I just read the most horrific, disgusting, and saddening article entitled “Why Fat Girls Don’t Deserve to be Loved” I thought about posting the link here so people could see for themselves the vitriol this man is spewing, but I refuse to give this drooling troll any more traffic to this shameful article.
I know body type discussions can be a hot topic. Everyone has their preferences and that’s everyone’s right. But to say any human doesn’t deserve love due to a physical trait, especially something as random as a number on a scale (be it a high number or a low) is beyond comprehension to me.
My weight fluctuates a lot. Some months I’m up, some months I’m down. Does that mean that in March I deserve love and in February I don’t? Not only is this logic outright insane, it’s just cruel.
I could go on and on about the details from the article, refuting them one by one but I won’t because it just makes me sad and I don’t want to drag myself or anyone else down.
The point I want to make is simply this; Regardless of your personal preferences, please don’t forget we are all humans and all humans deserve love (with the possible exception of the awful person who wrote that article, but I’m going to let Karma work that one out).
So a couple of weeks ago I quit my new job. It was scary. I’m not one to diagnose others but I would bet big money that my boss was in the midst of a major manic episode and I just could not be around her. She was spinning me into such a place of unbridled anxiety that I up and quit without another job in place. I know this was a huge financial risk but in this case I prioritized my mental health over all other factors. I’m still convinced it was the right thing to do. While I was in the process of taking financial risks I decided to spend the last 11 days at Miraval Resort in Tuscon. This wasn’t for the purposes of taking a “vacation”, although it’s a lovely resort, it was more about learning skills, (meditation, etc.) that will help me better manage my anxiety in ways that enhance my drug therapies. Don’t panic, I’m not giving up any of my meds, they just aren’t always enough.
Miraval has lots of super interesting classes. Everything from sound healing to meditation while swinging in a silk hammock to painting on horses (yes, ON the horse. I did it twice.) That may sound off the wall, and it was to an extent, but as a form of art therapy it’s pretty genius. You are supposed to “paint your story” on the horse, accept the imperfections created by having a moving canvas, and cooperate with another living being. Then when you are done you tell your “story” to the other participants (this is the part where everyone cries, except for me, I’m weird that way) and then you literally wash your story away as a symbol of letting go. The picture attached to this post is a visual representation of the poem “Desert Birth”
I also learned ironic tricks like “having your anxiety but not being anxious about it” That one may take some practice. And the most important and simplest of all…..JUST BREATHE. Granted, there were cheaper ways to learn that one but practicing it daily, in different styles and with the discipline required for it to really work, was worth all the money spent. Assuming I maintain it.
I was also advised to write and create, which I’ve already been doing here, so expect my tone and subject matter to be more on the zen side than before. At least I hope. The poem “Meditation” was written after I did a meditation walk of their famous labyrinth. I had to take a full breath with every step. It was excruciatingly hard to keep focus and it took forever and that’s when I realized all of this was not as easy as it looked.
None of this will be easy. Change is hard, ambiguity is hard, acknowledging when something is wrong to the extent that every cell in your being is screaming is hard. But the decision to make the change seemed clear and obvious. I don’t know what lies ahead but rest assured I will continue breathing in the meantime.
I had to let go of a friend yesterday. It was what he wanted, and since I can’t talk to him directly about it, I will talk about it here. This is the person from the post Yesterday I was needy. If you read that post you will know this is a painful moment for me. It was my fault, I was being selfish with my feelings without being sensitive enough to his, and I broke our friendship.
I freely admit I live a life with little accountability to others. I (by necessity) have had to take care of myself first along the way. It’s like they say on airplanes…put on your mask before helping others. Well, sometimes I spend too much time fiddling with my mask and I end up hurting someone. For this I am deeply sorry.
I like to believe I’m a good person, a selfless, compassionate, empathetic person. But don’t we all like to think of ourselves in that way? The reality is that I am capable of being selfish, needy (in a bad way), and oblivious to the pain around me because I spend so much time wrapped up in mine.
I want to be better. I want to be that person I fantasize about being. I vow to be more mindful in the future, listening more closely for the pain in others instead of always being consumed in mine.
This starts now. My last post to him was a thank you. This one is an apology. I hope he sees it some day.
