Holding nothing back…

Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

just-me

That is me. 9th grade. All of 14 years old, so 25 years ago. Not too bad, right? Hubby looked at it and said “Jeez, you were cute! Why didn’t we date in high school?”  I look at this picture and wonder why on EARTH I thought I was fat and needed to starve myself.

This picture is proof that anorexics don’t always LOOK anorexic. At least, *I* don’t think I looked anorexic in this picture. But I was. I was skipping breakfast and lunch, and barely eating anything at dinner while telling my parents that I had eaten a big lunch or had a big snack after school. At the point this picture was taken, I was amenorrheal, anemic, my hair was falling out in clumps but I had a fine layer of “fur”, my heart rate was scary slow and my blood pressure was ridiculously low. All physical symptoms of starvation. I wasn’t scary skinny by any means. In fact, I probably looked pretty healthy, weightwise. I know that I had friends that were thinner than I was, but much MUCH healthier. However this was probably the UNhealthiest time of my life.

People noticed that something was wrong, but nobody made the connection to anorexia because I wasn’t underweight. My friends thought I was ill. My parents and doctor thought something was wrong with my thyroid. NOBODY thought I was anorexic but me, and I didn’t want to change it. I honestly couldn’t tell you what turned my health around. I never got professional help. I was never officially diagnosed. Maybe I just didn’t have the “willpower” of most anorexics, or maybe my parents just got wise before I got so far gone that they couldn’t help me without professional intervention. I really do not know. I just know that by the time I went into 10th grade, I wasn’t starving myself anymore.

THIS is why I am so protective of my daughters and my friend’s daughters when it comes to body image. THIS is why I have a size acceptance blog and read other size acceptance blogs voraciously. THIS is why I am so ANTI-diet. And THIS is why I never assume that just because someone isn’t scary skinny, their weight-loss diet isn’t a problem.

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I’ve tried and tried and tried to think of a way to put all of this delicately, and I can’t. I’m so upset about it that I’m not even sure I can put it together intelligently even. So I’m just throwing it out there and asking for you to understand that there will be a LOT of frustration talking in this post and that this is bringing up some of my own issues that I am still dealing with. Please bear with me.

TRIGGER WARNING: Talk of childhood obesity, possible emergent eating disorders, and forced calorie/food restrictions follow.  Please be sure you have your Sanity Watchers points saved up, and proceed with caution.

Ok. So. I have this friend with a 9-year-old daughter who doesn’t meet the societal standards of thin. Said child gets teased at school and at home because of her weight. And in the interest of full disclosure, the child *is* technically considered “obese” by all measures of childhood obesity. HOWEVER, I’ve seen the baby pictures, and the toddler pictures, and the preschool pictures, and so on. The child is just BUILT this way! She has been since birth. 

The thing that is driving me absolutely batshit crazy is that the child’s mother, my friend, is constantly riding the child’s butt about her weight! The child’s clothes are all too small, emphasizing that Mom refuses to accept the child’s body as it is, where it is, and dress her accordingly and appropriately. This shouldn’t surprise me too much, considering that Mom does the same to herself.

I understand that MUCH of this is societal conditioning. That the mom is brainwashed into thinking that smaller is better, even if the smaller clothing size comes at the expense of comfort AND appearance; and in the case of this mom and child, is enough too small that it makes them both look much bigger than they are, which in turn makes them both feel worse on multiple levels.

There *is* a family history of Type 2 diabetes, so I actually DO get some of the mom’s worry about the child’s weight since there is so much hype about the correllations between obesity and type 2 diabetes (and I cannot get it through this woman’s head that correllation does NOT equal causation). It also doesn’t help that their pediatrician feeds her a bunch of mumbo jumbo about childhood obesity, AND that the child’s school gives her crap about the child’s weight. I GET these things. 

However, I absolutely, positively do NOT get the way this woman is going about trying to get her daughter’s weight “under control.” The tactics she is using are pretty much *guaranteed* to give the child a complex. I can actually SEE the eating disorders forming! I mean LITERALLY see the emergent signs of eating disorders. Sometimes I want to bop this woman on the head with a 2×4 for what she is doing to her daughter’s mental health! Seriously, it is that bad. The tactics include:

  • Drastically limiting the child’s caloric intake.
  • Severely restricting the types of food the child is allowed to eat.
  • Forcing the child to participate in exercise activities, whether the child wants to or not (including, but not limited to joining sports teams)
  • Not allowing the child to eat or drink anything after a certain time of evening, with the only exception being if they are eating dinner late for one reason or another.
  • Absolutely, positively, under-no-circumstances allowing the child to get seconds at any meal, ever.

