When we left my last post I was a young woman who had just finished high school. My entire life was laid out before me. I was excited to move to a new city and grab life by the horns! Or so I thought.
When I started college in London (Ontario, not England) I was around 178 pounds. I had gone to England for my cousin’s wedding that summer and managed to pack on a few pounds in a short amount of time. But anyway, I was starting college. I was going into a photography program. I hadn’t been able to get into my first choice, which was Ryerson University in Toronto, the only university that offered a photography program. But I was hellbent on doing photography so I sucked it up and went to college instead. It was a disaster.
I was a quiet girl who was up for the occasional party and was usually shy around new people. Somehow I got stuck rooming with three girls who were all smokers (nothing bugs me more than cigarette smoke) and wanted to party every night till 3 or 4 am. I also ended up hating my program. Although I was thankfully able to move to a different suite during the winter semester, my overall experience at college continued to get worse. I fell into what can only be described as the worst depression of my lifetime. I wasn’t suicidal but I couldn’t get out of bed. I fell back into habits of self-harm and mostly I just wanted the whole thing to be over.
Of course during this time I gained more weight. It could be put down to the “freshman fifteen”, the fifteen pounds that most students put on during their first year of school due to a combination of stress, horrible eating habits and lack of anything resembling a proper kitchen. I won’t go into the details of what I ate but you can be sure that it consisted mostly of beef and cheese. Yep, my two go-to comfort foods. Whether or not it was just the “freshman fifteen” it was definitely my first really bad experience with binge eating and comfort eating. It was my first time really feeling guilty about what I was eating but continuing to eat instead of changing my habits.
By the time I left school it felt like I had hit an all time low with my depression. I took comfort in knowing that I wouldn’t be going back (especially since I had flunked most of my classes) but I also felt lost. I didn’t know if I would be able to get into a different program at a different school and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was also frustrated that seeking professional psychiatric help was a painstakingly slow process. I had one incredibly cathartic intake interview and then had to wait months for a referral to a psychiatrist. In the meantime I was allowed to see a social worker whose main method of helping clients seemed to be a “don’t worry, be happy” mantra. It didn’t seem like it at the time but things were slowly improving.
A while back I started to write about my past and the experiences that led me to this point in my life of being extremely overweight. It all started when I was quite young. At 9 years old I gained some weight and quickly learned that a lot of people have no trouble telling a 9 year old girl she is fat. Then my height evened out with my weight. I got taller and developed feminine curves. I had a bigger frame than some of the other girls in my class but I was by no means fat.
When I was 15 something strange happened though. I actually got fat. Or chubby. Or overweight or whatever you want to call it. I gained 30 pounds in a matter of just a few months although it felt like it happened overnight. I am still not entirely sure what happened. Maybe it was because I stopped taking gym class so that I could learn guitar instead. Maybe I was eating too many chocolate chip cookies. Either way I was horrified to step on the scale and find that I weighed 162 pounds. Strangely enough my size didn’t change much. Although it was a 30 pound gain I only went up one size (from a 12 to a 14).
What really horrified me was the stretch marks. I had deep purple stretch marks that looked like evil claws reaching up my stomach. I knew I had gained weight but I am sure that I wouldn’t have felt so bad about it if it weren’t for the stretch marks. No one had ever told me about stretch marks. I thought they were something that only pregnant women got. I was ashamed and embarrassed by them. Now I would definitely never be able to wear a bikini (and yes, wearing a bikini was a secret lifelong goal that I had).
By the time I was 16 or 17 I was trying to change. After gaining weight I decided that I would sign up for gym class again in an effort to lose weight. It didn’t work. I even signed up for Weight Watchers but only lost about 3 pounds. My mom allowed me to get a gym membership but I rarely went because I couldn’t drive and I wasn’t really willing to take the bus to the gym. I never lost any weight. Instead I continued to gain. By the time I finished high school I was about 172 pounds. I felt horrible about my weight. Strangely enough, after all of those years of believing I was fat when I wasn’t, it was like a self-fulfilling prophecy had occurred. I now put myself firmly in the fat girls club, a place that I have been hoping to escape ever since.