Publisher’s note: Binge eating disorder, massive weight gain, and stress from emotional trauma and abuse are common in people with obesity. Here, Nicky Bicksler shares her story of triumph over those forces.
In Her Own Words
I weighed 428.4 pounds at my heaviest. I was pre-diabetic, with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and acid reflux. Getting to this tipping point took 30 years of bullying, emotional eating, and steadily gaining weight. When I started a relationship with a man, who I later married, my weight gain would peak owing to emotional and financial abuse. I was in a cycle of weight gain and emotional eating. And, eventually, I found myself morbidly obese, unhappy, unfulfilled and fed-up. I knew I had to make a change or my massive weight gain would kill me.
Growing Up Fat
I’ve been fat for as long as I can remember. And I recall very clearly being bullied as far back as kindergarten. Some students would call me “Thunder Thighs” or laugh at me for being bigger than all the other kids. As I grew up and my weight continued to climb, I was the biggest kid in my class. One time in middle school, as I climbed off the bus, another student shouted out the window, “Hey fatty, why don’t you join Jenny Craig?” And the more I was bullied, the more I ate to comfort myself.
In high school an anonymous web journal made fun of my weight and claimed I was the reason for all the hunger in the world. As if to drive the point home, one day I opened my locker and found someone had dumped their lunch tray into it. And words such as “fat ass” were written on the door. I did my best to overcome the ridicule and humiliation. However, the pain ran deep down inside and I buried my emotions in food.
Never Learning to Deal with My Issues
While I always played things off and never let it show how much it bothered me, I never properly dealt with the pain that all of these experiences caused me. And avoidance of the issues caused me to eat more to comfort myself, which led to weight gain, which led to more bullying, which led to more eating. The cycle repeated constantly, and I felt like I was never going to get off it. I could never stick with a traditional diet long enough because the emotional eating would come back to get me. Until I learned how to deal with the issues that caused me to be fat, I would never get off the emotional eating cycle I was on. My massive weight gain continued to climb.
The Climax of My Massive Weight Gain
In 2013, I met the man I would later marry. While things were great at first, I didn’t realize or see the signs early in the relationship that he just wasn’t the man for me. He at first made me feel special, loved, and important. After feeling worthless for so long, I was flattered that someone thought so highly of me. Eventually, that adoration of me turned into an adoration of himself. He would make up stories to sound more important or special than he was. And he had me trapped in his intricate web of lies and flattery.
These elaborate lies led to me being gaslighted. I no longer felt like the person I was before I met him. I had no goals, no dreams, and no ambition. And I was more anxious and less confident. He made me feel like nothing I did was right and everything that was going wrong in our lives was my fault.
Financial Abuse Leads to Weight Gain
My husband also financially abused me. He overspent money in our checking account. He ordered out for breakfast and lunch, despite that I’d prepared those meals for him. And he opened a credit card in my name without telling me. I worked more than 40 hours a week, took care of all the cleaning, laundry, cooking, and bills, and he worked part-time for the majority of our marriage, helping very little around the house.
We were deeply in debt and I was deeply unhappy. My weight dramatically increased during this time, as I’d turned to food to comfort me. I was always good enough for food. Food tasted so good, never expected anything from me and was always there for me. Anytime I felt crappy, I would reach for food. It was usually foods high in fat, carbohydrates, and sugar. I did little to no exercise, and as a result I had massive weight gain. There didn’t seem to be an end in sight.
Bariatric Surgery Saved My Life
Thankfully, there was an end in sight. I started pursuing bariatric surgery and began a healthy eating and exercise routine. And I slowly changed my life by starting with myself. I changed my habits, first starting with quitting soda. I then started an exercise routine, which was the biggest factor to my success. You see, exercising allowed me an outlet other than food to relieve my stress and emotions. I started dealing with the issues that kept me fat, like feeling worthless and releasing all the built up hurt and anger from my lifetime of abuse. Thanks to my vertical sleeve gastrectomy, aka gastric sleeve, my massive weight gain turned into massive weight loss.
Read the empowering conclusion of Nicky Bicksler’s bariatric success story in part 2.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life