Alcoholism and the family – are you affected by someone else?

How do you know if you are affected by someone else's problem drinking?  Are you?

Via Al-Anon

Millions of people are affected by the excessive drinking of someone close. The following questions are designed to help you decide whether or not you need Al-Anon:

 1. Do you worry about how much someone drinks?

 2. Do you have money problems because of someone else’s drinking?

 3. Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else’s drinking?

 4. Do you feel that if the drinker cared about you, he or she would stop drinking to please you?

 5. Do you blame the drinker’s behavior on his or her companions?

 6. Are plans frequently upset or canceled or meals delayed because of the drinker?

 7. Do you make threats, such as, “If you don’t stop drinking, I’ll leave you”?

 8. Do you secretly try to smell the drinker’s breath?

 9. Are you afraid to upset someone for fear it will set off a drinking bout?

 10. Have you been hurt or embarrassed by a drinker’s behavior?

 11. Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking?

 12. Have you considered calling the police for help in fear of abuse?

 13. Do you search for hidden alcohol?

 14. Do you ever ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking?

 15. Have you refused social invitations out of fear or anxiety?

 16. Do you feel like a failure because you can’t control the drinking?

 17. Do you think that if the drinker stopped drinking, your other problems would be solved?

 18. Do you ever threaten to hurt yourself to scare the drinker?

 19. Do you feel angry, confused, or depressed most of the time?

 20. Do you feel there is no one who understands your problems?

If you have checked any of these questions, Al-Anon or Alateen may be able to help. Find a meeting now.

 

The Medicine Cabinet-Ask the Harvard Experts: Risk of alcohol abuse increases after weight-loss surgery

The Medicine Cabinet-Ask the Harvard Experts: Risk of alcohol abuse increases after weight-loss surgery.

The risk of alcohol use disorder was twice as high for people who had gastric bypass than for those who had placement of an adjustable stomach band. Although the researchers were not sure why there was such a difference, it does make sense.

The stomach lining contains an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase that breaks down alcohol. With a much smaller stomach after gastric bypass, less of this enzyme is available and more alcohol gets directly into the blood stream. Also, alcohol remains at higher concentrations for longer periods after gastric bypass.


ASMBS – Weight Loss May Change Brain

Have weight loss surgery – change your brain?  Interesting suggestions here –

MedPage Today

MRI scans done after bariatric surgery reveal different patterns of brain activation in response to food cues according to a study reported here.

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The importance of belonging – THIS is why I do what I do.

I read a blog post yesterday regarding storytelling as a means of keeping a person "sick," stuck in the past, or marinating in their overall… bad place.  The blogger went so far as to suggest that the telling and retelling of ones stories might be an addiction.  *gets the crack pipe ready to share a story*

Bariatric After Life

"I think we do it because it feeds a need for validation and justification (or even vindication) really. We need people to tell us we look good. We need people to tell us we “didn’t cheat” with surgery. We need people to tell us we are successful. We need people to forgive us (?!) for regaining 4.7 pounds. Mostly…we need to believe these things about ourselves, but since we don’t believe it ourselves, we seek the approval and agreement of others.

Here’s my next theory: I think this behavior is an addiction. I say this because I am an addict, and I know how easy it is to become addicted to the feeling you get when people praise you, or when people condemn others who dare to disagree with you. I believe it’s an addiction because, I am never content to stop telling the story to just ONE PERSON. Oh, sure…I might start with my best friend, but once I curry her agreement (and know she’s on my team, of course), I have to go collect OTHERS, or I might stop believing my story. Of course, I’ll have to embellish my story a little to get others to agree with me. I might have to make it sound more dire, or harrowing, or riveting. And, with each telling, the story will become more powerful, more believable, and more tellable.

Given that, how can I NOT share a riveting, powerful, extraordinary, unbelievable story with EVERYBODY. EVERYWHERE???

It’s a regular feeling-feeding frenzy. And it sounds like Addiction to me."

As I get the visual of myself lowering a chum bucket (blog post) into the sharky waters (The Interwebz) Yeah.  Because I'm trolling to Find Others to Agree With Everything I Say, right?  I … guess?

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Am I feeding you with my stories?  Am I feeding myself?

I apologize?  *takes a hit*

What is addiction?

The seven criteria for substance dependence are:

(1)  Tolerance is defined by either of the following:

(a) A need for markedly increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect.

(b) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance.

(2) Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: (a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance (refer to Criteria A or B of the criteria sets for Withdrawal from specific substances). (b) The same (or a closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

(3) The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.

(4) There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.

(5) A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance (such as visiting multiple doctors or driving long distances), use the substance (such as chain smoking) or recover from its effects.

(6) Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use.

