Ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1991, I’ve struggled with my weight. At that time, I weighed 125 and was prescribed lithium to control my highs and lows. The drug worked, but it and other psychotropic drugs contributed to a 20-pound weight gain. Then, as the years went by, I gained the weight that comes with aging. By 40, I weighed about 180. On a 5’3″ frame, this was a lot to carry. I gained even more weight when I struggled with breast cancer in my late 40s and 50s. At 56, I weighed a cool 188 with no clothes on.
Recently, I gained even more (I contribute this gain to simply overindulgence) and suddenly felt myself inching to 200 pounds. At this weight, I appeared, what can I say, “fat.” My weight and new look were troubling my 14-year-old son, who never had any weight issues until then. Strangely enough when I was 200 pounds, my son became anxious and disturbed.
He begged me to lose weight. Of course, it was difficult to do so, instead of me dropping pounds, he began to limit his food intake until he had lost weight. He went from 115 to 107. This doesn’t sound like much but on his 5’2″ frame, it seemed like a huge amount.
I could see all of his ribs. He lost muscle mass. He seemed like a shadow of himself. I worried that he was developing anorexia.
When meal times rolled around, he judiciously nibbled on what I considered nothing — crackers, soup, small pieces of cheese. I did the math and knew he was taking in less than 1,000 calories a day. At this rate, if he kept going, he’d be down below 100 pounds before I knew it.
Worried for his health, I put myself on a diet and lost 10 pounds. This helped. His eating patterns returned to normal.
Now, three months later, my son has no issues with food. He eats when he’s hungry, and he is back to his 115 pounds. And I am hovering around 185.
I know that I have a long way to go with my weight. I’d like to be back in the 130-pound range, but this will take discipline and control, two things I’m not sure I possess. I was never addicted to tobacco, drugs or alcohol, or sex for that matter, but I believe I am addicted to food. I don’t want to stop eating for myself, but I guess I’ll do it for my son.
Today, we went out to eat. I wanted to order a Reuben sandwich complete with cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. Of course, I also wanted a large side of steak fries dipped in copious amounts of ketchup. Somehow, I found the presence of mind to order a steak salad, which I consumed with very little dressing. I figure I saved myself at least 2,000 calories. It’s going to be hundreds, maybe thousands, of choices like this that take me down to my desired weight. I’ve got to remember, it’s not going to happen at once. But my weight does affect those around me.
Anorexia is truly about control. If a person feels he can’t control factors in his life, he CAN control what he puts in his mouth.
My son was on the road to becoming anorexic. Thankfully, when I lost weight, he put his back on.
I have to say, I love it when Tommy has a late night submarine sandwich. I adore it when he eats a huge bowl of fruit and then eats a yogurt with fruit on the bottom. The other night he had a big plate of penne pasta and meatballs. I was in a blissful state. Am I living vicariously through him and his eating habits? Maybe.
I will see 130 pounds again. How do I know this? I have my son to cheer me on.
Kids are demanding in so many different ways. They urge us to be our best selves. In fact, they sometimes require it. My son’s “hunger strike” brought me to my senses. I’ll do whatever it takes so that he’ll thrive. I guess that’s the definition of a parent.