Consuming the Pain: My Relationship with Food and Depression by Giovannah Philippeaux

Entering the New Year I discovered two disturbing things about myself. One, I do not love myself…I do not even like myself. Two, that my diet, lack of exercise, and overall neglect of my physical health will kill me. I thought I was over my depression and suicidal ideation, I thought I had won. But I am not, some part of me still wants to kill myself, some part of me still does not have the urge to live. I do not get it. I do not get how I could be so blind to the struggle that is still raging within me. Maybe I did not want to see it? Maybe it is just easier to ignore?

This was a gradual realization but it all hit home when reading an article about a severely obese man who had lost his life as a result of his struggle with weight. First featured in the San Antonio Express-News, the pictorial essay depicted the heartbreaking life of Hector Garcia Jr. who remarked that he could not remember a time when he was truly happy. Prior to reading this article, I was excited to be gaining weight. My short-term goal was to reach two hundred pounds. I was, and still am, excited about being fat; I am oddly comfortable with the idea of gaining weight. “Trying to make that 2-0-0” became my personal mantra.

Being big, having layers has always been my form of protection. It is how I ensure that I remain invisible and ignored. It is how I ensure that I am not a challenge; everyone’s comfortable with the ugly fat chick. Being big feels good to me, it feels comfortable, and it feels safe. But after reading that article, I realize that it is also what will kill me.

I have already begun to experience some of the side effects of being overweight. I hate climbing stairs because by the time I get to the top I am out of breath. Carrying a load of laundry while climbing is even worse, it automatically leads to huffing and puffing. I have started to have leg and joint pains. Not a day goes by without me experiencing some pain in my legs, hips, or thighs. Worst of all, I have started to have chest pains right around my heart. A flutter or sharp stab, quick and noticeable pains that are clearly telling me that something is not right. Part of me does not care and another is too scared to confront it. I excuse my behavior by saying “well we all have to go somehow” or “we are all going to die anyway.”

My family has a long and extensive history of heart disease…heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. These should all be warning signs, but I just do not care enough about myself to make a change, to do something different. So I sit and eat, consuming my pain, my anger, my hurt. Packing on layers of fat disguised as comfort; being too detached from my own self, from my own body to accept that I am killing it. Because deep down, I still do not care. I still do not like nor love myself. I still do not feel worthy of existence, of health, of beauty, or of confidence.

It is a struggle, a struggle that I still have not committed to fighting.

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