(7) The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Text Revision, Fourth Edition, (Copyright 2000). American Psychiatric Association.

Or behavioral addiction –

The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as compulsive shopping, sex addiction/compulsive sex, overeating, problem gambling, exercise/sport and computer addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user themselves to their individual health, mental state, or social life. There may be biological and psychological factors contributing to these addictions.

The blog post struck a nerve with me.  And here I am, indulging my "addiction" with likely 2000 words in response.  *twitch* 

I am a storyteller.  I may not be much good at it, because I lack attention to detail (sometimes I have the opposite — complete detail with photographic memory) I have poor short term recall, and I lose parts of my stories.  Or not, but mostly I suck at storytelling.  

That blog post just told me not to Say Things Like That, like "I suck at storytelling," because then I will marinate in that Feeling, and then You Will Feel Compelled To Give Me Sympathy Or Give Me Compliments.

Uh, please don't.  #1 – I can read through bullshit.  #2 – I don't need sympathy over writing crappy blog posts.  If you did not want to read this, you'd just click away, right?

Thing is:  I can't tell if I Suck.  I might just be in the moment — and writing out my feelings — or sharing an experience because it's fresh on my mind.  When I bring up past issues, I try to share them with as much detail as I can recall, but that's where I fail.  (Don't Say That You Fail, Beth!)  

I just come to the computer and type, as I am doing right now.  I never plan to tell a story, whatever I share is whatever comes out of my fingers.  Because, uh, my fingers are magic.  I Am The Best Blogger Ever, And Everything I Type Is Pure Gold I Win At Blogging And Storytelling. 


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But mostly not.  I know I suck.  I blog because I can, not because I'm any good at it.  And most of you quit reading about 200 words ago anyway.

I would suggest that most individuals who find cause to make blog entries (for example) are, indeed, storytellers.  I agree with the original blogger's suggestion that some people do rehash bad things from their past in order to garner more sympathy, attention or otherwise, but only sometimes.  Some people tell stories to garner lots of things, attention might be the least of things they want.  Ever heard of someone faking a debilitating disease for money?  It happens.  People do bad things sometimes.

However.

There are thousands of situations that people Do Not Share On Purpose because they might rather have No Attention.  And in our weight loss surgery community – in particular, People Do Not Share Lots Of Things Because –

They do not want to expose personal history, it HURTS.  

They don't want to appear less than … anyone else.  

They may find that it's better to hide lots of things about themselves because they feel judged.  

Here is a comment from someone else in the community, who has dealt with some serious shit, in regards to this topic –

"Revisiting the past is a necessary evil for many of us that need to deal with the original reason of why they became obese in the first place. People need to tell their story to help them heal in order to get to that next step of recovery and happiness.  The events that happen in a person’s life that causes them to become obese are countless… some are abused, molested, lose a role model, bullied, eating disorders, and alcoholism… and on and on we can go.  These are real issues and HAVE to be spoken about. 

Once a person loses the weight their life will NEVER immediately be a flip of a coin and have a “HALLELUJAH I AM HEALED” scenario, the truth of the matter is the internal, physiological and mental causes and issue will take years of talking, therapy and talking, and more therapy to be resolved or repressed to a manageable level.  So, to answer the questions below:

 What would happen if you stopped telling your story?  If people stop telling their story they could regress, gain weight, have a transfer of addictions, or simply become depressed and have a feeling of being unwanted. People have to tell their story, because for most that is the ONLY therapy they can get / afford.  Lets face it when we lose all the weight we become a “different” person.

  • What would happen if you stopped saying where you’ve been and focused on where you ARE? Again refer to the above. Simply put, where you have been (the past) is what got you to where you are today (it is a part of you).  You CAN NOT forget about the past, because for most of us, the past is who and what you are it is where you spent most of your life.  The new you is honestly a small fraction of who you are and learning the new you will take years. 
  • What would happen if you lived in the now, rather than in the past? Living in the now and not in the past has to be a balance.  You have to talk about the past in order to make the now a better place.  You have to talk about the past in order to improve quality life for the now.  You have to talk about the past to deal with the emotional issues that all of us have to make today better.

 THE BARIATRIC AFTER LIFE (TM) IS NOT ALL ROSES AND BUTTERFLIES LIKE SOME IN THE COMMUNITY MAKE IT OUT TO BE.  You can’t shy away from the bad, or it will never go away."

I agree, to much of that.

In order to heal remember you have to tell your story, seek professional help, join a support group that is right for you and if you fall down or regress, remember you are not alone, and continue to fight and tell that story. 

The blogger says

Each time you speak the negative — each time you retell your story — you give it renewed energy. Each time you replay that tape about how disappointed you are in this or that (person, behavior, event), you give it new life, new purpose, new meaning. But, you know what? If you just leave it unsaid and move forward, the story fades away in significance, power and meaning. Amazing.

