“My 600 Lb. Life” continues its season 5 tonight, Wednesday March 8 on TLC, with the story of Tanisha Cleveland, 32. A resident of Texas – which will make the trip to see Dr. Now relatively easy – Tanisha is going down a long dark tunnel and it seems like it’s Groundhog Day.
The mother of two has had a rough life which resulted in her turning to food for comfort and control. We all know about the comfort side of it, but many patients on “My 600 Lb. Life” related stories of trauma and fear that colored their existence as children. Tanisha is no exception to that. RECAP posted below.
Her mother made her feel unsafe in her own home as a kid, with what are called “strange” men constantly in and out. She was molested by one of them, and going to her grandmother’s brought more molestation. To add to her childhood of horrors as a young teen she was raped by a stranger and her mother wouldn’t believe her.
She took care of her own mother, also morbidly obese and with a drug addiction to boot. By age 24, Tanisha weighed close to 500 lbs., but as we’ve seen with other patients on the show, she didn’t have trouble getting pregnant. She gave birth to her first child before she was 16. Then a second baby came in her twenties. She has a husband named Troy, who is her daily nurse, bather and as Dr. Now will call him, her enabler. After reaching 600 lbs. she made the choice to change things and was promptly derailed by her mother’s death at the young age of 50.
It was made clear to Tanisha that the cause of death was connected to being obese for many years. The clock began ticking for the daughter who saw the life pattern of despair happening again with her own children. That’s when she got into the program run by Dr. Nowzaradan in Houston. In the sneak peek video below, Tanisha has already been to Dr. Now’s office and just lost the man in her life. We’ve heard all the excuses before, and know that it is only strength of will and determination that can get these patients to break the habits of a lifetime.
Circle on back for a recap of the episode tomorrow after it airs.
Well, this was quite a stunning episode. We learned Tanisha’s full history of abuse and trauma, but it dribbled out little by little. Early on she told us that she’d been molested by her grandfather after she fled her mother’s house.
Only later, during the scene with the therapist did she reveal the extent of it. It went on for years. When she wasn’t safe with the grandparents she tripped back to mom’s where one of her many boyfriends assaulted her. If she tried to stay out of the house as a young teen, bad things followed. She was raped by a boy and went home to her mother for comfort. Not only didn’t she get it, but mom thought she was lying and blamed her if it occurred at all.
The therapist tied the eating to all of it, including the night-time binges. She told Tanisha to forgive herself for whatever part she thought she played in all of it, because she was a victim, not an active participant. The appointment was made well past one year into the process with Dr. Nowzaradan.
This was a first for “My 600 Lb. Life”. We hadn’t seen an episode that followed a patient for two years, but Tanisha broke the mold. Her personal life wasn’t lonely like many of the patients on the show. She was surrounded by two daughters, a husband at first, then a boyfriend, and cousins with their own kids.
This was about a woman who couldn’t live with a strict diet, even though she was approaching 600 lbs. and saw her mom die when she reached the 700 lb. mark. Tanisha’s anger at Dr. Now for refusing to operate on her went deep, and only after she gained 41 lbs. in a few months did she realize that her two choices were dieting or death.
She has the sweetest young daughter who got her hopes up when her mom began with Dr. Now and lost enough to start walking outdoors to watch her play in the pool. That little girl thought she was the reason her mom was morbidly obese and in fear for life. It wasn’t until her mom let her off the hook that she felt better.
After finally getting with the program,. more than 18 months after she began with Dr. Now did she get her operation. It is always surprising to watch the doctor during the procedure and see the size of someone’s internal organs when they are extremely obese.
At the end of two years, Tanisha had dropped more than 100 lbs. and was going out with her boyfriend and being a better parent to her youngest child. She was stubborn, but ultimately realized there was no other choice. A tough episode to watch, but a very human one. We’re not all programmed to stick to something that taps into our biggest emotional fears, especially when we’re unaware of how they affect us.
“My 600 Lb. Life” airs Wednesdays beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT on TLC. Image/video credit: TLC, used with permission