldn’t even function physically. So I put 90% of my belongings into storage and moved home. And three weeks later my storage space was broken into and nearly everything I owned was stolen.
And all this shit was in the course of, like seven months! Did I mention that I eat when I’m stressed? And depressed?
(I hesitate to admit to these things. Not because I’m embarrassed. But because I hate knowing that people will use my personal insanity as proof that “all fat people are/do...” But what’s the option? Lie? I can’t do that.)
So I started eating. And didn’t stop.
And the worse I felt, the more I ate. And the more I ate, the worse I felt. And the worse I felt, the more I ate. And the more I ate, the worse I felt. Times infinity.
The worse I felt, the more I ate. The more I ate, the heavier I got. The heavier I got, the worse my mobility became. The worse my mobility became, the more depressed I got. The more depressed I got, the more I ate. Times infinity.
I ate. Desperately. When I wanted to cut, I ate. When I wanted to kill myself, I ate. When the back pain was more than I could handle, I ate. When I had nothing else in my life that made me happy, I ate. When I wanted a few moments of comfort, I ate. I ate and ate, getting emptier and emptier. Eating to fill the darkness that was only growing the more out of control I felt. Hunger and depression blending and morphing to the point where I couldn’t differentiate between the two. Eating until I felt sick and still not being able to stop because the emptiness was still there. Gnawing. Always gnawing away at me.
I made the decision to have gastric bypass surgery. My doctor supported it fully. She could see how bad it had gotten. How I struggled to walk and stand. How every movement was effort and pain. She submitted the paperwork to my insurance company. And I waited.
A year later I was still waiting.
My health and mobility had reached a critical point and I could, literally, feel my body shutting down more and more each day. I couldn’t walk more than a few steps without my legs shaking and ankles feeling as if they were going to give out. I had to sleep sitting up and still could only manage 15 minutes at a time. My legs and arms were so swollen they hurt all the time and were constantly going numb.
I tried so hard to get my eating under control. To eat in a normal and healthy way. To eat differently; to eat less; to not eat at all. But I failed. Over and over and over again.
In July it was so bad that I took a leave of absence from work and went on disability. A couple of months later I decided to switch my insurance plan, get eight new credit cards, and go waaay into debt in order to make surgery happen because I knew I wasn’t going to last much longer. Emotionally or physically.
So, there you go. That’s how I went from 375 pounds, active, social and fairly happy to 550 pounds, nearly immobile, and suicidal in the course of seven years.
I had surgery in October 2007...16 months after my paperwork was submitted by my doctor. I have awesome friends who give me information they shouldn’t. The reason I was dicked around for so long? Because my medical group was being bought out and they were doing whatever they could to delay my surgery so they wouldn’t have to pay for it. Also, insurance companies would much rather approve weight loss surgery for smaller patients because the procedures are easier and faster and, therefore, cost less.
So, seriously, don’t tell me that gastric bypass surgery is given only to those who need it or that the insurance companies are only looking out for our best interest. Because that, my friend, is bullshit.
Anyway. I don’t know if anyone who doesn’t have a history of eating disorders/binge eating/addiction/severe depression can understand how it happened. But it did. It wasn’t genes, it wasn’t medication, it wasn’t some weird disease. It was me using food and soda as a coping mechanism, just as I’d been doing since I was little.
And now my life is a disaster once again. Only now I don’t have the ability to use food the way I used to. So I have to find out if I can survive without the crutch I’ve depended on for more than two decades. And damned if that isn’t scary as hell.
But kind of exciting too.