September 6, 2011

Depression, part two

I started keeping paper diaries the summer after my emergency transport, and I easily filled one five subject notebook after another with my thoughts. Rereading them, it's hard to relive some of the moments. There are events with people I am no longer friends with, memories with people I wish I were close to still. It's an interesting insight into the mind of the girl I used to be.
May 13, 2009: What do I want? ... I want to get to a point where I don't consider suicide my only option (right now I wouldn't say that I am "suicidal" as that seems impending - right now - and for a few years now - I've decided that suicide is my only long-term possibility, since I don't want to grow old and alone in this burden of a body).
It's remarkable how many times I use the word "alone" in my journal entries. I felt so alone all the time, even though I was surrounded by good friends and a loving family. I never said I want to be healthy. I never said I want to look and feel good. I wanted to lose weight so I wouldn't be alone.

When I started to lose weight, it was like I found the purpose I had been seeking for so long. I stopped sitting on the couch binge eating and started going out and being active, and as my body stayed in motion, so did my mind. I didn't have time to get depressed, and honestly, I didn't have any reason to either. Life had become fantastic. I finally felt like part of something - I was someone who wanted to live, and I surrounded myself with like-minded people in order to soak up as much of their positive energy as possible. I hadn't had a dark thought in nearly a year, and it was so relieving. Even better than the feeling of the physical weight loss was the feeling of emotional lightness, like I had been cured of my depression thanks to an overall sense of balance in my life.

Something to keep in mind: no success on this journey, no matter how terrific it feels, is a cure. My weight loss has me in remission from being super obese, but that doesn't mean I'll never be 345 pounds again, or higher even. Statistically, I'm not destined to succeed long term. And I've been wondering if the same is true for my depression. If I've really been freed from the emotional weight or if I've just put a bandage over it. If I've been treating my weight thinking it was the disease when really, it was a side effect.

Because to tell the truth, I have lost over 150 pounds, and I have never felt so alone in my entire life. And I don't mean just lately, with the move and all. I've been dealing with this all summer, the dark truth behind my stalled weight loss and lack of motivation.

In the past year, I've lost more weight than I initially intended to keep - a whole person's worth of weight taken off of my body because I chose to eat better, eat less, and move more. And I've thought a lot about that weight in terms of human life. What part of me have I lost? What if the fat cells were also where I stored my relationships? My compassion? My friendliness? My devotion?

Over the course of this summer, I was called a bad sister and daughter by my mother. This weekend, I had several friends tell me I've changed and am, essentially, a bad friend now. These have all been surprises to me, as I thought I'd been doing the right thing all along. I wanted to lose weight so I could live and enjoy my life with them all in it, but I can't help but feel lately like I made the wrong decision. What if the success of my relationships was dependent on my obesity? Does it matter that a healthy mind and body are what I believe that I want, or are my personal desires unimportant since the decision isn't actually my own - is my fate to be big and happy with everything except my body?

I wonder what my life would be like if I had never lost the weight. If I would be working - if I would be in California. If my mother would be talking to me. If my parents would still be happy together. If my relationships with my friends from college would be thriving. If I would have tried to go on dates. If I would be happy.

I used to be happy sometimes - I wasn't content with my body and it caused me a lot of physical and emotional pain, but I had my friends and family to make the rest of my life more satisfying. I'd say I'm the same level of content with my life now, though - more happy with my physical self, but the cost of my committment to healthy living was paid for with my relationships. I honestly can't say that I'm entirely sure it's been worth it, and if I would have chosen to lose weight if I knew this was the way things would end up.

I wanted to feel healthy and happy, complete and satisfied. But this weekend, I was just feeling very numb.

Tomorrow: part three - coming back to life, and defining healthy relationships.

23 comments:

texancountess said...

This post breaks my heart for you. I want to reach out and hug you. I want to smack the people who've hurt you.

Obviously I can only speak as a blog friend to another - but I can say that you show all the signs of being a good friend. You reach out to people, you interact, you give of yourself. Those are all qualities that I look for in friends.

One thing I found by suddenly and abruptly moving my life to the far side of the world is that people don't know what to do with me anymore. Friends who were great at randomly calling and inviting me out to dinner are horrible at staying in touch. Friends who barely kept in touch before are the ones that I rely on now.

