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The Disease of Addiction

For a long time, I thought my obesity was my own fault. I thought that it was a horrible character flaw that led me to make bad choice after bad choice and become “grotesquely” overweight. I wondered why I had no will-power, why I didn’t like broccoli, and why I hated working out. I looked around and saw ambitious, healthy people doing all of the things I knew I was *supposed* to want to do, but didn’t. And so, the condemnation continued.

It was my own damned fault that I was fat.

And then I had gastric bypass surgery, and I learned that my obesity was not entirely my *fault* at all. I learned that it was a biological, physiological, emotional and spiritual disorder, which meant that I was contributing to it, but not necessarily causing it; that many of the things I thought or did exacerbated the problem, but didn’t create it.

And so, I went about the business of changing my behaviors; doing things that a healthy person did; thinking the way a healthy person thinks. Or, at least, I THOUGHT I did. As it turns out, I was doing a lot of self-sabotage by refusing to acknowledge 2 simple facts:

  1. I am a FOOD ADDICT
  2. Addiction is a Disease

Now, I know a LOT of people who steadfastly disagree with that second statement. They disagree to the point of anger, resentment and even hatred. They say that anyone who can CHOOSE “not” to have something, can’t possibly have a disease, because, well…you can’t *decide* not to have cancer.

Here’s what I’ve got to say about that: I didn’t choose to be a food addict, anymore than a cancer victim chooses to have cancer. BUT, I did do things that contributed to the severity of the problem; I made choices that inflamed my condition. I did things to make my condition worse.

If I were to draw a parallel between cancer and food addiction, I would say that, by my thoughts and actions, I made my condition worse. I refused to admit I even HAD it, and then I refused “TREATMENT” (almost like a cancer sufferer refusing chemo or radiation.) I believed that I had caused my problem (much like a lung cancer victim could believe they deserved their disease because they smoked, or a liver cancer victim could believe they deserved it because they drank.) I’m not going to say that smoking and drinking are good ideas, or that they don’t CONTRIBUTE to the disease, but I believe we are either predisposed to cancer, or we aren’t; we are predisposed to obesity and food addiction, or we aren’t.

It is immaterial whether you agree with me or not that obesity and addiction are diseases, for I have chosen to treat both conditions for what they are, instead of believing the misinformed and beating myself up for being a bad person.

Perhaps that is why choosing to abstain from addictive behavior is called RECOVERY. Like a cancer survivor who is in REMISSION, I will never be cured of my disease. It could come back at any time, so I must be ever-vigilant. I don’t know when a trigger will pop-up, or someone will inadvertently do something to encourage a relapse, but I cannot live my life fearing that the addiction will return.

Today, I choose RECOVERY. I choose NOT to allow my disease to rule my life. I choose to live my Bariatric After Life™ to the fullest and embrace all that life has to offer. But, just as a cancer survivor might have to take medication or participate in therapy, so must I.

At the end of the day, I could lament the fact that I am an addict; that I will have to fight obesity for the rest of my life. I could complain and ask “WHY ME?” — OR, I can be thankful that there is a treatment for my condition. I can have gratitude for the gift of recovery, and I can rely upon God for His healing touch. After all, RECOVERY is not something you do alone. You need the support and guidance of others who have gone before, and the power of someone who is much greater than yourself.

Thank GOD I have both :-)

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