Monday, March 26, 2012

Saved by The Cracker Factory

On Loan

I just read John Grisham's The King of Torts. He doesn't mention Phen-Fen by name but you know that is what he is talking about as a part of a past class action cases mentioned in the book. I will be forever grateful I have known, since I was eighteen, that there will never be a drug that could be more effective on me (or safer) then learning to put down the food without chemical assistance. 

How did I know? The Cracker Factory - by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt.

My Copy
 It was first a book, then a TV movie starring Natalie Wood and Perry King. (Shelley Long is in it, too). It is about a young alcoholic mom who finds she needs to rely on something to stop her from drinking because she cannot do it on her own. She learns that pills, extra-marital sex, shock treatments, bingeing, swearing off and hospitalization are not the answers. She learns that there is an answer that works for her and countless people with her same addictive tendency. She gets better. 

The AA Big Book
I was 17 the first time I saw the movie. I identified immediately; not as a alcoholic, because I do not drink, but as an addict who uses food instead of alcohol, sex and drugs. I love the movie. I have a copy of it. I have two copies of the book. Just the other day I found out the author recently published Cracker Factory 2 - which continues the story 40 years later - 40 years in recovery later! I immediately bought my copy and will have it done tomorrow.

Here are some things I have learned since the first time I 'knew' I had an addiction. Knowing is not enough. I needed to take action and I was not at a low enough bottom to do that at 17. I wasn't ready at 23. I thought I was at 27 but at 30 I went right back to the food. At 42 I finally reached the bottom that led me to loose 220 pounds and continue to keep getting better. 

Would this work?
I still thank the author of "The Cracker Factory for helping me stay alive long enough to find out how to stop killing myself with food. What I knew from the story helped me to turn down Phen-Fen (and several other drugs) doctors encouraged me to try over the years. I didn't have gastric bypass, which would not have worked for long on someone with my sneaky aptitude for ignoring the truth about myself. Plus I know people who had the surgery when I was told to consider it - two now dead from malnutrition complications. Acquaintances three and four both gained back more than half of what they lost and are miserable much of the time. Guess what? Thin, on it's own, does not equal happy.

I commented on another website the other day (but cannot remember which site it was). I wrote:

We have to think outside the box. The "Magic Pill" isn't a pill, a capsule or an injection. The magic pill is accepting what we cannot take into our bodies (whatever it is for each of us) and then turning to the Life Force that can keep us from reaching for it. For some that Life Force is God and for others it is The Force as in Jedi-force-be-with-you and for others is it the aura of their favorite tree. I don't care what it is for you as long as the power that I turn to keeps me from grazing my way back over 200 and then 300 pounds. 

The monster knows
where you are . . .
I am not perfect and I have days where I caress a piece of pizza or a carton of ice cream and then think "what the hell am I doing?" Life is not perfect, but I will take imperfect life over emotional, physical and spiritual death every time. At least, I hope I will . . . .



Norma said...

Another issue with weight loss surgery (I'm not against it -- when done by an ethical surgeon/clinic and extensive counseling pre-surgery is done to help the patient understand his or her addiction and ensure compliance with the proscribed lifestyle that is needed for the surgery/weight loss to be successful and maintained) is that a significant number of patients do replace their food addiction with other, more "traditional" addictions -- lots turn to gambling, alcohol, sex, shopping -- a new compulsive behavior replaces the old one and with it is a new monster to overcome. I have one friend who had a radical gastric bypass nearly four years ago and has maintained a 180+ lb loss because she understood how important it is for her to be compliant with the foods/amounts she can tolerate, she exercises daily and she recognizes her wanting to eat when not hungry as a real issue. Far too many patients -- like a lot of "dieters" in general -- get to a "normal" weight and then think about how much cheating they can get away with and the regains begin.

Diane Fit to the Finish said...

so many of us with food issues have to deal with these personality traits. I know I have a tendency to stuff things into my mouth when things are not going well.

I'm so glad that I never took a supplement (prescribed or not) when I was trying to lose weight. With my luck I would have been one of those you read about later who suffered from the "unknown" side effects.

Leslie said...

I read the Cracker Factory in high school when I was a skinny young thing who could eat whatever I wanted and not gain an ounce. I loved the book too, but never returned to it. In the ensuing years, I've morphed into both an alcoholic (with 20+ years recovery) and a food addict, with not much recovery.

Thanks for reminding me of it, and as soon as I publish this comment, I'm heading to Amazon to do some shopping.

Anonymous said...

You said as much on my blog. Much appreciated thoughts.

I cannot believe doctors were encouraging the pills and surgery. I could not get one to prescribe me pills even when I begged and cried and humiliated myself. I did not understand why someone would not help ease my pain. What they did not tell me (because they did not know - clearly) is that the pain was at the opposite end of weight loss. OK not the opposite, but not the enduring of losing weight, but what caused me to. Emotions, habits... life. Of course they only gave me 5 minutes of their time and then I was out. Cannot really delve into that sort of thing in that time eh? Should have written me a script for the psychologist!

I am going to have to add Cracker Factory to my list of books! Natalie Wood was an alcoholic in real life I think. BTW.

Unknown said...

Oh, I also have the "sneaky aptitude" for ignoring the truth about myself.<<That's definitely a problem. I love that wording, Jane.

I'm just too scared of side effects to take hardly any kind of pill. My odds are terrible. I got Lyme disease in 2010 when just one tick landed on me for the entire year. Just think of all those people who have ticks on them but never get the disease. We all can be that "one" who gets the horrific side effect.

:-) Marion