Weight Loss and Gain | Depression
Mental Illness | Mental Struggles
My addictions are many. My homie is food so I'm on a journey trying to find myself - again.
I once weighed 420 pounds. After a serious of traumatic events, I got angry over some traumatic events (check out blogs for the updates) and made a life style change. There was an awakening in my soul.
I lost 140 pounds and didn't FEEL any different but some say they didn't recognize me. I felt free. Comfortable. Elegant. Then I gained a relationship, got comfortable and have slowly gained the weight back. If someone didn't think that gaining 32 was anything at all, picture having to carry a little over 3, 10-pound bags of potatoes daily.
I want my fire back. I want my fury, my voice, my freedom, my journey back. I believe the only way I'm going to get it is to be honest again. To be open, raw and write it all out because this is where I started. I started as The Starving Fat Lady. I wanted so much. Hungry for life. Starving for freedom. But I let food win.
I hope you're reading this and relating and now know you're not alone. I hope that you're able to breathe a slight breath of relief knowing 'someone gets it'. Why don't we do this together?
The first thing – well no – perhaps the third thing you would notice about me is my consistent inconsistencies. I feel like I should explain why I’m like this not out of necessity but because it’s the entire reason I decided to write this blog. I’m not alone which means others are not alone either. And in order for me, (and perhaps others), to start healing I must first figure out why I do the things I do and why I feel the way I feel. But who am I?
Truth? I’m a(n) loving, manic depressive, smart, anxious, giving, contradictive, over-the-top, persistent, funny, narcissistic, mostly supportive person. But I’m unpredictable because I can be contradictive making me inconsistent. Ya know? Yeah. It hurts my brain too. I blame it all on depression. Sometimes it makes your brain go in every direction but the right one. Let’s visit that for a moment.
Depression is crippling for some. For me, it’s my lead vest. It feels like it takes away personality and eats away at my soul. It physically takes over and pains my temples and eye lids and parts of my hair. Depression avoids phone calls, text messages, emails, events, visitors and cancels all plans. Depression despises sympathy and looks forward to being alone. There are often times I get sick of hearing myself. It’s much easier to just smile and say, “everything is great”, rather than drag someone down – AGAIN – with my bullshit. But at last, it lifts and I can carry on about my day as if it never existed.
If you follow my Facebook page you will notice that I created a post that said I would be posting blogs every Monday and Friday. In true Tonia fashion, last Friday I did not.
So yes, what had happened was my son had been released from jail recently. As some readers may know, he was in some trouble but he is out until trial. More on that later. I’ve been spending time with him and to be honest, I’m a bit worried. I mean, what parent wouldn’t be for their child, right? With that worry comes stress and with stress comes depression and well – BINGO! Here we are! I canceled plans, I didn’t write my blog, I became exhausted and once again I found myself apologizing that I wasn’t able to meet goals. So, how do I fix it? Sure, I could eat better and I could exercise but that would require me giving a fuck about that so scooch that to the bottom of the list. I must find my passion. Pleasing others is not working. I have to surround myself with people who understand that it’s okay to flake out. That it’s okay to be me without the excuses and that it’s okay to be consistently inconsistent. But where do I start?
I feel I’ve already taken too much “me” time and not enough “them” time. Let’s face it. I wasn’t the perfect role model to my kids when they were young during the crucial times in their lives when it was important to be a mother. I have no excuse but my therapist will tell you different. She will tell you that I struggled with my own depression and that my life was in shambles. “How could you possibly give three young children the quality of life that you wanted and desired when you were going through so much in your own life?” Really? I find that very selfish, doc. *sigh* So many regrets.
There are many times they had to fend for themselves. They played by themselves. They learned by themselves. They ate by themselves. I worked tremendously and I think that was my way of checking out so that I didn’t have to deal with the crying, yelling and screaming daily. I didn’t have to deal with their wants and needs by myself everyday. I didn’t have to solve fights and disagreements. So of course, they only had each other. So for me to take time for myself today is leaving them to fend for themselves “again” and this leaves me with painful guilt. Literally I feel a heavy and painful jolt in my chest and stomach. Anger at myself heats up my face and wells up in my cheeks and ears. It then shoots towards my eyes and a sudden burst of warmth runs down my face.
