My surgery is scheduled for Thursday morning and I am excited yet petrified. I begin my pre-op liquid diet tomorrow, so my eating in 2012 will never again be what it has been.
What it has been, if I take a realistic and reflective view of things, is awful. I have been big my whole life and the teasing began on the first day of kindergarten. How is it that kids can be so cruel? By the time I hit age 8, I was depressed and compulsively overate to deal with my poor self-esteem. My family shopped at the military commissary, so we always had a value-sized 10 gallon tub of cream ice (not to be confused with ice cream - that love affair came later) and I would routinely sneak scoops of it. Eating in secret became a specialty. My brother and sister would sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts as fundraisers for their extracurriculars, and of course my family had to have a dozen. Somehow the doughnuts would magically disappear - at my hands, sneak eating behind the pantry door. I distinctly remember even using my fingernail to scrape off and eat the extra glazed topping that had stuck to the container. And whatever happened to that whole loaf of bread? By the time I became a latch-key kid in seventh grade, I had perfected the art of NEVER eating in front of people. I was also twelve years old and spending miserable days shopping in the women's department for frumpy sacks to cover my form. In eighth grade, I was wearing my mother's shirts until grunge hit the scene and I learned I could easily hide behind stringy, greasy hair, flannel shirts, and my dad's combat boots. I even sought validation from an abusive boyfriend, which only led to more out of control binge eating and the beginnings of my venture into self-mutilation. I was hurting and didn't know how to express it. I would eat to the point of nausea and beg God for the will to vomit. He never answered that prayer, thankfully, as I have an extreme fear of vomiting stemming from a bout of stomach flu when I was about six years old.
Life continued and so did the compulsive overeating and self-mutilating. When I finally realized the stem of my behaviors in my senior year of high school, I sat down with a pack of Chips Ahoy and ate the entire thing in one sitting. That was the last time I binge ate. The following Autumn I was finally diagnosed with moderate depression, medicated, and began the long uphill battle toward fixing my mental state. Three years of therapy and medication and several failed attempts at surviving in the work force later, I became a dental assistant for the husband of my father's boss. I loved what I was doing and felt I did it well, so I went to school to become certified and registered. My boss even offered to pay for my schooling, but it was important to me to do it on my own so I struck a deal that he could reimburse me if I made straight As. I did, and he was good to his word.
Now, it may seem like things were all better by then, but they weren't. I was still making unwise choices, both with food and in life. I did what is called "self-sabotage," which means that when I would see myself being successful, I would intentionally do something to muck it up. Consequently, I lost three separate assisting jobs because of my own personal issues. I got a new job at a pediatric office and vowed to myself I would work harder, but in the grand scheme of things I wasn't satisfied with where I was in life. I felt like I had wasted time - nearly six years - trying to make myself better. I knew I wanted more. So I decided to go back to school. I picked a very small Bible college where two friends who also had depression and food issues were attending successfully. This proved to be a great decision for me, because every day I had people praying for me. I even had a professor who advocated for me when my medication (I put myself back on anti-depressants as a precaution) had the opposite of its intended effects. Through making new friends who accepted me for who I was and working hard, I got to a point where I was feeling pretty good about me. The very last time I self-mutilated was Christmas Eve 2004, but I still wasn't at the right place mentally.
My epiphany came the following summer. I realized while working on a research paper for my Humanity, Sin, and Salvation class that depression had been a part of me for most of my life. Rather than continuing to fight against it, I needed to learn to work with it. That summer, that class, that paper changed my life. I can now say, on the eve of 2012, that I live a satisfied life without medication, mutilation, or binging and am about to embark on a journey to repair the physical effects of years of depression (combined with genetics and a love affair with two men named Ben and Jerry). I worked really hard to get my mental self healthy and happy. It took years, but has been well worth it. I now have not just my BS, but also an MAEd and teach at a great special needs school in Kuwait. My life has taken me on a journey halfway around the world and it is amazing. I look back and know that everything has brought me to where I am now, here listening to the call to prayer on the last night of 2011 thinking about my future and how much brighter it is going to be because of everything I have experienced and will experience. I know that my LapBand will be a journey and will take time, too, but I am glad that I am mentally ready for the struggles that are to come. I have an awesome support team in place - most specifically my parents and several friends, including a bander - who are cheering me on for every step of the way.
Tonight I am treating myself to steak l'entrecote and tomorrow I begin my first of four pre-op liquid diet days. Never again will my life be the same. I can't wait to see what possibilities are in store for me.