I have actually SEEN the child sneaking food because she knew her mother would not allow her to have more, and get punished for it when she got caught. I have actually SEEN the child eat herself sick (literally eat until she vomited) when her mother wasn’t around. I have actually SEEN the child get into trouble for accepting one piece of candy that was offered to her (by my daughter) because she had “already had her candy for the day” and she “knew better.”

Since Halloween, the mother took the child’s candy and hid it in Mom’s bedroom because the child, according to Mom, “would eat it all in one sitting” if Mom didn’t.  She doles it out one piece a day, and the child doesn’t even get to pick the piece she gets!  If the child protests AT ALL (“can I have the cherry tootsie-pop instead of the miniature Hershey’s??”) she doesn’t GET her piece of candy that day.

How do I approach Mom about this? How do I tell her that she is destroying her daughter’s self-esteem, and setting her up for a lifetime of disordered eating? How do I point out to her that her daughter is ALREADY, at 9-years-old, showing the emergent signs of eating disorders? How do I gently, and lovingly, and without losing an otherwise valued friend, tell her that she needs to BACK THE F OFF about her daughter’s weight?

I do not feel that I can, with a clear conscience, tell her that I refuse to discuss her daughter’s “weight problem” with her because I feel that what she is doing to her child amounts to physical and psychological abuse. I want to HELP her help her daughter, not tear the family apart, so any comments about reporting them WILL be deleted.

So I’m watching “How To Look Good Naked” again.  Despite the things that have cropped up from time to time, I still love the show because at it’s heart it is about loving your body.  And we could ALL use a dose of body-loving.

This season, Carson has been doing a series of questions with a group of 100 women.  The question he just asked was about age when you went on your first diet.  Two women had started their first diets at the age of ten.  A pretty good chunk of women headed across the line when he raised the age to 15.  By the time Carson asked about 25-years-old, at least half the women were across the line.

I was 12 when I went on my first diet.  Mom put me on the scale, in front of my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmother, new step-grandfather and all of his family that I was meeting for the first time and exclaimed “My GOD!  If THAT is how much you weigh, we need to put you on a diet!”  Thus began my lifetime of fucked up relationship with food and my body.  I don’t even remember what I weighed at the time.  I do know I was a bit chunky, but I don’t think I was just horribly fat.  I look at pictures of me from the time, and I don’t see what the big deal was.  I was NOT huge, and even if I had been, shaming me like that in front of my entire extended family (including the NEW members of the family that I was meeting for the first time) was NOT appropriate.  It was verbally and emotionally abusive, and it set me up for a lifetime of hating my body, hating my weight, never thinking I was thin enough.

So, since I’m having my hysterectomy tomorrow, and don’t know how long it will be before I feel like sitting at the computer long enough to blog again, I want you guys to talk.

How old were you when you went on your first diet?

What made you diet for the first time?

Who, if anyone, contributed to your disordered relationship with food and with your body?

And most important of all, if you could go back and talk to the first person you remember saying something negative about your body/weight, what would you say to them?

… You’re doing it wrong.

http://www.mylifetime.com/on-tv/full-episodes/how-to-look-good-naked/video/season-2/episode-6/1753282745/1755342564

Unfortunately, Lifetime won’t let me embed video…  The link takes you to part of an episode of How to Look Good Naked with Carson Kressley.  Before I fuss at him, let me just say that I absolutely LOVE Carson and what he’s trying to do with this show.  Most of the time, he gets it right.  This episode, however, he just happened to hit on one of my triggers. 

I’m sure it will sound petty to some.  I don’t care.  I hold Carson to a higher standard because he is doing a show about body acceptance. 

During the segment where Carson has her tell him what she sees in the mirror (and the women always focus on what they see wrong with their bodies), and then Carson tells her what he sees that is good…  Carson points out to her that she has a beautiful neckline.  What was triggering to me was that he commented “You don’t have any double chins going on…”  Oy.

As a teen, I was anorexic.  And yet, even though otherwise I was so scary skinny that everyone noticed and was worried about me, I still had a double chin!  It was that double chin that made me think I was still fat even though it was the only place on my body WITH any fat.  When I looked in the mirror or at pictures of myself, all I could see was that double chin.  I didn’t see the fact that I had lost my breasts, or that my stomach was concave, or that my cheekbones were so sharp they looked like they could cut glass.  I saw that double chin that I hated so much I was literally starving myself trying to get rid of it.

When Carson commented to this woman that she had no double chin, my hand immediately went to mine.  Immediately, I was once again wishing I had the money for plastic surgery to make that hated double chin go away.  For the first time in a long time, I felt fat and unattractive and like something was desperately wrong with me.  =c(  Suddenly, I was thinking about all the things I feel are WRONG with my body instead of all the things that are RIGHT.  I considered calling Jenny.  I considered throwing out everything in my house that was sweet or carbolicious.  I actually found myself racking my brain for the tricks I used to avoid eating so many years ago when I was anorexic.

How do y’all deal with it when something triggers your body loathing like this?  How do you get past it and get back to loving yourself and your body and stop thinking about dieting and “good” food/”bad” food and and and?

Ok, I’ve hinted that I’ve got some medical crap going on.  I guess it’s time to reveal it, because it is all I can think about for the past couple of weeks.

I went and had my yearly gynecological torture a couple of weeks ago (translation:  pap).  The results weren’t good.  I have “high level dysplasia” and an appointment tomorrow to have a biopsy.  Normally that wouldn’t be such a horrible thing.  It’s what I’ve been dealing with since I was 20.  My cervix has been cryo’d, cauterized, and lasered pretty much to a fair-thee-well.  In fact, there’s so much scar tissue on my cervix from the procedures I’ve had done over the past 18 years that the OB that delivered my youngest was afraid that it wouldn’t dialate and I would end up having to have a c-section (ended up not being necessary, thank the gods).  Then, after 18 years of gynecological torture, I find out that my MOTHER had cervical cancer when I was little and I didn’t know because she never told us (we were too little to understand when it was happening, and then she “just forgot”!?!).  So I’ve had a family history and didn’t know it!  YAAAAAGH! 

I go tomorrow for the biopsy, and I plan on pretty much INSISTING that I have a hysterectomy.  I know that it won’t END my gynecological issues, nor my chances for cancer, but it WILL greatly reduce them.

The other medical issue I’m having is related to my bipolar disorder.  My meds, specifically my mood stabilizer: Lithium, aren’t working correctly anymore.  I’ve been having more manic episodes than normal.  Unfortunately, for me anyway, a manic episode is almost always followed by a period of severe (often suicidal) depression.  Add into that the fact that my doctor took me off of Klonopin (which I was taking to prevent panic attacks) because I was experiencing a “drugged” feeling and extreme fatigue (I literally could not get through the day without a nap), and so my panic attacks have returned.  Unfortunately, my doctor didn’t give me an Rx for PRN ANYTHING-for-panic-attacks, so when I have one it is pretty much uncontrolled and can take hours to get over.

And since I’m stressing to no end over the biopsy I’m scheduled for tomorrow, I’ve had several panic attacks in the past couple of weeks.  *sigh*  And I’ll probably have a pretty serious one tomorrow after my appointment because I won’t know anything for a couple of days until the results come back.  I don’t EVEN want to think about how bad of a panic attack I might have if I *do* have cervical cancer.  *bigger sigh*

So that’s why I’ve been kinda absent.  And why I may continue to be kinda absent for a little while longer.

Now you know.  =c/

I was just looking around my stats this morning, you know, for shits and giggles, when I stumbled onto the feature that allows me to look at the search terms used to find my blog since I first started it.  It ranks them in order of the number of times that term was used, which makes total sense to me.  So, what do you think was the #1 most-used search term to find my blog?  I’ll wait a sec while you mull it over…

 

“900 Calorie Diet”

 

Yep.  People out there are actually LOOKING FOR ADVICE on how to eat only 900 calories a day!!!!  Folks!  That’s a STARVATION DIET!  Sure, you’ll lose weight eating only 900 calories a day, but you’ll be losing more muscle than fat!  AND AND AND, your body will be convinced that you are starving to death (because, guess what, you ARE, slowly but surely) and once you start eating again, it will pack on the fat to ensure that you have food and energy stores for the next time you go into starvation mode.  Starvation level diets like that TRASH your metabolism!!

I understand the urge to lose weight and be a socially acceptable size, or even better yet to be considered uber-sexy by current societal standards.  Believe me, I do!  I LIVED my life according to that urge from the time I was 10-years-old until about a year ago!  I endured starvation diets, exercise binges (where I exercised in some form for several HOURS a day), fad diets, you name it.  Trust me on this one, a starvation diet will do more harm than good in the long run. 

Really, honestly, from my heart…  The best thing you can do for your health and for your self-esteem is learn to love yourself and take care of yourself at exactly where you are right now.  So maybe you weigh more than your doctor thinks you should.  And maybe you have some health problems that might be better if you weighed less.  But STARVING yourself to get the weight off isn’t going to help, and it isn’t going to work long-term. 

