I moved across the country (from Boston to LA) with my boyfriend last year and it was beautiful. Although it was difficult starting in a new place, so far from family, we absolutely loved it out there. I was able to get into a routine of walking and hiking outdoors, taking great care of myself, eating healthy and learning to be really happy. I don't think I stepped on the scale too often, but I knew I was losing weight. I felt free and adventurous.
I had planned to visit home in April—for the first time since I moved. I flew in on a Thursday and was going to spend the weekend working a big event in downtown Boston for one of my clients. Then, I would spend the rest of the week at my parent's house. I couldn't wait to check out my brother's new apartment. I was so proud of him and he couldn't wait to see me because I had helped talk him through some tough times after I moved away.
On the last night of the event in Boston, before I got to see my family, my brother got into a horrific accident. He was driving by himself, lost control of his truck and was ejected out a window. He crushed his head on a pole and then was pinned between his vehicle and a cement barrier. By all accounts he should have died.
My life has completely changed since that moment. I spent months in hospitals, every day, all day, trying to help support my parents and stand vigil by my brother's bedside, holding his hand, crying, begging the universe for mercy, willing him to wake up. I cancelled my flight back to my new home in LA and my boyfriend. Obviously I couldn't leave Boston.
Fast forward six months down the road - my boyfriend and I found an apartment back in Boston, packed all of our stuff, moved 3,000 miles from our beautiful LA and are back home. Of course we have a lot less money (it's expensive to move cross-country, especially twice in one year...) but we are doing okay. My brother still can't talk or move by himself, needs constant care, suffers endlessly, and is basically in the most heartbreaking situation a 24 year old, free-spirited, independent kid could possibly be in. I can't begin to express how difficult it's been for my family. The things I've seen in the last six months have permanently altered my soul.
Now, this all relates to weight loss because I feel completely out of control. I have gained so much weight and it feels unstoppable. Every single day I try to get back on track, but keep failing. I know that it's technically not important in comparison to the other things going on in my life, but it's been six months and it feels like it's time to start getting my sh*t together. I used to be at the hospital every day, and now I visit three or four times a week. Part of the rest of my life will be devoted to caring for my brother and I'm trying my hardest to scrounge up a worthy existence around it. It just doesn't compare to the life I had before. I feel like I lost myself in this whole mess and sacrificed my happiness out of necessity and it's really affecting my eating habits. The best solution would be to see a therapist to help me sort my thoughts, but as of right now it's out of the question due to insurance issues.
Has anyone else dealt with life-altering tragedy and how did it affect your eating? The only thing I don't want to do is just give up and let myself be a complete mess.
And thanks for reading such a sad, lengthy post!
11-02-2012, 11:45 AM
Hi, MissGordon! Words can't even begin to describe how painful your post was. My breath literally caught in my throat when I got to the paragraph about your brother's accident. That's so wonderful that he survived and I wish him, you, and your family all the best. My uncle was in a horrific traffic accident.. He used to work police detail on motorcycle for VIPs or special events and he was in front of a funeral motorcade for some fallen firefighters when a friend of one of the victims, I guess in a state of despair, careened his vehicle into the procession and slammed directly into my uncle. He was thrown 75ft and slammed into the side of one of the hearses. He was in a coma for 4 months afterward, and he's never been the same since. That was over 10 years ago. His injuries are going to be lifetime deal and I can definitely sympathize with endless days and nights in the hospital and refocusing your life on someone else's.
For me, I think the trigger for my emotional eating was the death of my best friend. I was always able to maintain, with little fluctuations, until a friend of mine went to Iraq and never came back. I remember crying so hard it hurt. I remember crying like that for literally months. I've never lost someone close to me before, and that was the worst. I had spoken to him just minutes before. I didn't leave the house for months except to work. Everything I ate was delivered, so you know it wasn't good food. Years and my own deployments, seeing friends die, coming home with one less friend each time.... It messed with my head. It felt like my heart broke a million times. Loud noises, groups of people... Everything put me on edge. I ended up staying indoors as much as I possibly could and would avoid going out, even for essential shopping. What I couldn't get off Amazon I'd get from the Chinese delivery guy and so on.
