Such a big topic.(no pun intended) Most countries like America and Australia are fighting an ever increasing epidemic of obesity. I am not going to parrot off statistics about how many of us are over weight, or how serious this is for our health. I am sure that most of us have well and truly heard to warnings. I am going to share my very personal and private struggle with the one constant in my life. Trying to lose weight!
I was born at 6lbs 8oz and was from what I can tell a normal weight and size until the age of 4. From then on my battle began. I have been overweight since then. My well meaning parents, were of course, doing their best to try to help me with this 'problem'. By the age of 12 I had been on many diets, including attending weight watchers.
With the growth spurt that usually occurs in the early to mid teens, I slimmed down to just a little over average weight. ( a size to day I would be elated to achieve). Then on to adulthood and many years of yo-yo dieting. If I had saved to money I spent on all those diets and slimming programs I would now be able to retire. I am now in my mid 40's and as we all know, my metabolism is starting to slow with age and the deck is stacked against me even more. I am now classified (and have been for some time) as morbidly obese. Over the years I have found many programs that have helped me to lose weight, including a stint with anorexia. Nothing however has worked long term. Now I know why.
At the age of 4 years old when my weight just 'suddenly' started to rise, my sexual abuse had started. In the mind of a very scared little girl it is very common to feel that some how by being bigger I would be safe and 'he' wouldn't be able to get to me.
As time went on the reasons for eating increased. As my parents obsessed about my size they turned their focus onto doing what ever then could to stop me eating. My mother, who had always had a good figure, started to go on diets 'with me' so that I would lose the weight. My eating was watched and regimented and I was often restricted from eating. I began to feel as if that was all they could focus on and that the one thing that was most important was that I lose the weight. Keep in mind during all this time I am still being sexually assaulted and fighting desperately to find some way to feel safe. Food now became my rebellion. I would sneak food. Eat it when they weren't looking. This if course gave me a great sense of power to get away with this, but it also brought with it shame and guilt. ( I remember when I finally had my own car and money, that I drove to the local supermarket and bought a packet of Tim Tam Chocolate biscuits. I sat in my car and ate the whole packet. I felt totally sick, but it was the fact that I could do it and that I was in control of what I ate.)
Food by its very nature is comforting to us. An empty stomach is uncomfortable and hunger pains hurt. As I was growing up, I felt alone and unsupported in the abuse I was going through. My father often away with business and my mother busy with other things to do. I remember hurting myself outside as a child and coming inside to tell mum and get comforted. Mum was busy in the kitchen. she sat me down in the dinning room and handed me a packet of Maltesers (chocolates) and said "here eat these, they will make you feel better." Along comes food for comfort, particularly chocolate. (my drug of choice). Eating would ease the pain and fill the hole inside, even if the hole was in need of something else.
As I grew up through my teen years, I began the battle between wanting attention from boys but at the same time not wanting what that could mean, SEX! I was not a promiscuous teen, as a matter of fact I did my best to steer clear of sex if at all possible. One of the easiest ways to do this was to be overweight. Most boys don't like 'fat girls'. Once again it was keeping me safe. I knew the real me was deep down inside this large 'fat suit' I was wearing and no one could really touch me, not the real me anyway. It was a bit of a hit and miss solution as it stopped me from having the affection I craved and wasn't really the solution for stopping sex anyway.
As like everyone else with a weight issue, I was often teased and hassled by others, and not always children either. Adults can be very cruel too.
In my mid twenties I was wanting to start having a family. I had troubling conceiving. After a few tests it was discovered I have Poly cystic Ovary syndrome. This can affect a woman's chance to conceive and, as well as other things, here ability to lose weight. I felt overwhelmed by that fact that the one enemy I had been fighting all my life was winning. "If I could just lose weight I could do anything!" My entire self worth was determined by my weight, and as I was over weight, I was a failure and not worth the effort. It was deeply pervasive sense of despair.
I needed and wanted help, but no one could or would really help a fat person. They just tell you to have more will power and shove you on another diet. I knew that people with anorexia get help, I knew that people felt sorry for them. With a little help from a magazine article about an actor with anorexia, I took the plunge, and followed what was said in the article. I abscessed about it, read it several times a day and followed it religiously. It worked, I was losing weight at a fast rate. I weighed myself several times a day, drank heaps of water and hardly ever ate. The magazine even told of the techniques that this actor used to avoid eating. It all worked. My weight was starting to move, and before too long I could feel my mind change the way it saw food. Hunger and an empty stomach became a good thing, a comforting thing, and a full stomach was painful. Hunger pains meant I was losing weight so they were good. Before too long I didn't want to eat, I was turned off by the very thought of food. It was a very dangerous place to be. But, I had lost enough weight to get pregnant and with the pregnancy I dropped my starvation practices and went back to eating how I had wanted..for the baby of course. During my time of self enforced starvation I felt a strength and power I had not known before. I could finally control the one thing that had controlled me all my life. I had another small brush with not eating after the birth of my second son but fortunately at that time I was too stressed to be able to maintain it for too long. As time has gone one, my weight has increased, occasionally I lose a bit here or there, but never too much and never for too long.
After my divorce I realised I was still craving intimacy, but being too busy raising two boys on my own I substituted food for sex. When I am stressed I eat and most often something like chocolate
As my life went on, I realised that guilt was also such a big part of my eating. If I ate the 'wrong thing' I felt guilty for days. I once ate a salad for lunch but because it had an onion in it that tasted like the ones in fast food burgers, I had days of guilt over it. That was when I realized I needed to overhaul the way I looked at food.
Have you ever been on a diet and been told you cant eat certain foods? What is the one thing you now want to eat, even if you weren't that keen on it before? The restricted food! I decided to now eat what I wanted when I wanted and start to enjoy it and not feel guilty. Yes, at first I ate cake and chocolate and biscuits and all the 'bad' stuff I had felt guilty about before. Buy over time my tastes changed and I actually wanted to eat the salads and veggies. My body had had enough of the junk. I ate healthy because I wanted to NOT because I had too. It was a wonderful feeling, and so liberating. This is a practise I follow today, I love a good salad, eat the occasional biscuit and still enjoy chocolate as my comfort food. Yes I am still over weight, but at least now I am not fighting my self and berating myself every time I put something in my mouth.
You may now be wondering how this relates to DID. Good question! My eating is deeply ingrained into who I am. I have child alters who still to this day believe that if we are not big we are not safe. I can spend 10mins contemplating a diet or eating plan and then the next 2 weeks binge eating because those thoughts made them feel unsafe. I have an alter who hates to exercise. Many of us love it and will often start exercise programs with great enthusiasm and determination. Only to 'come back' a month or two later and realise the body has been taken over by the one who hates exercise, and we have done nothing at all. As there are many frightened Children in here and as we ALL take turns in running the body, it is very hard to consistently direct the body in a particular way. Needless to say it is not an easy race to run.
I have concluded, with the help of my Psychologist, that until we as a system feel safe, being thinner will only ever be a temporary thing. We must work on the true problem (trauma and abuse) and not the symptom (weight). We do not feel safe in this world and while our size gets us abuse and prejudice it also keeps us safe. Somewhere deep inside this body is a very scared little girl. You can't get to her because she is hiding and safe. Can you accept and love me at this size. I hope for your sake you can. It would be foolish for you to miss out just because of your prejudice.