It’s time I was honest and open up about a part of me that I have been hiding for quite some time. I am an addict. An addict of many things really. Let me start from the beginning.
When I graduated high school I joined the Marines. It was something I had wanted to do since I was in 8th grade. What 14 year old thinks about being a Marine when they grow up – that would be me! I had many reasons for joining and I loved (just about) every minute of my time serving. There are very strict standards concerning height and weight in the Marines, and needless to say, I had to lose weight just to join. I was 156 pounds at 5 feet 5 inches, and needed to be at 138 to join. I lost almost 30 pounds in just a few months. All throughout my career, I struggled to maintain it. During each weigh in, I would be over and would have to have my body measured for body fat. My weight became my focus. I would soon develop an eating disorder. I became bulimic. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. I knew the science behind healthy diets and the dangers of malnutrition. I saw news stories of gymnasts who died from their eating disorder, but I didn’t care. For me it was a means to an end.
During my time in the Marines I also drank heavily and smoked. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I definitely used alcohol as a means to escape my depression. I had the best job in the world. I was doing what I loved! I should have been happy and healthy. But I wasn’t. After I had my son I suffered from postpartum depression, not unlike many women. I told myself that my priority was him, this new, tiny, helpless life that needed my every moment of attention. As a way to deal with my depression and stress, I turned to food.
Do you see the pattern here? I know I do. Food to alcohol and back to food. I refused to see this pattern until this year. My recent divorce was a catalyst for this realization. I realized I had a LOT of work to do. This was the hardest part – admitting I had a problem.
Some people don’t believe that food can be an addiction. Some people think I’m just lazy and don’t have any self-control, that I don’t exercise or even care about my health. I do care. I do exercise. My issue is that I “deal” with my issues by eating. I don’t like being overweight. I see the sideways glances into my shopping cart at the grocery store, which by the way is filled with mostly fruits and vegetables. I have even experienced the awful and downright MEAN nature of human beings and their nasty comments. It’s hurtful. If the American Psychological Association recognizes overeating or binge eating as disorder, then why can’t the rest of us? It’s a mental thing. A mental disorder. An addiction.
My struggle is real. My process to manage this addiction, is hard. Even just admitting it – not only to myself but publicly – is INSANE! I want to be better. I want to be healthy again, physically and mentally. So when you see me on the street, in the grocery store or anywhere else, know that I’m not just the fat woman who doesn’t care. I’m not just the lazy woman that doesn’t want to exercise. I am the woman that fights demons every single day, every single meal. Heck I fight a demon every time I walk into my kitchen because I’ve had a depressing moment. Binge eating is not an addiction that you can treat like alcoholism. An alcoholic can chose stay away from bars and choose not drink a beer. I can’t choose to just not eat. I have to eat at some point. So the battle and struggle is REAL – very very real! But it’s a process that I take 12 steps to overcome, one step at a time.
What demons do you fight alone? You don’t have to you know. You don’t have to fight your nightmares, demons or even your addictions alone. There is help. I’m getting help, are you? Hello, my name is Brandy, and I’m an addict.