Self editing is a good thing

So I was going to write a really irate post - actually DID write it, but am going to delete it - about how pissed off I am about certain weight loss/health bloggers (and there are lots of them, this is not about one or two people, I promise you) assuming that obese people just need to eat less, eat better food, and exercise more so that they can lose weight and stop making excuses. The point of my tirade was that those bloggers completely discount the fact that many folks who are morbidly obese are dealing with some form of mental illness, and that makes the "eat right/move more" equation simplistic and, frankly, insulting. When getting up, taking a shower, and going to work every day is nearly more than you can bear (as it is for me more mornings than not), please don't make things worse/add to my plate with guilt about other things I'm not doing that I should.

Do you think we WANT to be morbidly obese? To be figures of scorn and ridicule? To feel uncomfortable in our day to day lives because it's sometimes tough to breathe due to fat circling our midsection? Better yet, do you not think we've tried and even succeeded at overcoming first our mental illness then our eating and sedentary lifestyle? Oh yes, friends, it's not about losing weight - been there and done that several times - it's about figuring out how to keep it off when something comes along to knock you off the comfortable routine of healthy living that you've carved out. And when you're dealing with manic depression or anxiety disorder or binge eating disorder, even when it's under control, it's always there in the back of your mind...a tried-and-true coping mechanism for when everything is too much. Add in the fact that many of us having been using food inappropriately to deal with our mental/emotional issues since before we even have clear memory of doing so, and you ought to be able to see that this is not a simple matter of "put down the fork and lace up some walking shoes" for us.

Now I understand that there are lots of people running around with mental illness who are of a healthy body weight and do not abuse food. I also understand that there are lots of victims of early childhood abuse who are of a healthy body weight and do not abuse food. I can't explain why some of us turn to food to make it all OK and others don't, I only know that it's true. And that if we had some physical illness we wouldn't be made to feel guilty about not just being able to put down the fried chicken and walk or bike to work every day, but mental illness is just not accepted or acceptable in our country, and that makes me sad.

Um, OK, so it appears that I really DID write a tirade. (Twice, in fact.) If I've offended anyone, I'm really sorry, but it will be worth it for me if even one person examines his/her preconceived notions about the morbidly obese and perhaps chooses to offer support and kindness instead of scorn and proselytizing.

So much for the awesome post I was going to write about how the right shade of lipstick can change your life, huh?


MargieAnne said…
Well said.

Until you've walked in someone's shoes you should be very careful what you say.

No-one has the complete answer. No two people are the same.

We each must live our lives to the best we can with what we have.

I have dealt with stuff that would leave many people wrecks forever. I often feel like a wreck.

That you keep going and fit so much into your life is pretty wonderful. You're a very special person who is not afraid to be who you are.

So glad you felt able to write this post.
I hear you, sister. I'm a little weary of the blanket theory myself. At the most basic level, losing weight IS about eating sensibly and exercising regularly. Simple, but not simple, if you've got medical issues--be they physical, mental, or emotional--clogging the way so that you can't get to the simpler route. I'm fortunate in that I had only a minor physical issue in the way, and I learned how to work around it after years of trying (and failing.) But just because I did it, doesn't mean that someone else would have the same result by doing the same exact thing. I'd much rather spend my time encouraging folks to keep fighting to find the path that works for them than lumping everyone into one big "fat bucket" and apply the same hateful labels.

Oops, I wrote a tirade, too. :)
JessiferSeabs said…
I don't think that this is limited to weight loss bloggers -- I think there is a HUGE misunderstanding of mental illness / depression in this country. It is better than it was 5 years ago, but I think most people who haven't ever experienced depression themselves (or had a loved one that struggles with some form of mental illness) have NO concept of what it is like or how dehabilitating it is. I think the general attitude is "just get up, get out of bed, get over it."
I believe mental illness is a huge continuum and we're ALL on it!

I'm almost 48 and it wasn't until this year that things FINALLY clicked into place after years and years AND YEARS of battling uncontrollable hunger and cravings...and I think it was both a physical and mental issue...certainly not that I was lazy, slothful excuse-maker but that's what it felt like for most of my life!

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