Just Call Me Fat

Why is “fat” such a taboo word? Having a large amount of excess flesh tells you nothing about who someone actually is. “Fat” is just an adjective after all – as is “slim” or “skinny”. But slim, or skinny, is an aspirational thing; society is all about becoming thinner, becoming a size dictated by both peer pressure and medical professionals. I was slim once, but I was miserable because the labels on my clothes didn’t gloriously proclaim “SIZE 12”. My unhappiness came largely from a deep-rooted, even indoctrinated, belief that I should be skinny. A belief that SlimFast drinks and not a lot else was the key to happiness and even success.

Looking at photos from five-ish years ago, I now see an ill person. I look gaunt, tired – and significantly thinner than I remember being. And I really was unwell. Those photos are a snapshot of the earliest and worst days of my struggles with mental illness, when I was manic and working 60+ hours a week, sleeping maybe three hours every third day and barely eating enough just to stop me from passing out. I was running my poor body and mind at 100mph on the few mouthfuls of food I threw down my throat when the stomach pains became impossible to ignore. My frame, build and size looked healthy to anyone who didn’t know of my battle with psychosis, mania and undiagnosed borderline personality disorder. But the way I’d reached this ‘beautiful’ body was toxic.

Still, back then I felt FAT – a bad word to me at the time. When I sat down, my stomach folded into soft little rolls. My thighs still rubbed when I walked. If I didn’t pose carefully for pictures, my jaw line would look so rounded that I couldn’t share the photos for fear of being considered ugly, or even a bad person because I wasn’t ‘perfect’. My mind was rebelling – being perceived as fat, even if only by myself, fuelled the fire. Compliments from friends would roll right off me. To my eyes I was FAT FAT FAT, and I was miserable; my mind was judging my body and seeing it entirely wrong.

I started on anti-psychotic and mood stabilising medications, and my psyche began to heal. As I recovered, thanks to these drugs and some hard work, I slowed down – the weight started to accumulate around my stomach and hips. It’s fairly common to gain weight on many psychiatric medications, but I hated that the body I already considered fat at size 14 was growing and growing. I felt judged, even though no one outside of my own brain was judging me. Life had taught me to see my roundness as a defect; fat was synonymous with ugly, gross, and faulty.

I’m a size 20 now, and I finally feel comfortable – and authentic – as I am. It’s a sharp contrast to the me of five years ago who looked so slim, fit and healthy but was breaking on the inside. Now my mind is recovering more each day and I’m able to love the body that carries it. My moonish belly, my chubby face, my wobbly, curvy bum – they are all beautiful. The size I am now is the result of my power to fight and survive the mental illness that has almost cost me my life on several occasions.

So, when you see a fat human, try to pause the societal judgements and see that the extra curves, pot bellies and double chins don’t define or dictate a person’s worth, self-confidence, or even their validity. Happiness is more than a size tag in your jeans – bigger, or smaller. Beauty is more than the number on the scales. And human is more than a BMI; under, over or spot-on target, every body is home to a person and no person should be judged by the wonderful vessel that carries them through their life.

 

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Just Call Me Fat

Back From Hiatus

No ‘proper’ post from me just yet – that’s in the works to catch all you lovely readers up on my life. This is a little promotion for a project I’m lucky enough to be involved with, that is now officially live. It was born of the idea that everyone has a ‘Quiet Voice’ in their head that plagues them with things they couldn’t admit out loud. Quiet Voices gives an outlet to that voice. Just type it in and send it away.

It’s all anonymous, no account needed. Check us out at http://www.quietvoicesspeak.com

 

Back From Hiatus

I Am A Human, Not An Object.

Dear Train Station Guy,

I was feeling really beautiful today. Make up was perfect, and I felt confident enough to wear my favourite red dress. I’ve been losing weight and haven’t felt able to wear that dress in a long time. It’s been a long road back to being myself again.

It was hard to miss you on the platform – you were loudly complaining to the station staff about the delays and my spidey-senses were tingling with that ‘trouble’ vibe. I moved further down the platform. I’m not the best in busy public spaces as it is.

You approached me. I’m a nice person, so when you said “Hi,” I said it back. It’s important to me to be friendly, because the world sucks sometimes and a smile can make a huge difference. But then you started undressing me with your eyes.

“You’re pretty nice,” you said, slowly trailing your gaze from my feet to my cleavage.

You were about 6’3” and a fair few stone heavier than me.

I felt vulnerable. I looked around for anyone to rescue me, but no one was paying attention. And why would they? The words themselves weren’t red-flag words.

Taking a deep, steady breath I said, “Thank you, but I’m married.”

I shouldn’t have to justify my unwillingness to engage with you by my marital status.

“He’s a very lucky man,” you said, talking to my breasts. Then you left.

I felt naked. I felt small.

I felt scared.

You’ve probably already forgotten about that brief chat with me. But I haven’t. And I probably won’t.

I Am A Human, Not An Object.

Medication Tolerance

It’s been a rough few weeks. I’ve been very depressed, which is unusual for me – normally my moods are like the wind and a low spell doesn’t last that long. This has been different, a pervasive malaise that just won’t shift for longer than a few hours. I wish I could pin it down to one thing that I could fix, but I just think I’m going to have to ride it out now. This morning feels a little better, but I’m not hopeful that it’ll hold; maybe that’s a self-defeating attitude.

I’m actually wondering about my medications now, and if I’ve somehow developed a tolerance to them. Research online shows this is definitely possible, but because it seems so counter-intuitive I’m being stubbon about it. Thinking logically I can see that tolerance is demonstrated in the way side effects tend to pass within the first few weeks of starting a medication. For example, when I started on my antidepressant – sertraline – I had a feeling akin to travel sickness for about ten days, but that passed – I developed a tolerance to it. So now, is it possible that the tolerance has extended, after three years, to the beneficial effects of the drug?

