Linda was a wife, mother of three and a nurse struggling with her weight. After reaching 342 pounds, she decided to have gastric bypass surgery. "My entire life, I believed that if I could be thin, if there was some magic cure, some diet, my life would be perfect. And I thought I'd rather be dead than fat," she says.
After surgery, Linda lost 200 pounds and hoped her new look would help her improve her marriage. "I thought that the reason that my husband was not in love with me, had never been in love with me, was because of the way that I looked," Linda says.
Linda's transformation did not save her crumbling marriage. She says her husband withdrew even more. "Becoming thin was supposed to be the answer to all of my problems," Linda says. "And then you finally achieve that goal and everything's not all better. It comes as such a shock."
No longer able to turn to food for comfort, Linda developed a dangerous set of addictions that would turn her world upside-down.
Linda says her addictions led her to live a dangerous double life. She began abusing alcohol, drinking up to two bottles of wine each day, but she says it was her addiction to attention that nearly ruined her life. She had affairs to satisfy her need for attention. "It was not about the sex," Linda says. "It was an addiction to attention, to something that I had never had before."
She confesses to having 14 affairs in all—including seven one-night stands, five of those with perfect strangers. "I was completely destroyed by guilt," Linda says. "I hated myself. I hated what I'd done to myself, to my kids, to their father, to everyone that mattered in my life."
Dr. Robin says that no weight loss surgery can automatically make anyone's life better. "It's going to give you a chance physically at changing things," Dr. Robin says. "But emotionally the flood gates are going to open in a way that you can't imagine."
It's no surprise, Dr. Robin says, that once Linda's waistline shrunk, the pain increased and new addictions formed. "It's not about the food—the food is symbolic of all the other stuff," Dr. Robin says. "Addictions are symbols. They are in our life to say, 'You are in trouble.'"
Linda sees a therapist and has completed an outpatient program for her drinking, but continues to struggle with knowing who she is. "I knew who the fat girl was. I don't know who this girl is. And it's all part of figuring that out," Linda says.
Dr. Robin says it's an illusion to think she knew who she was when she was heavy "because that person also was in hiding. And it's better to know that you're actually starting from scratch than to think that you did know, and lost [yourself]," Dr. Robin says.
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