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Just because I’m fat…

August 31, 2012

Trigger warning: Frank discussion of eating disorders

I am sick and tired of certain things being dismissed because I’m fat. Every fat person is affected by the daily grind of fat oppression: seats too small, no clothes to buy ANYWHERE, fat bias in every person you meet, catcalls on the street. Everybody that reads Fat Acceptance blogs knows the drill by now. This is Thin Privilege Tumblr has some GREAT examples of this.

What I would like to talk about specifically is eating disorders. When people hear a fat person start talking about having an eating disorder, it is automatically assumed that the fat person means binge eating disorder, or bulimia maybe. But anorexia? No way in hell a fat person could ever struggle with eating.

It is a real barrier to recovery, not being believed in your struggles. With the kids going back to school, as well as the onset of my epilepsy, eating during the day has become a very real, very dangerous struggle for me this year.

I am 6’2″ and fluctuate between 280 and 320, with an hourglass figure and a rack of doom. I have been in and out of recovery from eating disorders for over 20 years, and it’s amazing that after so long it can still rear its ugly head. Even after three years in the Fat Acceptance world, I STILL have days, weeks even, where I would rather be empty, where it’s a struggle to put food in my mouth, even though I cook homemade food daily for my family of four.

I have been to at least two group therapies full of waifish women who laugh at me when I said that was anorexic too, telling me I wasn’t thin enough. I know, I know: one of the ways to diagnose anorexia is by weight, but what about disordered behaviors? How many days do I go without food before I qualify, because I am telling you there is no way in hell I will EVER be “thin enough” to be anorexic. And therapy for anorexics is different for BED or bulimia. So I keep muddling through, trying to recover on my own, because no “specialist” will help me out of my own private hell.

No one believes me (well, besides my family who SEES it everyday) when I tell them I have seizures because I don’t eat or drink. My epilepsy doctor just laughs at me and tells me to eat and drink then… but it’s not that simple. People don’t understand what it’s like to be a fat person who has to FIGHT yourself to eat, or how a PBJ can mean crying every bite for 15 minutes, and then trying not to purge it for 2 hours. It’s SAFER to feel empty IT may not be healthy, or even sane, but then I don’t have to struggle for 3 hours every meal.

Contrary to popular belief, bodies don’t always reveal what the actual eating habits of that person are. My youngest daughter has always, since preschool, eaten raw fruit and veg. Preferred it, even. She is also shaped like her daddy: curvy, roly-poly. She eats probably a third of the food of her slightly older sister, who is a tiny, skinny waif and eats more than me or her father. I eat like an anorexic for weeks at a time, and I stay where I am.

Just because I’m fat don’t assume it means anything other than I wear a size 28.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Fab@54 permalink
    August 31, 2012 10:44 am

    Erylin, I can never really know, deep down, what your struggles are or how it actually FEELS…. but I want you to know, I can only try to imagine and I have nothing but compassion for you.
    Compassion, not “pity” because pity doesn’t help anyone. Compassion and empathy, and a big fucking {{{{{hug}}}}} too.

  2. August 31, 2012 11:03 am

    Hey erylin,
    I hope you keep seeking help because someone will believe you. It doesn’t matter what your body does in response to starvation, the behavior itself is unhealthy. Have you contacted the Maudsley Approach people, like Harriet Brown? Perhaps she has some resources that can help.

    The Maudsley approach would make Bob (I assume… with teenagers, it’s the parents) your counselor, in essence. I hope others might have recommendations for how to find treatment for your ED. Ignore what others say. It is your body and your business only. Stereotypes and simplified thinking doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you need to establish a healthy relationship with food, and you can still do that. I wish you well on your path to health. EDs are particularly insidious and require a lot of work to overcome. But you’re strong, and I know you can do it. If you need anything, you know where to find me.


    • August 31, 2012 12:26 pm

      atchka that is essentially what we are doing. All i can say is bob is amazing.

  3. The Real Cie permalink
    August 31, 2012 1:44 pm

    I’ve battled bulimia since I was 12 years old. When I get severely depressed, I tend towards anorexic behavior. I can relate to what you’re saying.

