This story comes from the Weight Issues Network’s report The Personal Costs of Weight Issues in Australia 2020 and has been reproduced with permission.
I met my wife in the ’90s while living at Uni accommodation in Sydney. She remembers me as being the life and soul of the party singing, playing the guitar and joking around. At the time I was a very social person… and sometimes too social!
I was really happy to become a father but not too long after my wife gave birth to our son I fell into depression and suffered from anxiety because of my relationship with my family and how I had been treated. I had an abusive upbringing and often used food to cope with it. I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life. I started putting on a lot of weight.
I worked in a high-pressure job in the financial services industry. This added to my anxiety and my belief I needed to succeed to provide for my family. I started to become reclusive and anti-social. I put on even more weight and became withdrawn. I missed my best friend’s wedding. I made an excuse about why I couldn’t go and missed many other important family events, and always had an excuse. I was hiding from my friends, even though I needed them more than ever. My life had become very small and as a result, so had the life of my rapidly growing son. I was scared about what was happening to me.
I worked very hard to lose weight, through daily exercise, various diets. I did have some success, unfortunately, not for long. There would often be a trigger… someone would say something encouraging… that I was looking good, that I was losing weight. I’d panic and would inevitably spiral down. I put a great deal of pressure on myself to succeed. I had every reason to lose weight. My son, my wife… my dad would have wanted that for me too. The whole diet/ exercise weight loss, weight gain loop was happening and I was very tired. Fatigue was setting in.
It took me years to understand. The equation was more than just exercise… calories in calories out. Finally, I realised that I needed another angle on this. I found it hard to see a GP, to be judged for my appearance. I wanted to avoid an awkward conversation about my weight. Even when I had infections and required antibiotics to recover, I’d keep away from the doctor and try and get better without it.
Finally, I sought help….I decided to be honest.
Through the support of my wife and some new friends, I became more positive and open to addressing my issues. I had a stained, crumpled referral letter to the Metabolic clinic in the glove box of my car for about six months. Finally, I gave them a call. I received support at the clinic from some wonderfully enlightened staff who didn’t treat me like a failure or an idiot. I started working on my physical health issues. I knew that this was only part of the answer. I then found a psychologist to help deal with trauma from my childhood. Addressing my mental health is a crucial part of my recovery. Now advocating for mental health is a passion of mine.
My personality has changed. My wife has said I’ve become more light-hearted like I had been in the past and much more fun to be around. I feel now that my son is in his teenage years, that I am more present for this important stage of his life.
I have reconnected with some of my older friends. I feel empowered. I still have ups and downs. I want to help others.