Friday, March 6, 2009

Worry and surrender

I've always worried a lot. I think I've gotten better on this score, and it's something I actively work on. I don't think that worry consumes my life, but I know it is something I fall into far too easily, sort of a default setting from hell. I try to be logical and reason with it. "Will worrying about this change anything? Is anyone going to die? Then relax." Sometimes, this actually works. A friend of mine calls it "perseverating", which sounds like the right word for what it feels like: onomatopoeic, even.

I wonder sometimes if other people are more worried about me having this surgery than I am. They ask me things like, am I scared? And what about this horror story I heard? Do I realize what my loose skin is going to look like after I lose the weight? And what if I have complications? What if I'm sick for the rest of my life? And then, there's the mother of all elephants in the room: what if I die?

I've read about my options. A lot. I've listened to actual people who have been through bariaric surgeries of all types talk about it. A lot. I am a well-informed individual who loves research, is endlessly curious about life in general, and reads just about everything I can get my hands on, because I am interested in just about everything around me. (Except NASCAR.)

I was dead-set against this surgery for myself for so many years. There are a lot of facets to not only that feeling, but the reason that it has changed.

I compare it to the way I used to feel about antidepressant medication. I used to be dead-set against antidepressants for myself, too, but now I have come to realize that they ultimately get me out of bed in the morning. This is my reality; it is a reality that surprises many people who know me quite well. I truly believe antidepressants are a tool to help to correct the medical issue of depression, a medical issue I did not ask for but that I nonetheless have. So be it. (Ultimately, I didn't want to admit I had it; who does? I am grateful for today's increased awareness and decreased stigma regarding mental illness, a great contrast to the cultural climate regarding that issue when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, but we as a society still have a long way to go.) Antidepressants do not solve the problem of depression completely for me or for anyone else I know that takes them--but they can, ideally, make depression manageable, and do for many if not most. Despite the fact that I respect myself less for needing antidepressants (aside to self: sounds like that damn shame again, must obliterate at some point sooner rather than later), I have chosen to view antidepressants as a tool that have improved my quality of life; to continue to work at full acceptance of this; and to move on as best I can.

The way I have come to feel about bariatric surgery parallels the way I feel about antidepressants. I have tried every possible method to lose weight, save many of the flavor-of-the-month diet drugs that have come and gone over the years because I could not afford them (and considering what happened with all of them in retrospect, I'm extremely thankful for that!). Surgery on its own does not solve the problem of obesity; it is a tool that accompanies drastic positive lifestyle changes. It is not 100% effective for 100% of people, and it may not be for me. But the chance that it will affect positive change in my life is enough to convince me that it is a good option--for ME. I don't pretend to know--or want--the responsibility of knowing what is right for other people.

I am already physically sick or impaired on any number of levels and I am certainly tired, bordering on bone-weary. Yes, I am aware that my decision to pursue bariatric surgery as an option is a form of surrender. I am surrendering my own biases, perfectionism, self-loathing, and yes, no small amount of my shame to the chance that the tool of bariatric surgery may serve to help me to feel as though eating well and exercising is pointless because I am still, after all, the f-word. There are already health-related complications in my daily life that even people who have known me for 20 years or more have no idea about.

Am I scared? Certainly. I'm breathing, aren't I? But to my mind, the notion of bariatric surgery is nothing compared to the cancer scare I went through almost ten years ago now, nothing compared to the fact that I had to have a full hysterectomy at age 32 that permanently removed any ability I may have had to ever have children, which has been more profound a loss for me than anything else could be beyond my own death. And seriously? Let's face it, if I die, it's over for me and becomes the problem of the loved ones I would leave behind. I don't fear death, but I don't want to die, either. If deciding to undergo bariatric surgery, subsisting on little bites of rabbit food for the rest of my life and working out (ugh) regularly doesn't prove that I am choosing life, than what in the name of all that is holy would?

I think the worry of other people that care about me is that they know (a) how extremely stubborn I am, (b) how I have continued to fight every aspect of these issues, and (c) how very much I enjoy evil yet delicious food, drink, dessert, etc. They also must know that (d) if I have chosen to do this, I must feel as though there is no other choice. Let the record show: I believe there is no other choice. For ME.

Let's accept this and move on.

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Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other
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