  4. fatology101 permalink
    August 31, 2012 5:03 pm

    I wrote a book called Fatology101/same website but with .com. FOOD has NOTHING to do with being fat. This is my passion and I can see the pain and struggle you have. I had the same struggles as all of you have had. Please read my book. Or go to the website. My message is and will always be, Fat has nothing to do with food. Our bodies are nothing more than biological chemical reactions. Everyones bodies react differently to food. Please, read my book and I know it will help you understand and feel better about yourself.
    I really want to help everyone out there to let go of the “food is the problem”. It isnt. I really hope this helps you. Sincerely, Marla

  5. August 31, 2012 9:41 pm

    I believe you erylin. I’m sorry you are suffering–far too much alone with this…it sounds like a form of despair piled on top of everything else. Being able to share about these struggles in a group of compassionate and caring people who can IDENTIFY with your experiences and feelings would seem optimal—until you found the group could not offer you even a passing glimpse at solidarity or mutual aid or decent human empathy. That must have made the isolation and worry so much more intense. 😦

    I’m appalled and angry and saddened to hear that a group would respond so heartlessly—with no sensitivity to your personal experience (which, by the way, is not nearly as rare as our dominant cultural discourse suggests.) You are not alone with this, but finding others brave enough to come forward makes this challenge needlessly more difficult—it can feel dis-empowering to keep hearing duplicitous b.s., which obscures the true numbers of people going through pain similar to yours. It’s another social injustice to confront and recognize as NOT PART OF WHO YOU ARE AS A SPECIAL HUMAN BEING.

    The epilepsy must feel scary, too, of course, especially since the diagnosis was fairly recent. I hope you can find a helpful and supportive group for that aspect of this serious challenge.

    Please forgive me if the following is perceived as inappropriate, as if it is something I’m suggesting you try…I’m not…I’m suggesting that if you haven’t already investigated ketogenic diets for the treatment and amelioration of many forms of epilepsy, that large body of literature and research might provide an opening to more options, more ways to come at both the epilepsy and the ED. Sometimes when an eating plan (or diet) arrives in the form of a prescriptive and useful treatment for a legitimate physiological condition, it may help release some of the internal tension connected with the eating disorder. Like a rubber band being pulled in opposite directions, when a caring suggestion is offered to consider the possibility of something different (some approach that may help with the *letting go of those two opposing forces*), it can feel as if it is now finally safer to lay aside the eating disorder, so to speak, perhaps only briefly as an experiment.

    Again, I don’t wish to minimize with those words “lay aside”, for instance. But the medical discourse itself (“battling” a disorder, or “fighting the good fight” to “overcome” the illness) can subtly fuel the emotions of fear or shame or isolation, for instance. I benefited significantly from a ketogenic diet, which I needed to follow for almost 2 years, for a different disorder (related to dangerous fluctuations in blood glucose), and I was surprised to find many palatable (& yummy!) foods and recipes that were available to choose from. I also had an early history of ED, including anorexia. The ketogenic plan didn’t seem like an infliction of external control, or a deprivation or an inconvenience—on the contrary, it simplified much of the decision making related to eating, and BEST OF ALL I felt supported in learning and practicing new ways to attend to my unique, individual needs.

    Of course, I don’t know what the best approaches will be for YOUR unique challenges, but I believe you can find some help, and your life can–and will–get better for you. It will require more struggle and confrontation with inadequate social support systems to find better options and solutions—but after reading what you have shared, I believe you will continue to take those risks required to reach out again and again until you find the care and compassion and knowledge that will link you to a better future. 🙂

    Good luck! I’m sure there are many of us (some you will never meet) who care and who are cheering you on as you seek quality help. It would be great to read an update from you when you close in on the good times ahead. Hugs! Chin up! Courage! ❤

    • September 1, 2012 12:33 pm

      Thanks so much for this. I have been doing some research on the ketogenic diet and plan to discuss it with my care provider, though what i have read it seems to help those with partial onset seizures more than the grand mal types like mine. I really appreciate your concern and kind words.

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