I remember a few years ago we had just left a counselors office. All four of us. We took an elevator down because we thought it was a really cool elevator. It was one of those old ones that have the wrought iron looking gates on the front that squeal really loud when you open and close them. The entire elevator was open so as you move you can see everything around you. This also means there are gaps and holes that allow ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to fall through. When we reached the bottom and as I stepped off the elevator my keys slipped from my hand and fell between the gap to the floor below which was empty and looked like it may have been under construction. It was maybe 3 or 4 feet down so not very far but far enough that I couldn’t get down there myself. I didn’t have to say anything. All three of the kids scrambled to worked together and fast. They could see the keys and each one worked together to get them. One held the gate while the other went to retrieve. It took a minute to figure out because it wasn’t as simple as just moving the gate. They had to go in from the side and then determine who was going to go in, who was the smallest to fit and then how they were going to get that person back up. I remember watching them and thinking – “Wow. It’s incredible that just one hour ago they were fighting with one another but now, when comes to having to make a plan or having a job to do, they seem to come together quickly and get it solved.” Any other parent would have been proud and then moved on from the experience. Don’t get me wrong – I was proud. Very proud. But I haven’t forgotten that day because I felt awful. I knew that they worked well together in that way because they had learned from an early age how to survive on their own. They have only ever had each other. Sadness punched me in the gut.
They are all adults in their twenties now and I feel that guilt and regret more so now than ever. I watch them struggle with life. My oldest seems to do okay for the most part although she doesn’t seem to have a sense of direction. My son. Oh, my son. As I type this he is currently sitting in County Detention aka jail. I won’t get into that much here right now but I will say this – I have the guilt. I am guilty of not providing an example. My heart absolutely aches but I put money on his books and try my best to be sure his car is paid for each month and that he knows he is loved. I’m not even sure how to do that right. My youngest, she does well in life but suffers a debilitating anxiety no doubt brought on by a childhood of trauma and chaos.
I’m not sure how to shake how I feel. I just know I feel it. You can’t just tell someone to get over it and *POOF* it’s gone. You can’t tell someone they did the best they could and now suddenly they are healed. I have to be able to believe it. No one lived my life with my children but me and them so to have someone say “you did the best you could” is not enough for me. Did I? Did I really? I’m not so sure. I’m a shining example of damaged dysfunction which has been cast upon my children at no fault of their own and all I want to do is make it better.
It’s the revolving door. The viciousness of hell. I feel like the hamster on the wheel that just keeps going around and around and if I dare stop I’m going to flip and break something.
I remember where I went wrong. It was a bowl of almond Hershey kisses that sat on a bedside table. I hadn’t had chocolate in nearly a year and to pop one of those in my mouth – well, there was no going back after that. I love chocolate. I have a relationship with chocolate that should be illegal. I eat it until I feel sick and then I wait until that feeling goes away and eat more. Hard chocolate, soft chocolate, creamy chocolate, dark chocolate. I do not discriminate when it comes to my love of it.
They say not to leave sweets in your home because it causes you to overeat and want more. I laugh. I will go out in a storm to get it. I will leave in the middle of the night. You have no idea the lengths I will go to to get the food I want. All it takes to trigger that want is for a commercial to flash across the screen or for someone to mention it and I can’t stop thinking of it. It consumes me until I’m anxious. Until the cuticles around my nails are gone. Until I’m so irritated that everyone around me can’t stand the sight of me. Until I’ve finally broken and gone to the store or fast food restaurant.
So I tell myself – tomorrow. Start over tomorrow. Monday. Next Month. Truth is, if I continue this lifestyle, I may not have tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come. Is that enough to change? Is that enough to stop the revolving door? I thought so.
I’ve been gone and the blog went empty. Where did The Starving Fat Lady go? I have so much to tell you. I want to begin by first saying – I’m back. I’m back to face my demons and to expose my soul. I need to start facing the facts. I was successful in losing 140 pounds and successful in gaining nearly all of it back. We will get to that in later. There are reasons for that. I just know it!
I think there are reasons for why we over eat. There are reasons we are in so much pain that we would rather hide behind layers upon layers of skin rather than be exposed to the world. I’d rather be looked at twice for being overweight and NOT complimented than to be looked at twice and told I’m pretty. I cringe at compliments but no one would know it. I’m a professional faker. I can put on any smile and grit through a “thank you” and make it convincing. Very convincing.
If you are a new reader, welcome. If you are a loyal reader, welcome back. Time to get this party started.
