Friday, August 19, 2011

I've Got To Find A Different Medicine

Friday is BYOC day, but being that I get out of bed at the butt crack of dawn, it's too early for Draz to have posted the questions.  So, instead, I'm going to write about something else today...

Draz still has the influence on this post....just in a different way.

This morning, I started my day as usual...reading some blogs I'm behind on.  Draz's posts are usually the first I read.  Reading them usually wakes me up, gives me a good laugh, and prepares me to write my own.  This morning was a little different.....this was the post I read:  What Are You Going to Do When the Fat is Gone?

After I read it, I had to sit here for a second and compose myself.  This post really touched me pretty deeply....and got my mind racing in a thousand different directions.

One thing I know about myself is that I've never used my fat as a reason for being unhappy.  I've never responded to a concerned "what's wrong?" and responded "I'm fat! That's what's wrong".  I've never had a good cry just because I'm fat.  I've never been able to blame all the ails of my world on the fact that I'm overweight.  Am I happy about being overweight?  Of course not.  I'm just not unhappy because I'm overweight.

I know that didn't make much sense, but stay with me here.

What I'm saying is, rather than blaming my unhappiness on my fat, I use food as the medicine for my unhappiness.  It's not a reason, it's my cure for being unhappy.

When I look back to my childhood, I was never what I would consider "skinny".  I had a happy childhood, but I lived in a world where healthy eating wasn't a subject of concern.  I ate the food that was prepared for me.  I didn't question the calorie content, I didn't look at the protein and carb servings I was eating.  Eating was a happy time - a time shared with family, a social time.  It wasn't about the food, it was the feeling that came with the eating.  I liked to eat.

So, it's obvious, I gained a love of food from an early age.  Eating out at a restaurant was a rare luxury, and when the occasion arose something special was taking place.  I connected those times with celebrations or life going well - my parents were able to afford to take us out for a treat.

Now, I'm not about to blame my parents for what happened later in my life.  They were and still are great parents.  It's sometimes hard for people to remember that when we were younger, childhood obesity wasn't all over the news.  It wasn't a major health factor.  The spotlight wasn't shining on every child that carried a few extra pounds....plumper kids were just kids that were happy, maybe a little less physical than their skinnier counterparts, but there certainly wasn't anything "wrong" with a child that was a little heavier.

When I first got out of high school, I was a lot more conscience about my body.  I was NOT fat.  I was NOT skinny.  I wore a 2 piece bathing suit, and even though my bones didn't stick out, I wasn't worried about people looking at me and saying "why on earth would she wear something like that?".

It wasn't until a couple of years out of high school that things started to change.  By the time I was 19, I had two children, and a very mentally and sometimes physically abusive man in my life.  It was the first time I had ever dealt with unhappiness this dark or damaging.  In order to cope, I went to the one thing that had always made me feel better....that took me back to happier times.... Food.

Yes.  It was then that I took a deep, dark turn to binge eating.

As time went on, more and more unhappiness was added to my plate.  Being alone and trying to raise two children.  Living in a woman's shelter.  Missing my family.  Worrying about working and paying for daycare and being the sole supporter of my children.  It was an endless cycle of stress and unhappiness and more stress.

It went on for so long that even when life did get better, it was hard to decipher the difference between emotional, unhappy binge eating and celebratory, happy, normal eating.

Now taking a little sideways detour here for a second.... I want to point something out.  I am a person that does NOT take medicine for sickness.  When I'm sick, I allow my body to fight off what ever is wrong with me.  If I've got a cold, I drink hot tea with lemon, soak in a hot bath, and sleep.  If I'm throwing up (or worse) I drink lots of water, rest, and eat dry toast or crackers.  I've found that because I don't take "man-made" medicines, I rarely get sick...and if I do, it rarely lasts more than 24 hours.  My body has worked up a strong immune system because I allow my body to fight off infections and sickness without the need of medicines.

Now, I look at my eating.  When I really think about it - I use food as medicine for unhappiness.  Rather than finding a natural way to deal with my unhappiness... like, I don't know, talking about it, dealing with the cause of the unhappiness dead on, or something along those lines, I just dive in to food.

If I look back on last year - when I really buckled down and lost a lot of weight - I have to look at my life events.  I was so happy.  I was only a year away from graduating from school.  I had high hopes about finding a great job.  I started my internship, and was actually in a classroom and teaching.  Sure, there were plenty of stressful times.... but the overall year was a really good one.  My mind was free to dedicate myself to getting healthy and losing weight.

Then again, when I look back towards the end of the year....when my senior project was due, when I was trying to juggle work and school and it was really becoming a little too much.... I started to fall off the wagon.  As soon as that stressed past?  I was right back on that horse again exercising and losing weight.

When I look at this year, the series of events are different.  I started the year out full of the same pizazz as last year.  Graduation was only 5 months away, I was still hopeful I was going to get my dream job.  More weight was disappearing.  The closer I got to graduation day, however, and it became more apparent that finding that job was getting less and less of a possibility, my dedication backed off and the weight started increasing.

I've gained a lot of weight this year.... I've been unhappy a lot this year.  1+1=Food is my medicine.

Even now, I'm still using food as my medicine.  I still haven't gotten over the slap in the face of not being able to get the job I wanted.  I just can't bury it.  Yes, I am happy I found a job... but it's still so new and scary to me that I can't just banish all of my unhappiness away.  The food is still there to compensate.  It's still there helping me put on a happy face and tell everyone that everything is OK with me.  It's my front.  It's the way I can disappear from my feelings rather than face them.

I don't have the answer on how I can fix this problem.  I don't have a magic cure that will help me replace my continued use of food as my medicine for mental pain.  All I can hope for is that my mind will start to work differently, and soon.  I have to find a replacement....I will never achieve my hopes of losing the weight as long as I run to food when something in my life doesn't go the way I want or something happens to me that causes mental pain.

It's a battle I'm far from winning - but I'm never going to give up hope that one day I will find armor and weapons strong enough to defeat it.

Till next time. ;)
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  1. Joanna, what a strong, meaningful post. I am so glad you are not going to give up. Half the battle is knowing what you are up against, you can beat this!!

  2. Never ever give up. You will get there!!!!
    *hugz* I know this problem all too well and it is still a battle but one we will not give up in ;)


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