I was struck by a viral infection that rendered me housebound for the better part of November, with only enough energy to sleep a lot and eat a little. I'll say that again. Eat A LITTLE. Up to now, I still can't quite believe that I went through a period of time not feeling like eating. Not wanting food, or needing it, or loving it, or having any kind of emotion about it. This, to state the obvious (something that I like to do every now and then), was uncharacteristic of me. It had never happened, in fact. I've felt worse in the past and have actually been sick with gastroenteritis (which I believe is God's punishment for eating indiscriminately). But even during that hellish period of alternating nausea and diarrhea punctuated by 3 needle shots, I still found in me the will to eat. For about one week last month, I lost it. I lost the will to eat.
This is how it happened. My loving, generous mother came home from Hong Kong bearing the gift of Zhen de Shou, a Chinese herbal supplement that purportedly helps one lose weight. My mom, bless her, had taken it upon herself to help us, her three daughters, lose weight. Not that we were begging for help. In fact, not that we were trying to lose weight either. Well, maybe my two sisters. Kinda. It's just that my mother is one of those people who believe that people are more beautiful when they're not fat. She thinks we're beautiful, yes. But I think she believes that we'd be downright ravishing if only we lost a bit of weight (in my case, a LOT of weight). I don't have the heart to tell her that being downright ravishing requires not just a certain weight but also a certain mien, an oomph that not everyone who's beautiful and thin may have. (Case in point, Lani Mercado, objectively a beautiful woman but, also objectively, about as 3D, sexy, and ravishing as a thumb tack). I just don't have that oomph. Maybe my sisters. But me? Not so much.
But when your mother brings home a month's worth of herbal supplements that cost quite a bit of money, you do not say no. You do not go into a pseudo-feminist rant about restrictive standards of beauty. Instead, you say, "Ok. Thanks, Mama. Love you. This doesn't have side effects naman, di ba?" And even though you rarely pray these days, you say a quick but heartfelt prayer that this works. If not for you, then for your mom. Who's obviously desperate about YOUR weight.
So I took them pills for three days. And on the 3rd day, God created Bochog's Loss of Appetite, a state or condition characterised by a lassitude that cannot be accounted for by a simple viral infection. Such lassitude includes an alarming apathy towards food and a similar disinterest in any kind of activity that constitutes the concept of LIVING. I did not feel like moving, dreaming, thinking, eating. I did not feel like doing anything.
The Loss of Appetite terrified me and prompted me to quit taking the pills and go to the hospital. The doctors at the hospital thought it was just another symptom of the viral infection. But when I asked my sisters, they said they were also feeling the same inertia. Mine was just worse because I was already sick with the viral thingy (I just didn't know it). I think also that my experience was worse because you do not go from thinking the world of food to not having any kind of thought or feeling about it in zero seconds flat. That just doesn't happen. Needless to say, my sisters quit too. And Ate My urged Mama to stop taking the pills. Turns out, Mama was feeling those things too. Except she was attributing them to high BP. When Ate My told her what happened, she realized it was those bleeding Zhen de Shou supplements. They make you lose weight, all right. They do it by making you lose your joie de vivre and turning you into a zombie. Or an anorexic trapped in the body of a fat girl. To which I say, no thanks. I'd rather be fat, passably pretty, and happy. I don't need to be thin and drop dead gorgeous.
So now we have around a dozen unopened boxes of those blasted pills. I'm not even going to give them to anyone. They're horrible. My sisters and I have never been so happy about quitting anything. Quitting those pills was like quitting sadness. And I'll always quit that.