Remember a few years back when I wrote this post on how I can only make art when I’m manic? Well lo and behold I think I’ve proven myself wrong. I’ve been on a roll over the last couple of months (as you can see) and it’s been like a dam burst. 12 years of artistic silence and the misconception that my creativity was trapped within my disease. It may have changed a bit, and I’m still trying to find my voice among new materials, palettes, and styles, but I feel free again. I know I’m not manic. In fact if you read back a bit you will see I’ve just emerged from a depression. Maybe the beginning of this exploration (which began while I was on disability for depression) is what helped pull me out of it. The side effect has become the treatment. Go figure.
It’s Saturday, the end of my first week of “disability”. I put that in quotes because the paperwork is not complete or approved yet. My psychiatrist called me today to ask me some questions she needed help with on filling things out. Something about her tone of voice worried me, like maybe she wasn’t even convinced. I mean, this whole “time off from work” thing came from her. I would have asked about it in that same session anyway (I had already discussed it with my therapist) but she brought it up first and for a moment I was relieved. She could see it too, the trouble I was in. She wanted to help.
But today seemed different. If I were to guess I would think she’s mad I didn’t say anything sooner. That I had been telling her I had “some anxiety” but that’s it. Maybe she’s right to be mad. Nobody can help me if I’m not willing to speak up. Now I’m speaking up but I don’t feel like anyone hears me.
I’m petrified my claim will be denied. What will I do then? I can’t just stroll back into work right now. Just because an insurance company might not buy it doesn’t make me any less sick. I guess I could take it as unpaid personal leave. That would eat pretty harshly into my savings but I can’t go back in there. Not now. I will crack.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Maybe the paperwork will go through and it will all be ok. The next few days will be endless with wait. I just wish this wasn’t so seemingly a game of subjectivity. I suck at games.
In the meantime I will continue to make really awful art (my art is only good when I’m manic), sleep when I can, and get out of the apartment some. I want to see friends but most of them don’t know I’m bipolar, so how do you explain being on disability when you can’t say why? It’s just plain awkward. Maybe I should just come out of the closet altogether. So what, I may lose some friends but the real ones will stick around and this will be one less secret to keep.
So, after 10 years of diligence and dumb luck it finally happened again. I’m off of work because of my illness. Time estimate- 6 weeks. Beyond bipolar depression I’ve also been having severe anxiety. I saw this coming probably 3 months back but I thought I was just having a temporary case of work-based “fraud syndrome”. But no, it’s the real thing. Maybe triggered by the perfect storm of stressors going on in my life, but it likely would have happened anyway. I guess I was just due a meltdown. Also, I’ve been rolling the dice the last couple of years on a relatively low dose of meds.
But here’s the thing. I have this evil superpower of pretending to be ok when I’m clearly not. I can fake a lighthearted mood and (with enough Xanax in me) sort of fake being calm. This is all fine and good until you’ve realized the fake-it-till-you-make-it strategy has painted you into a corner. There are two reasons this was a bad strategy for me.
- I believed my own bullshit. I waited too long to get the help I needed because I thought I would snap out of it and that if I was fooling people maybe I wasn’t “that sick”.
- Everyone who knows about my disorder and several of the ones who don’t know but who know I’m off of work have said the same thing. “Well, you seem fine to me…”
Guess what people, I’m not fine. I will be but I’m not right now and I (plus all of you) need to accept that. I guess we still have a long way to go, myself included, in finally accepting mental illness as illness and treating it as such. I’m as big an offender as anyone else. I cannot cast stones. Until I overcome my own shame and closeted behavior surrounding my disorders I don’t see how I can really blame others for their lack of understanding of the disease.
So this post is as much for me as it is for everyone else. Seeming fine and being fine are not always the same. Try really hard to notice the difference.
Or otherwise titled “My Coming Out Party”
What a whirlwind it’s been but I made it! 100 pounds down (give or take a few depending on the day). Would I like to be smaller? Sure. Will I be? Probably not. I’ve been hovering within this 5 pound range for quite a while. I’m ok with that. In fact, I’m great with that! I hit my triple digit goal. I feel great and my health has dramatically improved. My photographer friend Jessica came out to visit and took some pictures to commemorate the occasion. (Ok, ok, for the dating sites….which is a whole other nightmare of a blog post) I thought I’d share one even though I’m quite camera shy. I’m in a bit of a “coming out” mood, so sharing this picture is a first step. Along with the pounds I’m ready to shed some of this compartmentalization I’ve been wasting so much energy on. So this is me. Flawed, bipolar, but a lot lighter in more ways than one.