Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Entry #1 - History

I wish I had started this blog back when I started, but that point is now moot. So you will have to excuse me if I send us back in time for a short while.

This post is going to cover the events leading up to April 12th, 2011. Not every event of my life (thank goodness), it will merely be a summary of the relevant events that tie to this narrative.

-- What is past is prologue.
-- William Shakespeare

I wasn't always a large man. I was never a skinny person, but there was a time that I was a swimmer, I was attractive to women (please don't call me arrogant, I just mean that I had a girlfriend or two), I could dance, jump, and run. I won't go into all the possible reasons why I gained weight. They are intangible and I am still poring over them in my mind, so I know of no clear event or events that set me on my path to obesity. However, from about 1992-2011, I marched my weight right up to hideous amounts.

It came to a head after losing my job to outsourcing and trying to find a job in a market that views obese people as lazy and incapable, regardless of their qualifications. Though never diagnosed, I am positive that I was in a clinically depressed state as I faced my ever-decreasing bank book and lack of prospects. I spent months sitting in my recliner, eating pizza and Jimmy Johns while watching TV. I think this is where my weight really took its largest dramatic increase.

It is funny how much you can lie to yourself. I knew I didn't like being overweight, but in some fashion, you try to carve out some happiness and make allowances for the weight. There are many reasons why my life sucked at that weight. Like many people I was out of breath at the smallest exertion, not able to sit in a booth at a restaurant, and had low self esteem. However, I wanted to list some things that might not be as widely experienced. The things that could be a problem for someone who has gone far beyond the simple term, "fat". Please bear with me. I am not proud of these. It is merely "record keeping" so I know from whence I have come. Not to mention, remind me of where I never want to return.

  • Unable to put on and tie my own shoes without propping that foot up on the bed. And, when I do tie the shoes, I am out of breath because I had to crunch myself up to
    do it, thus restricting my ability to breathe.
  • Being stared at by children (and some adults) because I am clearly the largest person they have seen in real life.
  • Oh this one is sad .... Taking a break during a shower because I am too out of breath from the effort. Ugh.
  • This one is worse .... being unable to reach around my body to clean myself after a bowel movement. So, in order to make life livable, "dumps" were planned and executed directly before a shower so a better cleaning could be achieved. This does not help the self-esteem.
  • Being frightened to sit on the furniture of friends and relatives because there is a better the 50% chance I would break them in some fashion. Not to mention the humiliation when you do.
  • Unable to ride in the cars of friends because I didn't fit in very many cars. Plus, seatbelts are not long enough to get around you.
  • Never being able to take a plane anywhere. At least not without buying at least two seats.
  • Inability to walk or stand for any period of time. It would cause too much back and leg pain.
  • Missing out on sporting events, movies, and family/friend outings because those things would require too much walking. I have actually planned to meet people for a movie and then left when I couldn't find a parking spot close enough. I cried all the way home, but that was my situation.
  • Inability to do very simple things that mean too much. My heart breaks for all the times I was unable to accompany my nephews and/or niece upstairs to see something in their room or go outside to play or get down on the floor to play. I can't get those moments back.
  • I am haunted by the idea of the lessons those children may have taken from my example. I can only hope that I can write new lessons with my current and future example.
If I think of more, I can add them to future posts.

Let us not discount the solitary life that is created by this size. So many moments would brazenly show me that other people were finding romance, love, and companionship while I was not. Going out with friends who all had girlfriends or wives. Or even worse, going out with single friends who all find "hook ups" while I sit alone. You put on a brave face and act like the fun-loving, ever-happy guy, but in the end, it is only an act. But most recently, I was made aware of it at my grandmother's funeral when I was able to simply assess my family. My sister had her husband, my brother had his wife. Mom and Dad consoled each other while I was alone. Sure, there were friends there and my family did not ignore me, but that isn't quite the same thing.

-- Depression is a prison where you are both the suffering prisoner and the cruel jailer.
-- Dorothy Rowe

Then things even progress to a point where you can feel yourself speeding closer to death. There are factors that make this happen. For example, you are aware the fast food/delivered food is bad for you, but your body is so out of shape that you are unable to walk a grocery store without crippling pain in your back. You are depressed because you are fat and eat too much. You eat too much and get fatter because you are depressed. Everything on your body hurts most of the time. You are out of breath most of the time. You can feel death coming. It is like you are spinning around the toilet bowl of life and look out ... the water's moving faster and faster.

I would like to say that I saw all this happening and took action on my own. This isn't true. I just got more and more depressed. I was crying at the drop of the hat and for the stupidest things. My family was worried about me, but weren't sure what to do. Dad wanted to stage an intervention type meeting to force me to get help. God help him, he means well and it is because he cares and worries about me, but this isn't the best way to approach a depressed person and certainly not me. I've never been one to deal well with ultimatums.

So, the heroine of this story is my sister. She knew that I would not react well to the intervention, but came up with an alternate plan. She took me to dinner and laid it out for me. She told me how worried everyone was. And offered a solution if I wanted to take it. In hindsight, this was a brilliant plan. Instead of beaning the drowning man in the head with the life preserver, she threw it within arms' reach and said "take it if you want it." I will always owe her a huge debt of gratitude for this. It won't stop me from teasing her, but the debt is still there. :)

In my next post, I will detail my sister's plan and the beginning steps on this journey.

-- A lot of what passes for depression these days is nothing more than a body saying that it needs work.
-- Geoffrey Norman

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