To The Point With Michael Hogan

Michael Hogan

All around you are people who face their fears at every meal. Food, a necessity for life, is the enemy to many, so much so that they take drastic measures to counteract the bodily effects of that food. There are people whose dreams are haunted by the twisted views of a shallow, stay skinny, society – one that values unnatural body types, the skinnier the better. To most, it is unbelievable that a piece of pie could reflect the face of the Devil himself, but for many it does. For some, the sustentation of life is agony.

I was raised in the 1980’s and 90’s in suburban Massachusetts. We lived on a dead end street in a quiet neighborhood in an affluent town. I was, for the most part, a normal, happy child. I was a player of backyard football and flashlight tag, a rider of ten speed bikes at great velocity. I was the kind of kid with ice cream on his face on hot summer days and extra mini marshmallows in his hot cocoa in the deep chills of winter. I was just like everyone else. Food was a joy, not a burden. But, there was something percolating inside of me, there was a darkness within.

Should you take a look at me today you probably wouldn’t think of me as being overweight at all. But, things were different once. At one point, back in middle school, I was the fat kid. I was the kid who had to walk the mile in gym class, not run, and it took me the whole hour to do it. In high school I lost a lot of that weight, or really I grew taller and the weight distributed itself more evenly. But, I still remembered those days as an obese adolescent.

The last few years of high school were a time of bulimia, secret clandestine purging sessions after meals. My stomach didn’t look like a washboard and that pissed me off. Brad Pitt had a washboard stomach and I wanted one too.

Throughout the many years after high school the weight came back, more than ever before. Just two years ago, when I arrived here at UMB, I topped out at 287 pounds. Anorexia became the norm. I came to school, did my homework, and went to bed. Mixed in somewhere was just enough food to sustain life. By the end of the school year, a mere 8 months later, I had lost a total of 137 pounds. When I looked at myself in the mirror I looked like a skeleton with a sheet draped over it, skin and bones, literally. Still, it was not enough. It didn’t matter what I looked like, it was how I felt that mattered, and I still felt fat. I still felt broken.

I started eating again and gained some of the weight back. Now I look and feel healthier than I have in a long time. There have been moments since those days that it all comes back. I’ve been eating, not vomiting, but still not all is right. There are still times that those same feelings hit me. There are times, as I eat, that I think about the way you view me. There are days that a handful of Doritos makes me think about my love handles. There are times when something as healthy as an apple makes me think about the tiny bits of extra flesh that hang from my arms. It is constant struggle, one that countless people around you face each and every day. It is a way of existence that I have been living through nearly a third of my life. I have an eating disorder.