And MM says — Then You Find Yourself In Therapy at Age 35, Crying Because You Have No Fucking Clue Why You Are So SAD.  Or, why you are binge eating again, or why you are ____________.

Some story-tellers make up (better than the reality…) stories about themselves to avoid having to deal with (or answer questions about) who they really are and where they came from.  I have seen people create personas for themselves to shield their real selves.  Lots of this is about protection, fear and not DEALING WITH THE PAST, and sometimes people are truly stuck in their past, or dealing with severe narcissism.  

(I know, I know, I've got a ridiculous cartoonish banner up top and a blog called, Melting Mama.  I did not know that I would be blogging long-term, nor that anyone would ever see the stupidity that is my name.  That said, it's really me.  I am cartoonish.  It's not fake.)  

Their motive might be as simple as making themselves appear shiny and special, because their reality sort of blows.  We sell, of ourselves, what we want Others To See.  

Right? 

"I believe that the more we focus on the past…our unhappiness, discontentment, rage, disappointments, hurt, pain – even successes – the less we  live in the present. "

We NEED to clean out ours pasts in order to move on!

I would suggest that storytellers choose to share what we do in some type of self-preservation. Some of us share many facets of our lives, including things that aren't so shiny.  Many story-tellers (bloggers, mostly professional-types) try to maintain a mostly positive storyline, and that can be helpful to those who need to see those kind of messages.  

But, often, positive-only storytellers have something to sell us.  It's just the truth.  If I want to sell you something, I do it with a positive spin.  (I know how to sell something, go find a review post for a product I really LIKE.  It's mostly positive.)  I wouldn't dare give you the reality of post op weight loss surgery life if I wanted to sell you… weight loss surgery.  But I am not in the business of selling weight loss surgery, nor the happy that comes post operatively.

And the truth of the life after WLS, for many, sucks.  Not all the time, and not forever.  And for some it's super-awesomely-wicked-great, and that's super!  Go YOU!  But, for many it's not.  Would yo ulike to discuss how many people I've been in contact with in the last three months that were suicidal? 

It's a problem.  Stuffing our issues back in our pasts?  Does Not Help In the Least.

I am in the business of sharing.  Here, there, everywhere.  If this makes me a story-teller, so be it.  Your sharing HELPS others, to realize…

CNN – 

You are not alone.

You belong.

And it gets better.

These are a few of a handful of powerful messages that an elegantly designed "belonging intervention" by social psychologist and Stanford assistant professor Gregory Walton conveys to study participants who are going through a difficult period.

In a series of ongoing studies, first published in 2007 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the belonging intervention uses a technique known as "attributional retraining" to help people shift blame for negative events from "It's just me" to "I'm not alone, and there are others going through it."

The goal is to convey to the subjects that when bad things happen, it doesn't mean they don't belong in general.

Why is this important?

"We don't have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that's what I want in life." So began a stunning meditation by Marina Keegan, a 22-year-old Yale graduate who died in a tragic car accident May 26.

What is the opposite of loneliness? Is it belonging?

Because as humans, we need to belong. To one another, to our friends and families, to our culture and country, to our world.

Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.

Belonging is a psychological lever that has broad consequences, writes Walton. Our interests, motivation, health and happiness are inextricably tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community that may share common interests and aspirations.

Isolation, loneliness and low social status can harm a person's subjective sense of well-being, as well as his or her intellectual achievement, immune function and health. Research shows that even a single instance of exclusion can undermine well-being, IQ test performance and self-control.

Walton's earlier studies demonstrated that a sense of social belonging can affect motivation and continued persistence, even on impossible tasks. That is, if you don't feel like you belong, you are both less motivated and less likely to hang in there in the face of obstacles.

Even outside a research setting, these are valuable lessons we can all draw from as we navigate life's difficult circumstances. Though Walton's research has involved only students, his work has powerful implications for the workplace and other contexts.

According to Rajita Sinha, the head of Yale's Stress Center, stress itself is not necessarily a bad thing. But stress that is sustained, uncontrollable and overwhelming, in which people can't figure out options to solve their problems, wreaks havoc on us.

Walton's belonging intervention has the potential to downgrade uncontrollable stress by allowing people to put a narrative around their traumatic experiences.

It places those experiences in a box, he says, "with a beginning, a middle and an end. As a consequence, the meaning of the negative experience is constrained, and people understand that when bad things happen, it's not just them, they are not alone, and that it's something that passes."

So what exactly does the belonging intervention involve?

In a broad sense, storytelling.

Walton and his colleagues enlist the study subjects as experts to help "others" who may be similarly situated and going through a difficult time.