It's easy to get lost in grief. It's easy to lose track of time and yourself and it's so easy to just say 'forget it' and completely lose control of your eating. It's also hard to make time to exercise when you're spending so much time taking care of others or feeling miserable. But getting in some kind of physical activity can really help you emotionally. It's not just about losing weight. Your body releases endorphins when you're active, and that's something you really need right now to pick yourself up and start feeling better. It might seem hard to do, but trust me, you'll feel so much better once you do. The best time to start is now. The best way to start is to just do it. Even if it's just a short quiet walk alone at first.
Goodluck, and your family is in my thoughts!
11-02-2012, 12:11 PM
Those are for both of you.
I am so sorry for your brother. I hope he recovers and can get back to you.
I am so sorry for your uncle and your friends.
It is almost unbearable to lose someone we care deeply for and love. I don't have enough words to convey my sympathy for you. I have lost several people I loved and it is just so hard.
I feel so inadequate writing these words.
11-02-2012, 12:15 PM
... Years and my own deployments, seeing friends die, coming home with one less friend each time.... It messed with my head. It felt like my heart broke a million times. Loud noises, groups of people... Everything put me on edge. I ended up staying indoors as much as I possibly could and would avoid going out...
I can definitely relate to this. I was a wreck after the worst of it his last summer and I lost 31 friends (some of them very close personal friends, others aquaintances) in one incident when I had JUST been with them 3 days prior. I have a hard time controlling myself at times, I've become more withdrawn and it's hard for me to get close to people. I've even tossed a lot of my previous friendships by the wayside due to my avoidance of social situations.
There have been a few more incidents since then and each gets more and more difficult. I'm separating next year, largely due to my need to just get some 'normalcy' in my life again. Unfortunately (at least in that regard) my husband is still active duty special forces and I'll have to now be the one sitting at home waiting for him to get home rather than the other way around.
In any case, I've found that exercise and doing my best to maintain a healthy diet has been my savior in all of this. It's been my constant companion - something I can have and take with me that nobody can take away. Even through injuries and less than optimal dining options (due to work locations) I still make the choice to do my best. Working out is my "me time" to reflect and be alone with my thoughts, and the healthy diet and healthy body I have allows me to better deal with the days' stresses.
Missgordon - I have not had to deal with a situation like yours but I imagine it to be quite a bit more difficult. For me, it's dealing with my grief and sudden unexpected memories/triggers that has been a struggle but for you to have to continue to endure the suffering and trials of someone you love so dearly... I can't even imagine. Just deling with my husband's debilitating injury last year (he is now mostly recovered) was hard enough.
I'm glad you've made the decision to try to "get your $hit together". It's going to be a process. You might take one step forward only to take two backward but you can't give up. You haven't given up on your brother and you can't give up on yourself. Even if you only devote 30 minutes to yourself to go for a jog, or to pack up a cooler full of healthy meals for the day... just commit to doing your best for yourself for that day. Start small; set small goals you know you can achieve and go from there. Work on maintaining your current weight (as opposed to continuing to gain) and when you feel a bit more steady, progress from there.
I wish I had better advice or encouragement for you, but I just wanted to let you and Lakilaulea know that I, if only in a small way, can sympathize and that I am sending you all my best.
11-02-2012, 01:04 PM
Thanks for all your kind words.
Lakilaulea, I'm so sorry about your uncle. Brain injury is a world I wish I never had to see. It can be extremely dark and unforgiving. We've been through multiple hospitals with my brother, and I've seen many other families in the same situation. Some patients never make progress and lie in a coma or minimally conscious state, and some are 100% self-sufficient after only a few months of rehab. I've been going on long walks here and there — they really do help. It will be too cold to do that, soon, so I have to join a gym. I feel incredibly embarrassed walking into a gym in the state that I'm in, even though that's a ridiculous feeling.
I have tried a few times to go shopping for new clothes which I desperately need (none of my clothes fit and I got rid of most of my cold-weather clothes after I moved to sunny LA!) but I just get overwhelmed and end up leaving.
