In 1996 I went off to University to try and find my place in the world. As for most teenagers nothing is more exciting or scarier than moving away from home and out on your own. Being the independent person I was, I opted to live off campus even though it was my first year and I thought it would be better.
The very first day I stepped onto the campus, I was completely overwhelmed. I figured I had bitten off more than I could chew and maybe just maybe I should drop out before I started and head back home. I didn’t and off I went to make this new city my new home.
I found that day to day I found life very difficult. A lot of first year students made fast friendships within the dorms and it was harder to establish relationships with others when I lived off campus. I also had to work to pay for my apartment, heat, hydro, food, etc, so I didn’t have much free time. Classes and homework actually took more time than I had available during the week. To a small extent I felt like I was in the perfect storm.
In between classes and during breaks I would choose to go home to my apartment. Many times I felt overwhelmed by the number of people on the campus and the constant action. I also very much doubted with I had the ability to be there or maybe I somehow managed to slip through the cracks and got accepted. Even during the days that I had to remain on campus I would do any studying or reading in the law library because I could insulate myself away from others.
After insulating myself I found it very difficult to concentrate. I would read and read and read and nothing seemed to stick. This lead I further down the line of berating myself and realizing that I wasn’t any good and really didn’t belong at University. As I continued to isolate myself and feel like I was unable to mentally retain anything I would eat.
Food would give me temporary pleasure. It would allow me to not have to worry about reading or writing or finding a quiet place, it was just me and my food. Whether it was at the apartment or school for the time I spent eating it gave me peace. I would also eat food that was very unhealthy for me since it tasted the best and made me feel better. It’s too bad I didn’t get addicted to jogging because that would have cured my food addiction and help alleviate my depression and anxiety.
Unfortunately food became my go to source for satisfaction. I realize even before this I was addicted to food, choosing deep fried, greasy, lots of gravy to chase it down food. The thing was when I was at home there were plenty of healthy home cooked meals for me. As someone who doesn’t care to cook I was eating healthier whether I want to or not. Once I was on my own, the home cooked healthy meals were not there and I really expanded my food addiction.
Now everything began to feed upon itself. The mind which was fighting depression and anxiety was now also dealing with malnutrition. Also, every time I looked in the mirror I had gained another 10 to 15lbs so I began to hate the way I looked and felt. I could easily become very agitated with those around me and became more sensitive to every perceived negative remark or action around me. The only time I felt satisfaction was with food.
I realize now is how easily somebody could become addicted to other drugs, gambling or alcohol because it provided them the same or increased satisfaction. I now think I was lucky not to become another statistic to those types of addictions.
I also learned that once you conquer or get help on one problem, such as the depression, it doesn’t make the new addiction automatically go away. Now I have to deal with an addiction I have but didn’t intend to create. Working hard and staying focused is the way to live a healthier happier life.