The researchers provide subjects with statistics, quotations and stories from upperclassmen about their experiences — how they struggled at first but eventually got through it — and ask participants to use that information to write about getting through their own difficulties and how it gets better.

The participants, who believe they are writing for the next generation of incoming freshmen — an audience many of them relate to and care about — begin to engage with the material and use it to reflect on their own experiences, ultimately coming to the conclusion that no matter how bad they feel, they are not alone.

This is particularly powerful in settings where people have a looming alternative explanation, as in the case of minorities, women and gay youth.

Please read the whole article at

http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/01/health/enayati-importance-of-belonging/index.html#

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On being unpopular.

I just read a blog post regarding cliques, classes and the post weight loss surgery as a bizarre extension of high school.  (You need read that first, or this won't make much sense.)

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I have said it for years — as morbidly obese individuals — we can be stunted, socially — often at the age we became obese.   Whatever the cause of the obesity — things get STUCK.  Some morbidly obese persons go through teenage-hood missing out on a lot of the social norms and live out these opportunities as an adult, after weight loss surgery.  They lose the weight, and come out of their shells, literally.  It can be an amazing time for some people!  HELLO PUBERTY FOR THE SECOND TIME!  

The blogger says,

"Thus, when people lose a lot of weight, they often go back and try to relive their high school experiences – and that means forming exclusive/non-inclusive cliques, gossiping, causing drama, putting others down, being promiscuous, dressing provocatively, being stuck-up, getting drunk, taking risks, or just being a rebel."

So we sort of agree.   I suppose a few of those shoes fit.  I'm a motherfucking rebel, yo.  Look at me, avoiding my laundry pile.  Rawr.  

Though I did not experience the whole LIVE LIFE ALL OVER AGAIN myself, it's because I did not spend a long time at my largest size, and I do not feel that I was slighted any of my childhood or teenager hood and I have nothing to prove.  I am simply pleased to be at a normal size, and I am the same exact person I was prior to losing weight.

I also don't feel compelled to GO TO MY PROM AND GET A BOYFRIEND OMGZ!  I did all that.  I did not miss out.  I do not see the draw of doing it all again.  I don't care if you missed out the first time, get over it and grow up.

I was not in any cliques in high school nor now. I was an anti-clique type of person, and I am still firmly planted there.  

What is a clique –

A powerful, yet unstable social hierarchy structures interactions between Group Members in any given clique, always topped by the highest-status member, labeled by psychologists as the “Leader” or “Queen Bee.”[1][10] In her now famous ethnography of adolescent cliques, ‘’Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence,’’ author Rosalind Wiseman explains the standard set of roles most frequently adopted by male and female clique members.

Females:

  • Queen Bee – Leader: rules by “charisma, force, money, looks, will, & manipulation”
  • Sidekick – Lieutenant: invariably supports the Queen Bee’s opinions
  • Banker – Gossip: collects and employs information for her own gain
  • Floater – Similar to a Liaison; closely associated with multiple cliques
  • Pleaser – Can be in or out of clique: immediately adopts all of the Queen Bee and Sidekick’s opinions, yet never gains their approval
  • Target – Outside of the clique; regularly excluded and humiliated

Males:

  • Leader – Like the Queen Bee except well-respected: Athletic, tough, rich, & gets the girls.
  • Flunkie – Like the Pleaser, he does anything asked of him, but he also responds to any member. Inadvertently annoys others with his actions regularly.
  • Thug – Although often smarter than he lets on, the Thug communicates primarily through nonverbal bullying. He typically appears popular, but may not actually be well-liked or respected.
  • The Get Wits – Groupies of male clique: respected by adults as high-achieving “good kids,” but only unsought tagalongs to the clique.

I am a love-all, seek-all, exclude no one type of person.  I still am.  

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My high-school friends were often on the fringes, sometimes they were oddball types and often very, very smart individuals.  My friends were typically quite opposite of me – MENSA IQ type people with extraordinary brain skills and socially awkward, quiet and otherwise unlike me.  To this day, I seem to attract these types of people.  Some of the best friends I've had have been my opposites.

In high school, my friends came to me because they saw something in me that brought out the better parts of them.  I was outwardly expressive and made them lighten up.  I was funny, and fun to be with.  I would like to think I am still the same.   I would also hope they saw empathy and understanding.


In regards to the above blog post, if I take it literally (which I know isn't the way it was meant…) I *was a marching band geek, I was in Marketing/DECA (You are looking at the National Retail Management Delegate for 1994 and 1995 right. here, baby..) I was in Student Council, as a Marketing Delegate, wanted desperately to do Yearbook Work, etc. etc… and… I … uh… hated the cheerleaders and jocks.

I… uh… still sort of do.  Sorry.  I loathe the cheerleader mentality.

