Post traumatic stress disorder...and fat

Hello all,
I thought I would write a little bit about How I Got Fat. I see people commenting all the time on youtube about how fat people are just lazy and stupid, otherwise they wouldn't let themselves get so fat. I find this highly amusing, as I am neither dumb nor lazy. I hate to do this, but to illustrate a point I will just throw my IQ out there, (easily matched by many I am sure). It's about 140 depending on the day and the test. I do this not to brag, but to point out that I, a morbidly obese woman, am no idiot. In either the technical or colloquial sense. I realise that the calories in and calories out must balance or you will gain weight. Most of 'us' do. (Us being the overweight or obese). If we are intelligent, and are not lazy (We clean our homes, do the bills, some of us work outside the home, we run errands and I home school, we are all productive people). Then how did we get fat? Good question, and one I think needs closer scrutiny.

I think I stand for a relatively large portion of the obese population that has had some significant trauma in their lives, and instead of turning to drugs or drinking, we turned to food. I read alot of weight loss blogs. In them, I see a common theme. Severe trauma. This is not to say that all obese or morbidly obese people have had significant trauma in their lives, some may just like to eat. I would say however, that for a significant portion, this is the case.

My trauma came from an extremely abusive childhood. My reactions to people and places were (and sometimes still are) abnormal, I didn't know that growing up though. For years I felt as though I wasn't really in my body, that I was detached. Whenever something stressful happened, it was okay because it wasn't really happening to me. Even though it was. Loud noises made me jump. I was scared and suspicious of men, to this day I have a one foot perimeter that no one is allowed to cross in public or I get cranky (huggers always confuse me...fight or flight or hug, which Is why I write hugs at the bottom of my posts, I think if I had had a normal childhood, I would be a hugger too), and when I take my evening walks, I take a push knife that is on a string around my throat. Until a few years ago, I had no idea that this wasn't how a 'normal' person operates. That is, until my husband came back from his fourth tour to Iraq and we had to go to family counseling sessions. In those sessions, we ran down a checklist for post traumatic stress disorder. He had it....and so did I. I just didn't know it.
How did I get so fat? By using food as a crutch to deal with stress, by not even being present in my body much of the time, and by using my fat to make me invisible to men. You see, my fat served a purpose. It kept men away from me, and me away from men. MEN in the ominous predator sense. You see, these men weren't my brother and my husband, the men I loved were the exceptions. The rule Men are the other, the ones who will hurt you because they enjoy hurting. My fat kept 'them' from noticing me. It made me an imposing presence. I felt like a wall, not a fragile victim. I was nobody's petite princess. I was tough and mean. Is this reality, are all men out to harm me? NO. Does reality matter when you don't know that what your thinking is irrational. NO. You need something to reset reality for you.

I am not the mean, sarcastic person I sometimes present to the world. Inside, that isn't really me. For instance, I love kids. I could spend all day just talking to them. Alot of adults seem to get agitated, but I think kids are still okay, they haven't been messed up yet. I have a thick hide though, and it is hard for me to express anything emotional. People always see my sarcasm and my humor. I would like to show the rest, that will take time...I am getting better.
My battle is in my mind now. I have lost 22 lbs. I realized the other day that I was only 100 lbs away from a healthy bmi. My first reaction was fear. Fear that I would be noticed. I "know" in my mind that this is irrational. From here on out it is one pound at a time. One pound, one hundred times. I will have to overcome my fear of being seen, or noticed. I have to get over my fear of being fragile, my fear of being a victim. You see, I have lost thirty and more pounds before, and when I am flirted with or noticed, I regain the weight plus twenty until I am 'safe'. I plan on rectifying this feeling of vulnerability by taking a self defense course, so I feel like I can handle bad situations, without all the weight. When I was in the army I was thin, but could bench 230 lbs. and felt almost invincible, so my (lack of) weight didn't bother me. I need to get past feeling small and vulnerable. It will take some time.

Just so you know, I am no longer floating around outside my body. I am going to tell you tommorrow how I came back into it again. I think a few people out there know what I am talking about (I hope). We aren't stupid and lazy, many of us had some major damage done to us and we coped the best we knew how, now that we know better, we are doing better. I am ready for this journey because I have taken the last ten years of my life to figure out what was going on in my own mind. I am taking this journey because I can't let anymore of my life be stolen from me by a person who neither cares nor is damaged by his actions. This journey started from the inside out. It's all about waking up and reclaiming myself. I will write more tommorrow, this is becoming a book. lol. Thanks for all the kind comments from patty and hanli and fitcetera....This blog really helps me set down thoughts and get things straight in my own mind.
Well have a good night,


Hanlie said...

I could totally hug you for this post - in a non-threatening way of course. Thank you so much!

I kept nodding throughout... I really identify with what you wrote here. Even the bit about losing some weight and then regaining the minute people start complimenting me. I'm there now again, but I won't follow the same pattern this time - I've learned so much these last two years.

During the first six months of my weight loss/healing journey I actually gained some weight as I battled my demons. It's only the last 18 months that I've been losing, and slowly at that - two steps forward and one step back. And it's not because of food, or because I'm doing something wrong, but because I'm learning to trust and accept myself and care enough to do the necessary. It doesn't happen overnight... it's an often painful and painstaking process.

Thanks for the shout-out! We learn from you!

Fat[free]Me said...

Yep, nods, the fat cushion has been the best armour, protector, security blanket I have ever had (until it turned on me and gave me a death sentence).

Losing it is scary, but I will build myself a new invisible one that lets the good ones in.

Great post!

Hugs to you too!

Patty said...

From the first time I read your blog, I knew with out a shadow of a doubt that it was coming from a very intelligent woman.

I just read Hanlie's post and it touches on the same theme. If people like the two of you keep writing, maybe, just maybe, the message will get across.

Group Hug!!! ;-)

Michele Rosenthal said...

So interesting... much of what you wrote here applies to me -- a PTSD anorectic. Funny how our traumas can be individual but our PTSD experience is so universal.

I blog a lot about the power of our minds to heal PTSD. I used to feel the way you do -- so overwhelmed and afraid. And then one day, I changed my mind. Wrote abou that today, actually, and the fact that sometimes all it takes is just a simple shift in perspective and suddenly the whole world changes.

It took me 3 long and tough years to heal but I've done it. I'm now 100% PTSD-free. I struggled with PTSD fr 28 years before I found freedom. If I can heal there's hope for all of us!

Good luck on your path... Hugs, from one survivor to another. :)