The isolating effects of weight gain

One woman tells her story about gaining weight and retreating from the world: "I didn't want anybody to see me"

By Julia Bainbridge

Published December 5, 2017 6:58PM (EST)


We can sleepwalk through life, can’t we? Then something wakes us up. We look in the mirror, or a friend speaks the truth, or, in Brooke Russell’s case, she stepped on the scale. She couldn’t believe what she saw; she was a stranger to herself.

“I get on a scale and it had popped up to 196 pounds, which . . . We have obesity in my family, and so I'm very, very, very strict about and have been for as long as I can . . .  since I was like 10," Russell told "The Lonely Hour." "So when I saw [on the] scale that I let myself lose control in a dietary sense I was just mortified.”

After that, Russell shut herself away. She stopped going to AA meetings. She stopped having sex with her boyfriend. She hardly went outside.

“I didn't want anybody to see me," she said. "I would go home and stay home and order Grubhub. Grubhub is the worst thing ever. I mean, I love Grubhub, but I mean it's such an enabler. You never have to leave your house. You don’t even have to call anybody; you just order online. It's like ultimate isolation. It was beautiful.”

The cycle went on, but eventually, she woke up.

“My first Weight Watchers meeting, I cried because it was like, I'm finally around people who get what it's like to have an eating disorder," she said. "People forget any sort of obsessive compulsive behavior around food is a f**king disorder. But you don't have to exercise it in starvation or bingeing and purging. This is like something that people really don't talk about enough: Anyone who finds the need to go to Weight Watchers and spend $45 a month in order to track and monitor and manage their eating probably has an eating disorder.”

As for AA, Russell is working her way back.

”I'm working the steps again and trying to do that, but it's still hard for me to go to meetings, like, I don't go to the same meetings that I used to because I still don't want people to see me, because I still feel like I'm 20 pounds overweight," said Brooke. "Once I hit 155 pounds, I'll feel comfortable enough to be around those people again.”

Hear Brooke Russell tell her story about addiction and overeating, and how she's doing now.

Julia Bainbridge

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