When you love and take care of yourself, where you are right now, some of those problems may go away.  Some may not.  You’ll probably also find that when you love and take care of yourself no matter WHAT the number on the scale is or WHAT the number on the tag in your jeans says, your body will find the weight and size that is perfect for IT.  That weight and size may be bigger than you, or your doctor, or society thinks it should be, but it will be PERFECT for YOUR BODY.  You won’t have to starve yourself, or deny yourself foods that you love (unless there is a true medical reason for it, like I have to avoid deep-fat-fried catfish except as a VERY occasional treat because of my high cholesterol), or exercise yourself into oblivion to maintain it. 

So fuck 900 calorie a day diets!  Fuck society’s definition of fat and/or thin!  FUCK what everyone ELSE thinks you should look like! 

Take care of your body and your body WILL take care of you, I promise! 

I normally don’t get all worked up about commercials for diet programs.  I *know* that they are designed to make people, women in particular, feel bad about their bodies so that they will pay for the services, prepackaged cardboard food, and various and sundry other bullshit products that they sell.  The latest one by Valerie Bertinelli for Jenny Craig just riled me up.  It also riled my 16-year-old (whose BullshitMI is 23*, or “normal” for the naysayers out there that say that because *I* qualify for “obese” under the BullshitMI that my daughter must also be obese), for all the same reasons.

The new commercial can be viewed here:  http://www.jennycraig.com/new_commercial

Here’s a transcript for those that just *don’t* want to view the commercial or give Jenny the clicks…

Valerie (walking on beach in rash shorts and rash shirt, carrying surfboard):  “I’ve lost 40 pounds on Jenny Craig and I’ve reached my ideal size!  Size Surfer Girl (giggle).  I can’t believe I’m surfing again!  Before Jenny I just didn’t think I could do it, but this is a program that I can stick to because I just love the food.  So here I am!  I may not be a ‘Size Gidget’ but I am a size Lovin’ Life!”

Random model-handsome surfer guy running into the water:  “Hey Val.”

Valerie:  “Hey!”  <runs towards water>

Valerie Voiceover (“footage” of Valerie on surfboard):  “Jenny helped me get my life, and my surfboard, back.”

(plug to “Call Jenny” here, fade to black)

First, I must admit that Valerie looks really cute.  But then, I thought she was cute when she still “needed to lose 40 pounds.” 

Now for the bad stuff: 

  • She’s reached her ideal size according to who?  According to her Jenny Craig “counselor”?  According to her agent?  According to Valerie’s doctor?  According to Valerie’s vision of how she “should” look?  According to Valerie’s BODY?  (Guess which one of those *I* think is important.  <grin>)
  • WTF is “Size Surfer Girl”??  Fat people can and DO surf.  I’ve seen them do it! (Videos of “fat surfers” embedded below.)
  • I’ve tried Jenny Craig (and Nutrisystem) in the past.  The food that Valerie professes to love, tastes like cardboard.  And it’s TINY.  To quote a commercial that makes me laugh, “It looks like ELF food!”  Seriously, I only had 30 pounds to lose at that time, and they had me on 1000 calories a day.  That’s a starvation level diet folks.
  • Now that Valerie is 40 pounds lighter she is “loving life.”  So, according to Jenny, anyone that “needs to lose weight” can’t be loving life?  WTF?  I have about 70 pounds Jenny would probably tell me that I “need” to lose.  I guess Jenny thinks I must be fucking miserable!
  • “Jenny helped me get my life, and my surfboard, back.”  Excuse the fuck out of me?!?!?  Valerie may have had no life when she was 40 pounds heavier (somehow I doubt that very seriously though), but I and all of the fat people I know have lives.  Those lives are full, fun, and fulfilling whether the individual living that life thinks they need to lose weight or not.  I, personally, have friends who think I am pretty damn wonderful thankyouverymuch, a husband of 18 years that loves me no matter *WHAT* my BullshitMI is, three children that I homeschool, I am on the board of our homeschool assocation, and that’s just the stuff that I do/take care of/love on a *daily*  basis.  I swim, walk, ride my bike, waterski, dance, love, and basically do whatever the hell I want to do, and I don’t let my weight stop me.  AAMOF, the only things I *don’t* do as an obese woman are things I didn’t do as a thin woman. 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok.  *whew*  Rant over.  I just really really really REALLY HATE the implication that even *mildly* overweight people have no life, or at least should FEEL like they have no life.  ::::deep breath lest I get back up on the soapbox::::

Now, for those “fat person surfing” videos I promised.  The first one is freakin’ AWESOME!!!

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 For some reason, the second video isn’t embedding, but you can still see it by copying & pasting the url.  I’ll keep working on trying to get it fixed though…

* edited.  Originally read 28, because I was writing off the top of my head and didn’t pull up the BullshitMI chart like I normally do, and remembered the marks incorrectly.  DD is two points below “overweight”.  I know this because our doctor gives us crap about it, without taking into consideration that DD is VERY active in Karate and is very muscular.