Have been thinking a lot lately about why I need validation, and what ties that has to both my own mental health issues, as well as how it may be connected to my weight issues.
It's no surprise that very often depression and anxiety and obesity are intrinsically co-dependent.
Fat people are rejected. Every hour of every day, by someone or several people. And in many ways, fat people have been so rejected for so long, that it's now the somethings that do the rejecting on someone else's behalf. You see, rejecting fat people has become so passe that society has built ways upon which the fat people can continue to be rejected without having to exert so much effort. Lazy ass skinny people!
Airplane seats get smaller and smaller - and smaller still. Movie theatre seats got bigger. Serving sizes got ginormous as if the corporations who supply them are saying - "holy crap you eat so freaking much we're going to throw the trough at you and hope it's enough". And the disdain in gym commercials, print media and advertising got even thicker. It's such a cobbled web of impunity, that now fat people reject themselves before anyone else can have the opportunity.
You want to talk about taking bullying to a whole new level of awful...this is how it starts. This is where fat people become so unbelievably unhappy, that they remove themselves from social situations. They create the backdrop to their own depression and isolation. They take themselves out of life, before other people get the chance to hurt them, and before their obesity has the chance to catch up.
Shortly before my medical leave in 2008 for depression and anxiety, I went on a business trip to Singapore. Did you know that in regions of the world where people are stereotyped for being petite, they have made airplane seats and therefore seat belts that much smaller? That's right, while we would complain about the shrinking seat sizes in North America, it's nothing compared to the seat sizes in Asia. That was the first and only time I was faced with a mortifying reality of having to request a seat belt extender or face being de-boarded. And I was shocked, appalled at myself, and in real severe pain because the arm rests were digging into my hips like daggers on a relentless mission to remind me of what a reject I was. Suddenly, in a world full of people of all shapes, colours and sizes, I was made to feel like Godzilla on a war path. I attracted stares anyway with my 5'8" plus size stature. NOW - I also had the ridicule and shame of adding that seat belt extender and spent the rest of my several hours in coach wanting to die. And I spent a week swollen from the humidity of tropical Singapore with black bruises in each of my hips from the entire coach airplane experience to remind me what a reject I was. Thanking God I didn't have to suffer the added humiliation of being charged for more than a single seat too.
The pressures of rejection are so pervasive that I've spent the last two years thinking about how everything I do related to meals and food, is an example to my child, and worrying that if I eat the way she should, she'll worry she'll be fat. And if I go to the extremes of eating differently, she'll worry that she'll get fat and have to do that too. I am terrified that my child will be known at school as the one with the morbidly obese mom. I'm terrified that no matter how perfect she is, she'll be ostracized and rejected because of my weight. And I'm terrified that taking the steps I need to take to make sure that won't happen will scar her just as badly.
And there are many a night when I go to sleep tearful because while my child eats healthy at nearly every single meal, she also gets a treat every single day. And the thought of a day where she doesn't get a treat causes her distress. My daughter is thin and beautiful and perfect in every way. There's no reason why she can't or shouldn't be able to have a treat every day - but what is the right answer when you're a parent?
When work pressures were at an all time high in the spring of 2008, and my body continued to reject the idea of being pregnant, and as I continued to withdraw and I struggled with even maintaining a morbidly obese weight, depression and anxiety took over and therapies and medical cocktails began. In my work with the psychologist, we figured out that my feelings of inadequacy were a major trigger. They were a huge factor in how I viewed myself - and as slow as this may seem, but I'm just realizing now, how my failure to lose weight and the constant rejection surrounding my weight has been connected to all of that. I always knew it was PART of the bigger problem...I just didn't know how the puzzle piece fit. It wasn't just how I felt I was a failure. It was how the world at large was rejecting me all along, and telling me I was a failure. If those things that we do in our lives to mitigate and cope with those feelings of failure are also breaking down (work, etc), what's left?
So, as I'm diving head first into my pre-op diet and am already starving every 2 hours...dreaming of a diet that includes cheese and bacon...well, for that matter any taste at all...I'm trying desperately to remind myself that doing this is brave, difficult and by every possible definition, setting myself up for success. I'm trying very hard to remember that this is not a mark of failure, but a promise/commitment to myself and a strategy for doing this for the very last time.
In my lifetime, I've never imagined a day when I would know that I was a healthy weight, and that I would never have to fight the battle with weight again. Today, I feel like that's a remote possibility. And I'm not sure how to process the emotions of it. But I'm glad that's where I am.