Last month I attended the “1st Annual Food Addiction Conference” in Worcester, Mass, which was held by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School & the Food Addiction Institute.
While this conference was primarily for health care professionals working to help treat people with food addiction, I simply couldn’t stay away. I wanted to hear what the professionals in the field are saying people like Dr. Vera Tarman MD, ASAM and Dr. Nicole Avena Ph.D. Also, to be a part of the collaboration by contributing my ‘expertise through experience’. I would like my voice to be included.
What I really want to talk about here though is the specific ‘remember when’ experience I had when I first went into the lecture theatre at UMass, and sat down. I was brought back to an experience I had approximately 15 years ago when I wanted to take a course at the University of Toronto. At the time my weight was at its peak, around 300 lbs, and it affected everything I did, or wanted to do. Always fearing that I would stand out because of my size, and have attention drawn to myself, I decided to do a bit of a reconnaissance trip to the University to assess the facilities in the building where this course was being held. Have you ever done something like this?
Sure enough, I found the desks were the old style combination of desk and chair in one unit. I was afraid this may be the case, and instantly felt the dread of what would happen when I tried to sit down at one of these desks. So I waited until the coast was clear, and I was safe from any scorn or ridicule I may get from passers-by, before I tried to sit down. To my horror, I wasn’t able to fit into the chair at all. I thought it would be a tight squeeze, and I was worried about it being too uncomfortable to sit for a couple of hours cramped at a desk like that, not to mention how foolish I would look. It turned out that whether or not I could manage it wasn’t even going to be in question. I simply didn’t fit.
I was furious, hurt and ashamed. I was angry at the University for using what looked like century old desk/chair sets. I was furious and disgusted with myself. I wanted to die. What I did do was leave immediately and head for home, my safe haven. Of course I didn’t make it home without stopping at the market first and filling up a cart of my favourite foods – provisions for the night. The next day I would try to start again, but right then I was feeling humiliated, hopeless and frantic, and the only thing that could offer me comfort was food. Food was my medicine.
So as I sat down in this lecture theatre at Umass, with plenty of room in my chair, and room for the folding desk attachment, it gave me pause. My eyes filled with tears, which caught me by surprise. I’d come a long way from that day to this, and it hasn’t been an easy journey. I have learned that the only way from there to here is by living it one day at a time, and frequently one meal at a time. It can be two steps forward and one step back and frequently is, but I choose to live in the solution today.
Just for today.
From the path….