I used to dream about being skinny. Legitimately, there were days where I would think about how my life would be different if I was a size 6 instead of the size 10-12 I’ve maintained since the 11th grade. I thought about all the fun trends I could try out that aren’t really viable options for plus size girls. All the stores I’d be able to shop in because things wouldn’t fit me so weirdly. I thought about how much more people would like me – how much more I’d like myself – if I lost the weight been trying to shed since freshman year of high school.
When I moved to Los Angeles briefly in 2009, I lost about 15 pounds. I came back, and got all these compliments and comments about how good I looked. The few pounds I’d lost had made a huge difference in the way other people saw me, and how I perceived myself. Of course, going back to my old eating habits, I gained the weight right back, and from then on tried all sorts of exercise routines and weird diets off and on throughout high school to loose that weight again – and more, I hoped. I made some stupid decisions, some really stupid decisions, regarding my health that I still regret to this day. I was a little girl with very little self esteem, and not a lot of people rooting for me at the time.
Getting smaller was always a goal in the back of my head, nagging at me when I’d go for a third slice of pizza or regular soda instead of diet. That was, until I got sick.
In March of 2015, I started to notice I was waking up feeling nauseous and all around gross. I would have to drink water to settle my stomach, and my appetite decreased significantly to the point where I couldn’t eat more than a meal a day, if that. I began having regular stomach pains and indigestion, coupled with other digestive issues that left me in bed, in the bathroom or staying at home for fear of embarrassment until I left for my month long trip to Florida in April.
I didn’t tell many people outside my family because I didn’t want them to worry (I still haven’t told many outside of work/friends, who might be with me when I experience symptoms), but a doctor’s visit before I left for Florida left me with only muscle relaxers in hand and a suggestion to “check back in” when I returned for further testing. I had already begun to experience some weight loss, because of the decreased appetite, and dropped about five pounds before my trip.
When I left for Florida, I weighed roughly 170 pounds. I was a size large to extra-large, 10-12 in all my clothing.
Upon returning, I saw a new doctor who scheduled tests for mid-summer and put me on a few different medications to ease the various side effects I was experiencing, all but the decreased appetite. The testing didn’t reveal much, other than it was not cancer, an ulcer – as we suspected – or some sort of gluten intolerance. So on the medications I have stayed, waiting it out, going in for regular checkups and praying for some change to occur.
I hid being sick from most everyone for a long time, because I didn’t want to seem like I was complaining or being a hypochondriac. But there were weeks where every day I would have to force myself to get out of bed, go to work, and the second I would sit down I’d have to run to the bathroom, about to throw up all the medications I’d taken that morning simply because the nausea was so extreme.
In the nine months since I first became sick, I have lost almost 30 pounds, and nearly four dress sizes.
I still have issues eating more than a meal a day, or more than a normal sized portion of anything at one sitting. In the days and weeks following stressful events or situations, my body reacts violently with pain and digestion problems that I can only control with medications that make me sleepy and delirious. However, it is getting better. The symptoms are few and far between now, and 2016 will hopefully be a year of answers for me.
The weight loss is what has killed me, though. Because while while there is some small piece of me that is incredibly satisfied every time someone says “you’ve lost so much weight,” “you look so good!” etc., there’s a bigger part of me that knows it wasn’t my doing. It was my body’s revolt. And the moment they ask me what I’ve been doing to lose weight, there is a mild hesitation, a “should I say it?” moment, before I respond with the truth. I’ve been sick. And that’s not the answer they’re looking for – they assume I’ve dropped weight through some sort of determination of mind, like how I take on every other piece of my life. But they’re mistaken.
I knew it was time to share when, this morning, while getting gas and a drink at our local fill up station, the regular attendant, who’s known me since high school, asked how I was doing – and made a joke about my constant travel, how I need to start taking the occasional plane or car, because all this running I’m doing is making me drop weight like crazy. I just laughed, thanked him and wished him a happy new year, and left.
While my confidence has increased since I’ve lost weight, it’s also because I’m more confident in myself, not just my body. Being sick has shown me who my real friends are, and the last few months have definitely bonded myself and my family closer together. I look back on the little girl who practically starved herself to fit into the “cool kid” clothes, and I pity her. Because if she saw all the cool things she would do in the future, size 12 and all, I think she’d be pretty proud of herself.
It’s funny how life gives you the things you think you want. It drops them in your lap like “Here, you happy?” and sometimes, it’s not in the way that’s the most convenient, or the best for you. And sometimes, it ends up being a really serious case of “Be careful what you wish for.”
And because we all need a little Bellas happiness in our lives: