Sorry I was unable to write last Thursday and Tuesday but I have been under the weather lately. A head cold and a case of "the blahs" will do that to you. But never fear, I am back!
I was watching this television show called "My Big Fat Fabulous Life" the other day. For those of you who haven't heard of this show, it is about a woman who wrestles with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and has become obese due to the weight gain of her disorder and depression. It is inspiring to me because she has such a wonderful outlook on life. She is working on losing weight but at the same time, she refuses to let it stop her from living her life. She dances. She goes on dates. She laughs. She LIVES.
Of course she gets haters, because people really don't like when someone "out of the mold" as they say, defies social norm and learns to love themselves, or pushes the media fantasy of what a "real woman" is, or refuses to be an unhappy recluse shamed to tears because she is fat.
And this show resonates with me on a number of levels. For one, I have wrestled with two separate eating disorders in my lifetime. A binge eating disorder I have struggled off and on with for most of my life and unspecified anorexia, which I had at the age of eighteen. Basically, I ate only tiny bites of food and exercised for six hours a day. My bones were sticking out, my face was sunken in, my hair had started to fall out. I have never felt so fat as I did when I was anorexic. I was under 120 lbs which on my frame looks sickly, and yet in the mirror all I saw was fat. The scale was the weapon I used to torture myself with. Then after around a year and a half of this kind of horror with an inept therapist and a bad marriage helping to take it's toll in flipping me to the anorexia, I swung right back to the binge eating like I had done all of my life. I ballooned up, gaining one hundred and forty lbs leaving me at 260 lbs. My weight for me, has been a struggle and it still is a work in progress. I am finally for the first time under 190 lbs and eating completely healthy. I am for the first time, not worried about what the scale says, but what my doctor says about my blood tests. I am not binge eating anymore and have not for over a year.
The second reason for loving this show, is that I don't fit the mold either. Not just because I have been both overweight and too skinny, but because I have a mental illness. And just as there are several stigmas and untruths spread around about being overweight, there are equal if not more stigmas and untruths being spread about mental illness. Some of them are similar i.e. laziness, weak willed, pathetic, disgusting, worthless....and some of them go a step further i.e. dangerous, scary, unhinged....ect. So, even though, I am not as big as the woman in this television show, I feel like we could have been sisters in the discrimination department. We are similar in the discrimination that she faces and the battles she has dealt with because of other people's judgments making her judge herself.
I doubt she knows how inspiring she is, not just to those people with weight issues but also to those of us who have also unknowingly let our disorders steal life away from us. Those of us that too, do not fit the society's mold of perfection. Because we are scared of what other people would say. Of what other people might think. Of how we forget that we have every right to be seen and be loved not just by others but more importantly, by ourselves.
She says things that inspire me. When she was about to teach a dance class and she was talking about her weight and struggles. Her words hit me like a ton of bricks," It's about a passion and if you feel it you gotta bring it." And I thought about all of the things I am passionate about but I am afraid of and it made me realize I have a right to do what I am passionate about, to admit that there are big things I am passionate about, and that I have a right to be passionate in the first place. Because she is human, and I am human, and we are all human and to be human is to dream, to learn, to love, and to be passionate.
Case in point, next weeks episode preview was about her buying a swimsuit for the first time in twenty years. I sat there and tried to remember when I bought my last swimsuit, which was over thirteen years ago. Then I tried to remember when I last went to a beach or public swimming hole and I realized it had been at least fourteen years. Not because I was overweight or not, but simply because even though I enjoy swimming, I have OCD and being in a large group makes me feel vulnerable and nervous. It took a television show to show me how far I have let my OCD stop me in things I could be doing. I should be doing. Things I used to love to do but somehow became complacent in because I was worried how other people would react if I had an anxiety attack.
The woman in the show is not so different from the rest of us. She is different from what the media force feeds you to believe everyone should be but she is so much more than that. She is beautiful, she is strong. She is an inspiration and she is a bad ass. She is everything all of us are but many of us just haven't been able to see it yet.
She is learning to say yes to things and she is doing things for herself. In spite of other's ignorant comments and opinions and it inspires me. Maybe one day soon I will go and try a new swimsuit on and go to the beach. Because if she can do it, and not give a flying fritter what other people think, I can too. If she can dance and kick ass then I can too, even though I am a horrid dancer. If she can say yes to things that make her uncomfortable simply because she is an amazing, positive, and inspirational human being, than I can too. Because as she says," I have one life to live and it damn sure better count"
No one deserves to live in shame whether it be for weight, mental illness, or anything different. Difference is what makes us unique and beautiful. Difference is what makes us...us and we are fabulous.
You go girl! Thank you for reminding me to keep trying even when things are scary and rough. You are an inspiration to more than you know!