In therapy, I was learning to let go of some of the responsibility for others, expecting them to do more for themselves. As I did so, I was able to focus more clearly on the ‘elephant in the room’ that I was not addressing: my own self-neglect and obesity, she said.
This was not the person who I was or wanted to be. I felt burdened, heavy with responsibility, and weight. I was literally and figuratively carrying around an extra person. I was finally ready to look more squarely at myself.
With encouragement from Dr. Breit, I attended an informational session about Centra’s bariatric surgery program.
Bariatric, or “weight loss,” surgery is a procedure in which a patient’s stomach is reduced in size, thereby reducing the amount of caloric intake that is possible. This surgery, combined with a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercise, can minimize excess weight and many of the complications that go along with it.
Bariatric surgery is not for everyone, nor does everyone qualify. Anna did.
I had been heavy for so long, she said. The surgery was my last-ditch effort.
Integral with the bariatric surgery program is a patient’s commitment to weight loss. Determined to do something for herself, Anna lost 36 pounds prior to surgery. After the surgery, she lost another 64 pounds. The weight loss resulted in other health benefits as well. Anna no longer takes medications for blood pressure, sleep, or urinary infections, and she has been able to decrease her psychiatric medicines.
Psychologically, Anna realized how her need to be caregiver had taken over her life. Now, she was committed to sticking with her food plan, meeting with Centra nutritionist, exercising at the gym, continuing her regular therapy sessions, and attending the bariatric program’s monthly support group.
When I went to the meetings, I heard stories about people being codependent, Anna said. I never realized I was that codependent. But it was me in a nutshell.
I’ve had to learn to take care of myself. I’m losing weight and giving up the burdens,” Anna said. I’m like a horse with blinders. I know that all of the needs are still there, but now I let everyone else take care of themselves. It’s enlightening to see myself now, she said. “I don’t even recognize myself in photos from two years ago. My goals are to keep the weight off and keep myself in a good place. I’ve learned that I can’t take care of everyone.
But Anna hasn’t given up all of her need to care for others.
I’m telling my story to encourage others, she said. I want someone else to benefit from what I’ve learned on this journey.
Miranda Breit, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified marriage and family therapist, and certified sex therapist. She specializes in relationship issues, couples, families, and sexuality in her private practice at Centra Medical Group Piedmont Psychiatric Center.
For additional information about Centra Medical Group Piedmont Psychiatric Center, please call 434.200.5999 or visit CentraHealth.com.
Produced by Centra Mental Health Services Marketing Department
For more information about the Mental Health Services division, please call 434.200.4447.
For referrals or admissions, call the Mental Health Intake & Resource Center, 434.200.4444 24 hours a day.