First, I want to tie it to the theme of this blog.
I have mentioned before that I am extremely overweight. I won't put a number on it since I honestly haven't weighed in a very long time - and with my mental health issues, hearing a number puts me into an even deeper depression than usual. It's not worth it to know a number. However, you can imagine it as more overweight than anyone you know but not as overweight as the shows where people are practically immobile (closer to the first than the last).
As a stigma, eating too much is both the most accepted addiction because so many events center around food and the least, as it's one of the few addictions/mental health conditions that society and public figures can make fun of without any backlash.
There isn't an overt stigma in most of society but it's still there. I have no doubt that I have had things held against me just because of my weight. There are jobs I know I'm qualified for and was high in the running for - until a face-to-face interview. I could go on but I won't. But it is definitely an area that in many places, you are "welcomed but not accepted" (the tagline for my blog).
I have been on diets or other weight loss methods from the time I was little until I was in my 30s. However, I would gain weight and then would lose it, only to repeat the cycle over and over. You know the saying about how if you can do something for 2 weeks, you'll replace the old habit with a new one? Well, I'd keep up "being good" for months, only to still relapse. Now that I know I have bipolar, I wonder how much that played into it, as I have realized I eat differently when depressed than when manic. It doesn't matter - no matter why it happened, it consistently happened.
So I finally gave up. I thought that maybe I'm just going to be this weight and there's nothing I can do about it. The only problem is that I haven't stayed that weight. I haven't gained a lot at a time, but even a few pounds each year over many years eventually makes a big difference, especially if you aren't thin to begin with. For a while now I have been in the "I'm worried" stage. Recently due to some joint and other health issues, I'm at the "I'm terrified" stage. But even that won't make me change, which gave me a realization.
A few years ago, some ideas started to come together. My daughter was diagnosed with an eating disorder and I realized at that point that overweight people can have eating disorders. I also realized I'm an addict in another area. After becoming abstinent from that addiction, I realized that at those support meetings I was starting to substitute "eating" for "acting out" in all of the readings and the shares. When I did that, everything in my past concerning food would start to make sense.
It's just like any other addiction... some people have no issues with dieting and when they decide they want to lose weight, they have the willpower to stop. Just like my other addiction, I realized I am powerless over this thing without help (and not just help from a nutritionist or from the latest diet fad). We're talking major, gut-wrenching, get-a-sponsor, 12-Step, with consistent-support-group-meeting-attendance help.
I went to a few meetings with the group that met where my daughter got treatment. Nothing against them, but I didn't see any success in that group. I need success. I have got to know that it could work for me to even think about trying again.
Once again I gave up. I was still terrified about this addiction but I thought that maybe I could work on it when I finally got completely through the 12-Steps in the other program.
Knowing how important support groups have become to me, I finally looked for and found a mental health support group in my area to get support with my bipolar disorder. When I was successful in finding a mental health group, I decided to try again and look more into eating disorder help. I finally found a group that I thought would meet my needs. I looked up the meeting time and shockingly, it was a night I was available.
So I went.
Just like when I went to my first support group for my other addiction, I knew these were my people right off the bat. They struggled with not only losing weight but keeping it off. They knew it was deeper than breaking some bad habits or a willpower issue.
I walked out with mixed emotions, though. I was really happy to have found this group. There were people who had success. I had a little bit of hope which is something I had completely given up on having.
But I knew that it was going to be hard. I mean HARD. I know how hard it was to become sober from my other addiction and that one I had picked up later in life. Though I know addictions are progressive, I got support for the other addiction very early, when it was impacting my life but not incredibly. It "only" took a few months to become sober in that addiction and I've now been sober for over 3 years. But being addicted to food is something I've dealt with since I was a toddler - about 50 years of addictive behavior. I have no doubt that it's not going to be easy - and I remember how those few months of becoming sober from that addiction were FAR from easy.
Plus, as I've written in other blog entries, my life is almost as far from settled as it can be. I am not living in the kind of conditions to be able to successfully undertake such a huge endeavor. I also realized I just can't wait. I have to start now, even if it means only taking baby steps.
I couldn't go to the next meeting but went again the next week. The same thing happened: feelings of both hope and despair.
Those feelings were amplified when I went to an all-day retreat soon after. So much hope. So many stories that I could relate to. So much validation that I'm not alone in this struggle. So much love and support from complete strangers.
However, so much fear. So much wondering how I can do this given my current mental, financial, living, and emotional state. So many conflicting feelings.
By the end of the day of the retreat, I was exhausted, much more from this mental merry-go-round than by anything physical. For once I was thankful for the terrible heat because it wasn't really an option to do rideshare that night. I went to my boyfriend's place and chilled out.
I'm still wondering how to do this. Honestly, I'm still wondering if I can do this. But I know I have to try... one day at a time.
Updated 7/5/21 - Still struggling with the food addiction but have seen some success. Still taking it one day at a time.