The morning sun kisses the back of my neck, wrapping itself around me from behind. Its warmth makes me feel secure and safe. I sip on hot coffee and let the steam blanket my face as I throw one leg up on the bench next to me. The large oak tree stands hundreds of feet tall; its over-worked branches hang low. A yellow leaf glides, rocking back and forth as it floats peacefully to the ground. The green fields are peppered with black cows grazing and every once in a while you can see a small farmer among them. In the distance, a man-made lake sits quietly and still. When a breeze blows you can see ripples of diamonds dance across the top.
I close my eyes and listen to the cars on the highway grow louder as they get closer. One by one, “Whoosh. Whoosh.” Chirpy birds sing and flutter around the yard. They make small conversation with each other for long periods of time. They fly in and out of a small bird box on the power pole in front of me. One is angry that another bird is there. Such is life. Yaks wearing fur coats line the fence. Babies jump and play. They aren’t the cutest things I’ve ever seen. In fact, they are downright ugly with their funny horns and long fur that seems choppy, bulky, and heavy. The taste of warm, sweet coffee hits my lips and warms my insides. My cold nose warms in the sun. Jagged mountain tops, now cleared of snow, stand at attention. A frigid breeze pushes lightly off the lake sending a shiver thru me.
The sun starts to descend, the air is cooling and there are noises that can’t be seen. The ringing in my ears becomes louder as I strain to listen. Coyotes howl in the distance calling out to each other across the darkened field. The once clear, blue sky is now a dark dome pebbled with bright stars. If you look close enough and watch long enough, you will see stars fall right out of their place and disappear like magic. The moon is large enough to touch if I stand on my tippy toes. It whispers goodnight and as I close my eyes for the night, I dream of sweet sunsets and tangy views.
He was an amazing father, lousy husband. I wanted him to know how it felt to work and be a full-time parent. I wanted him to sit and wonder when I was going to walk through the door. I wanted tears to roll down his face when he was sitting at home alone painting pictures in his mind of what I could be doing and with whom. Mostly, I wanted him to hurt the way he hurt me.
I had my first child at 20, my second child at 21 then married 3 days later. Soon after, I became pregnant with my third child. I had no idea the amount of work that had to go into a marriage and now three small children under 3 years old was taking its toll. I couldn’t handle the feeling of being trapped. The angel in me said, “You need to settle in and be a mother to these innocent children. You made a promise to God to love your family.” While the devil lustfully whispered, “You deserve this. Run. Be free. For the first time in your life… feel good.” Yes! This is the final time I allow myself to play victim to my husband’s affairs and broken promises! So I ran. I became selfish, greedy, and reckless. Atlanta became stomping ground to foggy nights and late mornings. I left my past and reality in rum and coke and kissed responsibility goodbye.
The daily and nightly games may have been fun in the moment, but I missed my kids. I wanted to see them but thought that it’d be best I stay away. I wasn’t healthy. I didn’t want them having a part-time mom bouncing in and out of their lives. I never said I made good decisions. When I saw my kids again, they didn’t know who I was. It was a sad sight. To them, I might as well have been gone 20 years. That killed me but I knew I deserved it so I sucked that pain in and felt every inch of it cut through me. I abandoned them. I left them for my own selfishness. Their mother was a stranger and it was my own damn fault. It took time to heal but we learned how to be a family and how to handle the speed bumps along the way. We learned to move forward and love each other unconditionally. It was nice to have my babies back. I could hold them whenever I wanted. Kiss their chubby cheeks and laugh at their innocent jokes. I felt needed. I felt loved. All this time I was looking for myself and it was right here with them. There was a piece of me in each one and it made me laugh to see how they brought that out in themselves. As for my ex-husband, we eventually became friends. It was exhausting hating him so I had to do it differently. I prayed that he would find someone who would never put him through what I did. Me? This time, I promised. I promised my children that I was going to do whatever it took to be there for them, to love them unconditionally and to never leave them again. That promise is one that will never be broken.
He promised he would try harder. He promised that things would be better. So when that phone call from a friend came in, I was devastated. “Tonia, I saw him today with that girl. I saw him kiss her in YOUR car!” My heart dropped.
This is the last time he will cheat on me. I gather clothes, pictures, and personal hygiene products. I stuff them in the bag and wait for him to come home. My stomach is turning, I’m shaking with anticipation. My hands are sweaty. I know this is the final time I will be with this man. I will no longer take second place to his whore. He walks through the door. His kids yell his name; running to him with their arms out. He uses his affair-tainted lips to kiss our children. I want to rip his face off.
