​​ARTIST OF THE SPIRIT

ABOUT ME

MY STORY

 

I was born June 6, 1976. This year I turned 41 years old. When I created this website I was about to be 40 and found myself feeling a mix between excitement and trepidation as my 40's approached. Now, having recently turned 41, I clearly see what a gift being in my 40's truly has been. With age, comes experience and with experience comes a deep and unconditional love for myself. 


My story, for the purposes of this website is less about the entire story of my life and more about my struggle with my addiction... overeating. The reason I tell this story is because it has been closely tied to my creative process. Food has been my drug of choice for a good portion of my life, it began in High School as my coping mechanism for my shyness and anxiety. While I didn't have a weight issue in High School, I was curvier than most of the other girls in High School and of course at that time I felt overweight. 


In my 20's it was still a coping mechanism but I was still able to maintain a normal weight, until about 26 when I started to gain weight more rapidly that year. When I was 27, I decided to do something about it and joined a Yoga group, going 5 days a week to yoga, as well as changing my eating plan. This of course worked and the weight started to come off. I found a great group of friends as well who supported one another in health, growth and life. 


The beginning of a crash came when I was 28 years old. My best friend and love passed away of a drug overdose. I was devastated, and this is when my struggle with overeating became out of control. In complete truth and honesty, I didn't care if I died. That is what I began to do, slowly kill myself with food over the next 10 years. No one knew the internal struggle that began with his death. I was still going to Yoga, hanging out with my new group of friends, I began hiking with them that year as well. My struggle was quiet and mine. I became numb to my pain at one point and started to feel lost about who I was. This is when I stopped writing and painting. Something I had loved with an intensity and passion all my life, was gone. I punished myself by taking away my greatest coping mechanism, my creativity. I replaced this with work. I started a new job and I dove into it. 


This is also the time I committed myself to my group of friends to climb Mt. Whitney. (Facts About Mt. Whitney) We started training 5 days a week by hiking a 2 mile fire road. It was grueling at first. Between working long hours, hiking in the mornings, yoga in the evenings, and no time for my preferred forms of creativity, I was draining myself. That year, just 9 months after David's death, I got to the top of Mt. Whitney with 10 strong, amazing friends. I found a strength in myself I didn't know I had on that trip. We left at 1am to get up the mountain, got to the summit in the late afternoon and were down the mountain around 9pm that same day. It was both exhilarating and exhausting. It was also an end to the goal. I had accomplished one of the things that had kept me distracted for 10 months after his death. I hadn't even begun to deal with his death. I had pushed it away by distracting myself. This is when the big crash happened. I left my friends, my yoga and hiking practice, and walked away...


This is when I really began overeating. Depressed and feeling alone, I isolated myself further. I moved, left my roommate and friend and into my own apartment. Further making it easier for me to sit in solitude watching TV and eating whatever I wanted to eat. I began to work even longer hours and replaced the time I spent with my friends on the weekend working 6-7 days a week. Instead of getting up to hike, I would get up and go to work. Instead of leaving work at 5pm to get to Yoga at 6pm, I stayed at work until 8 or 9pm. I drove home exhausted, stopping for fast food, walking in the door of my apartment, turning on the TV and further disconnecting from life. 


So between eating tons of fast food, all sorts of sugary snacks, and eating all day long and working a tremendous amount of hours and under a lot of pressure and stress at work, I was getting sicker and sicker by the day. Of course weight doesn't always show overnight. By the time I was 36 I was 338 pounds. I am 5'4". That's a lot of weight on my frame. The funny thing is, you adapt and learn to adjust as you put on the weight. It doesn't necessarily feel like 338 pounds. Or what you would think that should feel like. Especially when you are relatively young and still able to move and do things. However, those things you are able to do decrease with time. Walking long distances, riding a bike, any kind of active lifestyle turned into a sedentary lifestyle for me as time went on.


I made new friends, friends who mostly knew me at this new weight and didn't know me as the vibrant woman I had been at 125 pounds. That's 213 pounds. Over time I developed diabetes and had other health complications. I was lost in a world of numbing myself with food. I found my self-worth through my job and threw myself into it completely. I got so used to this life that it became normal.


Something had to give... or I would. I recognized this through a series of events in my life that frightened me and ultimately made me realize that I was scared and if I was scared then there must be some part of me that doesn't want to die. I lost 50 pounds in 2013. It felt good, but I couldn't break the 50 pounds mark. I was able to keep it off, I honestly don't know how I did that. In 2014 I decided I had to get serious and do something to lose the weight faster and show myself how serious I was about getting healthy. I began to research and found a weight loss surgeon I was comfortable with. I started the 6 month process at the end of 2014 to undergo the surgery that my insurance required.


In this time, I met someone who reminded me that I am creative and that I have the ability to tap into that creativity and heal myself. I started writing lyrics and songs with him, which was a whole new layer of creative expression I had never tapped into. I will forever be grateful for his belief in me at this time in my life. He believed in me when I didn't fully believe in myself.


Fast forward to September 23, 2016 and it is the day of my surgery. In the hospital with my mother and my best friend. A scary day indeed, but one that took tremendous courage. Anyone that says that bariatric surgery is the "easy" way out, has never had bariatric surgery. It has been full of challenges and obstacles. At the time that I am writing this, I am 7 1/2 months out of surgery and I currently weigh 218 pounds. I have released 70 pounds. I lost most of this weight by the end of January and the last couple of months I have plateaued as I have been learning that I now need to really address the emotional, physical, and mental reasons for my addiction in the first place. I have found that working through these is part of my creative process. 


As I go on this journey of recovery, this is another step for me. To share my story, to stop feeling ashamed of myself and my body. To open my heart to others and to myself is vital in my healing. Thank you for being a part of my journey.


I WRITE MY LIFE is a labor of love and healing for me. I say labor because sometimes it feels like work. Other times it flows, either way, I always have to remember that I have to apply LOVE and HEALING to my process. Please join me in your healing and let's become a community of support and love through our healing, together.


With Love,

Melissa