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.


Just Call Me Fat

New Job – New Hope

On Monday I officially started my new job with the same company I’ve been temping at for the last nine months. Without a doubt, I am excited – over the moon to have the security of a permanent role and to be moving into a field that I am genuinely interested in (having been an admin bod for a long time now). The transition to the new role is taking time; there are things frustrating me and they will probably continue for a while but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now.

Today I am sat with my old team with the plan of doing a handover to one of my colleagues of the tasks he is taking over from me. So far he’s been far too busy doing other things; despite my regular question, “Are you ready for training yet?” and I can’t help but feel today has been a waste. In true company style my access to the processing systems has been revoked and I’ve had to send off a request to be re-activated for a grace period for the handover. I’ve been working on the team’s intranet pages to pass the time. I just want to get settled in my new job now!

Despite the frustrations I can still look positively on this whole new adventure. One of the biggest contrasts has been the difference in attitude between old team and new team. For example, I had to go for x-rays this morning and when I booked the appointment last week I emailed the relevant managers to let them know I would be late in today. When I arrived at the office just before 11:00 this morning, my old line manager asked, “Did I know you’d be late today?” Apparently I should’ve put it in his calendar! I kind of felt like reminding him he’s not actually my line manager any longer and that I’d only emailed him about the appointment out of courtesy. But oh well – I needed to get the x-rays sorted because I need to sort out my hip. No x-rays, no progress; considering I am struggling to walk up the hill to the office lately it is absolutely vital that I find out the problem and get it treated. And now I’m rambling!

Colleague X is barely talking to me. I get the feeling I’m being seen as some kind of traitor for leaving the team. If I go a little further I can hypothesise that she is possibly a little jealous; she admits she has little ambition to progress further with the company but – personally – I couldn’t imagine doing this admin job for eight years without hating it at least a little bit. Who knows? Maybe she’s just being who she is? After nine months I still can’t predict her; some days she’s the life and soul, other days she’s queen bitch. I’ll be glad to not have to deal with that any longer – and very glad to never hear the words “I’m not being funny – but…” several times each day!

Compare and contrast my new team; the department head welcomed me to the team on Monday, my new line manager is a genuine and lovely man who has read this blog and didn’t judge me, and my team-mate is hugely popular in the office as she’s just that nice! I can’t wait to get over there full time and really get my teeth into learning everything I need to and start working on the various bits and bobs that need covering.

So, despite the short-term turbulence ahead I am in a really positive frame of mind – the effect on my mood has been something miraculous! I feel totally stable, totally able to think my way out of minor lows and able to embrace minor highs into productivity. For the first time in a long time I don’t feel dull, I am not swinging hypo from sheer boredom. Best of all, Eve seems really content with how things are at the moment. She is really peaceful and we’re not fighting for dominance. I am happy.

New Job – New Hope