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Greetings all. I am a compulsive overeater.

I started to eat when I was 8 (I'm 22 now). My brother had just been transferred to another school and I came home to an empty house after school. I discovered I liked watching TV instead of playing outside and downing bowl after bowl of ice cream and entire loaves of buttered toast.

Until then, I had been a slim child of average athletic ability. After that, no more. I began failing fitness tests and dreading phys.ed. class. Parents were appalled at the double chin, swollen cheeks, and potbelly that appeared.

Dozens of times my parents tried to force me on a diet. I persisted. Nothing gave me as much pleasure as the foods I liked. And for all my parents' protestations, they did not cease to purchase the chips, ice cream, cookies, and cakes I devoured. Ostensibly the snack foods were for the entire family but I ate most of it.

My mother in particular was very hostile to my new overweightedness. "You used to be such a cute boy," she would say, "why can't you be like that again?". Translation: you are ugly and will be ugly as long as you are fat and despicable. And that is how I felt, perverted and unlovable.

She would call me a "barrel" and often got angry if I merely walked in front of her, saying I was to go on a diet THIS INSTANT! Nothing doing. I was made to feel a lot of guilt for eating, but I couldn't stop. I did not want to stop.

By the end of Grade 4, I weighed 65 pounds. The end of Grade 6 saw me at 87 pounds. In Grade 9, I was 130 pounds; in grade 10; 150. By age 18 I clocked up to 190 pounds, now I shoulder 210. This is for a short man (5'5"). Weight charts list me anywhere from 110-150 pounds, i.e. I am 60-100 pounds overweight.

I come from an immigrant culture where fat children are all but unknown (the old country being a poor one). Many times relatives have stared at me in shocked disbelief, as if I had been stricken with leprosy or something. Comments about my greed, laziness, lack of discipline etc. are routine, down to the present day.

My family has a strong history of diabetes, whose risk is genetically carried and is greatly increased by obesity. My father lost his eyesight, his teeth, his job, his freedom, and his self-respect and purpose in life to diabetes. Not even the risk of contracting this terrible disease myself has made me stop.

I am completely out of control. I go for days, even weeks at a time without eating a single vegetable. I eat most of my meals in restaurants, finding there a glamour unmatched by my own cooking. I keep telling myself to cook a meal, but lack the mental strength to do so. I go to restaurants with heed only to taste, not nutrition; pigging out desperately at buffets, eating double burgers soaked in oil, wolfing down huge quantities of pasta.

I know the damage this is doing to my body but cannot summon the energy to stop. I have gone to four different OA meetings but do not feel at home there as I do in the 12-step group I attend for my other addiction, which I won't go into.

I hate to see myself in the mirror. I avoid being in a photograph or video. I am deeply ashamed of the way I look. I never wear shorts and am self-conscious even with a T-shirt. Firmly convinced I am ugly and utterly undesirable, I never date or have anything to do with the opposite sex.

And so I continue on this path, miserable, and alone.

Oasis, May 30, 1996