My First Time

The first time it happened I was 21 and as slim as ever.
I had been invited to run the local franchise for a computer school for kids. It was fascinating. I put the university’s semester on hold and went for it with all the enthusiasm one could master.

I did everything: from getting the proper permissions from the City Hall to overseeing the construction work for the school at the local shopping mall. I approved layouts, procured furniture and computers, hired the staff, took care of the marketing and sales plans, managed the finances. I made the school operational and launched it. It was a struggle to put the first 3 classes together, but we did it. Being a general manager this early was one of the greatest experiences in my life.

However, there was the owner. He seemed like a nice enough guy. I was recommended to him by a common friend, so I didn’t check his background. Granted, I was also still very naive at that time.
After a few months into the school operations, he stopped the cash flow. We couldn't honour our PO’s to most suppliers, except for the absolutely essential ones. He couldn't care less and started telling me about what vendors could be pushed further. He would say: let them sue us if they want.
After a while, we didn’t have enough to pay the staff salaries, or my own.
That’s when I decided to check on him: the guy was being sued by the government and three different banks, not counting numerous vendors.
I confronted him and, after a couple of weeks, he had fired me along with most of my staff. Salaries were 3 months due.

There I was, nine months into it and feeling empty handed. I had lost two whole semesters and had my graduation postponed. Back then I couldn't see it was still worth it. That experience helped shaping me as a professional and is one of the reasons I got to be successful.
Nevertheless I was completely stressed out. I got seriously depressed.
In a single week, without eating anything extra, I put on 9 kilos. Yes! In a single week.

I lost almost all my clothes. I couldn't recognize myself in the mirror or any other reflecting surfaces. I would walk on the street across a shop window and it would take me a while to recognize the chubby girl reflected there as myself.
A friend recommended me a wholesale outlet where I could get some good and cheap new clothes (not much money around back then). I got 3 short stretch pants and several loose shirts, and got on with my life. This time, teaching at another computer school in the evening and keeping to my university classes during the day.

It took me two years to get back in shape again. And when I think back, I know it only happened when I started to feel happy once more.
As I did not bother going to a doctor to find out what had happened, I couldn't understand that stress and depression could get one to gain that much weight in such a short period of time.
But it happened again 7 years later, while I was working for Microsoft. Actually, during my years working there, it happened 3 times. In total, I put on 26 kilos.

Only last year, 15 years after that first episode, I learned from different doctors that stress and depression will lower one’s metabolism to almost nothing, as well as causing a condition called insulin resistance, which prevents you from getting thinner – no matter how much you exercise or how little you eat – as well as getting you infertile. So, no more babies for me until it is fixed.

Tragic? I don’t think so.
I’m happy. I’m full of energy and excitement.
And I’ve lived through enough challenges to accumulate a wealth of experience that very little people have at my age. Even though I still seem to lack enough wisdom at times. :)

I only have about 10 kilos to go now. The magic Lebanese herbs are working wonders.
Time gets things into perspective. And I still have plenty of it to get anywhere I want.