I'm looking forward to part three tomorrow. And if you ever want to chat, let me know and I'll send you my skype info. We transplants away from our homes have to stick together.

Christina said...

You really are quite the writer! This post has me all emotional, too. Wow, Mary. Thank you so much for sharing so much with us.

I never saw this as remission, but I think that's the perfect way to describe it.

I see you'll be writing about healthy relationships tomorrow, which is great because I kept think 'HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS!!!' as I read the last few paragraphs. You are going through several major life changes (physical, geographical, mental) right now, and things are a bit crazy. You'll make great new friends in your new location at your new size. Sure, it's a shame you couldn't keep some of the old ones, but it sounds like you may be better off without them.

I lost all of my college friends when I had Ramsey and had to start over from scratch. Being without friends is hard, but it's not a permanent condition.

Mia's Mommy said...

It is not uncommon for friends and family to treat people this way when they've lost a significant amount of weight. They are afraid you will realize you deserve better (even if they are the best family and friends in the world) and that you'll leave them behind. They subconsciously (or some times consciously) try to sabotage you and then, when you fail, they can either say "I told you so" or "Don't worry, I'm still here for you!". This is THEIR issue, THEIR problem, don't let them make it yours! You are not a bad friend, daughter or sister! You are making yourself healthy...plain and simple! Keep up the amazing work!
(Sarah from livingformeandmimi)

Life as a Caterpillar said...

Please remember that when it comes to such a massive weight loss, quite often it's not you, it's them. People can be tremendously jealous (for want of a better word) of you changing. Did they give you permission to change? To become this get-up-and-go person with a new zest for life? No they did not, and when people's expectations of a person change, they often lash out. You were expected always to be available in your apartment, on the couch, and now you are doing something totally different with your life, other people may feel 'where is my place in Mary's new life? I always knew where i was with her when she was sitting in on the couch'.

It's them, not you.

xxx
((hugs))

Lesley

Charlotte said...

Hi Mary!

I find that whenever we bring positive change to our lives, it also brings it`s share of heartake. It`s hard, but it has to happen. It`s kind of like when you prune a tree, you have to let certain parts go in order to let the tree achieve it`s full potential.
Be confident of the choices you made for your health, even though it does not always feel good.
I can tell you that even though we are not of the same age bracket, I delight everyday in your writings and often think that you must be a great person to know.
Take care...

Jo said...

I agree with the other comments, that it's them, not you. Move forward in your new life, and be proud of how far you've come! A bad sister and daughter? Maybe those people need to look in the mirror. Don't look back - keep in mind that you are getting healthier for YOURSELF.

Ann said...

Mary - I've only lost 1/3 of the weight that you have,.but I've had to watch friendships and relationships change, as well. It's difficult when you change, and therefore, your relationships change. It's hard to feel happy and proud of what you've done, but sad because others dont feel the same! The good news is that you aren't alone!! We are doing this together - you, me, and the rest of the weight-loss world. :)

Caron said...

Like texancountess, I would love to be able to give you a hug and talk to you and encourage you. I really can't comprehend a friend that would not be a friend if I lost weight and got more healthy. Family problems come and go. As a person who has moved 45+ times in 45 years, and who had to start over with friends and acquaintances that many times too, I know that you will make new friends. Please don't think that going back to an unhealthy weight will be the answer to current problems. Ever onward. :)

Stacey said...

Mary,

I could have written the last few paragraphs of your post. I lost 130 lbs and suddenly I wasn't the shy 'fat' friend anymore. I was outgoing and having fun and people were noticing me. Some of my friends couldn't handle that and said that I was changed and I wasn't the same person I used to be. Yeah I wasn't but why penalize me for that now that I'm more healthy and can have more fun.

Sure I was sometimes happy back then, I hated myself though for how I looked. I masked alot of my feelings and made everyone think I was happy.

So my point being, I lost some friends after my weight loss and I say if they are selfish in the way they are treating me now, then I don't need those types of people in my life. Sure it hurt alot but it made me realize how incredible shallow people can be. I have so many amazing friends now that have come to accept me now. Sure I wonder how life would be if I hadn't lost the weight but you know what everything happens for a reason and I have a completely different life than I did 2 years ago and I wouldn't change it for the world (or anyone)!!!

