Tag Archives: eating disorders

Keeping It Real

This is one of those posts that I started to write a few times and then just got annoyed and stopped, as between Ashley Judd and a pregnant Jessica Simpson being in the news for their weight, the topic of  body shaming is old.

But yet I feel compelled to at least weigh in on the topic—no pun intended, unless it makes me sound witty—and offer a slightly different perspective on the topic.

We don’t need to rehash my own history with OCD and weight and health. Bottom line—the fact is that right now I’m still underweight. I hate that I’m so thin and would pay large sums of money to release myself from my OCD prison and gain a quick 30 lbs. I would have no issue with that.

What I do have an issue with is letting go of those routines that would allow me to gain the weight. It’s not vanity. It’s psychology and anxiety and a million things unrelated to how someone else thinks I should look.

The fact that the common assumption that these behaviors stem from a place of vanity and dissatisfaction with a physical ideal is the very reason I’ve always refrained from classifying my OCD as anything directly related to food and exercise, as it’s so much more complex than that.

I really couldn’t care less what is classified as “beauty” and not fitting some socially (unattainable) ideal has no bearing on how I think of myself. 

Regardless of my weight, I think I’m a pretty cool person.

And although it doesn’t thrill me to share that convoluted background information, it’s important to know in relation to the fact that while “shaming” women for being a little overweight is looked upon as cruel, the flip side of the coin is rarely discussed.

In trying to push acceptance of people who are of “normal” weight and size—in other words, not naturally thin—the reassurance is thrown out that “men don’t like stick thin women” and “thin is unattractive.” And of course, the classic “real women have curves.”

Well, thank you for that.

I’m going to add that real women also have opinions, and I believe that being told to go eat a cheeseburger or that “thin isn’t in” and shaming thin women for their body shape is no different than shaming larger women for their body shape,  yet the former is overlooked and often accepted.

Yes, “real” women do often have curves and I understand that a lot of women—big and small—do have body image issues and seek out reassurance and external validation. Please know I’m not dismissing that at all.

But although I have issues, I do not have curves. This does not make me any less of a “real” woman.

In my humble opinion, real women have confidence.

Real women have a focus on health and not perfection.

Real women have compassion—towards themselves and towards others.

If curves are part of the package, more power to you. But at the end of the day, real women don’t care.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

The last couple posts have been kind of serious, and I promise the next one is lighter and a feeble attempt at humor.  However, I needed to get this off my chest—a chest that is not ample, but that I embrace nonetheless.

Coming Out On Top

I know that “National Coming Out Day” was last week, but I didn’t think about writing this post until now, so better late than never.

poster

First of all, no, I’m not gay.

But a few of my friends—not my “gay” or “straight” friends, just my friends—posted this last week on their Facebook pages, and I loved it. While I’ve never had to come out about my sexuality, I do have experience “coming out” about certain things, and it’s been about a year since I’ve done so on the blog.

Keeping It In

To try and summarize for those of you just joining us today, my name is Abby. I am a smart-ass with a lot to say, most of it funny and sarcastic, and I love that I can share my neurotic view of the world and myself with others through my tiny little piece of the Internet.

But I am also the face of depression/OCD and there is absolutely nothing funny and sarcastic about the days I feel like getting out of bed are tantamount to climbing a mountain with the weight of the world on my bony shoulders.

It’s real, it sucks, I’ll spare you the details.

So up until last year, I kept my blog to myself and strangers on the Internet, with people in “real life” completely oblivious to the fact that I had a blog at all. I wrote much more about those issues and focused on my struggles, something I wanted to keep out of my daily interactions with people.

Coming Out

But then last year I was approached by Deb to be a part of something amazing, a calendar to raise money for cancer research in memory of her father, a man who loved his daughter’s blog friends and the very world he lived in. It was such an honor—and such a personal cause to all involved—that I felt selfish keeping it from my own friends and family.

So I came out.

I linked a blog post up to my Facebook page, sent my mom a link and the rest is history.

Part of me thought it would suck, as exposing what others might perceive as a weakness or flaw to the whole World Wide Web can be daunting, but exposing what others might perceive as a weakness or flaw to the people you see on a daily basis can be even scarier.

Most people don’t understand the issues that me (and millions of other people) deal with, and I would never expect them to. Some equate being depressed or having OCD to being sad or wanting to wash your hands, which is about the rational equivalent of complaining to someone with no legs that you haven’t had a pedicure.

