Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels…
Where there’s a will there’s a way…
If you want it bad enough, you’ll do anything…
I grew up hearing these phrases, repeating them in my head over and over again, and applying them to my dieting. All my life, I’ve dieted, starved myself. Binged, purged, gave up, tried again. I’ve been on dozens of diets from Weight Watchers to Slim Fast to Keto. I’ve lost weight. Ten pounds. Twenty. Even eighty pounds. Sometimes I’ve kept weight off for a while. But I’ve always gained it back plus more.
Maybe I just have no willpower. Maybe I just suck as a person. Maybe I’m meant to be fat.
I can remember knowing, even as young as five years old, that my body wasn’t right. That I was chubby. I needed to lose five pounds. In elementary school, I knew I needed to lose ten pounds. And in middle school, I needed to lose twenty pounds. I was fat. Ugly. My body was wrong. Undesireable. I wasn’t good enough.
All my life, there was an awareness that I wasn’t as good as other people because of my weight. If I could just lose enough weight, maybe I could trick other people into believing I was as good as them. But I could never quite lose the weight. Sometimes I got close. But not close enough. And so I had to settle for bad relationships. Unfulfilling jobs. People who took advantage of me. Because I was just a substandard kind of person.
I’ve been through enough therapy to know that my depression, anxiety and weight issues are all interconnected, but I’ve never quite been able to untangle all the mess. With the help of a very patient psychiatric nurse practioner, I have managed to find a concoction of antidepressants and medications to keep my mood stabalized enough to function without crippling anxiety and OCD.
Recently, however, I was willing to throw all that away because I wanted to lose some weight. You see, I blamed my antidepressant for making me fat. Since taking my medication (and some other lifestyle changes) I’d gained 60 pounds, and I was desperate to lose it. So desperate, that I was willing to risk my mental health. I was willing to risk spiraling back down into that black hole I’d been in a few years ago when I actually had an “exit plan” to leave this life behind. I was willing to return to the crippling anxiety that made it difficult for me to leave my house.
Because being fat isn’t just about the health risks. It isn’t just about having a big butt or flabby arms. Being fat is about feeling constantly unworthy. It’s about not fitting in the airplane seat. It’s about bracing yourself for the weight lecture at the doctor’s office when you go in for something as routine as a sore throat. It’s about not being taken seriously by your physician when you complain about chronic pain and being told that you just need to lose weight, so you ignore symptoms until it’s too late. It’s about being embarrassed to draw attention to yourself, so you keep quiet and don’t stand up for yourself. It’s about missed opportunities, lost chances, regrets. It’s about so much more than a number on a scale.
I cut my antidepressant dose in half with the intention of stopping it altogether, but then I said, “Fuck it.” Why should I roll the dice with my depression just so I can reach a certain number on the scale? I need my medication, dammit.
Maybe my weight or weight-related issues will kill me. But is that worse than dying at my own hand? Is losing ten or twenty or even sixty pounds worth it if I live a miserable, depressed, anxious existence?
Some would probably say I’m choosing wrong. That I should put my physical health ahead of mental health. Or I should eat right and exercise, and my mental health will re-align (Keto-vangelists, I’m looking at you). Some will surely say it’s mind over matter. And if that’s your opinion, that’s fine, but keep it to yourself.
No fat-shaming comments here, please. I’ve had enough of that for the past 49 years, thanks.
7 thoughts on “Not Just Fat”
OMG! YES!!! Being fat is almost an identity – I have actually had conversations with people about that – how instead of identifying as female, or white, or straight, my first identity is fat and then goes from there and how it colors/influences everything. You mentioned doctors ignoring symptoms, my mother-in-law’s mother died of cancer because she was “too fat” and so her doctor at the time would do nothing to even look at her symptoms except say “lose weight” until it was too late to do anything about it. My Father-in-law had a similar issue, when he started losing his appetite, a big sign of something wrong, instead of checking him out the doctors patted him on the back for dropping pounds – until he died a year later (but, boy, was he finally thin!). But, you know what? If other people have a problem with fat then f*** them. Your mental health IS important! In fact, without good mental health, how are you supposed to have the energy for that exercise, or the desire to “eat healthy” etc. etc. I’ve been on a diabetic diet for over a year (it got a bit off track during the first months of this pandemic thanks to depression but it’s back on track) and though I have not exercised as much as I wanted to, I have still managed in all that time to lose 8 pounds. Wowie. My doctor gave me a soft accusation that I’m lying about what/how much I eat, but when i reiterated i have it all logged on my app and was happy to show him, he dropped it. But it makes me feel like why bother when even the doctor can’t tell. Why go through the hassle of measuring and weighing everything, of balancing out meals, of all the planning and calculating, of logging it in, when the results are basically zero and everyone says I must be lying because if I wasn’t, I would have results? Like soda – I used to drink probably a 2 liter a day. Everyone said if I quit it, the pounds would melt off. Guess what I lost? Nothing. Not one pound. That was six years ago and I now I don’t like soda (it is so, so, so sickeningly sweet) but unless those 8 pounds were a delayed reaction five years later, nada. However, I do feel better after I got rid of the soda, so that makes it worth it, but the rest of it – I feel no different, see no difference, and it’s just so f****ing frustrating. I’m ready to join a fat only commune and tell the rest of the world where to go, and frankly I’d rather have you alive than so, so skinny and dead!
