What I would tell my former, thinner self...

Dear Suzi-
You don’t have to live like this. Life is more than just counting points, stepping on scales and gaining mileage. Take it easy on yourself. Take time for you. Remember why you want to be in the body you are in…it’s not for show, or “fame” or for others…it’s for YOU. Enjoy life! Enjoy it in moderation though. In a few years times your love for alcohol will turn on you if you are not careful so keep your feelings in check and keep taking care of yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you gain weight back. It happens. Don’t be ashamed of your body at ANY weight. Your weight does not define you. Your weight does not measure your worth. Love yourself. Love your body. Believe it or not you can still feel beautiful and sexy at a heavier weight.  You don’t need to be at “goal weight” to be a beautiful human being who can go out and take on the world. Don’t hide from the world if you put on some weight. Don’t limit what you can do just because you might feel ashamed. The only thing you should be ashamed about is not trusting and loving yourself. Your weight has no impact on your ability to go out and live an awesome life. Believe that. Life is not about “healthy living”…life is about living every day to its fullest and trying to make the choices that you want to make and that in turn makes life about living healthy which is the true importance.

Whether you are a size 6 or a size 16, you are beautiful and nothing, I mean NOTHING, can hold you back. You don’t have to wait for the scale to reach a certain # to get out there and start living. Take care of yourself. When you fall, get up, brush yourself off and move forward.  You cannot change what it already done, so don’t even bother going over and over it. Let it go. Don’t be that person…you know who I am talking about…that obsessive person whose entire life revolves around their weight. "OMG I can't eat that!" "OMG I am over my points!" "OMG I haven't ran 100 miles this week!"... you have to be healthy mentally about it too or your obsessive thoughts will get the best of you.

Stop beating yourself up. Start living life.  Don’t give up on yourself. Fight for what you want and go out there and get it.  Don’t hold yourself back. Don’t sit around waiting for the perfect time to start living life because RIGHT NOW is the time…it’s the only time. Believe it.

Keep being true to yourself. That will never fade or disappoint.

With Love-
Your #1 Fan

The 6 month mark...

This Saturday, August 16th, marks my being 6 months of being sober. That almost seems surreal to me. If you had asked me around this time last year if I thought I would be sober, let alone for 6 months, I would've laughed & took a chug of my beer.

I could sit here and write about all of the amazing things that I have learned about myself in the past 6 months. I could tell you about the things I am still learning almost every day. I could list all the pro’s of quitting drinking.

But I am not going to do that.

Instead, I am going to share a small moment that happened a few weeks before I quit drinking (please note the few WEEKS before). No one knew about this…not even my husband up until a couple of weeks ago. But I am sharing the story here, today on my 6 month mark of being sober, in hopes that maybe someone who is reading this and might be in the similar place that I was in at the time, gets comfort and help and doesn't feel so alone. (Just a heads up for any family that may be reading this...the following contains a pretty sensitive and upsetting situation so you may or may not want to continue reading...I figured it was best to give you a heads up but it is up to you of course.)

The death of Robin Williams is very sad and very tragic. As someone who has dealt with depression her entire life (with a serious, debilitating case in my early teens) his death hits me very hard. I too had tried to take my own life before. Thankfully I was unsuccessful. But just like Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death was hard for me, as it shined a light on my secret struggle with alcoholism (and I was a very big fan of him & his talent since I was young), Robin Williams death has made me look at not only my battle of addiction (that he unfortunately battled as well) but also the importance of watching and maintaining my mental health. It was said that Phillip Seymour Hoffman told a friend that if he ever died by drug overdose he would hope its legacy would be to teach others about addiction and to help themselves like he could not help himself. That is exactly what it did for me. His death pushed me to really quit drinking and to be honest with myself about my alcoholism. I would think that Robin Williams would want something similar to come out of his passing…for someone to connect with that kind of pain and see that there are options…there are other ways.

I had this blog post planned out for the past two weeks and while it is sad that is coincides with the recent passing of Robin Williams maybe it makes it that much more powerful.

I don’t remember the exact day…but I remember it was around 1:30-2 o’clock in the morning. I had been drinking of course. Frankie had gone to bed pretty early that night and as usual I stayed up. TV was boring so I turned on some music and began to get lost in it (it’s one of my favorite things to do). Only I got lost in a very deep, dark place. Over and over in my head I beat myself up. I thought of every mistake, every poor choice, every regret, and every failure. It played in my head on repeat just like the song I was listening to. I kept drinking and at an accelerated pace. I was hoping to quiet my stupid fucking mind up, but it was only getting louder and darker. Thoughts grew to places I hate to go…thoughts of death…thoughts of suicide…thoughts of ways to truly shut up that deep, dark voice. 

