Some people measure depression by the medication they take or the number of times per week they see a therapist. For me, it was different. I measured my depression with baked jalapeño-and-cheddar-cheese poppers, the brand that advertises itself with the slogan "Bring home the fun."
I'd love to meet the person who came up with that line and ask him a question. Is it really fun to see yourself blow up three dress sizes?
I suppose they wouldn't sell as many if their slogan was "Pack on the pounds." On the other hand, they may do OK with a promotion that said "Forget your ex-husband" or "Eat these instead of having sex—since nobody wants to see your fat bare ass."
During the cold winter months of 2002–03, when I was making Touched by an Angel in Utah, those jalapeño-and-cheese poppers were my Prozac. I was on a significant dosage: at least nine a night and sometimes more. At the grocery store, I saw other women looking at me when I loaded the boxes into my cart from the frozen food case. I could almost hear them thinking Oh my gosh that's Valerie Bertinelli. And look: she's on those jalapeño poppers.
It was true. There were nights when I OD'd on those poppers. My mouth burned because I couldn't wait for them to cool down after taking them out of the oven. Other times I savored the taste with tiny, almost sensual bites, drawing out the feeling of comfort and escape I got from eating. The bright smile that served me well for so many years went into storage. So did my size 8 jeans. And my 10s. And my 12s. And my—well, my weight soared past 170 pounds, the highest it had ever been outside of my pregnancy.