Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good-bye, Valley Girl

My friend Valley Girl killed herself last Friday. I am in shock. I knew she was struggling with depression, but I thought she was dealing with it and things would get better for her.

What really makes me mad (at the waste, not at her) is that she had so much going for her. She was pretty, smart and talented and a very nice person too. I always looked forward to interacting with her on the Obesity Help message boards.

But, as she got further out from her surgery, she came around less. That's not that unusual. I don't go there as much either. I'm too busy! But, I think in her case, she didn't come around because of the depression. It's easier to be happy and successful with minor complaints out in public (and, even a support board where you are supposed to be able to let it all hang out is a public place) than to be struggling.

Of course, when you are struggling is when you need support the most and, unfortunately, Valley Girl lost a lot of her support group this past year. Her surgery and weight loss seems to have helped break up her marriage, the divorce caused other problems, and then she ended up getting a job in another state so she sold everything and moved away from friends and family. 

All that change in a short period of time must have been stressful and she was going through it without the people who could have supported her and helped being near-by. It's hard to support someone long-distance. I know people tried, but email and phone calls aren't the same as being able to talk to people face-to-face and drop in on them, if they need that.

My friend had been struggling with depression for years -- it wasn't something brought on by the surgery. But I think, in the end, the surgery contributed to it for her.

Even good change is stressful and losing 100 pounds in less than a year (as many do) is quite a change. That can lead to other changes, good and bad, as it did with my friend. Reading between the lines, I don't think she really wanted all these changes. In particular, I don't think she wanted to move away and start a new job. Getting a fantastic new job in a new place can be an adventure, if you chose that, and she tried to look at it that way. But it's different if it's forced on you and not truly your own choice.

Also, people tend to glamorize being thin. So they think that, once they lose the weight, everything will change for the better. It can be quite a shock when you realize some problems that you thought would go away haven't, particularly if your relationships change more than you expected and not for the better.

A lot of my problems went away as I lost weight -- the blood pressure went down, no more plantar fasciitis, I could do so much more, made a bunch of new friends, can fit into cute clothes, etc. But all my problems didn't go away and I even got a few new ones both directly and indirectly related to the surgery. For me, the positive well outweighs any negative. By miles.

I guess my friend didn't feel that way and I wish I knew why and how I could have helped her before it was too late.

Good-bye, Valley Girl. I will miss you.
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