Welcome back friends! So we enter phase two of the story of me and my fat. I left off in Part One just as I’m heading to college. Ahhhh…. College…. And I thought high school was torture. The good news is, I made a few friends and was having fun with them. The bad news is that I had followed my boyfriend, M, down to the town the college was in and by the time I moved there, two weeks after he’d made the move, he’d moved another girl into his apartment and had taken his phone off the ringer. It wasn’t a great start to the year and I’m not going to lie… I lost my shit. I listened to sad records. I cried all the time. I participated excessively in drugs and alcohol. I rang his phone constantly (pre cell phone days). I ate and ate and ate and ate and ate. I ate pizzas, I ate ice cream, I ate obscene amounts of candy. I’d eat a meal in the cafeteria just to go back to my room and eat again. I made the Freshman 15 into the Freshman 35 (I was AT LEAST 220 when I left my freshman year of college). I was absolutely miserable.
I made the decision to move home after my freshman year of college, at which time M and I were back together (trust me, I know… hindsight is 20/20) and within a few weeks, he had me over to introduce me to his female roommate and promptly told me he was engaged to her. That was how we broke up for good… he told me he was marrying someone else. That night I was even more destructive than normal (as you can imagine, it’s a shock when your boyfriend of three years tells you he’s engaged) but I woke up the next morning a changed woman. I stopped all extracurricular partying, I stopped dating and I buckled down and focused on school. I took 21 credit hours a quarter, graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 3.5 years and remained dateless and celibate for the next seven years of my life.
During the time I was working on my undergraduate degree, I lived at home with my parents. My father was in the midst of a serious drug and alcohol problem and life at home was stressful. I continued to eat to cope with my feelings… It might be fair to say I ate to avoid having ANY feelings. I was prescribed an anti-depressant my sophomore year and I would argue that a good chunk of why I stayed so secluded during these years was because I was over prescribed the antidepressant. I spent seven years of my life being academically very productive, but on a personal side becoming increasingly stunted. I had a few friends, but I didn’t go out much. I went to class, I studied hard and I watched TV. I was essentially a hermit. I was also in an obsessive diet/ binge/ diet/ binge cycle.
While I have no actual clue how high my weight creeped up during this time, I’m guessing it was around 280. I lived a dichotomous existence. On one hand I was SO proud of what I was doing academically but I hated myself. I would even go so far as to say detested. I got by but that was all I did. I did NOT live.
I moved to Southern California in the Fall of 2000 where I started a two year graduate degree program. Here is where I started to have hope of a life more than what I was allowing myself. I had my very first apartment, at age 22 and I made very good friends who I simply adored. Within my first six months, I started on Weight Watchers and proceeded to lose fifty pounds. I learned to cook, I went out every now and then and I put a sticky note on my mirror in my bedroom that said “DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIVE LIFE.” That message sticks with me to this day. There is no room in my life, as it is now, to be afraid to live it. But back then, I just didn’t know any better. I had wants, dreams, desires… but I did not know how to go after them.
I had started putting weight back on by the time I graduated and moved home. Upon re-entry to my folks’ house, I started gaining weight at a rapid rate. My father was still in the throes of addiction, my mother was deeply depressed and my 14 year old brother was hanging on the best he could. I applied to hundreds of jobs during the post 9/11 recession and took the first one offered to me, six months after the move home. It took nearly another year or more after that to get an apartment and make the final move out of the parental home. I worked for a great company with an abusive boss and guess what I did to cope? I ate. And ate, and ate, and ate some more. To give you an idea, I would eat a coffee cake or a bagel and cream cheese and a large mocha each morning for breakfast. I worked near a mall downtown and I’d have mall food most days for lunch, consisting of a deli sandwich, side pasta salad and a cookie (or several) OR the greasy spoon Chinese food… always the orange chicken, chow mein and teriyaki chicken. Dinners were almost always McDonald’s, or another fast food. Massive amounts of fast food. And ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.
I rang in my 26th birthday at my highest recorded weight, 319 pounds.
Things are really heating up here and the best is yet to come! Stay tuned for Part Three in the Story of Us (Me and My Fat).