Tim said...

Just keep being you, Mary. Be who you want to be.

Poison said...

I am always hearing about how friends and family start out being supportive and then when they think you're losing too much and changing too much they get all defensive and start taking it out on you. I don't think they always know they are doing this and that you shouldnt take it so much to heart though being the overly emotional person I am, I know that I would feel the same. It may not exactly be jealousy that makes them feel this way, but a sense of they feel like you aren't the same person you were before and change is always hard for anyone to accept. Afterall, humans are creatures of habit.

Munchberry said...

I am going to talk to you bluntly. The paragraph where you talk about the what if's with family and friends is seriously delusional. WHY?

There is no butterfly effect of your weight loss. People make decisions in their life based on their needs and desires, not based on what you do. Were you thinking these same thoughts when you contemplated suicide? Because THAT would have had a permament effect on your friends and family. They would have gotten on with their lives, but there would have been a hole - made by you. A very selfish act.

Now. How exactly do you come to the conclusion that your weight loss and your striving for a healthy and long life resulted in your mother not talking to you and friends not liking you? Is it something inside them or is it you? Cuz - my guess - and I just went through the loss of a friend "because of weight" is that it is THEM. And if that is the case - that they would not be overjoyed with a few more years with a happy and vibrant Mary - then what the hell are you doing with them as your friends? That ain't love.

As for your mother. Maybe consider asking her exactly what the problem is. Listen to what she has to say, ask for examples and then carefully weigh whether or not that makes sense. Is there something you are doing that is unhealthy? Examine what it means to be loving and to do things in love (for you and her). Are you and she being that? Can they be that? Sometimes, sadly, it cannot be. People prefer unhealthy relationships. It is up to you whether or not you will indulge them (perhaps at your own peril). How much value do you place on your own happiness. You are young. You need to decide this going forward. Trust me on this - it is a decision.

Snap out of it. Take the bull by the horns. The bull being your life and happiness. Figure out what is important going forward, write that down in your journal and then put your blinders on and head that direction.

I write this in sisterly love.

He Took MY Last Name said...

A lot of your commenters have already said "it's not you, its them"

But I don't think it's all one sided. Of course you have changed who you are and what you think, that means your opinions of these relationships have changed as well, whether you know it consciously or not.

There is a part of you who wants your family and friends to be as healthy as you but meet enough resistance, and you sort of ...give up on it right now.

You have decided that you can't let your life be dependent on their happiness, thus causing them to be unhappy with you, thus causing you to rethink your life.

Which is all normal and okay, by the way. Don't regret that you got healthier. Don't regret that you lost weight. People come and go in our lives and your health matters most. You'll come out on top.

Hungry For a Quiet Mind said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I hear so many echoes of my own self in what you are writing and it makes me feel not so alone. It is amazing how hurtful other people can be when they see others succeed.

I'm so sorry you've had to go through so much. But you give me hope for myself and for that I thank you.

CarolineC said...

I don't know what I could add to what all the other commenters have already said, but I just know that you are awesome. Your kindness and good heart and just general awesomeness overwhelmingly come through in your writing. Although I have read every word of your blog I still don't quite understand what the problem is between you and your mother. But if she doesn't want you to be happy and healthy, then she is toxic. That's sad, but you need to follow your bliss and not let the negativity get in your way.

As for friends I can tell you that I am only barely friends (like Facebook friends) with 95% of the people I was close to at your age. Life is always changing and it's obvious that people are drawn to you (like your new friend at your apartment complex). I think when you are battling depression (Chad calls it monkey brain chemicals) it's just so hard to see reality. I wish I could hang out with you! xoxo

Bluezy said...

no frakkin way dear there are so many turns one can take and so many alternate realities we could of lived..and so many scenarios we can put ourselves blame to...
Importantly only a place to visit shortly in the mind and then go on.

Rebecca said...

First of all, I wanna just say I'm sending you hugs and positive thoughts and lots of love since you are clearly feeling so blue.