There is no comparison.

And while I’m not comparing coming out about one’s sexuality to my issues, for me, coming out was the start of living a more authentic version of myself.  It gave me a chance to find a voice I forgot I had, or hadn’t let develop. It opened me up to relationships and a world outside my often crazy head.

It also opened me up to the realization that people might view me differently, that instead of being just Abby, I might be “disordered” or “depressed” Abby. While I don’t feel the need to explain myself for my decisions, I sometimes want people to see me as “just Abby” without a skewed perception.

So even though there are posts that are a personal, I try and keep it lighter here (I promise my next post won’t be this serious.) I like to laugh, not stew, and even though I don’t censor myself at all—that will never, ever happen—I’m more selective about what I share with the world now than I was a year ago.

Blogging’s an escape, but that doesn’t mean those issues go away. 

I have equal days of good and days of struggling to tread water without drowning, of wondering why I can’t be “normal” on some relative scale.

But I’ve found a better way of thinking about it is not as a struggle to regain a level of health that the rest of the population never needs to work to achieve, but rather as hard work that results in a self-awareness and stability that most of the population are never forced to make the effort to achieve.

I’m stronger for my issues and for “coming out,” and realize now that the fear of doing so was much more about accepting myself than it was a fear of not being accepted by others.

So I tell you that I am the face/voice of depression/OCD/eating disorders, and I hope that you won’t see me as my issues—see poster above—but just as me. I am a smart-ass with a lot to say who takes things—the good and the bad—day by day.  

I have issues.

So do you.

The don’t define us, but rather make us who we are today.

quotableequal

They can be an unexpected gift.

This post was also in response to the Studio30 Plus prompt:

The Unexpected Gift

It’s a pretzel, people

I’m rather self-aware. In fact, I’m probably hyper self-aware to the point that I tend to overanalyze things I think or do instead of just accepting them as what they are. However, one thing I don’t think I am is hypersensitive, something that seems to be an epidemic sweeping the nation.

I will preface this by saying that I’m not easily offended and generally hold the belief that I am responsible for my own decisions—how I choose to view things, interpret things or do things. I understand it’s not that way for everybody and I keep that in mind, but some things border on ridiculous to me.

The latest example is this.

While I agree that the message is in bad taste, I also think for people with food “issues,” many things can be taken out of context and twisted to feel like a personal attack. People are generally rather insensitive to the issues of others—food, weight or otherwise—only because “people like them” see things very differently than “people like us.”

Any and everything we say can be interpreted into something else if we think about it for a few minutes. The fact remains that some people are hypersensitive to issues that would most likely be “non-issues” if simply left alone.

I find it hard to believe that a young woman will be suddenly flung into the depths of despair and self loathing by a pretzel advertisement.

In comparison, there are obvious, blatant statements and horrendous media coverage that I agree are completely offensive and wrong, such as Kate Moss stating that, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I can see the obvious backlash for such an ignorant comment.

But a pretzel?

I’ll wrap this up by saying that I’ve often expressed my own frustration about the stereotypes and misconceptions associated with eating disorders, and of course I would love to educate the world about them and the sensitivity needed for those who suffer. However, with things like this, I think it might be a bit of hypersensitivity that makes it a bigger deal than it is.

There will always be people who are ignorant to the struggles of others. I’ll never know what issues someone of African American descent or a homosexual male face, just as they’ll never know the struggles that I face. We would like to redesign the world to be free of inappropriate comments and ads, talk about food, things being “gay” and anything else that might be a “trigger,” but that’s not reality.

So I guess there is a certain level of personal responsibility to realize this is “life” and to use the coping skills, self-talk and support people have to not take everything personally, to realize not everything is a personal attack on whatever weakness one perceives they have.

Yes, the pretzel ad was in bad taste, but I hardly think there was enough malicious intent to spark such an outrage. If it was an ad for clothing with a female model and a similar tagline, I would understand.

It was a pretzel, people.

Feel free to tell me if I’m totally off base with this. Am I being insensitive by not really seeing what all the hoopla is about or is our nation becoming oversensitive to everything?

Were you suddenly flung into the depths of despair and self loathing by a pretzel advertisement? If you don’t have food “issues” of your own, would any of these thoughts even crossed your mind?

I really don’t think it’s a big deal, but I’m curious as to your opinions.