Hey, give me a break here – many of them bitches were MEAN GIRLS.  

Have you ever had spitballs thrown in your hair or pennies tossed at you just because of Who You Were?  Well, it sucks.  It hurts.  And WHY on earth would we want to GO BACK THERE?

*think about it*

We'd never throw anything BACK, but hell if we didn't WANT TO.  

I may have gotten a kid or two suspended for saying nasty things to me and I fought back once or twice.  I admit my fails and I still fail all the time.

And, you know what?  

I REFUSE TO RETURN TO THAT KIND OF THINKING OR BEHAVIOR. 

We are adults, at least the last time I checked I was — as my 14 year old reminds me daily that I Am.  (Ask HER about Mean Girls.  You have no idea how much better "we" had it, ladies.  WE DIDN'T HAVE FACEBOOK!  We had PAGERS.  We passed PAPER. NOTES.  Drama traveled sloooowly!)  I LOATHE TEENAGE GIRL BEHAVIOR AND WANT NOTHING OF IT.   Sorry, dear 14 year old daughter, but you are not the typical teenager, and I thank my lucky stars.  (Seriously, go ask YOUR 13-16 year old daughter about girl-drama.  Go.  Ask her to log in to her Facebook and look at her friend-feed.  It is DISGUSTING.)

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Here I am an old 33 year old broad, a YouTuber, a blogger, a semi-decent "marketer," the founder of a group self-titled "Bariatric Bad Girls," in the very community the blogger above is lining up into classes and cliques and URLS.  

I fit into almost every clique – class – category of that blog post.  

Uh.

Why do I feel like I need to classify myself now?  I did not know that we had cliques, classes or labels.

I do not fit in any of the categories listed.  Square peg here.  Round hole.  I break holes.

  • What about the group of 1060 individuals I chat with every single day, many of who fail to fit in ANY category?  
  • What about many of those inviduals who have been EXCLUDED from other "social opportunities?"  
  • Where do they go for, in this case, social support after bariatric surgery?  

My particular  online group contains such a wide variety of humans, seriously, we are the craziest high-school you've ever seen.  We house 1060 bariatric patients, many who have been shunned by the mainstream or "popular" kids, and we are inclusive of any and all types of people in all kinds of situations.

Now, I do not want to assume the following is pointing a finger at my group, but … the shoe…. feels bad… really sick to my gut … bad.  I don't know if it has got a thing to do with *us* but there aren't many big groups out there in this community, there are many small groups, countless very small ones, I'm just feeling the… post and it stabs –

Via Gastric Bypass Barbie – Bariatric Afterlife –

"All of the “glorious” parts of high school come roaring back in the Bariatric After Life, and that can be a slap in the face to witness for people just beginning their journeys. When they first set foot in the online WLS community, they can feel judged, put down and excluded…all over again, and when that happens, they sometimes latch onto the first group of people who pay them any kind of attention, regardless of whether it’s a good or healthy fit because (they reason), it’s better to belong to A GROUP, than NO GROUP – no matter how unhealthy that group might be. We’re human and desperately want to be accepted. It’s how we’re made!

Of course this makes me sad, because I want everyone to believe strongly enough in their own value that they make healthy choices in friendships and behaviors. I don’t want people to settle for what they can get. I want them to blaze their own trails and create their own successes.

Unfortunately, peer pressure is alive and well in our community and it is, perhaps, even more potent than it was when we were teens because, NOW, we are all adults…and that means it’s incredibly easy to justify bad behavior in the name of “choice.”"

I just said it in my group — if you FEEL THAT WAY — feel that we are AT ALL a bad fit, a bad influence?  You do not belong in the group — NO GROUP should make you feel that way.  The door is open, please leave!  Man.  There's no need to feel bad!

My group — though titled "bad girls" — has ZERO to do with being "bad" at any level.  What is a Bariatric "Bad Girl?"  (Funny, that… I just started posting videos on this Very Topic.)

Sadly enough, it's about being EXCLUDED, which feels like SHIT.  It burns.  It's another penny being thrown at the back of my head because We're Not Good Enough.

I'd have posted this to you on your page, butcha unfriended me.

I went to comment via Twitter, but you blocked me.

This is what burns.  Stings.  

We are all equals in the same community,  we aren't the "bad kids" sitting in detention you know. We're often the kids that haven't got a clique to join.  We are inclusive.  

