I’m pretty open that growing up obese has landed me in therapy. Everyone assumes this has gotten better with my 150 pound weight loss, but my weight still LITERALLY keeps me up at night. As I write this at 3AM, memories and anxieties about my weight flood my brain. I wish I could just let it go, but it doesn’t feel like I’ll ever see that day.
For the most part, I was a happy kid. I was oblivious to my weight issue until the fourth grade. That year I moved to a new town, and struggled to make friends. I was different, I was new. I was a target. As I approached sixth grade, the bullying really started. Pre-teen girls are the most evil, volatile people on the planet. Girls that were my best friends one day would be my biggest bullies the next. I realized that using the stairs between classes would leave me out of breath and sweaty, so I had a hard time focusing on my school work. I spent the entire period staring at the clock with anxiety about moving to the next classroom. Even outside of school I struggled with my extracurricular activities. I heard snickers and mean comments at horse back riding, as my fellow students ‘feared for the horse’s safety.’ Synchronized ice skating had me vomiting in the bathroom stall before we got measured for our matching outfits. Even my parents made me feel like a disappointment. I just couldn’t escape the feelings of inadequacy, and I didn’t have a single place that I felt comfortable with myself.
Fast forward to being an adult at 303 pounds. That’s when the medical issues really kicked in. I had high blood pressure, PCOS, and struggled with infertility. I was taking the highest dose of Metformin (a diabetes medication) that is recommended by the FDA, and was on my way to being on insulin. My health held me back from some really big things- you know, like happiness.
I started my weight loss journey because I wanted to beat my PCOS and conceive. Ironically enough the days after losing weight and getting pregnant were some of my most emotionally unstable. As the months passed, I was obsessed with the number on the scale. I refused to finish meals, avoided carbs like the plague, and insisted on continuing a vigorous workout routine. I guess it worked, as I lost body fat my entire pregnancy. I was pretty happy with myself until I ended up with a preterm baby.
The months postpartum were my darkest. By day I posted glowing Instagram photos about my blessed life. By night I sobbed while on the phone with the suicide hotline. This didn’t happen once or twice, but daily between October and February. More than once the employees at Michael’s found me crying in the aisle, hiding from my family at home. I had thoughts about driving off the Sagamore bridge every time I drove to the cape. My husband was baffled. I had everything I ever wanted- weight loss, beautiful babies, even quitting my job to stay home with the kids. One day he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “this is outside my realm of helping. I think we need professional help.”
With that comment, I started therapy. His words never left me, “WE need professional help.” That’s real love. He stuck out my worst days, and held my hand through every part of my mental health recovery. He’s involved in my treatment, and does his best to make every single day easier for me. I guess that why he’s still so confused over my obsession with my body.
I’m currently the smallest I’ve ever been, but I’m just as sad as I was at my biggest. I’ll always be the girl who carried those 300 pounds. I have the same insecurities and low self confidence, now with the added anxiety about regaining what I’ve lost. I obsess. I track my food. I weigh myself several times per day. I cry- a lot.
The things that I went through as a kid stick with me. Those were the days that shaped me. The days that I felt I wasn’t safe anywhere, and that I had no one by my side. The days where I was alone in a crowded room, and was targeted by bullies just for existing. Those are the days that I carry with me, and just can’t let go of.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and psych meds have definitely made an impact on my mental health. It’s been 13 months since my last call to the suicide hotline. I feel healthier and happier, and I have a better relationship with my family than ever before. I’m starting to feel less alone and more supported. My blog has connected me with new friends, and even strengthened existing relationships by communicating feeling i was never able to talk about. There’s just one thought that haunts me: I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and I’m still not happy. I wonder if I ever will be.
I’ve spent 10 months stuck at my current weight. I’m so close to my goal that it hurts! Even though my weight hasn’t changed, my self confidence regresses every day. I’m still wearing the same clothes, but I see myself as bigger and bigger. It feels like not losing is the same as gaining. The anger and frustration consume me.
Getting myself healthy – physically AND mentally – will always be my number two goal. Number one? Doing my best to prevent my children from ever feeling this way. I constantly fear that genetics will take them down the same path I traveled. As a family we try to eat healthy and stay active. It isn’t always easy. Healthy food can be expensive on one income, and Jacen’s Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome can keep our active time pretty short. We keep doing our best. We budget and cut things in other places. We try to keep exercise fun and watch Jacen’s body cues. Most importantly, we use positive language. We talk about the science behind healthy bodies, and are open with our feelings. My kids know that it’s just as hard for me as it is for them to resist the soda and cake, so we indulge in “sometimes treats” every now and again. We don’t focus on weight with the kids, but more so choosing healthy foods that are full of nutrients. We zero in on “getting strong” instead of burning calories. By talking about the way we feel, the kids know it’s okay to struggle with sports. Some people are not athletically inclined, and it’s alright to be frustrated. It’s not alright to give up. It’s not alright to dislike yourself for where you fall short. You just have to keep trying, and keep trying to be a better YOU.
Someone once told me that I should speak to myself the way I speak to my children. I would never tell them they were fat, worthless or inadequate – so why do I tell myself these things? It’s a hard pill to swallow, and a hard habit to change. It is a double standard, but ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ are two completely different animals. I try my best to set a good example on the outside, but inside is a very dark tornado of self confidence issues.
The way I was treated in my young days forever control my brain. I’m always flashing back to times I was deeply hurt, and triggered by things people say. It’s so important to think about what you say to others, as your words can have a lasting effect. Don’t be one of those memories that someone carries with them. Don’t be an anxiety. Don’t be a bully. Let’s set a good example for our children, and do our best to produce a healthier generation. I may never be cured of my mental illness, so I strive to prevent it in my children. It’s easier to avoid starting a problem in the beginning than to fix it after the fact.
Be kind to others. Work on being kind to yourself, especially during the most difficult of times. Join my journey into self-acceptance, and let’s get healthier together. Let’s do it for our kids, and for ourselves.
With healthy hearts,
Kate and the Kids.