My blog entry for September 14, 2014, the day I finally admitted I needed to have gastric bypass surgery, my confession, my Kristina Rose moment:
* * *
I have a secret. Sure, I've let it out in bits and spurts, but fully admitting it has been hard to do. I try my best to appear confident, but I am so crippled by poor self-esteem that I sometimes find it hard to function. I'm more than 100 lbs. overweight–quite literally stuck inside a dungeon of my own making.
It wasn't always like this. Thus, it's taken me a long time to truly recognize how bad this problem has gotten. But now, I'm finally looking at what I've allowed myself to become and am admitting that I can't beat this thing on my own. I've decided to go through with weight loss surgery and this decision, along with the physical and emotional healing process, is something I plan to write about frequently. I think sharing my fears, my shame, and my eventual triumphs will not only help me recover–help me escape–but it could help others like me, too.
So let me begin my confession…
I have always been just a little bit overweight, enough to give me nice curves and to fill out my 5'10 frame. And I always hated myself for that. I wondered why I couldn't be skinny like other girls, wondered why men didn't find me desirable (when in fact many did), and wondering what was wrong with me. During my first year of college, I developed a form of anorexia where I would exercise at a high intensity for 4-6 hours per day even when my doctor told me to cut it out and had allowed myself to become underweight. I didn't care. I had lost the extra 20 lbs. I had always carried around with me and another 30 lbs. on top of that (and all within 2 short months). I could fit into a size 6, and I had guys throwing themselves at me. It was awesome.
But I couldn't keep it up. A health issue came up that led me to regain that 50 and then another 30 on top of that, bringing me to my highest weight ever. This began my yo-yo dieting/exercise period. I would gain and lose that same 50 lbs. over and over again, so quickly it was hard to believe.
The most recent time I lost that 50 saw my health to a new and glorious peak. I was mindful of my exercise addiction (sort of) and took up hiking and jogging as a way to skirt the rules I had set in place for myself. I could run for an hour without stopping. I could hike 30 miles at a go. It, too, was awesome, even more awesome than being skinny and spending my entire day doing cardio had been.
That was the last time I felt good about myself–2011.
Four things happened to seal my fate as an obese person.
1) I started a business, and it took off! I worked 100 hours per week for about 2 years running. I didn't have the time to worry about my health.
2) My first marriage collapsed. With that came a lot of terrible things that I would prefer to keep private, but these things destroyed any remaining scraps of self-esteem to which I'd managed to cling and brought out the emotional eating monster that haunts me to this day.
3) After a whirlwind romance and remarriage (still very happy, thank you!), I got pregnant… and sick. I put on about 60 lbs. during my pregnancy and racked up 3 complications. One of these was preeclampsia, which caused my limbs and face to swell with water and hasn't gone away to this day, even though my daughter is almost to her first birthday.
4) I herniated two discs in my lower lumbar, an injury that is constantly re-aggravated, causes intense pain, and limits my mobility to an incredible degree.
So now here I sit, writing this extremely personal and–let's face it–incredibly embarrassing journal entry, more than 100 lbs. overweight. And even though I just spelled it out for all to see, I can't help but wonder again and again: HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN TO ME?
You might think that I should have seen this coming, and maybe a part of me did. But another part of me feels like I one day magically woke up with a century-block of fat trapping the real me beneath it.
At first, I tried to laugh it off, tried to empower it off. I'VE DONE THIS BEFORE. I CAN DO IT AGAIN. And I tried, and tried, and tried. Each time, I'd lose 10-20 lbs. and then get hopelessly stuck. The lingering oedema from my pregnancy wouldn't let my weight fall past a certain laughably high set point, and my back injury kept me off the exercise circuits. Believe me, I tried to challenge it, and now have to take painkillers twice per day every day for that folly.
My warped, funhouse-mirror-esque image stared back at me every time I dared to look at myself, its taunting only amplified by the echoing tick of my biological clock. I wanted–I want–another child so badly, but getting pregnant again could very well kill me just as it nearly did the first time. I can't leave my husband without a wife, my daughter without a mother, and I can't accept not being able to give her a sibling, to give her everything.
This is when I started to warm up to the idea of weight loss surgery. And I felt like a total failure for even considering it. I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS ON MY OWN. But I couldn't. I'd tried and failed, had doctors telling me that the oedema and back injury were standing in my way, yet neither condition was improving.
So, wracked with doubt, I asked my OBGYN about weight loss surgery. He knows my case history and special challenges better than anyone, and he said it would be a great thing for me. I took his referral, set the appointment, and started wondering how I would admit to everyone in my life that I had failed, that my fat was a disease.
I'm so glad I went. My new doctor was incredibly supportive and really understood what I was going through. He'd seen it so many times before. He explained that the two medical conditions holding me back were very real concerns, that they transformed my obesity from a condition into a disease and that I really needed to take this extra step.
And I'm starting to believe him.
There, I've admitted my deepest insecurities: my weight and the feeling as if I've somehow failed. And admitting it is the first step to getting better, right?
I am always happy to help others who stand where I stand, have stood where I’ve stood. If you have questions or just need someone to listen, don’t hesitate to reach out.