JossFit, it's scary how tragedy can completely change your life. It opens up new levels of emotion that just did not exist before. It's a chore to reach out to friends. No one understands, nor would I expect them to. I am so lucky I have a really supportive boyfriend. I was crying in front of the mirror today because my emergency "fat dress" barely fits. He sat me down and told me I was the most beautiful, kind and special person in the world. He deserves gold medals. I'm not sure where I would be without him...
11-02-2012, 01:23 PM
I have had to deal with many medical ordeals with my husband and my two kids over the years. Hubby had a stroke, open heart surgery, son with depression issues has attempted suicide many times, the first attempt being at age 11. Once I caught him attempting to hang himself in our barn. I had to climb a "ladder" that as made from 2x4's nailed to frame in the barn, remove the noose from his neck and get him down all the while he was kicking at me and screaming, "Leave me aloneand let me die!" I am also afraid of heights. My daughter was raped when she was 15 and then began cutting herself.
It seems before each major crisis I would be doing good on a diet then my life would turn upside down dealing with family issues. then I would start eating whatever, first because it was hard to plan and prepare meals and work around doctors visits, couseling appointments, etc. Then I would develope bad habits again. BUT...one thing know for sure, I can cope with things better if I am eating healthy and getting some exercise.
You owe it to yourself (and your family) to take care of yourself and eat healthy. A little bit of exercise is better than none. Maybe you can take your brother for a walk, I am assuming he is in a wheelchair. Once you start taking better care of yourslf you start feeling better about yourself and you want to keep taking better care of yourself, unfotunately that works in reverse too.
I wish you and the rest of your family the best!
11-02-2012, 06:15 PM
First of all, I am so sorry for what your family is going through. In the past 2 years I have lost 6 family members and a close family friend and I nearly lost my mom twice. My grandmother suffered with cancer for 2 years before finally passing, and it was so hard on the family to take care of her 24/7. I have at times felt like I was living in hospitals. I can't imagine how you must feel. My heart truly goes out to you. :hug:
I have also struggled with being healthy while dealing with the stress. There were times when I simply could not do it. It was not important to me in the middle of a crisis. I gained back I think half of what I had lost (I don't weigh anymore so that is an estimate). At one point I realized that I wasn't any help to anyone if I didn't take care of myself. I started with adding exercise back in. When I feel overwhelmed or stressed, I go for a walk or a jog. It allows me to clear my mind, release negative emotions. Plus, the endorphins are great for depression/stress. I started sleeping better and thus had more energy to deal with the challenges of the day. I started taking things one day at a time. If one day I couldn't fit in a workout, I didn't beat myself up about it, I just moved on. I didn't really plan my workouts, I just made it a priority to try to fit it in somehow. After a while of being on point with my workouts, I found the strength to tackle my diet. Once again, I took it day by day. I didn't beat myself up about one day of bad eating, I just moved on. And I didn't do it all at once. I started by just eating more fruits and veggies and drinking more water. I started analyzing why I was eating certain foods. Was it because I was bored, tired, stressed? I found better ways of dealing with those emotions. I would drink a cup of tea, take a bath, exercise, listen to music, read, etc. Now I eat pretty well, not perfectly 100% of the time. I have so much more energy which helps me deal with stressful situations much more clearly.
By far the most important thing is to take it one day at a time. Do not beat yourself up if you have a bad day. Move on, get over it, start over at the next meal or the next day. Also do not try to do it all at one time. Baby steps are great. Just add in one healthy habit at a time. And find a healthy way to deal with the stress. If you are stress eating, stop before you reach for junk food and think about how you are feeling. Then find another way of dealing with those emotions. Call your best friend, go for a run, write out your feelings. Do something, don't keep it bottled up or try to eat it away. That doesn't work. And btw, do NOT feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You will be in a much better position to help others if you take care of yourself. It is important for YOU to be healthy.
I hope this helps (and sorry that it is so long!). I wish you and your family the very best. You are all in my thoughts. :hug: