1) I'm lazy
2) I'm busy
3) I'm not that busy, I'm just lazy
4) No one reads it
5) I'm a little bit busy
I don't really feel justified in having a blog, honestly. I'm not a chef or an expert crafter. I'm not a great writer or particularly witty. And I don't post pictures of my children or deep philosophical realizations. Mostly I talk about super inconsequential things that aren't even that interesting to me (except my last post on Austenland which is important to me, you, the economy, and national security).
Today, however, I'm writing because I need to feel accountable. I hope that it's been long enough that no one is following this blog and there will be no real risk in posting these things, but here I go anyway.
About a year ago I started a super fun (read: sarcasm) health journey. It started with some weird, uncomfortable, and painful symptoms that I will not go into detail about here (you're most welcome) and has concluded in a delightful cocktail of medications and horse-sized pills I get to force myself to swallow twice a day. Now, don't get all excited. It's nothing terminal. I don't have cancer -- the decision to cut all of my hair off was in no way related.
|Before - yea, man -- That's real!|
|After - I'm not sure about that face but, just, roll with it.|
I've been diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis. Go ahead and wikipedia those and get ready for some truly horrifying pictures of innards on the endometriosis page (the human body is disgusting). But for those of you who aren't really that interested (and again, remember, I'm holding out hope that literally no one is reading this) I'll sum up: PCOS and endometriosis only affect women... if you catch my drift... and cause an inordinate amount of pain at least once a month as well as weight gain, acne, depression, and infertility (as the major symptoms). None of those are great things, let me tell you. These two diseases/syndromes/illnesses aren't really related, so having them both produces two unique sets of symptoms. So, you know: awesome.
Why, you may wonder, are you sharing such personal and disgusting information on the world wide web? Mostly it was so I could make that hair joke and show off how pretty my hair used to be. Coming in a close second, though, is the fact that this is something I think needs to be acknowledged: These symptoms are ruining my life and they may be ruining yours too.
Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up: It's not the actual symptoms but my reactions to them that are ruining my life. Most significantly the weight.
I've never been skinny. Even as a kid I was short and stout. Yes, much akin to a tea pot. I was active, though. I played a lot of sports, I danced, swam, soccer'd, softball'd, theater'd, etc. Weight was something that didn't really bother me until it was pointed out. I'm not sure who said it first, and I'm definitely not pointing fingers but between my friends, family, and snotty sales clerks at Limited Too (Two?) I realized I was fat at about 12 years old. The first time I decided to diet was when my 6th grade science teacher was handing out our school pictures and felt the need to comment on mine (in front of the whole class including my dreamy 12 year old crush) what cute chubby cheeks I had. I was mortified.
|I'm the one rocking my mom's mini-me dress on the right|
I then did Weight Watchers with my mom. I even went to a few meetings. I was 12. And I had what the diet industry would call success. The numbers on the scale went down and my popularity at school went up. You can call BS all you want but there is a direct correlation. And that, my friends, is where my sick understanding of body image came from. It was a simple formula: Skinny = popular; Fat = lonely. And it's only taken me thirteen years to realize the absurdity of this.
|8th grade graduation - on the far left - after doing weight watchers (and I still hated that I didn't have the skinny arms my friends had) (and I'm fairly certain none of us had seen Charlie's Angels)|
During high school and college, maintaining my weight literally became a full time job that I had to quit. I went home a couple summers during school and would work out 2-3 hours a day, I would weigh and measure my food, and subscribed to weight loss programs like weight watchers and nutrisystem. And, again, in the eyes of the weight loss industry I achieved success. In two months I lost over 40 pounds. I went back to school in a whole new wardrobe. But as soon as my focus shifted from obsessing over my caloric intake and reps at the gym back to those horrible distractions like getting a degree and hanging out with friends, the weight was almost instantly back.
|My Halloween costume 2009: Ursula. Because I knew I was fat and the only way to socially be accepted was to use the fat as a joke I was in on, not pretend it wasn't there.|
When I was first diagnosed I did a lot of internet research which, as we all know, is totally true. My parents did a lot of research and even some of my super close friends found themselves sending me links to interesting and related topics. Some of the most common points that were addressed were:
1) Link to an increased risk of cancer (maybe my hair joke was in poor taste...)
2) Fertility treatments (SOOOO many baby stories)
3) Hopeful success stories (SOOOO many baby stories)
But overwhelmingly it was weight that was on everyone's minds, mine included. More than anything it was a "whew, now we have something to explain the weight." I was able to point at this thing and say to myself, to my family, and to my friends: "See? I can't help it. It's not my fault. It's just really crappy luck, I suppose. So you are no longer allowed to think of me as different since it's out of my control." But the thing is, the world still treats you differently. No one cares if you're fat because you're lazy, or you have a thyroid problem, or if you have PCOS. To the world, fat = Fat =lonely. And that's the mindset I've had since I was 12. So then instead of blaming my mind or my soul for being weak and gluttonous and disgusting, I could blame a physical defect inside my body.
So then I gave up.
Instead of recognizing that my soul and my mind are not holding me back, I submitted everything to the physical malfunction and stopped caring. Sure, that could be aided by the depression side effect, but I think it's because it was easier. It was easier to blame the disease and eat fast food. It was easier to hide behind PCOS while binge watching Netflix.
But what I've realized recently is that if I go back to 6th grade and break that incorrect understanding of body image, then even with PCOS I can take care of my body. If the reason I ride my bike is to enjoy the weather, save the environment, and let my body exert its power, that's great! If I ride my bike so that I lose weight so that people will like me, that's not great. If I buy organic vegetables and cook a vegan meal because it looks delicious and will help my body function more fully, fantastic! If I do it because celebrities are vegans and they're skinny, not fantastic. You see where I'm going with this?
|My dad and I rode our bikes across the state of Virginia. It was NOT to lose weight, it was to do something kind of kick-ass, which it was, and we are.|
So here begins not my journey to weight loss or even my journey to self-contentment. In fact, no journey starts today. What starts is a new way to look at me and my body and what I put into it and get out of it. And I'm posting this so that when I have lapses, when I'm mocked, ignored, or oppressed for looking the way I look, I can come back here and remember that at least right now, in this moment, I decided I was above that.