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You totally get it!!! There are so many layers to the fat “problem.”
Losing weight, for me, is possible. I’ve done it before. When I was younger, it was easier. Unfortunately, I have a lot of unhealthy habits and ways of thinking. I had bulemia as a teen and those very dangerous thoughts are always just under the surface. Dieting, for me, can easily become an all-consuming obsession. But so can food. And depending on my level of depression, my relationship with food and my body can switch very rapidly. Now that I’m older and my hormones are weird it’s a little harder to lose weight. Exercise is also more difficult with a broken bone in my foot that I need to deal with (probably with surgery at some point) and a messed up back.
When I go to the doctor, I’m completely honest about how much I eat and what I eat. I tell them I eat badly when I eat badly. (I don’t always eat badly – sometimes I’m on a super healthy kick.) I tell them I binge when I’m depressed and anxious. (This is why I’m taking medication to manage those symtoms.) My thyroid isn’t messed up. My blood sugar and A1C are perfect. I’m fat because I often make bad food choices and because I’ve always been fat my entire life. I still deserve to be listened to by a doctor.
But I was SO infuriated reading about what your family went through!!! That is so typical of the way fat people are dismissed by the medical community. There have been numerous studies and articles written about how overweight people have received substandard care, have received lectures instead of testing, and are less likely to be sent out to specialists. It is absolute bullshit. No wonder obese people supposedly have shortened lifespans – it’s probably due to doctors being completely neglegent. I even read an article recently about some practices refusing to take new patients with certain BMIs.
I’ll join the commune with you!
I struggled with weight as a teen, and it was definitely a self-esteem issue. I think it’s even worse for teens nowadays, with all the pressure to look perfect online and collect likes.
On a happier note, I’ve just downloaded your book The Seance. I love a YA paranormal story, having dabbled myself when I was younger!
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Thanks for buying The Seance, Annabelle. I hope you like it.
I can’t imagine being a teen today. It’s incredibly rough. My oldest daughter was tormented so badly as a freshman that I ended up homeschooling her for the duration of high school. Like you said, everything nowadays revolves around social media and image. Back when I was a teen, at least you could turn everything off. Once we got off the bus and went home, we could tune it all out. We could choose not to answer the phone (only one phone in the house and it was in the kitchen). Now, kids have their own personal cell that they’re connected to 24/7. Social media follows them home from school. Friends and enemies can text them, message them on Facebook, Tweet them, or Snapchat them with mean comments. It never stops. The pressure must be enormous.
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I know – I wouldn’t be young today for anything.
I’ve started reading The Seance and I’m totally gripped! I’ll leave a review when I’ve finished it.
Thank you for sharing this. I heard someone once describe me as “the pretty fat girl.” I’m still not sure what about that description makes me so angry but I feel like it’s insulting on many levels. Would I not be pretty if I was of average weight (is that like saying I’m pretty for a fat girl) or should I be grateful that I’m considered pretty despite the fact that I’m fat? Weight has not been one of the major struggles of my life so I won’t pretend that I’ve experienced a lot of fat-shaming, but I think that description stands out to me now because I was actually 30 pounds lighter than I am now when I heard it. Most of the people I encounter don’t focus on my weight and for that, I’m blessed. Still, I can relate to having to choose between mental health, and sometimes physical health, and being thinner. I’ve been told many times that “I’m not that fat” and if I just “do this” for a little while I’ll lose some weight and be better off. Most of the time, though, what I have “to do” isn’t healthy for me in the long run. I think I could lose a lot of weight in a relatively short time, but I don’t know what side effects would come with that. If I’m really “not that fat” then why can’t I just be where I am? Why do I need to lose weight?
Honestly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Even if the beholder is yourself!
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