The bag I packed earlier sits by the front door. Of course, he doesn’t notice. He hasn’t noticed anything in years. He no longer notices the clean house and the hot meals. The happy kids. The sad wife. Maybe I play a part in this disaster too. I mean, I’ve gained weight. I no longer do my hair or makeup. I get a shower in every two days. Maybe I can’t blame him. I’ve let myself go so that I could grow, bear, nourish, raise, and love his children. I shake the guilt off. Flashes of white rage go through me. Oh God. Did he touch her and then touch me? My mind flickers with snapshots of them together and all the moments we shared afterwards. Them kissing, touching…fucking! Then he came home to me! All the nights we made love. Was it after her?!? Was he thinking of her? I can’t take this.
I walk over to each of my kids and kiss them and whisper, “I love you.” I look up to see my husband. MY. HUSBAND. The look on his face is one of anticipation. Is he waiting for me to kiss him and tell him that I love him, too? He’s sadly mistaken if he expects anything more from me. This. Is. Over. I slowly pushed my way past him, grabbed the bag next to the door and left. It would be 1 year, 5 months and 9 days until I would see my children again.
I want to jump into where I’ve been and what I have been doing and the reason for my absence quickly. So let’s begin.
Depression is nasty. It debilitates you and leaves you numb, causing you to separate yourself from life, family, and friends. The devil entered my life at a point where I felt weak and vulnerable and he used that to scratch his own itch. It can last days or months; in my case, months. You are able to function at some small level but anything after that takes energy you don’t have. Reaching out for help is out of the question but I’ve been blessed to have friends and family who give me my space and time to heal. For that, thank you.
Time for the big news! Thanks to all of your comments, feedback and positive prayers, I have decided that I want to share my story with the world. I am writing a book! My own little autobiography. When you read my blogs (and book) I want you to be able to say, “Me too!” You are not alone in the struggle and the struggle IS real! The book is titled, “The Starving Fat Lady – Binge eating, abuse, and mental illness.” I’ve been working on the first chapter these last few months and am hoping to have it proofread and finished in another few weeks. I have years of work to do but it will be worth it to have my readers know they are not alone. When I think about being isolated, I sometimes think about grade school. It seemed I always befriended the outcasts, the rejects, the mess. Or maybe it was the other way around. They accepted me. I, too, was the outcast, the reject, the mess. Either way I met and know some extraordinary people! Those that knew I was worthy and believed in what I did, even if I failed, thank you!!
I leave you today, with this: You will get better. With time and support, life does open up and bring you sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it seems the darkness will never go away but trust me when I say, it goes away. Thank you to those hanging in there with me and putting up with my bouts of depression. I can’t express to you just how much it means to me.
You’d think a wake up call would magically appear and scream, “Get your ass in gear!” Why can’t I just eat what I want? What I’m used to? When I was younger I remember binge eating and then telling myself, “OK, that was a lot so for the next few days you can’t eat nearly as much and you won’t gain weight.” I really had myself convinced it worked like that. Now….forget about it. I can’t shed an ounce no matter if I starve myself or not. My old body has slowed to a halt. I swear I heard the brakes screech at thirty.
I can’t count how many times I’ve laid in bed at night thinking of all the spectacular things I planned to start in the morning. Clean out a cupboard, eat healthy, help an old lady cross the road, conquer the world, you know. I wake up with the best of intention. Then….noon hits. I’m tired and over it. Mission aborted. Like I said, my intentions were good. So good in fact, that I’ve successfully started and stopped several “diets.” HCG, grapefruit, Weight Watchers, juicing, nutritionists, smoothies..the list goes on. My failing success.
I think it’s a common misconception, by some, that obese people sit, do nothing, and eat all day. Reality is, that’s not true for everyone. There are days I do nothing else but run, (figuratively speaking of course). Of course, I still find time to take in a ho-ho or four. Take, for example, my youngest daughter. Skinny as skinny can be and that 16 year old does……….nothing. She eats, sleeps, checks her iPhone, eats, and sleeps again. I see her two times a day. She emerges from her room, uses the restroom and checks to see if I’ve cooked anything. How she manages to stay so thin is beyond me. My point is, finding something that will aid in my weight loss may be different from anyone else. An overweight person can eat and starve and still be obese or exercise and be active but make the wrong food choices, thus, stay overweight. What worked for Joan may not work for Jane. I hope to one day find that miracle “cure.” For now, hand me that plate of food and back away!