I’d like to be able to ask my psychiatrist about it, but she’s on leave this week, and I’m not due an appointment with her until June. Plus, I hate to feel like I’m being a ‘bother’. It’s the oddest thing. I know I need to ask the question and see if she can help, but minimising things is so ingrained into my psyche now that I consider even the smallest requests for help as an indication of my ‘drama queen’ status. Even though I’m really the last person to make a fuss, I worry that I’ll be seen as an attention seeker. Maybe that is part of the borderline stigma. Maybe it’s because people with limited knowledge of the disorder tend to see sufferers as melodramatic and manipulative. Whatever the reason, it’s a thought I just can’t get over.

I really want to feel better. I can’t see the light of hope that it’ll ever happen right now.

Medication Tolerance

Serotonin Syndrome and Reaching Out

Today is a week since I wound up in the hospital with serotonin syndrome, and I am still struggling with keeping my head above water. They said that I should expect some low-mood as a consequence; serotonin syndrome is caused by too much of the happy hormone (serotonin) in the brain. Restlessness, agitation, high blood pressure and heart rate, and at one point I was hallucinating a radio in the wall. Poor Luke was sitting and fretting, and psych liaison was useless, as they always are in A&E. She seemed disinterested for the most part, and promised to write a report to my care coordinator. Since last Thursday I feel like my mood has been in a nosedive. Each day is getting bleaker and harder to motivate. I showered this morning for the first time in about four or five days, and I only did it because I was stinky enough that I could smell myself. Nothing, not even walking and hanging out with my little puppy friend, can motivate me.

 

I’ve been keeping busy with my poetry, and even that has had a pin in it for the last week. I’m preparing my collection for publishing on Amazon; I need another five or so poems to make up a relatively decent length book to justify the list price. Then I need to get a cover designed for it, and that feels overwhelming. Everything feels overwhelming. I want to go out and be social but I keep withdrawing into myself. It doesn’t help that everyone’s so far away, and I am not reaching out the way I should be. I’ve missed calls from Dad and not returned them. I’ve got a message from Mum sitting in my inbox that I’ve skimmed but not read or replied to. My friends I made in therapy group have messaged me, but I’m just not up to conversations. I feel like I’m spending all my energy on surviving – on treading water and not getting anywhere.

 

The CBT group I was referred to was a wonderful experience. If you get the opportunity to get into CBT, take it! It might sound a little condescending (I thought so – I thought it would be all about things I already knew. It kind of was, but not in a ‘duh’ way), but the skills they teach are really helpful. I’m trying so hard to apply what I’ve learned to my life, but I’m still struggling with heading-off the ‘wild’ moods before they get so bad that I just want to do stupid shit to cope. In terms of applying the CBT model – the interaction between thoughts, feelings, sensations and behaviours – to my life, I think I’m doing alright. It’s just the coping skills that need work.

 

I’m going to try to update the blog more regularly with how I’m getting on, especially with STEPPs group on the horizon; I’m just awaiting my letter to invite me for assessment. So, here’s to the future.

Serotonin Syndrome and Reaching Out

Has It Really Been That Long?

Well wow, it’s been a long time since I wrote anything here. All too predictably, life is beating me down and I’m losing the resilience I thought I’d built over the past year or so. My little episode 6 weeks ago had knocked the puff out of me, but I got through it (thanks hubby), and was on the up. Like, really actually feeling good again. There were things bothering me – the episode I had was largely thanks to trying to come off meds – but I was rocking this thing called life. Work felt good, home felt good and things just felt good.

Is it bad that I’m not surprised that things had to take a dip? It feels like an annual tradition for peaks and troughs. Stuff happened with work – I’ll not get into lots of detail, but suffice to say that my previously good/great relationship with my boss is now in tatters. My self-confidence was pretty much the highest I’ve ever known it to be; now it’s at an all-time-low. Did I get too cocky? Did my confidence come off as bad attitude? And how on earth do I prove that I’m still capable of doing my job well – that I’ve not changed in the last 6 weeks.

Sometimes I feel the need to write these posts to communicate things to people who don’t know me. And sometimes I use it as a cop-out when things are too difficult to express directly to those who do. My mind is a dark place at the moment. I don’t like living with me. Mornings are filled with anxiety – ‘what’s going to go wrong today?’ – and evenings are spent trying to enjoy time with hubs,  then a thankful descent into a dreamless sleep. I feel guilty that all the domestics are falling on him. For a while there was flexibility with work; that I was able to leave 10 minutes early some days which makes a huge difference to the time I get home. I miss cooking. I hate feeling like such a burden on the man of the house. It’s not like he doesn’t work hard. He just works closer to home and by default gets dinner ready, along with chores.

I don’t like the way things are going. I don’t know if I’m cut out to stick this out. I’m going to try my best not to cut-and-run as I tend to do when things get tough. But I don’t know if I can get through it.

 

Has It Really Been That Long?

The Broken Arm

It’s kind of like having a broken arm, and trying to ignore it. You pretend not to notice the pain, because if you focus on it too much you end up wanting to cut the damn thing off. Occasionally you think about asking a doctor to check it and fix it, but you know that they will just send you away and put a note on your file: “attention seeking pill addict”. You know the pain is there but no one else sees how bad it is. Eventually it becomes overwhelming and you realize you’re going to ed whatever it takes. You take everything and anything you can find and wind up in hospital, where you cry in pain whilst you tell the emergency doctor about your broken arm. He reads your file, shrugs his shoulders and sends you home with advice: “stay distracted and think positively”. 


You go back to pretending your arm is fine.

The Broken Arm