I began to take count of every pill I had in my house. What was strong and would work the fastest.
Then for some reason instead of picking up the bottle of pills I picked up my phone and looked up the number to a local suicide hotline. I dialed it twice. First time it just rang and rang and rang. The second time it was a busy signal. I felt alone and helpless. Again, for some reason, I just went to bed and cried myself to sleep.

Come morning I would figure out that I was so drunk that I dialed the number wrong. I can’t even being to describe how thankful I am. The shit storm that would have created would have been MASSIVE!! And as you recall me saying before…this was a FEW WEEKS before I actually quit drinking. At that time I was not ready and was not even contemplating giving up alcohol. If they had tracked my number and came to my house to get me I don’t even know where I would be today. I don’t even know if I would be here to write this. But this definitely opened my eyes more. It definitely made me see that I was not in a place I wanted to be. I wanted to live. And I wanted to be OK.

It was the first time in over 10 years that I had seriously contemplated taking my own life. Now you are probably saying "what about your husband?! what about your stepson?!" and you have every right to say those things...but if you have ever been engulfed in a certain stage of depression you know that the only person who can truly save you is yourself. My family's love keeps me going and keeps me strong...but it doesn't save me. People can *help* you...you can *save* you. 

I can’t say that I will be sober 6 more months from now. I can’t even say that I will be sober tomorrow. Every minute or every day that I spend sober is hard work and is celebrated. I now know that I am not someone who can just have one drink. I mean maybe I could, but the risks are far too high and it’s a chance that I hope I never take.

My alcoholism isn't the cause of my depression and my depression isn't the cause of my alcoholism. But they definitely enjoy each others company and that is something that I have to be very, *very* aware of. I, just like Robin Williams, will be battling alcoholism and depression every day of my life. And in the wake of his tragic passing I am reminded to keep fighting. And that there is love and help out there. If I should ever fall, I hope to remember this.  And I hope you do too.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Also if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction please seek out help from your Doctor or visit www.recovery.org to find localized help & hotlines. 

Protecting myself this time around...

I was asked a few months to give an interview with a woman who I think is very wonderful. She runs a great blog and many of my fellow friends have interviewed with her as well. At first I accepted the invitation and like all invitations I receive, I was flattered and considered myself blessed that someone wanted to talk to me about my “journey”. After saying yes I felt an immediate dark cloud cover me. All these emotions came rushing through me. It made me look at my past and it made me reevaluate how I handle sharing *my* story.

I am very much an open book.  I do not hide much, if anything, with others. Especially when it comes to here on the blog and social media. Which is kind of funny considering that I was so hesitant for years and years about joining Facebook.  But I don’t hold back. I share the joys and I share the sorrows. I've never held back on letting everyone know about the 130 lbs of weight that I gained after shooting the Weight Watchers commercials and I never refrained from sharing that my relationship with alcohol turned from friend to foe. I put my story out there because I hope that it inspires others and helps them on their own path. I put my story out there because in a way it is helpful and therapeutic for *me*.

I spent a little over a year sharing my story of my weight loss with almost everybody. I never declined an interview. I never refused to answer a single question asked at me. I've said this before and I will say it again…I do not regret a single thing I did. I was completely honored and extremely blessed to be given all of the opportunities that came my way…Weight Watchers, Oprah, Books, Magazines, Newspapers…I really was given it all.

But I also let all of that ring me dry. My words were always my truth. I always did those interviews out of nothing but wanting to inspire others. It wasn't about any kind “fame” or recognition, though I would be lying if I said that it didn't feel nice. My story (& let’s face it…my life at that point) became about helping others so much that I forgot to help myself. I never really sought out any of the opportunities that came my way, so in a way it was a very big jolt for me.

As I have said before, I do not blame any of this towards my regaining the weight. I put the fork and the bottle to my mouth. But it definitely played a part in how I saw myself and how I treated myself afterwards.
I've made a promise to myself that I will not repeat this cycle. That I will not just offer up my story to anyone that asks. That if I decide to share my story again that it is on my own terms, in my own way. I see some people, some of who I consider friends, *begging* for their story to be shared on certain platforms…and I just silently shake my head and wish that they could see that having their story shared does not make it any better, any more important or any more successful than someone else’s who was not shared. Your worth, your hard work and your dedication is not validated or judged by who, what or how it gets shared.

While I feel bad about the last minute cancellation with the interviewer I am also proud of myself for listening to my instincts and for protecting myself. It's not that I am unwilling to tell my story or talk about the issues I am going through right now. I am in a wonderful place right now and I don’t want to stray away from myself. I don't want to let someone else open up my own book right now. I have the right to protect certain parts of *ME* and my story…and that is exactly what I did in this case. 

(*Side, non-related note: I have had to enable security on the comments due to the increased volume of spam. I hope this is not an issue for some of you.)
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