Personal Triumphs and Cruising.
Phew. This is an emotional story for me. It’s causing me grief just trying to write about it. Ok, deep breath, here goes…
For more than a decade I’ve been really sick. Like frequent flier miles at the ER sick. Not knowing what it’s like to go a day without vomiting sick. Coughing up blood on the regular sick. Doing laps at the ICU sick. You get it. At one point I looked up and I was on an ignorant amount of meds and was over 430lbs. I was in pain. I stopped sleeping. I was miserable, I wanted to die.
On top of feeling like garbage, I was getting loads of hate. Both online and in the real world. If I wasn’t catching a verbal beatdown online, I was getting verbally abused by my employers, coworkers and friends. I was once introduced by my boss “This is Sean, our Creative Director and one fat f**k.” At one point a coworker took my picture, printed it on a DVD cover and called it Fat F**k, volume 1 and handed it out to people. A friend used to have all of my emails go to a folder called Grimace. He thought it was funny to say I looked like the purple pear shaped McDonald’s character. He used to say, “oh I must have missed your email, let me check the grimmie folder.” I have mountains of hate mail from randoms on Youtube starting or ending with Fat F**k. People aren’t very creative.
So mix rapid weight gain of 5 – 10lbs a week, severe anxiety and a mounting depression from the hate and you have a recipe for disaster. November 2016, we had just wrapped a convention and Stef and I decided to visit nearby Disneyland. Late our first night my blood sugar dropped to 47, normal for me was 99-104ish, I thought I was going to die. Everything was in slow motion. I panicked. I shook. The pain, the worry. The fear that I just ruined Stef’s life. The realization that I had way more to do and much more life to live with Stef.
I had a choice, I could let this thing kill me and be free. Be free from the terrible things strangers and friends say to me every day. Be free of the ER, the scans, the misdiagnoses, the doctors who don’t care, the self loathing, the pain. I had a free way out. I didn’t even have to end my own life, the universe was going to do it for me. This was a free pass. I could just disappear into the ether.
Wait. What? No. I looked at Stef and couldn’t do that to her. Couldn’t do that to me, to us. That’s when she and I decided to make a change. For almost two years she and I researched the hell out of everything. Came up with our own health plans. After many trials and fails, I’m down over 200lbs and still going.
All of this leads up to our 11th Anniversary Cruise on the Norwegian Getaway. We just returned from the trip two days ago. I was able to experience things I’ve not been physically able or allowed to do for more than 15 years and I was able to do it all in the span of one week. To quote Vinnie Jones, “It’s been emotional.”
I’ve been able to conquer and address many fears and physical limitations this week, I’ll never forget this trip and I owe it all to going on a cruise.
Fear of Being the Fat F**k That Everyone Calls Me
Our very first adventure was parasailing. An event that starts with a thrill and ends with a feeling of total peace and tranquility. But for someone who has been called a fat f**k for most of his life, it all starts with a bit of fear. I’ve got to get on a very public scale in front of a boat full of people. Yep, there’s no lying about your weight when you go parasailing and everyone gets to see. 18 months ago this situation would have killed me. “Ok brother, you’re good to go.” Um what? No laughing? No judgment? No ‘sorry, we don’t make a parachute that strong?’ I can actually go? Wait, really? I get to do this?? Oh.. Cool cool cool.. Well then that leads to my:
Fear of Heights
I hate heights. HATE HEIGHTS. Yeah I love roller coasters, I’m a coaster freak. But there’s a reason I love indoor and launched coasters…
Fear of Bad Engineering / Unsafe Situations
Fear of Enclosed Spaces
Mentally and emotionally I’ll probably always be that fat f**k. That’s a constant struggle that hasn’t gone away. It’s OK, I’m a WIP and I’m happy with the forward momentum.
In this past week I was able to zip line across 4 lines – one of which was so windy that I had to pull myself up the line – all while others were watching and waiting, complete a precarious ropes course and soar through the air all while dealing with the fact that I’m no longer too fat to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do. I conquered the hate and dealt with my fear of heights, enclosed spaces and questionable engineering. Most importantly I went out and did the things people said I couldn’t do, wouldn’t ever be able to do. I conquered the fear of being the person I was told I was. I’m not that person. Thanks to cruising I was able to live life, face my fears and expand my boundaries all in a matter of days. Most importantly I was able to share this experience with the love of my life. Happy Anniversary, Stef. This is one that I’ll never forget.
Sean Mullen is a Travel Filmmaker, Vlogger, VFX Artist, Brand Ambassador and the CEO & Lead Designer of Rampant Design, Inc. He is a 3 Time Emmy Award Winner and former Walt Disney World Monorail Pilot. Sean is married to the AMAZING Stef IRL.