Mental health

Life Belt is Back.

Two years ago I spent six months in Germany on an exchange program. I had so much fun. It was amazing to finally live on my own. I bought my own food, I went to parties, I could stay out as much as I wanted ’cause nobody was expecting me for dinner, I finally became vegetarian (I had tried twice in the past, but it’s not easy when you not yet 20 years old and you live next door to your grandfather, the butcher), etc. The list could go on forever, it was simply awesome. But, as everything, it brought some drawbacks. The most evident one was that after three months of being independent I got fat.

Now, what you need to know to understand how I felt is that I had always been very thin. After sixteen some breast and butt came out, but my size remained a small, or extra-small. I was too thin to attract boys and my friends, instead of being jealous of my body, made me feel ashamed of how thin I was. When I looked at myself in the mirror, of course I wanted to change a lot of things – the ears, the ankles, the hair… – but I didn’t see myself as “sooooo thin”. Plus, I had a doctor checking on me – my height, weight, blood tests – three times a year because of my hypothyroidism and she always said I was fine, so I really couldn’t see what my friends saw in me. But it still hurt me. You wouldn’t repeat to your fat friend that she is too fat every day like a mantra, but apparently it’s fine to remind your thin friend how awfully and unattractively skinny she is. Some months ago at dinner, a friend of mine even asked me if my boyfriend actually told me I was beautiful.

The weird fact is, I have always eaten more than a pregnant cow. Until some years ago, I even preferred sweet food to salty, so any dessert in my house lasted no more than five seconds. Now my taste changed a bit, salty makes me more satisfied, but this only means that now I eat tons of salty food before the tons of sweet food! I am living at my boyfriend’s family’s place while staying in Brazil and his father calls me “ant” because of my accuracy in emptying the fridge, and you should see his mom astonishment (but also satisfaction) at how happily I finish her food. I just always had a fast metabolism.

I guess the problem might be that when I’m relaxed – and this usually happens after my periods of strongest panic attacks, now that I think about it – my metabolism slows down and my belly changes shape in no more than a week. Yes, I said belly, because that’s where all the food I eat goes and stays. Not on the breast, not on the butt, not on the legs, not on the face… all on the belly, so that I look like some sort of deformed thin alien.

So now imagine my contrasting feelings in getting fat. Finally I’m not thin anymore, my friends can’t annoy me anymore! But couldn’t all this material distribute itself more equally throughout my body? Well, at least I have some material now! But come on, it looks like I’m wearing a life belt! I feel so powerful, this stuff is all extra-energy I can use in my days! Plus, my boyfriend is still attracted to me like crazy, so… I’m fine!

After four months in Germany I went home for Christmas. I can’t describe the look on my relatives’ faces when they saw me. Instead of their pretty little girl, here came this walking whale… Naturally they couldn’t hold back the comments – the few comments they could formulate, ’cause most of them were speechless. Then it started: every time I gave my back to my dad, he was checking how fat I had got, and every time I touched any food, what I heard was “Hmm be careful, being fat is not so good” or “You really have to control yourself, cause once you pass a certain point, there’s no turning back”. Needless to say, in the next two months of exchange I lost ten kilos, and the other five (which actually looked pretty good on me) I lost them in the weeks following my return home – out of stress, of course.

Now, two years later, I had a couple of months of strong panic attacks, and now that I’m finally relaxing… The life belt is back. And unfortunately I’m not talking about the cute five extra kilos mentioned before. I’m talking about the real life belt, inflated and ruining my profile in tight dresses. And of course the next occasion when the dress is requested is on Sunday. I wonder how long people will stare at me all excited before asking me how many months pregnant I am. So, I can never rest: first it’s the panic attacks I have to fight, then the belly… I can never have some peace!!!



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