We are the unpopulars, the super-geeks, the girl who has to take meds, the kid who sneaks butts, the kid from horticulture class who grows weed on the side, the girl who is the prez of a fan club,  the kid who has to watch his little siblings because mom is stoned every night, the kid who plays sports because his mom makes him, the freaky arty kid, the sick kid who left school half-way through the year, the kid who has seizures, the one with the crazy hair that you made fun of,  the one who goes to church every day,  the one with Aspergers Syndrome, the kid who leaves classes to meet with the School Psychologist, the kid who's mom and dad are from Iraq, the girl who goes home to an empty house everyday, the girl who goes to school in homemade clothes, or the one with no new clothes every year,  the kid who has no food at home, the girl with the mom who drinks too much, the pregnant girl,  the one who had a baby and you didn't know it, the stoner, that girl who only eats white foods, the one who had surgery when she was little and now has problems, the drinker, the one with the parents who beat the shit out of him, the fat girl, the really fat girl, the reformed bully, the bully who doesn't really admit to being in the group, the gay kid that doesn't know it yet, the girl who likes chicks, the one you heard who did that thing, the Jesus freak, the super freaky kid, the emo kid, the anorexic, the bulimic, the cutter, the kid who tried to commit suicide, etc..etc..so forth and so on… you know…

…MY FRIENDS.  

My friends who NEED SUPPORT because we are not mainstream.  We are not popular.  There may be some here and there who are super fucking popular in their own ways, in their social standings, or careers, but it's got JACK to do with their standing in a medical weight loss community.

Do people in the heart surgery or brain surgery CREATE CLIQUES?  Because if so — I'mma start me a group called Epileptic Excellents.  Damn.

Haven't many of us spent the last 15-20 years of our lives trying to BREAK OUT of the ridiculous high-school categories?  Haven't we been trying to come together as adults and beat a common cause?  Doesn't it feel gross to be labeled?

But, I will take your advice, Barbie!  "Love yourself enough to hang with the winners and risk being unpopular."  I am.  Fuck haters.  I know I will never be "popular" and that is the risk I take for BEING MYSELF.  I'm out.

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Alcohol + WLS – We are not coping well – Las Vegas is a Sparkly Transfer Addiction, Revisited.

I drink because I’m lonesome, I’m lonesome ‘cause I drink.”

This song just came up on CMT whilst I wrote this post.  Timely.

Two years ago I wrote a post about Las Vegas after I arrived home from a trip there for a professional bariatric conference.  I titled it Las Vegas is a GIANT SPARKLY TRANSFER ADDICTION.

And I meant it.  Vegas is full of 489230 reasons why post weight loss surgery patients are tempted and could be tempted and often fail to dissuade temptation and need to be careful about temptation. 

Bacchus-full-sizejpg-fe0341ca55021c17_largeI went back to Las Vegas last spring for another bariatric-related event.  It is likely that I wrote a very similar post or re-posted the original, but angrier as situations were fresh in my mind.  I tend to do that with blog posts.  It is possible that I also deleted any post that referred to last year’s event.

This year brought another event in Las Vegas.  When I first read about the event scheduled for Vegas again, I cringed.

This time, this particular event brought more than five hundred pre and post operative bariatric patients together in one place.  While not the one thousand patients once expected to come, this was a very large turnout for a bariatric event.  It was impressive.

Prior to the event, it was discussed that removing the temptation of having a cash bar from the event might be a smart idea.  There were videos made – discussions started – and attendees sounded a bit miffed that there might not be easy access to cash alcohol bars.  In the end, we did have bars at the nighttime social parts of the event.  The compromise (or close to it…) was to halve the bars, and only have access to half of what the hotel might offer at each event.  Even with just one bar, attendees came prepared.  Some brought their own drinks in, some drank pre-event and brought drinks in, and some found the bar and some did all.

I heard that the bar drinks were terrible and watered down, but it was obvious that the majority of us were drinking something, regardless of where it came from.  I drank as well.

I had one drink at both social events during the meet and greet, a light beer.  Light beer is my go-to choice, mostly because it doesn't make me very tipsy, because tipsy for me is no good. 

 I am eight years and two months post op, and tipsy for me is still no good.  It takes just few sips of hard liquor or wine to make me shit-balls drunk at eight years post gastric bypass.  I have learned what works for me.  And that is pretty much, abstaining from anything with liquor in it unless I am ready to get rolled home. Because being rolled home (or in this case, to your Vegas hotel room… gross!) is neither attractive nor memorable.

And yes, many of you (us… you are my people even if you don't want to admit that!) were rolled, carried, pushed, and shoved back to your rooms last weekend at the event we attended together. Collective "Gasp! Say it isn’t so, Beth!  Tell me that bariatric patients do not drink alcohol nor drink to… excess?”  They do.  And it’s often hushed.  (Among most other things.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Do not kid yourself.)

Post-Gazette

Estimates on the prevalence of new addictions after weight-loss surgery vary widely. Philip Schauer, director of bariatric surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and current president of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, estimates that only about 5 percent of bariatric-surgery patients develop a new compulsive behavior after surgery, such as alcoholism, compulsive shopping or smoking. He adds there is no evidence that the new addictions have any direct link to the surgery.