Secondly, I just wanted to say that your compassion and your caring loving parts are not stored within your fat. You know this to be true. Perhpas your weight loss has changed who you are...however at the core, you are still Mary.

Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to take some time out to ponder the reasons why your friends and family have said the things they have said about you being a crap friend/daughter/sister. It may be difficult and even upsetting, however we cannot grow as a person until we can accept criticism. And if their criticism is built upon untruths/jealousy/selfishness as opposed to honest reflection upon the person you have become whilst loosing this weight, then perhaps you have to wonder; why put up with it?

But even if what they say is true...if you have changed so much that you are "crap" then do not take it as a sign to turn back on all of your progress. Just as you have changed your body so you can grow in yourself. See this not as a signal to give up and go crawling back to old habits. See it as an opportunity to mould yourself into something even better.

Of course I may well be talking a whole load of crap myself at this point ^_^ Whatever happens, and whatever you choose to do with your situation, I truly wish you all the best

Bex
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

downsizers said...

I remember when I lost a lot of weight my husband said I would probably find another man. He accused me of sleeping around. He said our second son was not his. All very hurtful and untrue things. We go on. Life has much to offer. Now that you are in a new place no one has to know of your former weight issues. Let's just see if you don't make some new friends that like you for you. My minor was psychology and I taught it a couple of years. I know of the left-brain, right-brain thing. Artistic types are often right-brain and very sensitive to relationship issues. They are often just very sensitive, period. This is not to minimize how you are feeling right now just an angle for you to consider. When people tell you that you have changed try and engage them in a conversation telling them you need to adjust just like they need to adjust. You need their help not their criticism.

PJ Geek said...

Wow..wow..wow..You've had some great comments. You are so wise for your age and you have accomplished so much. Just hang in there. Feel this pain now, but please do not go back to a life of abusing food and regaining weight.

I can't seem to word this exactly as I'd like to, but I can say this about how your post affects me. OH! If I had lost my weight when I was young I was 46 when I hit the 100 lb lost mark. If I had embraced an active lifestyle and taken care of my body and my mental / emotional health at a younger age, my body wouldn't have the damage it has from being 200 lbs overweight for so many years.

You've changed the game of life for yourself and you have a new game board. The other players in your life don't seem to want to accept this. If they give you enough negative reinforcement , will you go back to their board?

I hope not. Look for new players. Let those old players figure out what THEY are doing wrong and figure out for themselves what/who they are missing.

hang in there..

Miss April said...

I loved this post....... You have been doing some soul searching - that is much more difficult of a transformation than the outside - isn't it? I read through some of my old journals and all I see is anger, I am mad at the world. I was alone and 'hate' was a common word. I don't want to be that girl, I need to figure out how to change that all around! Feeling *inspired!

Hungry Girl Fan said...

You have made many changes in your life in the past year. For you, they have definitely been for the better. People around you are probably having a hard time with all of the changes.

This happens in life all the time. Whether it be changes due a new lifestyle and weightloss, or changes due to major life events - marriage, baby, house, etc. I lost many friends when I got married, built a house, and got pregnant all within a year's time. I think my friends had a hard time with my new life, and didn't really know how to react. Instead of being happy for me and supporting me, they withdrew from me and left me feeling more lonely than I had ever been - despite being happily married.

You are still going through extreme changes in your life that will take some adjusting to. Once you get through this difficult time, make new friends, adjust to your new lifestyle, things will get better. It just takes time. Hang in there!

Lisa Eirene said...

I felt very alone at 250+ pounds. I felt even more alone losing the weight by myself. This was before I knew about the weight loss blogs and I wish I had known about them then. It's a lonely process with a lot of struggles, setbacks and disappointments. It's also a wonderful journey.

I thought reaching my goal of losing over 100 pounds would make me ecstatically happy. It did, in a way, but there was also some depression. I lost some friends who didn't want to be around me anymore (because I was healthy and into fitness??). It was lonely.

Hang in there.

Katie said...

This is harsh, but it's reality. If the success of your relationships was dependent upon your being unhealthy, then the relationships were unhealthy too.

I've spend the past week reading your journey, and I am in awe of the self-control and strength that you have shown in a huge variety of circumstances.

You are an amazing woman!