Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dear Tony...

Dear Tony,

You don't really know me. We've only spoken once or twice. You're probably not even sure why I'm writing this letter to you. I'm writing it because I think you understand. You get it and because you get it, I feel as if I can open up and share things with you that others won't understand.

Tony, I weigh 310 pounds. I wasn't always this way. When I was a child, I was the one that everyone said would never gain weight. I would always be skinny. Then, I started to gain weight. By the time I graduated from high school, I weighed 180 pounds. I was made fun of because of that and because most times I had to wear the same pair of jeans more than one day a week to school. My family didn't have a lot of money and I was being raised by my grandparents who had grown up during the depression. I never told anyone about the anonymous notes left in my locker or even in my mailbox at home. I was never athletic, I didn't snack but I didn't turn down second helpings either.

When I went to college, I developed an eating disorder. I barely ate. I don't believe that I did it for looks. I did it because it was tied in with the mental health issues that I wouldn't have an official diagnosis for until I was 37 and said enough is enough. I didn't mind not eating though because soon, my clothes fit better and I believed the lies that my mind told me that skinnier was healthier. Before I went home after my freshman year, I was down from a size 16 to a size 12 and I loved how I looked. I mourned the weight that went back on because at home, I couldn't not eat.

By the time I dropped out of college halfway through the next year, I'd lost all that weight again. I'd also ended up in the emergency room for what was later ruled nothing more than a stress attack. Fast forward a year and now I'm 20...I skipped periods, gained massive amounts of weight (I went up 3 to 4 clothing sizes over a few months) and had other issues. My doctor sent me to an ob/gyn who took one look at me and said you're obese, this is why this has happened. She never listened to a word that I said. It wouldn't be until I was 38 that I would be diagnosed with PCOS.

Three pregnancies (the first leading to a miscarriage at 17 weeks), a divorce and what feels like a lifetime later, here I am at 310 pounds. I always swore I'd never break that 300 barrier, but I have and I'm scared. I know that I need help but I really and truly cannot afford it. You see, my oldest son has cerebral palsy and I've been diagnosed as Bipolar 2. Both of those have prevented me from finding a job outside of the house. I do some editing when jobs come up, but let's just say money is tight and there is no wiggle room. I don't go to Starbucks or order pizza. I drive a car that's older than my oldest and he's 14, nearly 15.

However, for the first time, I'm not using these as excuses. Yes, I get food stamps. No, it's not really enough to feed our family, but I do my best to find sales and I'm making changes to healthier options. Last night, I made a weight watchers recipe for tortellini and it called for adding a bag of frozen stir fry veggies to it. I'd never even thought of that as an option! It was delicious and I felt good that what I was making was healthier than pizza rolls or some other processed food option. I can't afford a gym membership, but I can walk around my village. (Yes, villages do still exist.) It will get cold soon, and I expect I'll have to switch to workout videos, but I have some and I have a way to play them. Some people don't have that.

I am also blessed that I have friends who have done this, who are doing this, or who are just plain awesome so that on the days when I'm struggling and feeling like this is impossible (which my doctor pretty much told me that it was and that I should consider surgery), I can reach out and they'll either encourage me, kick me in the butt or do both. I'm making small changes that will last a lifetime. I can do this. I won't have my children left without a mother or my future grandchildren left  without a grandmother to spoil them and love them. I won't be the person whose early death is being mourned, like someone else I know who recently died due to obesity. He was only 30.

I can do this. I will do this. I am doing this...and I want to say thank you. Thank you for your posts about yourself. Thank you for being a cheerleader in the fight against obesity. Thank you for helping people get past excuse hell to what the hell was I waiting for. Thank you for being you.


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