At U.S. Bariatric, a weight-loss surgery center with offices in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., therapists estimate that roughly 20 percent of patients acquire new addictive behaviors. Melodie Moorehead, a psychologist who spoke at a session during the American Society for Bariatric Surgery Association annual meeting last month, cited preliminary data suggesting that roughly 30 percent of bariatric-surgery patients struggle with new addictions after surgery. But she says the issue requires further study.

One possible reason for the disparity in estimates is that alcohol problems can surface several years after the surgery, when surgeons are no longer tracking patients as closely. And some patients may not see a link between their drinking and the surgery, or report their problem to a surgeon. Roughly 140,000 bariatric surgeries are performed in this country each year.

MM says in her totally un-professional opinion that no one should listen to — the rates of addiction post WLS are much higher.  My non-pro opinion almost everyone develops some type of addiction after weight loss surgery, it's just not obvious to everyone else.  Yes, compulsive gum chewing, mint eating, crotcheting/knitting, crafting, internet use, water-loading, calorie counting, exercise… ANYTHING can be an obsession or addiction when it takes over your life and keeps you from taking care of your personal business.  "Hi, my name is Beth and I am addicted to caffeine, probably simple carbohydrates and I abuse the internet."

*hangs head in no shame*

"I didn't see any of that.  Nah.  I was drinking, but I didn't notice anyone else drunk. I deserve some fun… I was taking opiates or painkillers but I didn't see anyone else doing it.  I took sleeping pills, someone gave me sleeping pills or muscle relaxants… I was shopping a lot, but… I gambled a lot, but…"

There's a lot of buts in our community, did you notice?  "But…"  I need, I want, I have to… I … deserve to.

<— not guilty party of one.  I figure I should lay that out before I get called out on my "eating a mini Gigi's cupcake and having a beer," because I did. Oh, and the most expensive Beef Wellington, ever.

IMG_0008 

I am the same as everyone else.

WLSFA Las Vegas 2012

It happens every single time, at every single event – conference – get together (for every topic, this is not something unique to the bariatric community) people are human, humans like to drink. We have all been affected in some way by alcohol (and other things…) at events.  

However, what IS unique about our particular community is the intensity of the reactions to addictive behaviors.  A group of typical people without the “benefit” of weight loss surgery will include individuals with addiction issues, and those without, and those who like to just have a drink in a social situation.  It’s normal and typical to see a whole range of reactions to alcohol in a varied group. 

 But in our community full of people who have had weight loss surgery – there is often so much more history behind why someone might drink, drug, gamble, or even EAT. 

Not everyone becomes a statistic, not everyone develops what is often called a “transfer addiction” after bariatric surgery; but too many DO struggle with addictions.  The rates of abused children or those with addict parents who grow up to be morbidly obese individuals who go on to have bariatric surgery are staggering.  Why?  The way I see it, when someone’s coping skills and emotional self-soothing are stunted by weight loss surgery  “I can’t eat anymore,” they HAVE TO FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO FILL THAT SPACE.  

Post ops who fail to find a healthy substitution for stuffing food to stuff feelings down will find other, often entirely self-destructive ways to self-soothe. 

Theories abound for how childhood abuse relates to adult obesity

• Abused children may eat as a form of coping, a pattern that continues into adulthood.

• Increasing size by gaining weight may offer protection from physical threats.

• Weight gain may repel sexual abusers, and help adults avoid sexual advances.

• People may believe that being fat is socially protective, that society will expect less from and think less of someone who is obese.

• The emotions associated with abuse are thought to lead to higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the bloodstream. This can increase appetite.

A study in the Obesity Journal stated that extremely obese bariatric surgery candidates reported rates of maltreatment comparable with those reported by clinical groups and roughly two to three times higher than normative community samples. 

Yes, I am fully aware that “not everyone is a food addict,” nor is everyone abused.  I am one of the lucky ones.  But, I still struggle with the same "stuff it down" issues as many of you.  I guarantee that when I get angry hater comments on this post, I will be compelled to get up and go find a snack.  I might not follow through, but somewhere deep inside, I am triggered to do just that.

I consider the greatest portion of those of us who have weight loss surgery — Emotional Eaters, and Emotional Eaters can cause serious caloric damage in many ways.  (Do you remember eating a pint of ice cream or a half-bag of potato chips?  Do you remember why you were prompted to eat that much at one time?  How did you feel?)  “We” often move from abusing food (which is what it was… there’s no other way to describe it, honestly…) to abusing other substances or even moving into unhealthy behavior patterns that are just as destructive as food once was. 

