Why did I gain so much Weight?
I was thinking yesterday about my weight loss journey. Suddenly a question came to mind. Why did I gain so much weight?
Well, as I have said many times, I was obese since before I can even remember. If I look at old pictures there was a time that I was not obese, but I honestly can’t remember that time.
However, there was a time that I can look at where I started putting on weight much more rapidly.
I am not making excuses
When I say what happened at the time that I started gaining weight to a greater degree, some will say that I am making excuses. No, I am making no excuses. I am only trying to figure out if something happened that hastened my weight gain.
I did it myself. Nobody else caused me to become 430 pounds. I am the only one who was responsible for that.
So, what happened?
What happened that caused a sudden increase in my weight gain?
When I was 17 years old, at the beginning of my senior year in High School, I was working at a local retail chain store in the town where I went to school. I lived out of town, about a 20-minute drive.
My work was in the afternoon and into the evening. One night, after I got off of work, I was driving home. As I drove, I could see in the distance that there were the flashing lights of a police car. No, it was not a single police car, I realized, it was many police cars.
As I got closer to the flashing lights, it really lit up the sky like it was daytime instead of night. Suddenly I realized that there was a traffic accident. The police were directing traffic through the accident scene.
Then I saw one of the cars
As I was passing by, my instinct was to look and see what was going on. I took a quick glance at one of the cars, it was on the road. It was unbelievable how badly it was damaged.
Then it hit me. That car was very distinct. It belonged to my family. I panicked and pulled over to the side of the road. I got out of my car and started running toward the police officer nearest me. He yelled at me and told me to leave, there was nothing I could do there.
I told him – “That green car belongs to my family.” He then came to me and took me away from the scene, into a police car and brought some people to talk to me.
I thought my whole family was in the car
My immediate thought was that my entire family was in the car. That would be my Father, Mother, Brother, and Sister. Based on the looks of the car, I felt there was no way that anybody could have survived the crash.
I asked the officer who was in the car. He said that a young girl was in the car, but nobody else. I asked him if the girl was OK. He told me to flat out that the girl had died. It was my sister. She was 15 years old. We lived, at the time, in the State of Louisiana, and the legal age to get a driver’s license was 15, so she was a licensed driver.
How did it happen?
Unfortunately, a drunk driver was coming the other way down the road. He fell asleep while driving, and swerved off of the road, onto the shoulder on his side. The shoulder was dirt with gravel. When he hit the gravel, it woke him up, and he pulled the steering wheel to get back on the road, but he overcorrected. He ended up on my sister’s side of the road and they hit head-on.
She was dead. I was 17, my sister was 15.
My sister’s death really affected me
Over the coming months, I gained about 50 pounds. That is when my rapid weight gain started. I would have to say that due to my grieving, and turning to food to ease my pain, I started gaining weight rapidly.
As I said, I am not blaming anybody or anything for my weight gain, I am the only one to blame. And, I was already obese before my sister’s death. But, that event really traumatized me, and I firmly believe that the accident and death of my sister was the thing that caused me to turn to food even more than I had previously.
I dealt poorly with this event
As I said, I was 17 when this happened. That was in 1979. For the next 30 years, I could never talk about the event without breaking down and crying. Even if I just thought of my sister, I was in tears.
At the age of 47, I had a very close friend who had a background in counseling. One day, we were at the pool, we used to swim daily for exercise. After our swim we were sitting alongside the pool and talking, The topic of my sister came up, and as normal, I was in tears. It was very traumatic for me.
My friend, Gene, started talking to me very seriously. He was using some of the counseling techniques that he knew on me. We talked for several hours. I have never cried about that incident again. Right time? Right place? Right person? Whatever happened, it all came together, and I finally dealt with the incident. I can now freely talk about it. Yes, it makes me sad, but I don’t start crying about it.
Yesterday I posted an article asking if readers felt that mental illness would be a welcome topic here. In that article, I said that I had never really had any mental issues in the past. Today, it struck me that indeed I had experienced mental issues. The death of my sister and the 30 years that it took me to come to terms with it was, no doubt, a serious mental issue.
I will be writing more about this traumatic event in my life over the coming weeks and months. But, today, I wanted to just connect it with extreme weight gain.
I wish I had not dealt with it by turning to food. That caused me to experience many serious health problems over the years, and I flirted with death more than once. Really, I should not even be alive anymore, but I made it. I think I am here to stay for a long, long time now.
Thanks for sharing your story. As someone who suffers from depression (no longer need medications) and had a suicide attempt a few years back, I totally understand what you mean by “mental illness.” Some days are more of a struggle than others, and the one thing I’ve learned in my struggle is that it’s always helpful to talk to someone instead of bottling one’s feelings inside. Thanks again for sharing.
Hi Jerome. Thank you for also sharing. I am sorry that you have also had to go through some hard things. Hoping that we are both feeling better!
Reading this brought tears to my eyes, and made me weep, thinking of how terrible it was when you lost your sister. Grief is so natural and understandable when we experience so great a loss, and yet, our culture does not teach us how to grieve. People who feel hurt and sad often self-medicate with food, and other things, to veer away from the pain. I am so glad that you can now think of your sister, and remember her without feeling only grief. I am so glad that you had Gene to talk to, and that he was such a good listener and able to help! What a blessing!
This was a very good article, and I am glad you wrote it!
Luanne, thank you very much for everything you said. I agree with everything you stated. I certainly turned to food, and kind of went into seclusion in many ways after that event. It defined most of my life. I think that having come upon the accident with no warning made the trauma much worse for me, and also thinking that my entire family had been killed.
You are right about Gene. Gene is like my brother. He lived in Davao for many years (we knew each other back in the States and both moved to the Philippines around the same time). Gene is back in the States now, but he and I stay in touch at least weekly.