Last night, I was watching a season seven episode of The Office to wind down after completing and submitting my last paper of the term. The episode I happened to choose was “Goodbye Michael”—Steve Carell’s last episode.
Will Ferrell is in that one. He plays Deangelo Vickers, Michael’s short-lived replacement. His character is a “recovering fatty,” so to speak, that supposedly lost 200 lbs. by practicing “portion control.”
Even though I’m an Office superfan and I’ve, admittedly, binge-watched all nine seasons on more than one go-around, I forgot that tiny little detail.
Throughout the couple of episodes Will Ferrell guest stars in, they make subtle jokes about his former fatty status, and I suppose that as far as fat jokes go, they were pretty tasteful. As I was watching what was meant to be a funny sketch of Ferrell’s character about midway through the episode, however, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
In the sketch, Deangelo is sitting in the Dunder Mifflin break room in front of the vending machines. There’s a short little voiceover in which he says the following:
I used to be obese. Once you’ve conquered obesity, everything else is easy. Life literally moves in slow motion. I’m not saying I’m Superman, but let me just put it this way—if I were shot in the head, I’m pretty sure everything would be fine. I almost welcome it.
As he’s saying this, he turns around to look longingly at the snack vending machine, even going so far as to caress the portion of the glass in front of the Hershey bar. Once he finishes his little caress, he puts his head in his hands and pinches the bridge of his nose.
A short while later, the camera pans a closeup of an empty Hershey wrapper and an empty “marshmallow treat” wrapper alongside the coffee pot. Deangelo is using the coffee pot to melt the chocolate and marshmallow treats together. As Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) walks into the room, Deangelo is surprised and notably embarrassed, so he quickly throws the hot treat into the garbage.
It’s the moment every binge eater fears: the moment of discovery.
I didn’t think so either.
“… If I were shot in the head, I’m pretty sure everything would be fine. I almost welcome it.”
Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt like almost anything would be better than dealing with the food demons? Have you ever felt like this was never going to get better or easier or even just tolerable?
It’s all fun and games on sitcoms—I get that. I get that this was a sketch and that it was supposed to be funny and whatnot… but I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t look at that whole thing and think of myself.
Sometimes I just can’t get a grip on my emotions. I don’t know if I’ve always been this way and I just simply didn’t notice it before because I was self-medicating with food, or if this is a new development—a dilemma brought on by the drastic and life-altering change that I’m going through.
Either way, it’s physically exhausting to try to just reign in my emotions.
I know that I am a recovering food addict. For the rest of my life, I know that this is a battle that I’m going to have to fight. I know that when I get to goal, my life isn’t suddenly going to be perfect—my cravings and compulsions and desires to stuff a whole pizza down my throat aren’t going to waver.
The trick is learning how to overcome the cravings and the compulsions and desires because there’s no getting rid of them—not totally.
This is my life. This will be my life forever.
I know this.
But it SUCKS.