Certainly, pre-op psychological exams are meant to weed “us” out if we are engaged in self-harmful behaviors prior to having weight loss surgery, but post-ops know how easy it is to get shoved through the process without being psychologically prepared for a starvation diet.  Many of us were ill prepared to deal with WLS for-EVER.

Once you arrive, as a post surgical weight loss patient, all if not most of your baggage comes back and falls at your feet. “But, I thought the surgery would make everything okay and make me win at life.”  No.  If you’re lucky, this crash/burn/reality doesn’t happen until after your “honeymoon” period of weight loss.  Many post ops get hit with life issues much sooner – and fail to reach weight loss goals because they can’t get past themselves, their history, and often people give up.  It is what it is, and I am sitting here at eight years plus post op, and clearly one of the only ones in this community that is willing to call it out

As weight loss surgery patients – having given up what was probably our number one self-soothing method; we are LIKE SPONGES and ready to ABSORB whatever New Thing comes our way.  That might be alcohol, and often is.  It could be something else – just as addictive – or even behaviors that we do not even realize as dangerous.  (I do NOT have a problem with coffee or Internet overuse.  I. do. not.  I am serious.  insert link here…)   These things can take over – and how.  Alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity directly effect the WLS community, as does gambling, shopping to extraordinary excess, over-exercise, eating disorder behaviors, and the list goes on and on. 

But alcohol in particular is a huge component of post weight loss surgery drama. 

It can directly impact you, your family and every part of your life.  I hear too many sad stories, likely because I watch this community and probably get the concentrated sad story juice of our peers.  I am thankful every damned day that I haven’t had any disastrous addiction issues, nor has my post op spouse picked it up, because we could.   Something I have learned in this community – never say never.  Both of us have addiction issues in our extended families – and it was highly likely that we would also deal with one or ten of them.  I am thankful, but I worry about you.  I worry about this same WLS community – because post op addiction issues are rampant.  Every so often there’s a study posted – that warns us of the dangers of Too Much Alcohol – and then another comes out that says that It’s No Big Deal.  I am telling you – where I sit – it’s a big deal. 

It isn’t just alcohol – and I suppose that since we were in Las Vegas – the issues were magnified by the simple fact that anything you WANT to medicate with is available.  If you are addicted to something or have a behavior issue – you can get it in Vegas and get it in bulk.  Personally, my coffee addiction gets stunted in Vegas because it costs too much to continue my habit.  I do not know if that makes me less addicted, because I still sought out coffee.  As for food, I gave up and decided that next time I will live on beef jerky.  I think that just makes me cheap, not addicted.  But if I did have a food problem, Vegas would feed it.  But had I a sex addiction, not just one hired hand, I could get five!  If I had a shopping addiction, Vegas offered anything I could want.  Gambling, don’t even discuss the options.  I gave up pretty quickly since my husband and I ran out of cash without really eating, shopping, or gambling.  We could not maintain addictions in Vegas if we wanted to.

But it happens at every social event we have as a community.  This was just more intensified due to locale and sheer number of attendees.

I worry that many of the WLS community find themselves “having their first…” everything post surgery surrounded by others who have recently started having their firsts too. 

It’s a super-scary situation.  If I am drinking, I cannot possibly help YOU.   Post op drunks are not pretty.  We are sloppy, nasty and often rotten.

The biggest clue I saw at this last event was the sheer number of people who noted that they had to Have Drinks to deal with other people.  Had to.  The pre-loading and constant level of buzzed-to-drunk was interestingly higher than I remember at other events. 

It’s not new, of course, many attendees at events often note how they have to pre-medicate with anti-anxiety medications to even get into the room with other people.  (I cannot judge this, as I had to take a double dose of Ativan to fly home.  That, dear readers, is another post.)  What I can concern myself with – is that there are SO. MANY. OF. “US” doing the same thing. 

It’s clearly an indication of the lack of coping.  As a community, we are not coping.

 

 

 

 

 

Bariatric Surgery = increased likelihood of ALCOHOLISM.

Timely, as nearly one thousand of us descend upon Las Vegas today through the weekend for a weight loss surgery related event.

I am already seeing the alcohol posts on Facebook IN. THE. AIRPORTS.

Hello, my name is Beth, and I don't have a problem with alcohol (…and I thank my lucky stars every single day…) however, I AM SURROUNDED BY ALCOHOLICS AND OTHER ADDICTS POST WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY.

In full, from Medscape

May 15, 2012 (Lyon, France) — Bariatric surgery is associated with an increased likelihood that patients will report and be diagnosed with problems related to alcohol consumption. Different levels of risk are associated with different gastric surgery procedures, Per-Arne Svensson, PhD, from the Sahlgrenska Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, reported here at the 19th European Congress on Obesity.