The Heartbreaking Reason My 600-Lb. Life's Samantha First Began Overeating

The premiere of TLC's My 600-lb. Life aired Wednesday night with the dramatic story of Samantha Mason, a single mom from Colorado whose eating habits are threatening her life. The show follows the long and often difficult efforts of men and women trying to lose hundreds of pounds through surgeries and lifestyle changes, led by Houston surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan (Dr. Now). The weight-loss specialist performs gastric operations that shrink the size of patients' stomachs, making it easier for them to lose weight by eating very little. 

Samantha gives viewers an inside look at her life. She lives alone in a second-floor apartment where she can barely get herself out of bed. At 800+ pounds, she finds it difficult to bathe herself more than every four days because of the effort it takes to get into the bathroom. She has most of her meals delivered, and they consist of such fare as Chinese noodles, burritos, and cookies. 

Samantha's chosen career doesn't help her situation: After losing a job in social work because of her size, she began earning money by making fetish videos. She films herself eating her favorite foods (such as an entire carrot cake), and she earns money for the views. "It makes me feel appreciated," she explains.

It turns out, Samantha's past goes a long way toward explaining her extreme weight gain.

Samantha turned to food to cope with her life's tragedies

In her candid interview, Samantha reveals the truth behind her painful childhood. Her parents' marriage fell apart when she was five years old because of her father's alcohol abuse and his violence toward their mother during his binges. She began eating for comfort, and by age 7, she already weighed 150 pounds. When her mother went to nursing school to earn a better living for her family, Samantha was sent to live with her father for a year. Her dad and new stepmom restricted her meals in an effort to keep her weight down, but Samantha rebelled by splurging when she was with her mother. "I didn't want to be told what to eat," she explained.

This set the stage for a lifetime of unhealthy eating and steady weight gain; by high school, she weighed 400 pounds. She dropped out of school at 17, and almost immediately became pregnant by her then-boyfriend. They broke up shortly after daughter Bella was born, by which time Mason's weight had ratcheted up to 500 pounds. 

Then came the biggest heartache of all: Her father was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. Once again, Samantha turned to food to fill the hole, and the habit only became worse over time. "Food can fill me up and give me comfort," she says in the debut episode. "No matter how much I eat, it's never enough."