TW: Medical fat shaming, fitspo, and mental health discussion.
So, after a year of being in denial about my mental health, I went to see my psychiatrist and my therapist yesterday.
I saw them separately, first my psychiatrist and then my therapist.
It was interesting to compare the two sessions - the medical versus mental approaches.
When my psychiatrist asked me about my weight, I knew the conversation would take a nosedive. From that point forward, half of what he told me and/or scolded me about was weight-related.
“You know, your BMI is worrying.”
“You know, you could lose the weight if you tried.”
“You know, just be more active.”
I shrugged the comments off and said simply, “I don’t mind my weight, it’s a non-issue. My concern is with being healthy and feeling better.”
He looked at me like what I was saying was some alien concept and continued to press his body shaming diagnosis.
“You should see your family doctor and rule out any weight-related issues.”
I was about to tell him I’d had everything checked out recently and happened to be quite healthy, but he ushered me out the door.
Fast forward to the conversation I had with my therapist wherein she asks me what the doctor had discussed with me. I told her about the weight comments and she actually laughed and sighed with exasperation.
She said, “I want you to disregard everything he told you. It’s not the right way to think about your health. You need to do what’s best for you, and what’s best for you is not focusing on weight loss - it’s focusing on your health. They aren’t one in the same.”
This was nothing I hadn’t heard before obviously, but coming from her, in that moment, after what I had just experienced with the MD - the words carried more weight than ever before. We continued to have a very empowering conversation about health and activity that made me feel better than I had in ages.
I was shocked that body shaming of any kind would be brought into the conversation by my psychiatrist, a professional whose goal is to support and diagnose mental illnesses. If I had been in a more damaged frame of mind, his comments might have made me second guess everything about myself and my body. It may have triggered me into regressing back to hating my body and blaming myself. I fear for his patients who may not have found body acceptance.
This is why focusing on weight loss as a goal for a fatty with anxiety and depression is impractical, for ME. I need to remove weight loss from the picture entirely and focus just on what feels right. I can not afford for my body ideal to be grounded in physicality. Instead, it’s grounded in mental health and wellness because that is what I need to concentrate on in order to find happiness and contentment.
I’ve received a lot of messages regarding my fitspo-related content wherein commenters fail to empathize with my inability to focus on weight loss. Instead they turn it around to make it all about them, blaming me for “shaming people who are trying to shape their bodies to match their ideal self-image”, when that is simply untrue.
Contrary to what people may have taken away from my previous post, I have not and will never judge anyone for wanting to change their appearance. Wanting to change your body does not mean that you hate it - but not wanting to change it doesn’t mean that you hate it, either.
If others can find happiness in their journey to attaining an ideal self image, I am not about to shame them for their privilege of being able to do so - but that privilege needs to be recognized.
All I want is to incite a level of understanding from the fitspo community that while their methods may be right for them, it is not a universally healthy way of thinking for everyone. Because health is different for everyone. Because attaining a “fit and lean” body type is a privilege that should not and can not be expected of everyone.
Sometimes I wonder if being this honest about my physical and mental health in such a public space is worth it. There were a few times this week where I considered putting this blog on hiatus for a while.
But when I get messages from people recovering from eating disorders and struggling with mental disabilities or body dismorphia telling me how much my words mean to them, how much they can relate and are touched by what I am saying, I am reminded why this is all worth it.
I’ll continue to keep my heart on my sleeve and my thoughts in the open.